Paris: 24-hour itinerary

Paris Insider
Cruise down the Seine River (Photo: Lonely Planet Images)
Cruise down the Seine River

If you only have 24 hours in Paris, get up early and wear some comfy shoes as you'll need to hit the streets to get a real feel for the city.

Start on the Seine River

Get your bearings with a cruise down the Seine River on a Bateau-Mouche or river boat from the Ile Saint Louis island to the Eiffel Tower. It'll take you past sights such as the Louvre Museum and Musee d'Orsay, and under all the romantic bridges. It may sound touristy, but it really is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways to get an overview of how the city is laid out.

See the Eiffel Tower

Hop off the boat at the Eiffel Tower, Paris's most famous icon. The best spot for taking photos of the Eiffel Tower is over the river at the Trocadero. Skip going to the top.

Take in a 360-degree view

Climb up Napolean's Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysee avenue and take in Paris from above.

Time for a stroll

At the opposite end of the Champs-Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe is the grand Place de la Concorde. This huge square is filled with statues and fountains and was once the spot where people were guillotined. Today, it's used for national events such as the Bastille Day celebrations. Walk through the elegant Tuilleries gardens, where trees are trimmed to perfection and children play with wooden boats on ponds. At the other end is the Louvre Museum where you can brush up on some classic art.

Pit stop

After pacing the Louvre's kilometres of galleries, you'll need a break. If you want to feel totally glam, bag a table outside the Cafe Marly (inside the Louvre courtyard, 93 Rue Rivoli). Paris's beautiful people love this swish restaurant, but if you don't want to fork out for a pricey meal, settle for a coffee with a unique view of one of the world's most beautiful museums. Alternatively, across the road from the Louvre is Le Fumoir, an elegant, colonial-style restaurant and cafe perfect for taking the weight off your feet.

Paris's oldest streets

It's now time to hit the historic Marais quarter, the oldest part of Paris. In the sixteenth century, aristocratic families moved into the area; a couple of centuries later it became home to Paris's Jewish population (and the Jewish museum and eateries on the Rue des Rosiers still bear testimony to the neighbourhood's history). Today, it's a mix of gay, cool, and trendy boutiques, bars and popular cafes. Stop for apero (traditional French early-evening drinks) and people-watch at Le Petit Fer au Cheval or Les Philosophes.


Treat yourself to a meal with the fashion-set at Chateau Briand, or head to Le Felteau if you love hearty French cuisine.

Night-time antics

If you still have the energy for nocturnal pursuits, go to Kong for cocktails. The restaurant and bar is designed by French style-guru Phillippe Starck. Cocktails are pricey, but worth it just to check out the sexy staff.

Wrap up by dancing the night away at a club. Le Paris Paris is hip with the fashion crowd and name DJs are often spinning tunes. Look cool, though, or you won't get in. If you're dressed to the nines, head to the bar at Hotel Plaza Athenee, where the rich rub shoulders with trendsetters. If you want to get hot and sweaty, try Batofar. This club on a tug-boat gets crowds pumping to everything from hip-hop and electro to drum and bass.

Have you tried any of the places on this itinerary? Got any ideas we haven't thought of? Have your say using the comments form below.

Next: 48-hour itinerary

User comments
I recently went to Paris to visit my daughter and absolutely loved it. We stayed with an agency called Feels Like Home in Paris and it was fantastic! We really did feels like home when we were strolling around the beautiful 18th district, I think Sacre Coeur at sunset is a most see!
i was in paris in august last year on my own. just amazing. i walked along the siene from the notre dame to the efifel tour. was a lovely day. perfect weather. i want to go back indeed. day dreamer, ur day sounds wonderful.
My husband & I were in Paris two years ago and this exact river cruise, It was the best day we spent . Loved every moment...............