The best of Paris in one day: an ideal itinerary

Stairs at Trocadero with Eiffel Tower view

The best of Paris in one day: an ideal itinerary

See the best of Paris in one day: an ideal itinerary

You are spending only a day in Paris and you want to make the most out of it? Read this and you will get the itinerary of the best places to see and to capture!

In a nutshell here are the must-seen for a one day trip to Paris (detailed info and pictures in the article):

  • The iconic Eiffel Tower
  • Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées
  • Pont Alexandre III
  • Grand Palais and Petit Palais
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
  • Louvre Museum
  • Hotel de Ville
  • Notre Dame Cathedral

The iconic Eiffel Tower

There is no better way to start your day in Paris than to see the sun rising with the Eiffel Tower as a background! The best spot for this is located in Place du Trocadero, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. This forecourt offers the most amazing view of the Iron Lady! To complete the panorama, you will find gardens and terraces and a lovely carousel.

If you want to get closer to the Eiffel Tower in the garden of the Champs de Mars, you can go down the stairs and take the Pont d’Iena, over the River Seine. It will take you only 10 min by walk.

How to access Trocadero? Metro Station Trocadero (line 6 or 9).

Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is a national symbol built in 1836 and dedicated to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. It is located at the top of the Champs-Élysées, at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle (or Place de l’Étoile). Arc de Triomphe is one of the most familiar and impressive landmarks of Paris with its exceptional dimensions (about 50 m high, 45 m long and 22 m wide)! Be aware that this place is the meeting point of 12 avenues, which makes it a very busy and congested area…

From Arc de Triomphe, you can then head to the Champs-Élysées: “the world’s most beautiful avenue”! This 2km long avenue is the perfect place to stroll by day or by night, offering a wide variety of stores (luxury boutiques, French brands, flagships stores or more affordable ready-to-wear brands), cafés and restaurants, cinemas, music halls or night-clubs. You should find there everything you need!

How to access Arc de Triomphe? Metro Station Charles de Gaulle Étoile, Metro line 1, 2 or 6 and RER A. You can also walk from Trocadero (around 25 min).

How to access the Champs-Élysées? Metro stations Charles de Gaulle Étoile, Georges V (line 1), Franklin D. Roosevelt (line 1 and 9), Champs Élysées Clemenceau (line 1 and 13) and Concorde (line 1, 8 and 12).

Pont Alexandre III

This is definitely the most elegant bridge of Paris and one of my favorite! It was built for the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) of 1900. You will love its Art Nouveau Style: it is classified as a French monument historique since 1975! It’s a good area to wander and to watch the sunset with a beautiful view over the Seine river, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides and the Grand and Petit Palais.

How to access Pont Alexandre III? Metro station Invalides (line 8 and 13 and RER C) or Champs Élysées Clemenceau (line 1 and 13) . You can also walk from the Champs Élysées (around 20 min).

Grand Palais and Petit Palais

On your way between the Champs-Élysées and the Pont Alexandre III, there are two palaces for fine arts facing each other in Avenue Winston Churchill, . They were both built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. The central entrance of the Petit Palais is THE most stunning door of Paris! If you want to capture it, make sure to come before or after opening hours (before 9 am, after 7pm or on Mondays).

How to access Grand and Petit Palais? Metro station Champs Élysées Clemenceau (line 1 and 13) . You can also walk from Champs Élysées (around 20 min).

Place de la Concorde

This is the largest square in the Capital, located at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées and close to the Tuileries Garden. It was the site of many notable public executions during the French Revolution. Fortunately those times are over and you can admire there two magnificent fountains on the theme of rivers and seas. They are amazing at sunrise and sunset! At the center of the place, the Luxor Obelisk is standing with its 23 meter high. This impressive column decorated with hieroglyphics is over 3,000 years old. It was originally situated outside of Luxor Temple in Egypt!

How to access Place de la Concorde? Metro station Concorde (line 1, 8 and 12). There is 30 min walk between Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Gardens separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde. They were created in 1564 and re-designed by André Le Nôtre, the famous gardener of King Louis XIV. They are one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris: a great place to walk or relax on of the chairs available. I recommend to sit close to the fountain at sunset!

How to access Tuileries Gardens? Metro station Concorde (line 1, 8 and 12) or Tuileries (line 1). It is only 5 min walk from Place de la Concorde.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

This Arc de Triomphe is only half the size and of the famous one Place de l’Etoile and less known. But it is nonetheless amazing with its 29 meter height! Its very easy to find it between the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre Museum.

It is interesting to note that this arc is aligned with what we call the Historical Axis of Paris. The Historical Axis (or Voie Triomphale, “triumphal way”), is a line of monuments and famous buildings that extends from the centre of Paris to the west. The Louvre Pyramids, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Obelisk of the place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, and the Grande Arche of la Défense are on the same axis.

How to access Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel? Metro station Palais Royal Musée du Louvre (line 1 and 7). It is located at 5 min walk from Tuileries Gardens and from the Louvre museum.

The Louvre Museum

I guess there is no need to introduce the Louvre museum: the largest and the most visited museum in the world! If you stay in Paris for only one day, you won’t have the time to visit it. But you can take the time to admire the exteriors and it’s free!

The big pyramid built in the 1980s is the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. It has the exact same proportions as the Great Pyramid of Giza! The modern glass structure forms a nice contrast with the historic facades of the Louvre,  and has become a landmark in its own! It is surrounded by three smaller pyramids. And there is a fifth pyramid: the inverted pyramid. It is an upside down, suspended pyramid, visible from underground when you use the Carrousel entrance to the Louvre.

How to access The Louvre Museum? Metro station Palais Royal Musée du Louvre (line 1 and 7). It is only 5 min walk from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and 10 min walk from the center of the Tuileries Gardens.

Hotel de Ville

Despite the name, Hotel de Ville is not an hotel but the Town Hall of Paris! It has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357. On top of housing the local administration and the Mayor of Paris, it also serves as a venue for large receptions. I wish I could be invited to one of those!

If you are lucky, you will find a carousel on the square in front of the building. It is set up for events and special occasions and is absolutely lovely!

How to access Hotel de Ville? Metro station Hotel de Ville (line 1 and 11). From the Louvre museum, you have 15 min walk to get there.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The famous Notre Dame de Paris is a magnificent example of medieval French Gothic architecture. It is one the prefered landmark of the Parisians and of the French people! After the terrible fire that devastated it on the 15th of April 2019, it will be under renovation for at least 5 years. Therefore you cannot access the interior and the front square at the moment.

Nevertheless you can still admire the 2 front towers from the surroundings so do not hesitate to pass by! There are a few typically Parisian open-air bookshops along the banks of the river Seine close to Notre Dame that you might like to see as well.

Sunset and Light show at the Eiffel Tower

At the end of the day I would recommend you to go back to the Eiffel Tower area to enjoy the sunset and the light show.

Every night, from sunset to 1am (2am in summer), the Eiffel tower is sparkling for 5 minutes every hour at the beginning of the hour. It’s absolutely magical, even for someone that lives in Paris since ages!

This is completely free and you can admire it from many places: from Place du Trocadero, from any spot along the Seine river between Ile de la Cite and the Pont d’Iena, from a boat on the river Seine if you take a cruise, from the Pont Neuf bridge,…

Enjoy your day in Paris!

About Me

Hello! I am Ophélie, an avid traveller, photographer and foodista. I am French and I live in Paris.

This blog, will give you all my secrets: my best addresses (sightseeing and food) all around the world and in Paris, and my travel and lifestyle tips!


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