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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
    #5
    Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur)
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    #5 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. 

    While the Sacre-Coeur does receive its fair share of crowds, travelers say braving the many tourists was worth it. Visitors found the church to be magnificent and although some admit it's tempting to just stay outside and admire the views of Paris, travelers strongly recommend exploring the church's stunning interiors. Travelers also suggested making a trek during sunset and if you stick around long enough, you'll be able to see the Eiffel Tower's sparkling lights illuminate the skyline. Though if you can't fit that in your schedule, carve out some time to explore the charming Montmartre neighborhood, especially the Place du Tertre, a public square.

    You can reach the Sacré-Coeur from the Anvers metro stop on line 2; from there, you can ride the funicular up the mountain to the basilica. But to truly experience Montmartre's magical atmosphere, climb the neighborhood's winding stone, located next to the funicular. The Sacré-Cœur opens its doors to visitors every day from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and admission is free. Visit the basilica's website for more information.

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    25-30 minutes by metro; 15-20 minutes by car
  • 2
    #8
    Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris
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    #8 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.

    The Palais Garnier is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but closes at 1 p.m. on days of matinee performances. Unguided admission costs 11 euros ($12.31) for adults and 7 euros ($7.83) for students and those younger than 25. The opera also offers guided tours for 15.50 euros ($17.47) for adults and with discounted rates for children and students. Guided English tours occur every day at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. You can also purchase an audio guide for 5 euros (around $5.60). The Opéra Garnier stands just north of the Louvre and can be reached from the Opéra (métro lines 3, 7 and 8) and Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette (lines 7 and 9) stations. You'll also find bookstores and gift shops, as well as a restaurant on-site. For more information on general visits, check out the Palais Garnier website

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    15-20 minutes by metro; 10-15 minutes by car
  • 3
    #15
    Champs-Élysées
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    #15 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. 

    You're welcome to cruise the Champs-Élysées at any time, day or night, and window-shopping won't cost you a penny. Métro stations Concorde (lines 1, 8 and 12), Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau (lines 1 and 13) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (lines 1 and 9) are nearest to the bustling avenue. The street also leads to such sites as the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais (both exhibition spaces), among other attractions. To learn more about what to see and do, visit the Champs-Élysées website.

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    15-20 minute walk
  • 4
    #10
    Arc de Triomphe
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    #10 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. 

    The interior of the arch and the viewing deck is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10:30 or 11 p.m., depending on the season. You can admire the arch from the outside for free, but climbing to the top will cost 8 euros ($8.94) for anyone older than 17. Children 17 years and younger can enter the arch for free and those between the ages of 18 and 25 can enjoy a discounted entry fee of 5 euros ($5.59). The closest metro station is Charles de Gaulle Étoile, which service lines 1, 2 and 6 as well as RER A. To learn more, visit the Arc de Triomphe website.

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    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. 

    You can reach Paris' most famous landmark from the Bir-Hakeim, Trocadéro or Ecole Militaire métro stops, serviced by lines 6, 8 and 9. The Eiffel Tower, located on the western side of the city, is open every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from mid-June to early September, and from 9:30 a.m. to 11: 45 p.m. the rest of the year. Admission prices vary depending on how high you wish to go and how you choose to get there (elevator or stairs). Most visitors choose to ride the elevator to the top, which costs 17 euros (about $19) for adults, 14.50 euros (roughly $16.27) for visitors between the ages of 12 and 24, and 8 euros (about $9) for children ages 4 to 11. Access to the stairs and the elevator to the second floor is cheaper. For more information, visit the landmark's website.

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    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.

    The architectural details of the Notre-Dame are intricate and become more abundant the closer you get. The front entrance boasts carefully carved statues that integrate seamlessly into its stone facade. The portal of judgment entrance, in particular, is just one example of this awe-inspiring architectural style. The back end of the cathedral is just as spectacularly detailed, featuring an ornate flying buttress just begging to be photographed. Inside, travelers will find sky-high gilded ceilings and stained-glass windows throughout. If you want to do more than just meander around, visitors have the option of climbing the cathedral's 387 steps for top-notch views of the city. Or you can venture below to the crypt to view ancient remains. 

    Travelers found the architecture of the Notre-Dame to be amazing both inside and out. Those who ventured to the top of the cathedral thoroughly enjoyed the views, but were annoyed at how little time they were afforded by cathedral officials. Because going to the top of the Notre-Dame is such a popular activity, and there's so little space at the top, the cathedral restricts the number of people at the top as well as how long they can be there. Also, be prepared to wait. The attraction sees upward of 13 million visitors per year, so unless you come really early in the morning or late at night, there will likely be throngs of people at the front plaza and long lines to the top of the cathedral. 

    Notre Dame is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. There is no entrance fee, even if you want to climb to the top of the cathedral. The towers are open daily April through September from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. October through March. You'll find Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the city; subsequently, the Cité stop on the metro's line 4 is the nearest. To learn more, visit Notre Dame's website.

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