Paris is known for its long, romantic weekend getaways. It offers the perfect blend of long walks through narrow streets, strolling down the Seine, and having long dinners with your loved one in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower. While it may seem like a city that should be savored and explored at a leisurely pace, it is also possible to enjoy a one-day trip and experience its charm. To demonstrate this, I decided to book a train ticket to Paris and explore the city in just one day. Here is my itinerary with great things to do in Paris.
1. Kicking the day off with the Sacre Coeur
It takes only three hours to get from Amsterdam to Gare du Nord in Paris by the Thalys train (now run by Eurostar). After arriving at the train station, we took metro line 2 to ‘Anvers’ to reach our first destination – the Sacre Coeur. This is a white basilica located on top of the hill of the Montmarte. Once you climb the 300 steps, while avoiding the pushy vendors selling bracelets, you’ll stand face to face with this marvelous snow-white basilica.
2. Checking the View from the Arc de Triomphe
We took line 2 to ‘Charles de Gaulle Etoile’ near Place de Gaulle to see the Arc de Triomphe. Crossing the square is risky as it’s a busy traffic roundabout. It is also not needed to risk your life stepping into traffic as there is a tunnel below the square. Tickets can be also bought in this tunnel. If you’re under 25 and an EU resident, you can enter for free. The climb up the 350 steps to the top is tiring but the panoramic view of Paris is worth it.
3. Admiring the Eiffel Tower
After taking the metro, you can reach the Eiffel Tower by getting off at Bir-Hakeim on line 6. This iconic structure, often referred to as the “Iron Lady of Paris,” was almost demolished in 1909. However, when the antenna at the top was discovered, they decided to keep it. Fortunately for us, the 324-meter tower still stands today as an impressive sight. To avoid long queues, you can purchase your ticket online in advance. This will give you priority access and save you from waiting for hours. Alternatively, you can choose to climb the stairs to the second floor.
4. Exploring the courtyard of Palais du Louvre
Our next stop on the list of things to do in Paris was a romantic walk along the Seine, instead of taking the metro. We walked to the Palais du Louvre from the Eiffel Tower, crossing the Pont des Arts, the former love lock bridge. The Louvre was originally a castle and then a palace, but is now a beautiful museum. Despite the tourists taking cliché photos, like touching the top of the pyramid, the palace and nearby garden are worth enjoying. However, entering the Louvre Museum requires time in the queue. It would be better to book your ticket online in advance. Since we only had a day in Paris, we decided to skip it.
5. Ending the day at Notre Dame
For the last time, we headed back to the metro and took line 4 to reach the ‘Chatelet’ station. From there, we enjoyed a pleasant evening walk to the Ile de la Cité. Our aim was to order a drink with a stunning view of the Notre Dame cathedral. The cathedral is popularly known for the story of the bell ringer Quasimodo. Update: these photos are from 2014. After the fire in 2019, most of the building was damaged or gone. They have started rebuilding it.
And that’s how the day ended in Paris. I know Paris offers so much more than this, but at least I got a good impression of the city. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the french capital.
How to get around in Paris: Use the metro
You might have noticed that we took the metro quite often. Paris has a great metro system that takes you in no time from place to place. A metro ticket for the day is super convenient. There are three options: Carte Mobilis (valid for 24 hours, €8,45), Ticket Jeunes week-end (for everyone under 26 and only valid on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, €4,60) or Paris Visite (1-day card, €13,55). The last one is a tourist card that gives you a discount on a number of sights. Here you can read all the information about public transport tickets in Paris.
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