Sometimes life can deal you a cruel blow. Such as having only one day to explore Paris.
But don’t despair, surely there will be other times when you can spend more time in the City of Light, and having even a single day in Paris is an exquisite experience.
Remember, worrying about having only one day in Paris is a #FirstWorldProblem of the highest order.
If you are staying overnight, or longer, there is a plethora of accommodation options and styles available. Our preferred sanctuary is a hotel five minutes walk from, and with breathtaking views of, the Eiffel Tower: the Hotel Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower. Just be sure to get a room with a view of this fabulous Paris landmark.
If you are in Paris for only one day, you may have to settle for views of the Eiffel Tower only, rather than the views from the Tower, unless you are happy to pay for priority access to avoid the often very long line of tourists, and even then the Tower is often crowded beyond comfort.
If you don’t feel like sacrificing the time or the money, a stroll in Parc du Champ de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower will offer spectacular opportunities for a quintessential Paris selfie. In the right weather, it’s also the perfect spot for a picnic that will never fade from your memories.
Our favourite breakfast spot is just a few minutes away from the Pullman, Le Beaujolais on Avenue de Suffren.
After breakfast, head down on Avenue de Lowendale towards Hôtel des Invalides, the resting place of Napoleon.
After your visit to Les Invalides walk down on Boulevard des Invalides, Rue de Constantine and Quai d’Orsay towards the Seine, where your next stop will be Musèe d’Orsay on the bank of the river, housing mainly French art from 1848 to 1915, including masterpieces by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
On your way to Musèe D’Orsay, you can walk across the Seine on Pont de la Concorde, to visit Place de la Concorde, the Grand Palais, and for a quick stroll along the legendary Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Across the river from Musèe D’Orsay is Le Louvre. You will find that a single day in Paris is insufficient to satisfactorily explore this spectacular museum that holds nearly 35,000 pieces of art and artefacts from prehistory to the 21st century over an area of 60,600 square metres, so you may wish to hold this in reserve for a longer stay in Paris, to do it justice. I would recommend devoting at least a day, preferably two or more, to Le Louvre, and a personal guide will enhance the experience.
When it’s time for lunch, for something special, think of Georges at Le Centre Pompidou for fabulous food, a stylish modern interior and incredible views over the rooftops of Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. This is also a great spot for dinner, to watch the sun set over Paris.
For something more budget conscious, I would pick Le Latin Saint Jacques on rue Saint Severin. Must have dishes include the soupe à l’oignon gratinée and the crème brûlée. This restaurant is also a conveniently short walk from Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, a perfect pre- or post lunch stroll. If you chose to pass on Le Louvre in the morning, but you are intent not missing out on it completely, you can combine it with a visit to Notre Dame in the afternoon.
If you are game for a bigger adventure, and happy to do Le Louvre on another visit, hop on a bike or get in a cab, and head to Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, a spectacular Roman Catholic Church overlooking Paris from the hill, and then wonder down on Rue de Steinkerque, Boulevard de Rochechouart and Boulevard de Clichy to the Moulin Rouge nearby.
At this point you should be sufficiently exhausted and hungry, even if you had a big lunch. If you are in Montmartre, treat yourself to dinner at Seb’on, near the Basilica, although you will need to book ahead.
Alternatively, try Bistro de Montmartre for a French bistro experience, near the Moulin Rouge.
If you made it back to the Pullman in time for dinner, consider Le Jules Verne on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. This gourmet experience will have to be planned in advance as this Alain Ducasse restaurant usually requires bookings a month or so ahead for a table, even a bit longer for a Friday or Saturday night. You will also need to make sure you are dressed appropriately and have a healthy balance left on your credit card.
And now it’s time to go to bed, with the Eiffel Tower shimmering through your hotel room window at the Pullman.
Au revoir Paris, La Ville Lumière …