Ah, Paris, the city of lights! One of my favourite cities in the world, here's a quick guide on seeing the best of Paris when the clock is running against you!
The first thing you should do upon your arrival is to buy yourself some metro tickets. Currently, (as of October 2013) the prices are €1,70 per ticket. Personally, I'd recommend getting a pack of 10 metro tickets (called a 'carnet') for €13,30 or an unlimited day pass for €15,65. Once you've got your tickets, its time to get started – here are your 24 hours in Paris!
07:45 – Breakfast
Take the metro down to Châtelet-Les Halles. Located right in the centre of Paris, there are numerous cafes and restaurants, where you can enjoy coffee with a croissant (a French must-have) and watch the world go by. Around 8:40, start to make your way to the Notre Dame. From Châtelet, it's a 15 minute walk, or take the metro to Cité.
09:00 – The Notre Dame The Notre Dame opens at 9, so, perfect timing! While you won't see Quasimodo, the cathedral alone is worth the visit. Completed in the 13th century AD, it is nothing short of architectural splendour. This itinerary doesn't include time to climb the towers, but if you're a massive history fan, go for it – you will not be disappointed! When you've seen the church, take a metro to Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre. From the station, follow the signs until you find the Louvre. (The entrance is at the glass pyramid).
09:45 – La Louvre and Jardins des Tuileries I know some might groan at the idea of going to a museum so early in the morning, but the lines here can be shocking, and you don't want to lose hours waiting. Walk though the beautiful galleries and exhibits, and then, around 11:15am, make your way out and head to the Tuileries, the gardens opposite the glass pyramid. Walk through the gardens to the other side (make sure you stop to enjoy their beauty), where you will find yourself at La Place de La Concorde.
12:00 – La Place de La Concorde and Les Champs Elysées Take a few moments to view La Place de La Concorde, then walk around it to the other side, where you will find yourself on the Champs Elysées. One of the most famous streets in Paris, a walk up and down the Champs Elysées is the fastest way to immerse yourself in French culture (think Chanel).
13:00 – Lunch The Champs Elysées is full of cafes, restaurants and fast food joints, so while you're browsing all the designer goods, take the time to stop and have lunch. There's a lot to see and do in Paris, and you'll need to take breaks frequently (particularly if you've been walking all day).
Image by Sebastian Terfloth, Wikimedia Commons
14:00 – L'arc de Triomphe At the end of the Champs Elysées, you will find the Arc de Triomphe. Locate Avenue de la Grande Armée, where you'll find the underground tunnel that goes directly to the Arch. Plan to spend about an hour here, before you move on.
15:00 – Le Sacré Coeur and Le Moulin Rouge
From the Arch, take a metro from Charles de Gaulle-Étoile and get off at Anvers, where it's only a short walk to theSacré Coeur Basilica. When you've enjoyed the spectacular view from the top of the hill, take the metro to Blanche, right near the Moulin Rouge. For those of you who learnt nothing from the film, the Moulin Rouge is considered to be a 'red light district' (which is why I strongly suggest you go there in daylight).
Afterwards, make your way to the Pigalle metro station, but take time to enjoy the sights and atmosphere of Montmartre on your way, as it's the Paris you read about – cabaret shows, great 19th century markets and amazing food!
Image by MykReeve, Wikimedia Commons
16:30 – Les Galeries Lafayette From Pigalle, take the metro to Haussman-Saint Lazare, and walk to the Galeries Lafayette. An upmarket department store, here you will find eight levels dedicated to the best in designer goods. Plan to spend about two hours here, enjoying some of the best shopping in Paris. If you need a break, there are cafes and restaurants located all through the galleries.
18:30 – Dinner
The Galeries are located a few streets away from the Opéra and Place de la Madeleine region. Have a look around, and grab some dinner – there are plenty of options around here, or you can easily catch a metro and head back to Châtelet – another great area for food.
20:00 – Montparnasse Bienvenüe
For this time of night, I'm going to give you two options. If you were able to pre-book tickets, head to a show. With over 140 theatre venues, you can easily find a musical, dance show or opera to enjoy. If, on other hand, you would prefer to keep sightseeing, jump on a metro and head to Montparnassse-Bienvenüe. The Montparnasse region is absolutely beautiful, and the observatory offers amazing views of the city. Furthermore, just by walking the streets you will find the most amazing little cafes, restaurants and movie theatres.
Image by Tristan Nitot, Wikimedia Commons
22:00 – The Eiffel Tower
And now, the best for last – the Eiffel Tower. There are a number of metro stations close to the tower, including Bir-Hakéim, École Militaire, and Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel. The last lift up to the top of the tower is 11pm, so plan enough time for the climb. When you get to the top, you'll realise why we left this for last. The view is breathtaking! At night, the whole city lights up, and the spectacular light show is worth every inch of that monstrous climb to the top. Make sure you spend at least 20 minutes taking in this view, because it doesn't come too often.
When your feet are aching too much to ignore, its time to head back to your hotel. Despite the exhaustion, you've done something seemingly impossible – Paris in 24 hours!