There’s no doubt Paris is brimming with museums and monuments, art galleries and architecture to explore and discover. With so many things to do and to see, sometimes it can be quite difficult to plan your trip without missing out on anything.
To make it easier we’ve made the ultimate 1 day itinerary that should tick off most of the top attractions and must-see sights in Paris so you can leave assured you’ve seen and done the best – or les mieux, as they would say!
Make sure you get up early, fill yourself with a big breakfast and take to the streets in a pair of comfortable shoes. Yet that’s not to say we haven’t factored in enough time for a sit down lunch and a glass of wine at some point during the day…
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world and should be on your to-do list for Paris whether we tell you or not! Right in the middle of the Seine, Notre Dame sits in the Île de la Cité, once the centre of medieval Paris and still the nucleus of the contemporary city today. Thanks to the bishop Maurice de Sully, he commissioned the build of a cathedral grand enough to reflect the cultural and economic boom that Paris was experiencing at the time, dedicated to the Virgin Mary which translates as notre dame, our lady.
Over many years and many modifications it is one of the most impressive buildings in Paris with its looming stained glass windows, religious paintings and Gothic architecture, complete with gargoyles, not to mention the legendary bells and towers which make up its impressive silhouette.
Just a stone’s throw away is Sainte-Chappelle, behind the Notre Dame on the same Île de la Cité. This wonderful Holy Chapel sits in the courtyard of the royal palace and is renowned for its stunning Gothic architecture and stained glass windows. Commissioned originally to house King Louis IX’s collection of Passion Relics – including the Crown of Thorns, it is now one of the largest surviving collections of 13th century stained glass windows in the world.
If you’re interested in medieval and religious history, you won’t be disappointed with this colourful culture house.
Take a stroll up the Seine, cross the lovers bridge Pont Neuf, and head to the Louvre [link]. One of the most famous art galleries in Paris not only does it house the enigmatic Mona Lisa but around 35,000 other artefacts from prehistory to the 21st century. It’s also the most visited museum in the world with over 9.7 million people going through its door every year, so not surprising you’ll be in for a treat. Within the Louvre Palace, a 12th century Parisian landmark in itself, is nearly 70,000 square metres of exhibition space for you to pour over at leisure. From the Venus de Milo to Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, there are centuries of masterpieces for you to discover.
Get a breath of fresh air and put your feet up in the gorgeous Tuileries Garden, just outside the Louvre, leading up to the Palace de Concorde. It’s the perfect spot for a bit of people watching and great if you have brought a picnic so take shelter under one of the many trees or on a patch of manicured lawn and watch the world go by. It might shock you to know that before 1667 this was actually a private garden, commissioned by Catherine de Medicis as an homage to her native Florence…
Once you’ve rested and recharged, cross the aptly named Pont Royal over the Seine to the Orsay Museum, another one of Paris’ most visited art galleries. The Orsay was originally built as a hotel and station in the late 19th century, designed in the style of the surrounding Louvre and other royal buildings, it’s not surprising it’s architecturally impressive! As well as the original station clock, you can explore the Luxembourg Rooms, The Sovereignty of White and works by Monet and Picasso, among others.
Since you’ve been able to tick off most of what Paris is famous for on foot, it’s time to get another perspective, this time at 56 floors up. Whizz up Europe’s fastest elevator to a height of over 196m to the top of The Montparnasse Tower [link] and you’re guaranteed breath-taking views across the city. If you go in the evening you can see Paris lit up – and on a clear day you can even see for 40km. Look over Paris from the glass viewing platform and take in the sights of the Pantheon, Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
Discover Paris for less with the Paris Pass, the complete sightseeing package complete with Museum Pass, Attractions Pass, Travelcard and guidebook. Not only will it save you time and money but it will make your trip easier and allow you to plan in advance… Find out more, here.