Paris is seriously one of my favourite cities, I could easily live in this place! Paris is everything; romantic, charming, grand, sophisticated. And it has something for everyone! Every time I go back to Paris I always seem to find myself in these exact same spots time after time – it’s what I consider to be the perfect Paris 1 day itinerary! So let’s see what we can get upto in 24 hours in Paris!
Most people go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. But I go to Paris for Montmartre, Paris’ cutest district. I really believe this is a part of Paris you HAVE to see – even if you only have 24 hours in Paris! Head into the back streets behind the Moulin Rouge area and you literally step back in time in Montmartre with its small cafés, cobblestone streets and vintage stores. It has lost none of it’s village charm, and it is hard to believe you are in the centre of Paris! It’s a great place to escape to if you want to get away from the crowds.
Montmartre is my absolute favourite area of Paris – this gorgeous artsy hilltop neighbourhood, once covered in windmills (moulins) is like a dream! There are plenty of cosy Parisian cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by too. A beautiful place to stop is at the picturesque La Maison Rose on the ivy-lined Rue de l’Abreuvoir – a cafe restaurant Picasso frequently visited. Make sure to visit it! Then head down the street to Place Dalida, possibly the prettiest square in the city, where you will usually come across some artists at their easels painting, just like Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir and Monet, who all lived and painted in Montmartre, would have done.
The Basilique du Sacré-Coeur sits on top of Montmartre hill and provides a beautiful view of Paris. Be sure to visit this stunning basilica, although head there early if you wish to avoid the crowds!
Free Walking Tour from Moulin Rouge
The first time I visited Paris I did a guided tour of Montmartre with discoverwalks.com. I really recommend this company – the tour was brilliant, with 90 minute tours at 11am and 14.30 starting at Moulin Rouge and finishing at Sacre Coeur. It is a free walking tour, and they only rely on tips, so please be generous with your tips.
Head to the Moulin Rouge to watch the cabaret and famous can-can dance. Of course you won’t find any locals here and it is around €90 for a ticket. Expensive, but sure you’ll have a great night. If you don’t want to spend this money but still want to experience the cabaret, you can climb the hill to Montmartre to watch a much cheaper cabaret at Au Lapin Agile.
The area around Moulin Rouge, Pigalle, is a bit of a weird place and although not an unsafe area, it is a bit seedy with many sex shops around. Of course, it is worth it to come here and see the famous Moulin Rouge even just from the outside, also because it is at the base of Montmartre hill, so you can go on to explore bohemian Montmartre from here.
Paris’ most colourful street, Rue Crémieux, is an absolutely adorable cobblestone street with pastel coloured houses. This is one of the most photographed streets in Paris, and reminds me of London’s Portobello Road. Remember this is a residential street so if you do visit here please respect the occupants privacy! Try to keep noise to a minimum and try not to spend too long there. The nearest metro is Quai de la Rapee (near Gare de Lyon), or it is also a short walk from Bastille.
Of course no visit to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. I find the Trocadero steps provide the best view of the Eiffel Tower and there is a lovely atmosphere here, especially in the evenings, albeit rather crowded. Personally, I never actually went up the Eiffel Tower, but if you do decide to go up, you should climb up to the second level of the tower as the queue is much quicker and smaller here. Buy tickets in advance of course. From the Eiffel Tower stroll to Champs Elysees – Paris’ busiest street, and see the Arc du Triomphe that lies at the end of the street. The view from the top of Arc du Triomphe is one of the best in Paris! Get here early as the queue is never long in the morning.
Luckily every time I have visited Paris it has been sunny. Ask the French and they will say that is super lucky! That’s my excuse why I haven’t visited The Louvre or any of the other museums yet – I’m saving them for a rainy day, as I just love walking round Paris down the Siene when it’s sunny – I don’t want to be stuck inside a museum when it’s sunny! When you are planning your trip to Paris, make sure to check museum opening days beforehand as state-owned museums (including The Louvre) are closed on Tuesdays, whereas most city-owned museums (including Musee d’Orsay) are closed on Mondays.
Parisian Cafes and Notre Dame
An essential part of Paris is the cafe culture; make sure to visit one whilst here. The cafes aren’t just about the coffees and the croissants, but about people watching too. Paris has so many atmospheric cafes, so make sure to find one where you can sit outside facing the street, and just soak up Paris. A gorgeous cafe if you are looking for a suggestion is Boot cafe “cordonnerie” in Marais. Alternatively Vieux Paris d’Arcole is a really cute cafe just a few minutes walk from Notre Dame Cathedral.
Partying in Bastille
To finish the night off, head down to Bastille to party. Bastille is located in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris (11eme) and is one of Paris’ top nightlife spots for bars and clubs. It is a really fun night out here and there are lots of backstreets around the Bastille roundabout packed with bars. The bars are full every night of the week – even on a Sunday when my friend and I went out! We had a ball – the streets had an amazing atmosphere! We bar hopped down Rue de Lappe and finished in Le Balajo – one of the clubs that is open until 6am! There are also lots of salsa places here too for those interested.
Now of course 24 hours is certainly not enough time to even scratch the surface with Paris. This city always makes you leave wanting more! I get that Paris isn’t everyones cup of tea. The transport strikes are a nightmare, the opening hours are bizarre sometimes, the sky is often grey, and let’s be honest – Parisians can be rude! But this is truly a city that needs to be experienced. Make your own decisions about the place, but for me – I can’t wait to walk those streets again.