A one-day itinerary for Paris

How to get the most out of just 24 hours in Paris

You will notice this is set up as a rigorously timed day. There's no need to treat it as such. Feel free to use this Paris plan more as a rough guide than a set itinerary. Adjust the times to fit your personal style and desires.

Want to spend longer at the Louvre? Do that. Want to skip the Seine cruise? Fine by me. The point is to give a sense of how much you can accomplish in a day, and how long it takes at each of the top sights to do a quick-but-thorough visit. Just be sure to buy a Paris Museum Pass so you can skip the lines and save time.


This first tip is for the celver sorts who downlaoded the jeFile/Out of the line app (details are on the Notre Dame page). While getting ready to go/having breakfast, log into the app at 7:30am so you can get first crack at entry times for the Notre Dame Towers. Book an entry for around 10:15am if you can.


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Head out to arrive early at the world-famous Gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame early to beat the hordes. Spend an hour minutes admiring the stone carvings on the facade and, inside, the amazing stained glass windows, carved stone chancel, and 18th-century choir stalls.


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If you didn't already book an entry time with teh jeFile app, pop around the north side of the catehdral to print out an entry time for the Towers of Notre Dame, then backtrack to walk around the south (right) side of the cathedral so you can admire the sculptures, gargoyles, and flying buttresses festooning the exterior. At the back, cut through little Jean XXIII park—partly to get a nice picture of the church's apse and all of its buttresses, but also so you to visit the Holocaust Memorial at the eastern tip of Île de la Cité. (It opens at 10am.) Spend about 10 minutes in the memorial, then continue your loop around Notre Dame until you arrive back near the front on the north side, where you'll find the entrance to climb the towers.


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Hopefully you managed to snag a 10:15am entry time for the Towers of Notre Dame. Clamber up the North Tower and then cross over into the South Tower to examine the famed gargoyles up close and enjoy a much more intimate view across Paris than the more famous Eiffel Tower gets you (though you will also be visiting that one later today).


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Just two blocks west of Notre Dame lies the jewel box chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, hidden in the middle of a government building complex. There's usually a short line to get in (thanks to airport-style security machines), but it's worth it to go upstairs into this late Gothic chapel, built to house the Crown of Thorns, lined practically floor to ceiling with arguably the most amazing stained glass windows in France.


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Grab some lunch as you make your way to the Louvre (which is about a 15-minute walk from Sainte-Chapelle). Make it a quick bite, maybe even just a ham and cheese crèpe from a sidewalk stand. Don't bother with a full, sit-down meal; with just one day in Paris, you'll want to get in as much sightseeing as you can during open hours. Save the leisurely meal for dinner.


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"Louvre" must be French for "ludicrously huge museum." Pay your respects to Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo and stay in there at least two and a half hours. (Or, if you're a big fan, stay as long as they'll let you before heading off to dinner to toast your one day in Paris and avow a return.)


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Walk west from the Louvre courtyard (with its famous glass pyramid) and under the Arc de Triomphe de Caroussel triumphal arch into the Tuileries Gardens. You're actually just using these luxurious formal gardens-turned-public park as a shortcut—but what a gorgeous short-cut! Just before you get to the big fountain you see straight ahead, take the path to your left. Go around the small, pond-like fountain then turn left again until you reach the road (av. de Géneral Lemonnier, which dives through a tunnel under the park at this spot). Turn right down this road to cross the Pont Royal bridge over the Seine River to the Left Bank. Turn right to walk along quai Anatole France one long block to the entrance of the Musée d'Orsay:


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The old Orsay train station has been transformed into the Musée d'Orsay, the world's single greatest collection of Impressionist art and other crowd-pleasers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from Whistler's Mother to Van Gogh's Starry Night, with masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Manet, Gauguin, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissaro, Seurat, and many more in between.


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Ride the RER C two stops west to Pont de l'Alma (or, if you prefer, walk in a brisk 20–30 minutes). From the RER/Métro exit, you should be able to see your next destination towering over the rooftops. Simply walk downriver along quai Branly until you get to the Champ de Mars park and its Eiffel Tower. Climb the Eiffel Tower (well, take the elevator) and enjoy the Parisian panoramas. Stick around for sunset—or even stay for dinner at one of the restaurants up here (overpriced, yes, but still: it's a dinner on the Eiffel Tower!) Once you get back down, you'll be able to look back and see the tower lit up at night.


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Eat wherever you'd like, but I should point out that since the next stop is a Seine Cruise. To save time (and add romance), you could sign up for an evening tour that includes the last stop, dinner, and the next activity: dinner at the Eiffel Tower followed by a Seine River cruise. (Or, as you'll see in a moment, a tour that includes the Eiffel, Seine cruise, dinner, and the Moulin Rouge.)


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You can either linger over dinner for as long as you like, or—to end the day on a classic note—finish up in time to catch the last nightly departure of a night cruise on the Seine river. Depending on the cruise company and the time of year, the final cruise of the day may be as early as 9pm or as late as 10:30pm (11pm in on summer weekends). Research ahead of time—and maybe book it in advance—to be sure you don't miss out.


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's certainly not for everyone, but many people would consider a trip to Paris unfinished if they didn't see the famous cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge. (Just to be sure you know: this is not really a family venue; the dancers are—as is traditional—half-naked for part of the act.) Perhaps the easiest way to cram in all of the sights and activities of this evening is to take a tour that includes it all:

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Seine cruise
  • Dinner (either at the Eiffel Tower or on the cruise boat, your choice)
  • Tickets to the 11pm seating at the Moulin Rouge
  • All transportation in between


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What the grey and blue time bubbles mean

Since this itinerary takes into account travel time (walking, taking the Métro, driving, whatever):

  • The times in grey circles are the times by which you need to start moving in order to go to the next stop.
  • The times in blue circles are the times by which you should arrive at that stop to begin the fun.
Activities, walks, & excursions links
Useful French phrases

Useful French for rail travel

English (anglais) French (français)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Où est? ou eh
...train station la gare lah gar
train train traah
ticket un billet uhn bee-YAY
ticket counter les guichet lay ghee-SHAY
departures within the hour départs dans l'heure day-PAR dohn luhr
local departures départs banlieue day-PAR bahn-LYOO
long-distance departures départs grandes lignes day-PAR grahnd leenyh
departure time heure de départ uhr de day-PAR
arrival time heure d'arrivée urh dar-ree-YAV
first class première classe pruh-mee-YAIR klahs
second class seconde classe say-COHN-duh klahs
one way ticket un billet simple uhn bee-YAY SAHM-pluh
round trip (return) ticket un billet aller-retour uhn bee-YAY ah-LAY RAY-tour
I would like to reserve a seat Je voudrais réserver une place dzuh voo-DRAY RAY-sair-vay ooun plahs
I have a Eurailpass J'ai Eurailpass dzay ao-rail-PAHS
sleeping couchette une couchette ooun koo-SHET
berth in a sleeping car une place en voiture-lit ooune plahs uhn vwa-TOUR-lee
track voie
car / carriage voiture vwa-TOUR
punch your ticket composter de billet cohm-poh-STAY de bee-YAY
departures le départ luh day-PAR
arrivals l’arrivée lah-ree-VAY
connection correspondance ko-ray-spon-DOHNZ
coming from en provenance de un pro-veh-NONS de
going to a destination de ah des-tee-nah-tzee-YOWN de
Is this the right platform for the Paris train? Est-ce que c’est le quai pour le train de Paris? es kuh say le kay poo-rh leh traah de pah-REE
delayed en retard hn ruh-TAR
information information een-for-mah-tzee-YOHN
left luggage consigne cone-sah-NYEH
exit sortie sohr-TEE

Useful French for air travel

English (anglais) French (français)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Où est? ou eh
...the airport l'aéroport lair-oh-POR
the airplane l'avion lah-vee-YOHn
terminal terminal tehr-me-NAHL
flight vol vohl
gate porte pohrt
customs douane do-AHN
to the right à droite ah dwa-t
to the left à gauche ah go-sh
straight ahead tout droit too dwa
departures hall Hall de départ ahl de day-PAR
arrivals hall Hall d’arrivée ahl da-ree-VAY
exit sortie sohr-TEE
delayed en retard hn ruh-TAR
on time à l’heure ah LOUR
early en avance hn ah-VAHNS
check-in l’enregistrement lun-rej-ee-stray-MUN
immigration l'immigration lim-ee-grah-SYON
security check le contrôle de sécurité luh kon-TROLL de say-cure-ee-TAY
shuttle la navette lah na-VET
boarding pass une carte d’embarquement ooun kart dem-bark-eh-MUHn
baggage claim la livraison des bagages la lee-vray-SOHn day bah-GA-j
carry-on luggage les bagages à main lay bah-GA-j ah meh
checked luggage les bagages enregistrés lay bah-GA-j on-ray-jee-STRAY

Useful French for car travel

English (anglais) French (français)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car une voiture
une auto
ouhn vwa-TOUR
ouhn ow-TOH
scooter/motorboke une moto ouhn mo-TOH
gas station station-service stah-see-YOHN sair-VEES
gas de l'essence deh lay-SAWNS
diesel le gasolio
le gazole
leh gah-SOL-lyo
luh gag-ZOHL
Fill it up, please faire le plein, s'il vous plaît fair le plahn seel voo play
Where is... Où est? ou eh
...the highway l'autoroute lao-toh-ROOT
...the road la route lah root
...the street la rue lah roo
...the road for Paris
la route de Paris
lah root de pah-REE
to the right à droite ah dwa-t
to the left à gauche ah go-sh
keep going straight tout droit too dwa
to cross traverser trah-vair-SAY
toll un péage uhn PAY-ahj
parking stationner stah-see-yo-NAIR
road map carte routière kahrt roo-tee-YAIR
roundabout rond point rohn pwea
junction carrefour cah-ruh-FOUr

Typical road signs

English (anglais) French (français) 
Speed limit Limit de vitesse
Slow down Ralentissez
Stop Arrêt
Exit  Sortie
Give way Cedez le passage
Give way to traffic coming from the left/right Priorité à gauche / à droit
No passing Interdiction de doubler/dépasser
One-way Sens-unique
No entry Sens interdit
Road closed Route barrée
Detour Déviation
Risk of ice Verglas
Dead-end Impasse
Speed camera Radar de vitesse
Pedestrian crossing Passage piéton
Parking prohibited Stationnement interdit
Pedestrian zone Zone piétonnne

Basic phrases in French

English (anglais) French (français) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you merci mair-SEE
please s'il vous plaît seel-vou-PLAY
yes oui wee
no non no
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? par-lay-VOU on-GLAY
I don't understand Je ne comprende pas zhuh nuh COHM-prohnd pah
I'm sorry Je suis desolée zhuh swee day-zoh-LAY
How much does it cost? Combien coute? coam-bee-YEHN koot
That's too much C'est trop say troh
Good day Bonjour bohn-SZOURH
Good evening Bon soir bohn SWAH
Good night Bon nuit  bohn NWEE
Goodbye Au revoir oh-ruh-VWAH
Excuse me (to get attention) Excusez-moi eh-skooze-ay-MWA
Excuse me (to get past someone) Pardon pah-rRDOHN
Where is? Où est? ou eh
...the bathroom la toilette lah twah-LET
...train station la gare lah gahr

Days, months, and other calendar items in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert? coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? Quand est l'heure de fermeture?   coan eh lure duh fair-mah-TOUR
At what time... à quelle heure... ah kell uhre
Yesterday hier ee-AIR
Today aujoud'hui ow-zhuhr-DWEE
Tomorrow demain duh-MEHN
Day after tomorrow après demain ah-PRAY duh-MEHN
a day un jour ooun zhuhr
Monday Lundí luhn-DEE
Tuesday Maredí mar-DEE
Wednesday Mercredi mair-cray-DEE
Thursday Jeudi zhuh-DEE
Friday Vendredi vawn-druh-DEE
Saturday Samedi saam-DEE
Sunday Dimanche DEE-maansh
a month un mois ooun mwa
January janvier zhan-vee-YAIR
February février feh-vree-YAIR
March mars mahr
April avril ah-VREEL
May mai may
June juin zhuh-WAH
July juillet zhuh-LYAY
August août ah-WOOT
September septembre sep-TUHM-bruh
October octobre ok-TOE-bruh
November novembre noh-VAUM-bruh
December décembre day-SAHM-bruh

Numbers in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 un ehn
2 deux douh
3 trois twa
4 quatre KAH-truh
5 cinq sank
6 six sees
7 sept sehp
8 huit hwhee
9 neuf nuhf
10 dix dees
11 onze ownz
12 douze dooz
13 treize trehz
14 quatorze kah-TOHRZ
15 quinze cans
16 seize sez
17 dix-sept dee-SEP
18 dix-huit dee-SWEE
19 dix-neuf dee-SNEUHF
20 vingt vahn
21* vingt et un * vahnt eh UHN
22* vingt deux * vahn douh
23* vingt trois * vahn twa
30 trente truhnt
40 quarante kah-RAHNT
50 cinquante sahn-KAHNT
60 soixante swaa-SAHNT
70 soixante-dix swa-sahnt-DEES
80 quatre-vents  kat-tra-VAHN
90 quatre-vents-dix  kat-tra-vanht-DEES
100 cent sant
1,000 mille meel
5,000 cinq mille sank meel
10,000 dix mille dees meel

* You can form any number between 20 and 99 just like the examples for 21, 22, and 23. For x2–x9, just say the tens-place number (trente for 30, quarante for 40, etc.), then the ones-place number (35 is trente cinq; 66 is soixsante six). The only excpetion is for 21, 31, 41, etc. For x1, say the tens-place number followed by "...et un" (trente et un, quarante et un, etc.).

‡ Yes, the French count very strangely once they get past 69. Rather than some version of "seventy,' they instead say "sixy-ten" (followed by "sixty-eleven," "sixty-twelve,' etc. up to "sixty-nineteen.") And then, just to keep things interesting, they chenge it up again and, for 80, say 'four twenties"—which always make me thinks of blackbirds baked in a pie for some reason. Ninety becomes "four-twenties-ten" and so on up to "four-nineties-ninteen" for 99, which is quite a mouthful: quartre-vingts-dix-neuf.