I’ve never been to Paris and will have the opportunity to spend one day there in the next couple weeks.
What do I absolutely want to see and do during my brief visit?
Lucky you!!! There’s a LOT you can do in a day!
Here’s a one-day itinerary of Paris, laid out pretty much in a straight line so you can walk it (or take cabs without spending time and money zig-zagging through the city).
Start the morning with a cappuccino and fresh croissant at your local bakery. Wherever you’re staying, there will be one, and it will be amazing.
A very tourist-y but worthwhile thing to do is the Bateaux Mouches. It’s about an hour-long cruise on the Seine, where you’ll get an overview of the city and see many of the major buildings and monuments.
Once that’s done, head east along the Seine past the Place de la Concorde to the Musee l’Orangerie. My favorite museum, it’s a gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Not to be missed are the rooms featuring Monet’s Water lilies, which are immense and mind-blowing.
From there, you can continue east through Jardin des Tuileries, a large garden with beautiful statuary between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, and one of my favorite places to just stroll.
Cross the street bordering the north side of the garden, Rue de Rivoli, and stop into Angelina’s. Founded in 1903, the tea house is famous for their hot chocolate, which will ruin you for being able to drink any other chocolate but totally worth it.
Cross the river to the Left Bank (La Rive Gauche) and walk along Boulevard Saint Germain for some shopping – window or otherwise. Wind up for a late lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais, a small restaurant near the corner of Saint Germain and Carrefour de l’Odeon. Amazing food, congenial staff, and always interesting guests.
After lunch, walk a short distance to Shakespeare and Company. It’s a bookstore unlike any you’ve ever visited, full of great ghosts (writers such as Ernest Hemmingway, Djuna Barnes and James Joyce were known to hang out there, sometimes sleeping there when they didn’t have money for other accommodations). Be sure to head up the stairs where someone may be playing the piano – just don’t disturb the sleeping cat.
Just across the bridge and in plain view from Shakespeare is the Cathedral Notre Dame. Admission is free, although you’ll need a ticket if you want to climb the 3 billion stairs to the top. Plenty to see at ground level and it’s absolutely breathtaking.
At that point you may want to consider a nap so you’re rested for dinner and maybe some Paris jazz at Le Caveau de la Huchette, located on Rue de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter. Order a Calvados (apple brandy) from the world-renowned bartender – and watch how he pours it.
With one day to spend, I would not visit the Louvre unless it’s a passion of yours – long lines and way too immense, or the Eiffel Tower – also long lines to spend the day riding an elevator. You’ll get a decent view of these from the Bateaux Mouches.
Hope this is helpful! Please let me know if you get to visit any of these places. I’ll be with you in spirit!!