It’s obviously impossible to see all that Paris has to offer in 1 day, but if it’s your first time visiting Paris, as it was mine, then 24hrs is enough time to see a selection of it’s unique sights.
I’m going to give you a rundown of what we (my boyfriend and I) managed to do in 24hrs, including travel, prices and sightseeing. Let’s begin with getting from London to Paris.
I took the Eurostar from London St Pancras and in all honesty, I assumed getting the train would be a fairly chilled option, compared to having to go through the stress of an airport for a 60 minute flight but I was shocked at how disorganised and chaotic I found the experience. The queues were badly signposted, the staff at security were stressed and very unhelpful and the overall experience was a bit of a whirlwind. Although I do have to mention that this wasn’t the case when coming from Paris back to London, where it was much calmer. However, don’t let this put you off, just be prepared to arrive at least 1.5-2 hours before your train at St Pancras.
The Eurostar itself was great, for a 2hrs15-30 minute journey (non-stop), the seats are super comfortable and ergonomic, there’s free on-board entertainment if you connect to the free wifi and plenty of storage space for small luggage.
TIP: Make sure to pack lightly as you’ll have your bag with you most of the time! I’d reccommed a backpack or light holdall. I packed a small overnight bag so I could take it to all the attractions, as you’ll probably spend very little time in your hotel room.
We arrived at Paris ‘Gare du Nord’ station at 4pm local time (1hr ahead) and preceded to head for the lower level signposted as the ‘Metro’ (Similar to the Underground). There are lots of friendly and English speaking staff around the ticket machines that will help you purchase the right ticket. Since we were only staying for 1 day, I decided to buy single journey ticket rather than a pack of 10, but if you plan on staying longer this may work out cheaper for you. The ticket I bought is called the ‘T+ ticket’ and allows you to make a single journey with as many changes as you would like for 1.90 euro.
Then you need to navigate the tube map, which is available on a super helpful app I used called ‘Next Stop Paris’, similar to Citymapper. The map is a little overwhelming but by following the right coloured lines and planning your journey on the app, you can easily get where you need to be.
What to do
- Tour Montparnesse – Panoramic view of Paris
We travelled straight from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse-Bienvenüe, to visit the Tour Montparnesse, a panoramic observation deck with a beautiful view of Paris. They have no restriction on bag size so this was perfect. I would reccommend prebooking tickets for this on their website, so you can walk straight in and avoid the queues.
- The Lourve
We then checked into our hotel to leave our bags and save ourselves any struggle as the Lourve have restrictions on bag size (see below).
‘Any items exceeding 55 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm are not permitted in the museum. All items left in lockers must be collected the same day. The Musée du Louvre is not responsible for lost or stolen property.
We got the Metro to ‘Palais Royal Musee du Lourve’, which comes out underneath the Lourve in a shopping centre style building. If you take the escalators to the exit, you’ll find yourself by the classic glass pyramid and palace that i’m sure you’re all familar with seeing.
TIP: If you’re under 26 and are a EU citizen, bring your passport and show the staff at the entrance of the galleries and you get in for free!
As a first timer, I’d suggest going to see the Mona Lisa. You’ll find her in the ‘Denon’ wing and it’s well sign-posted from the entrance.
- ‘Take a cruise on the River Seine
We were pretty exhausted after our day of travelling and crashed after visiting the Lourve. The next morning we got up early for the breakfast included with our room and then headed out to ‘Alma Marceau’. Here you can find the Bateaux Mouches cruise of the River Seine. This was also something I prebooked, you can buy tickets there but we found it quicker to print off our tickets at the self-service booths and then start queuing to get a good seat.
The cruise cost 14eur per adult and runs every half hour, it covers all the key sights from the Notre-Dame all the way back to the Eiffel Tower and has a running commentry in most languages, including English. It lasts approximately 1hr 10 minutes, so make sure to schedule this time into your itinerary, I’d reccommend doing this in the morning of the day you leave or the night you arrive.
- Eiffel Tower
After seeing the Tower from Tour Montparnesse, and having a closer look from the boat, I didn’t feel the need to go up the Eiffel Tower. However, if this is something you want to do, I’d recommend waking up an hour or so earlier and going before the cruise. We got the 10:30 cruise and left our hotel at 9:30, so baring this in mind, you could easily leave between 7-8 and make time to see the Eiffel Tower.
Again, I have heard that booking online saves a lot of time when you’re on a schedule.
- Champs Elysees/Arc de Triomphe
A short walk from Bateaux Mouches, or one stop on the Metro, is The Avenue des Champs–Élysées, an avenue in the 8th arrondissement filled with shops, similar to Oxford St. At the top of this road is the Arc de Triomphe. You can climb the Arc de Triomphe for a cheaper price than the Eiffel Tower, although there are approx. 280 stairs so keep that in mind!
When walking down the Champs Elysees, keep an eye out for Sephora (my favourite place) and the fanciest Abercrombie and Fitch I have ever seen, it literally has it’s own pathway and is fronted with an arch covered in renassaince cherubs.
After that, we got the Metro back to Gare du Nord, an hour and a half before our train at 4pm, meaning we spent exactly 24hrs in Paris!
If you had more time to spend, other attractions include:
- Sainte-Chappelle: A historic and ornate chapel
- Notre-Dame: Iconic Catherdral
- Jardin du Luxembourg: Large park from 1612, Paris’ answer to Hyde Park!
Where to stay
Paris is made up of 20 Arrondissements (similar to Londons Boroughs) which you can see in the Map below. Arrondissements 1-9 are where a lot of the attractions are based, and 10-20 are fairly residential. I stayed in the 11th Arrondissement, still in close enough distance to central Paris by the Metro but still a nice way to experience Parisian life.
I stayed in the Grand Hotel Francais right opposite a Metro station called ‘Rue de Boulets’. When looking for a place to stay in your 24hrs I’d 100% recommend looking for somewhere near to a Metro station, and somewhere that offers Breakfast because you won’t have time the next morning to go out searching around for somewhere to eat if you want to make the most of your day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to 24hrs in Paris, let me know in the comments below if you have any extra tips for people visiting Paris for the first time!