Paris is the city of love, so they say, but even sceptics will fall in love with this beautiful urban wonderland by the end of a day here. There are endless alleyways to explore and romantic cafes to sit and watch the day go by. But if you are short on time and haven’t been to Paris before then you will be wanting to pack in as many sights as you can before you leave. This is the best way to pack in the best that Paris has to offer in just 24 hours.
Morning – Explore the Louvre Museum
Spend your morning like the French do and sit back in a cafe with a pain au chocolat or a croissant. Once you are fuelled on enough French pastries to last the morning then make your way to the Louvre Museum. There is a metro station at the museum and as the metro costs only 1.90 Euros per journey, it is a cost effective way to travel the city.
The museum opens at 9am and the long ticket queues at the Louvre are infamous so it is best to purchase your tickets online before you arrive. You can even buy them online on the day you are visiting but you will need a printer to print them off, so it may be best to purchase them earlier. Some people have reported getting in showing them on a smart phone but currently this is not advertised as acceptable so you are better to print them and not take the risk. Tickets can be purchased from the Louvre Museum website.
You will be issued a map on entry and once inside it is best to select a few particular sections to visit as the museum is extensive. All sections are fascinating but the most famous two artworks to see are the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo with long queues and crowds at each.
There are rooms of paintings and sculptures from artists of different eras and locations including Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Eugene Delacroix.
For those more interested in artefacts rather than artworks the Egyptian section is where you will find mummies, sarcophagus’, enormous statues and even the very top block from the peak of a pyramid. The building itself is an artwork too with many of the ceilings painted with heavenly scenes and decorated with ornamental gold.
Make sure to keep an eye on the time as you can easily spend all day here and you don’t want to miss out on the other gifts Paris has to offer!
Afternoon – Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
Make your way by Metro to Ecole Militaire. This will either require a line change or if you have the time it is nice to walk to Concorde station (where you can catch a direct train) by walking through the fun fair on the Northern side of the Jardin des Tuileries.
When you arrive at Ecole Militaire go to the adjacent Carrefour City supermarket and purchase a French baguette and a bottle of wine for lunch. You can buy plastic cups for the wine or bring some along with you (or of course you can be classy drink from the bottle!). Just make sure you buy a bottle that doesn’t need a bottle opener! Unfortunately, you can’t bring your own wine as none of the big Paris attractions will allow you to bring your bottle inside with you, so unless this is your morning activity (its 5 o’clock somewhere right?) then you will just have to pick one up on the way. The wine in Paris is delicious and well-priced so there is no need to worry. Just make sure you don’t buy any from the people selling wine in the park.
Head to the Champ de Mars park and pick your picnic spot. There are shady benches or you can sit in the sun with the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen on bright days! Be aware of the touts illegally selling wine, beer and souvenirs. They may offer low prices, but particularly with the alcohol, it is not worth the risk. If you are going to buy the little Eiffel Tower keyrings don’t pay any more than 1 Euro for 5 keyrings. Official stores will have higher quality goods and therefore higher prices.
Once you have finished your French picnic you can choose to go up the Eiffel Tower or head straight to the Arc de Triumphe which has equally good views.
The Eiffel Tower is open from 9:30am-11pm (9am-12am in summer) and costs 17 Euros to go to the top or 11 Euros to only the second floor. Those aged 24 and under receiving a discount with proof of age. Tickets can be bought online beforehand on the official Eiffel Tower website or on site at the base of the tower. If booking online it is recommended that you buy several days ahead as the online tickets sell out much earlier than those on site.
The journey to the top consists of a change in lifts to make it to the top. There are interesting displays and viewpoints at the level 2 lift change level. Make sure to have a look outside before you head to the top as you will appreciate the view from the top even more. The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris and offers incredible views in all directions including towards the iconic Arc de Triumphe and the Siene River.
Evening – Sunset at the Arc de Triumphe
Take the metro, an Uber, taxi or walk to the Arc de Triumphe from the Eiffel Tower. If taking the metro, you are best to make your way to Charles de Gaulle Etoile station from Bir-Hakeim station. The Arc de Triumphe is open from 10am-10:30pm (11pm in summer) and costs 12 Euros for adults to enter. If you are 25 or younger then show proof of age with your passport to get a discount.
Once you enter you will climb 284 in a spiral staircase. Make sure to take a moment to look down the centre of the staircase from the top before you head out to see the view. The first floor you arrive on has a gift shop and toilet facilities (free).
You can then take the stairs directly to the top where you will able to get 360 degree views over Paris. The busy Champs Elysees below makes for a fascinating view but the piece de resistance is the Eiffel Tower to the South. For the best lighting come just before sunset and watch as the colours of the sky make a striking backdrop to the infamous tower.
If you arrive by 6:30pm you can watch the lighting of the torch at the tomb of the unknown soldier. The remains of an unknown soldier were laid to rest at the base of the Arc de Triumphe in 1921 as a representation of all the unknown soldiers lost in the First World War. The rekindling ceremony is held every day of the year at 6:30pm and veterans lay wreaths in remembrance. It is a moving ceremony and it is worth arriving on time to witness it.