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See Paris in 1 Day
When I went to Paris, I only had one day to get everything done (technically that isn't true, I had 2 days, but I spend one at Disneyland). In such a big city with so much history, I was absolutely convinced that there was no way I would be able to get everything done. While I did see a lot and get way further into my list of places to see than I ever thought I would, I made a few mistakes and ended up missing out on a few places that I really had wanted to see.
Here, I'll show you some of the things I did that worked, and some of the things I tried that really didn't work. Hopefully, if you follow some of these tips and itineraries, you'll be able to hit all of the Paris hot spots and then some in just 1 day.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is the one thing that you absolutely have to see when you visit Paris. Regardless of you interests, the Eiffel Tower is undeniable the one symbol that totally and completely represents France.
Built in 1889 for the World Fair which was held in Paris, the Eiffel Tower stands roughly 81 stories tall and is constructed almost exclusively of iron. In person, it is much more beautiful and much more humbling than you could possibly imagine (trust me - I didn't even particularly care to see it, but when I got there, I was amazed).
The Eiffel Tower is open to tourists from 9:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily during the off season, and 9 a.m. - midnight during the summer months. Ticket prices vary from 5 euro to 15 euro for adults. These tickets are not needed if you just want to see the tower or walk around the base, but they are necessary if you wish to use the stairs or the elevator to go up to one of the observation decks. Personally, I do not suggest trying to get to one of the observation decks because the line is almost always 1-2 hours long and this will eat into your exploration time. Instead, I would suggest grabbing a crepe from the nearby crepe stand and just enjoying the view. If you do decide to brave the lines and climb the Eiffel Tower, be sure to buy your tickets online. It is also really helpful to do this at least a week or more in advance if possible. While it hasn't happened to me, I have heard stories of passes being sold out on the day of the actual visit. There is also an app that can be downloaded to iPod or android which contains an audio tour of the Eiffel Tower.
Please be aware, the first floor of the Eiffel Tower is undergoing construction at the moment, so it is not quite as impressive as it could be. When the construction is complete, the plan is for the first floor of the Eiffel Tower to contain a reception room, monument to Gustav Eiffel - the creator of the tower, and numerous interactive activities to show the building and history of the EIffel Tower.
Places to See in Paris
Have you ever traveled outside of the U.S?
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame is another big attraction in Paris. Although it is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, it is an active church and there are several services held here daily. Be sure to check the website or visitor pamphlets and plan your visit around those services unless accidentally walking in and interrupting a Catholic mass sounds appealing to you. Entry to Notre Dame is free.
The cathedral offers daily tours free of charge from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for free along with audio tours which can be purchased for 5 euro. Both of these tours will highlight the artwork of Notre Dame, but the audio tour also gives an extensive history, influences, and spiritual goals.
I would highly suggest climbing the cathedral towers of Notre Dame. While not quite as popular as the Eiffel Tower, the view from the top of the towers is breathtaking and the line is typically not quite as long. From here, you can also see the spire, the roof, and the cathedral's largest bell (the Emmanuel Bell). You can also visit the crypt and get a good look at some ancient Parisian history.
The Louvre was my very favorite part of Paris. The largest museum in all of Europe, the Louvre holds an extraordinary amount of art and artifacts - ranging from the early 20th century all the way back to the ancient Greeks and even before.
I would suggest giving yourself ample time at the Louvre, not only because it is so big, but because it is also very easy to get lost in the twisting passages and interlocking salons. If you are really interested in art, you may even be able to spend all day lost in the Louvre and not even want to see any of the other landmarks (except for the Eiffel Tower, of course).
The Louvre is open every day except for Tuesday. On Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, opening hours are from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays, opening hours are from 9 a.m. - 9:45 p.m. Certain rooms are also closed off on designated days for cleaning or preservation, and these closures can be found on the museum's official website. Admission ranges from 12 - 16 euro, with all children under the age of 18 being admitted for free. There are also a number of other discounts and conditions under which you can be admitted for free such as disabled individuals and their "helpers" as it is referred to on the Louvre website.
I can't rave enough about the fabulousness of the Louvre, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of the Champs Elysees - one of the most famous avenues in Paris. Although it is older than the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is based on the ancient Roman tradition of building an arch in order to celebrate a military victory. This particular arch was built by Napoleon in the 19th century as a tribute to his army. Added in 1921, the Arc de Triomphe is now home to the French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Arc de Triomphe has just as much history as the Eiffel Tower, but lacks the insane crowds.
From April 1 to September 30 opening hours are 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and from October 1 to March 31 opening hours are from 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Admission for children under 17 is free while adult admission is 8 euro. Please be aware - the ticket desk closes half an hour before the monument closes.
The top of the Arc de Triomphe can only be accessed by the 40 stairs that lead to the top, but the view is 100% worth the climb if there is any way that you can stomach it. In fact, I much prefer this view because it actually includes the Eiffel Tower! From here, you can get a panoramic view featuring Paris' biggest symbol. To get to the monument, however, you much take an underground tunnel which can be accessed from the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle at the Wagram exit of the Metro. Crossing the circle at street level is nearly impossible and very dangerous, please do not try it.
If you are travelling alone or with other adults, good evening activity could be a dinner show at Moulin Rouge. As a burlesque-style dinner show, this venue may not be the best for people traveling with kids. The prices can also be a little steep, but if you are willing and able to spend a little extra, they are totally worth the money.
Dinner shows at Moulin Rouge typically take place at 7, 9, and 11 p.m. with dinner included. There are regular and VIP options. VIP options include perks like coatroom access, a bottle of champagne per couple, gift boxes, 3 course dinners and more. Prices can range anywhere from 80 - 500 euro depending on the time of year, time of night, and VIP options that you choose. Where you book the ticket also makes a difference, as third party sites like Viator often offer better deals for this outing.
How To Do It All
Hitting all of these places in one day can be a little bit tricky, but here is the itinerary that I would suggest.
Depending on where you are staying or where you are arriving from, I would suggest that you take the Metro to the furthest point out. In the case of a hotel near the Eiffel Tower, this would mean taking the Metro to Notre Dame, or a nearby station (the walk may look short, but it is over an hour). After arriving here, however, walk back. It may take you a significant amount of time, but the views along the way will be work it.
Lunch at the Louvre, or at a nearby cafe if you are able to get your fill
Puente de Alexandre
Arc de Triomphe
If you get through this day, you will be exhausted, but you will also be a very accomplished traveler.