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1-day Itinerary in Paris

Explore the best things to do in Paris in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #6
    Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur)
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    #6 in Paris
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Rising high above Paris, the Sacré-Coeur (meaning "Sacred Heart") looks more like a white castle than a basilica  but that's what it is. Towering over the eclectic neighborhood of Montmartre (once a hangout for Paris' bohemian crowd), this Roman-Byzantine masterpiece is easily recognized by its ornate ivory domes. As blanched as it may appear on the outside, the basilica's interior is a sight worth beholding: The ceilings glitter with France's largest mosaic, which depicts Jesus rising alongside the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc. 

    You'll also likely be left in awe with the panoramic views found from atop the Sacré-Coeur's outdoor staircase. But for an even better photo op, climb all 300 steps to the top of the dome. The dome is accessible to visitors every day from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May to September, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to April. Mass is held multiple times a day every day. 

    25-30 minutes by metro; 15-20 minutes by car
  • 2
    #10
    Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris
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    #10 in Paris
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    A masterpiece of architectural opulence, the Opéra Garnier  also known as the Palais Garnier  still exudes the same enigmatic atmosphere it radiated in the late 1800s. This palpable sense of intrigue and mystery that permeates the opera is due in part to its awe-inspiring Old World interiors as well as Gaston Leroux, the author of "Phantom of the Opera," for which the Garnier served as inspiration. Leroux claimed the phantom was indeed real, successfully incorporating real life opera occurrences (such as the chandelier falling and killing a bystander) into his fiction. The Garnier's lack of a robust historical record, as well as Leroux's writing talents, have left many wondering if there really was a dweller that lurked beneath the opera. Staff have claimed otherwise, but say with the opera's very real underground lake, it's easy to see how the story could be so convincing. Without Napoleon III, who was responsible for commissioning the opera, Leroux's tale would have never come to fruition. 

    The best way to fully experience the Palais Garnier is by purchasing a ballet or opera ticket. Remember to book your tickets several months in advance, as performances are highly coveted. If you won't be in town for a performance or aren't up for forking over the oftentimes high price of a performance, you can explore the building's magnificent interiors on your own. Travelers who did so found the insides of the building to be so grand they couldn't believe their eyes. Visitors said every part of the Palais Garnier, down to the smallest of nooks and crannies, was completely stunning, with some comparing it to the kind of extravagance you'd find in Versailles. Because of the opera's popularity, you're likely going to have to wait in line to get tickets as well as enter the attraction.

    15-20 minutes by metro; 10-15 minutes by car
  • 3
    #17
    Champs-Élysées
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    #17 in Paris
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Musician Joe Dassin once sang "Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées," which translates to "There's everything you could want along the Champs-Élysées." And he's right. Paris' most famous boulevard  stretching more than a mile from the glittering obelisk at Place de la Concorde to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe   is a shopper's mecca. Along its wide, tree-lined sidewalks, you'll find such luxury stores as Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss rubbing elbows with less-pricey establishments like Adidas and Gap.

    While the Champs-Élysées is no doubt a shopping paradise, recent travelers noticed the price tags at most stores are can be pretty high. And the more affordable options are constantly swamped with people. The Champs-Élysées itself is no different. Because this is such a famous street in Paris, expect there to be crowds galore, both during the day and the nighttime. Still, many travelers enjoyed taking in the Champs-Élysées' bustling atmosphere and observing both locals and tourists come and go. Some recent visitors said a trip to the Champs-Élysées is not complete without a stop at Laduree, the city's famous macaron shop. 

    15-20 minute walk
  • 4
    #12
    Arc de Triomphe
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    #12 in Paris
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Situated at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the towering Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoléon to honor the Grande Armee during the Napoleonic Wars. The arch, which is the largest of its kind in the world, is adorned with several impressive, intricately carved sculptures. Underneath the Arch travelers will find the names of the battles fought during the first French Republic and Napolean's Empire as well as generals who fought in them. Travelers will also find the famous tomb of The Unknown Soldier. The unknown soldier currently buried there is meant to represent all the unidentified or unaccounted for soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. The flame that was lit when the soldier was laid to rest has not extinguished since it was initially lit in the 1920s, and is rekindled every night at 6:30 p.m. by a member of the armed services. 

    Aside from admiring the arch, visitors can climb to the top and take in the Parisian panorama. Most visitors are wowed by the immense size of the structure and recommend ascending to the top for the spectacular Paris views. Visitors caution that you'll have to wait in line to get to the top and the climb, which is made up of hundreds of stairs, can be a serious workout. Others strongly cautioned against trying to cross the street to get to the Arc. Instead, take the underground tunnel near the metro that leads directly to the base of the structure. 

    20 minutes by metro; 10-15 minutes by car
  • 5
    #3
    Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
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    #3 in Paris
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Designed and constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (the World's Fair), the Eiffel Tower was always meant to be a temporary structure, but it skirted demolition talks twice. The first time, at the beginning of the 1900s, the tower was kept around because of its transmission talents. Gustav Eiffel, chief architect of the Eiffel Tower, had a variety of scientific experiments tested on the tower with the hope that any discoveries would help prolong its lifespan. One of these included a wireless transmissions test, which the tower passed with flying colors. During World War I, the Eiffel Tower's transmission capabilities enabled it to intercept communications from enemies as well as relay intel to troops on the ground. The second time the Eiffel Tower was almost destroyed was during the German occupation of France during World War II. Hitler planned to get rid of the tower, but never ended up going through with his plan. 

    Today, the Eiffel Tower is still used for communication transmissions but is chiefly regarded for its grandeur. If you can believe it, many Parisians initially found this architectural marvel to be nothing more than an eyesore. Regardless, the Eiffel Tower today stands as one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Visitors can walk up to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower or take the elevator all the way up to the top, where they'll be treated with vast panoramic views of the city. While some recent visitors complain of long lines  especially during the summer  you can bypass the wait by booking your tickets online at the Eiffel Tower's website. And though some travelers aren't crazy about the price to get to the top, many agree that the views are worth it. Visitors also strongly recommend making an additional trek at night. That's because every hour on the hour, thousands of flickering light bulbs make the Eiffel Tower sparkle, leaving tourists in complete awe. 

    25 minutes by train; 10-15 minutes by car
  • 6
    #1
    Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)
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    #1 in Paris
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Note that the cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire on April 15, 2019. Its wooden roof and spire collapsed during the fire. It remains closed until further notice.

    Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is seen as a Parisian icon. Located right along the picturesque River Seine, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is often regarded as one of the best Gothic cathedrals of its kind in the world. Construction of the famous cathedral started in the late 10th century and final touches weren't made until nearly 200 years later. And once you get an eyeful of the cathedral yourself, you'll start to understand why it took so long.

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