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- Posted:Monday, January 7, 2013
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No matter how little time you have to spend, there’s always time to experience the unique style of the City of Light. That’s why we put together this guide to how to get the most out of just one day in Paris.
9am – Paris is famous for its plethora of patisseries, so why not do as the locals do? Whether you choose to sit down or grab’n’go, stop by one of the many patisseries to get a coffee and a pastry. You’ll find these sweets more filling in Paris than elsewhere in the world so keep that in mind when you’re eyeing up the delicious concoctions on display.
10am – Head to Place de la Concorde and let your jaw drop at the magnificence of it. At the centre of this enormous plaza is the 23-metre-high, 3,400-year-old Luxor Obelisk. In the distance you can see the Eiffel Tower. The plaza is also home to the two iconic Parisian water fountains. This is the heart of Paris; to the west is the Champs-Elysees, to the east is the Tuileries Garden and all around are very grand historical buildings.
10.30am – On the other end of the Tuileries Garden is the Louvre Museum. To be honest, this is the biggest museum in the world and is just too much for just one day. But if you can’t resist it, pick only one section to visit, like the Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities or the Italian Paintings (where you’ll find the Mona Lisa, of course).
More manageable is to cross the Seine and visit the D’Orsay Museum, home to many of the most famous examples of French art. If you’re pressed for time and looking for the Impressionist pieces, don’t make the mistake of starting at the bottom, as we did. Start at the top floor, as this is where you’ll find the paintings and sculptures of Renoir, Monet, Degas and more. While you’re up there, have a look out of the giant glass clock face at the beautiful view across the city to Sacre Coeur. The floors below are full of stunning sculptures and Art Nouveau designs, well worth a look.
Lunchtime – Grab a baguette in Boulangerie Julien on Rue Saint-Honore and go sit in the Tuileries Garden while you eat. If the weather’s not garden-friendly, head down Boulevard Saint Germain, where you’ll find a variety of great Lebanese and Syrian restaurants near the Arab World Institute.
2pm – From there, walk 20 minutes down the picturesque quays to Notre Dame. This impressive cathedral is open until 6.45pm and is a still a religious building so entrance is free and unticketed.
3pm – Hop on to the metro, get off at École Militare and take in the breathtaking sight of the Eiffel Tower as you approach it by walking through the manicured gardens of the Champs de Mars. If you’re on a tight budget, climb the stairs to the second floor for only €5. Otherwise, if you splash out €14 you can get the lift to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view of all of Paris.
5pm – Take a stroll up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. This grand boulevard is lined with as many upscale shops as it is trees. Want a little taste of outrageous luxury? Pop into the public toilets at Point WC in the shopping mall at 26 Avenue Champs Elysées and experience their designer toilet cubicles, manually sanitised after every use. No, really. It’s only a couple of Euro but is worth a lifetime of “this one time in Paris” stories.
7pm – Getting hungry? Head back down the hill to Chez Chartier at 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre. You might have to queue for 15 minutes to get into this budget-friendly place, but it’s all part of the experience. Once inside you’re in this 1900s-style Parisian restaurant, the waiters will write your order straight onto the tablecloth and then memorise your order, all while dressed in traditional waistcoat and apron. The cheap and tasty food is typical French fare, so if you’ve been wanting to try escargot, now’s the time. Bring your dictionary because the menus aren’t in English!
9pm – Get the metro again, this time to Anvers station at the base of Montmartre. From here make your way on foot up the hill through Monmartre’s souvenir shops and creperies to Square Louise Michel at the foot of Sacre Coeur. If your feet are a bit tired, hop on the funicular to the left of the garden. Otherwise, wind your way up the steps to the Basilica. It’s open from 6am to 10.30pm. Then walk around the rear of the cathedral and turn left onto Rue du Chevalier de la Barre and wander through the picturesque shop-fronts and artists hustling for portraits.
11pm – Nightlife kicks off rather late in Paris, with some nightclubs not opening until 11pm or midnight. If you hop off the metro at Bastille you’ll find a number of fashionable-yet-affordable bars with a young crowd enjoying rock, salsa and fresh DJs.
Le Marais is another lively spot. The area around Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Rue des Archives is full of excellent small bars and LGBTQ nightclubs.
2am – Clubbing on the Champs-Elysees is extremely touristy but it has some exclusive clubs with big-name DJs; if that sounds nice, dress your chic best and be ready to pay hefty entrance fees.
For late-night bars with more character, just stay in Montmartre after visiting the Basilica and explore the area’s enchanting, arty bars, serving affordable drinks. You’ll find everything from rockabilly to classic chansons playing in the bars here.
Late night snack/early breakfast – After a long night on the town, all of Paris, it seems, converges on 2 Rue de Faubourg Montmartre for a bite to eat at Aux Meilleures Crepes de Paris. They’re open until the wee hours of the morning and serve delicious giant crepes for around €5. It’s a satisfying way to end the night.
Some tips from our facebook fans on what to do with one day in Paris...
Anne Geelen says: Eating pancakes and watch people pass by in Montmartre.
Paola LA says: Go down to the area around the Moulin Rouge street to buy souvenirs.
Aurelien Kidman says: Eat, drink, see my family and friends. Hands down best city in the world.
Ron Regan says: I think the RED bus sells a two day pass. You can get off and on as much as you like for two days. There's a bicycle tour, also.