Thinking of stopping over in Paris for a day as part of a European exploration or backpacking adventure? Maybe you’re studying nearby in France and are thinking of making a day trip to Paris? While it is impossible to cover all of Paris in one day, this post will help guide you through the highlights in a city best known as “The City of Love” or the “The City of Lights.”
To experience the best of what Paris has to offer, I would strongly recommend walking around the city. Walking would not only save you a lot of money, it allows you to take in all the breathtaking street views and scenery of the city as well. It is important to plan your route out in advance to make sure you are hitting the highlights without spending time on unnecessary detours, or returning to the same area more than once along the route.
Here are some of the more iconic/must visit places to consider when you plan your route:
- The Eiffel Tower (Do I even have to mention it?)
- PalaisGarnier (An Opera House where its interior architecture is amazing.)
- Musée du Louvre (None other than the famous transparent pyramids, where Mona Lisa sits.)
- Pont de I’Archeveche (It is one of Paris’s most famous Love Lock bridges. However, there are a few around the city and you may not necessary have to visit this one.)
- Notre Dame Cathedral (A famous cathedral that appears in many films, mainly for wedding scenes but if you’re a cathedral lover, it’s worth a visit.)
So now, I’ll walk you through my day trip.
I arrived at Gare du Nord station after taking the Eurostar from London.
After exiting the train station, we made our way towards our first stop – PalaisGarnier. This grand opera house is only about a 30 minute walk.
In Paris, most attractions have an entrance fee, but discounts for students do exist. Make sure you bring your student ID with you to Paris. After student discount, it was €6, as compared to €10 before the discount. To cover the whole opera house, it would take about an hour. If you do not read French, you will want to consider purchasing an audio guide.
The next stop for me was Musée du Louvre. This is a 30 minute walk away from PalaisGarnier. The exterior of the museum was just breathtaking. Famous films like The Da Vinci Code have been filmed there and it was no disappointment for me when I arrived.
When planning your day trip to Paris, you should be advised that the museum is closed on Tuesday’s and for some of France’s public holidays. There is an admission charge and sadly, there is no discount for students outside the European Union. Tickets for Permanent Collections are priced at €12 but they do not include tickets for the temporary exhibitions on display. There are three different permanent exhibition halls displaying different types of art work. If you’re a little tight on time, do visit the famous Mona Lisa first, although don’t be disappointed as it may be very crowded and the painting is rather small.
You may see the Eiffel Tower from Musée du Louvre and it will seem closer than it is. As the Musée du Louvre is just by the river, it is advised to visit the Pont de I’Archeveche and Notre Dame Cathedral on the way to the Eiffel Tower (they are about a 25 minute walk away). The Pont de I’Archeveche may not be the prettiest Love Lock Bridge in Paris but it can be easily seen by the Cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful sites in Paris. Look out for the scenery along the river, it is a braided stream and the water in the river was a pretty shade of jade green, adding a lot more feel to the scenery.
My friends and I did not pop into the cathedral as there was a service going on but the exterior was enough for us to take in.
On the other hand, it was amazing to see all the lovelocks on the bridge in real life. If you’re heading to Paris with your other half, do not forget to bring your own lock and throw the key into the river afterwards.
If you’re a book lover, do not miss the chance to pop by the famous bookshop just 5 minutes walk away from the cathedral – Shakespeare & Company – for a quick visit. However, be warned that it is a very popular bookshop and is often very crowded inside.
Our last stop of the day was the iconic Eiffel Tower. Since we wanted to catch the sunset at the top, we took the metro there instead of walking. Two minutes away from the bookshop was Saint-Michel Station, and the closest station to the Eiffel Tower is the Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel.
Paris’s metro can be confusing and a single day pass is €7 so if you are only going to use it once and are traveling with a group, taking a cab for longer distances may be a more economical option.
If you’re not afraid of heights, make sure that you do go up the Tower. You get to a beautiful overview of the entire city. If you have more time than we did, you might want to climb up the Eiffel Tower via stairs.
The entrance fee to the top of the Tower via lift is €13.50. If you are only thinking of going to the second floor, then it would cost €7. I think the view on the second floor is actually better than the top floor because it is an open space. You could actually take pictures without reflection from the glass window.
By the time we reached the bottom, it was nighttime and the Eiffel Tower was all lit up! If you time it right, you can have both a day view and a night view of the tower.
To sum my day up,
PalaisGarnier —> Musée du Louvre —> Notre Dame Cathedral —> Pont de I’Archeveche —> Shakespeare & Company —> Eiffel Tower
I believe in a single day, I had covered most of the more iconic places in Paris, mostly by foot. It is a long day and there isn’t much time for souvenir shopping or leisurely meals at Paris’ cafes and restaurants, but if you’re short on time you can see a lot of what this city has to offer with the proper planning.
May I wish you and your friends an eventful day in this beautiful city of love and lights.