Must Do List

If you are staying for 2 days or 10, this is my list of must do’s and tips on fitting them in if your time is limited.

  • Notre Dame
  • Pompidou Center
  • Galleries Lafayette
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Sacre Coeur
  • Arc de Triumph
  • Champs-Elysees
  • Louvre
  • Musee d’Orsay
  • Eiffel Tower

While it is possible to see all of these in a full day of sightseeing, I would suggest at least two days if you want to see them all. If you only have one day, below is the most efficient route to try and fit it all in.
If you have more time, you can see additional suggestions for 2 days, up to 6 days, and a week or longer.

Start your day at a small cafe with a pastry and coffee. Don’t try to start too early as many places will be closed until 9 or 10 a.m. After enjoying a nice bite, visit Notre Dame, walk behind the church across the bridge to the other island just East of Notre Dame. You can walk down the street past Cafe St. Regis to Berthillion (opens at 10) to get some great ice cream. Continue North across the river and make your way through the Marais to the Pompidou Center. The museum opens at 11 a.m. If you have time to explore a little I would head up the escalators directly to the 5th floor. Not only is there an amazing view of the city but the modern art on this level is outstanding. 

Afterwards head back to Rue de Rivoli and walk West to the Chatelet metro station. Take the 7 line to Opera. Behind the beautiful Opera building is Galleries Lafayette. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but be sure to go in and see the spectacular rotunda and then head up the escalators to the viewing deck. It is free to go up and offers some amazing views. 

You can then either get back on the metro at Opera or walk Northwest to Saint-Lazare. Take the #12 line to Pigalle. From Pigalle you can either head East to Sacre Coeur or West to Molin Rouge. I suggest walking down the street to Moulin Rouge, where you can take the petite train through Montemarte to Sacre Couer. If your have a Paris Pass, the train is free to ride. It only runs every 1/2 hour or so, but there is a Starbucks across the street if you have a little time to kill. 

Once you have made your way up the hill to Sacre Coeur, spend a little time taking in the amazing views of the city. You can make your way back down the hill, either down the stairs in front of the church, or wind your way through the streets in the Montemart area. 

Make your way back to one of the stops along the #2 line- Anvers, Pigalle, or Blanche depending on your route down the hill. From there take the metro West to Charles de Gaulle Etoille. You will emerge from the subway at Arc de Triumph.

Walk Southeast down the Champs-Elysees. This is one of the most expensive shopping areas in Paris, so for me it is all about window shopping, but definitely fun to take in the scenery!

Depending on how much time you have you can either walk all the way down the Champs-Elysees, through the Louvre gardens to the Louvre, or you can jump on the #1 line to Palais Royal Musee du Louvre.

If you have to go into the Louvre to see Mona Lisa, then take the metro. If you only have one day I would skip going into the Louvre all together and take in the gardens and see the Louvre Pyramid before walking across the bridge to see Musee d’Orsay. 

Your Paris Pass will allow you to skip the long queue at Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, but you may not have time to see them both. They both close at 6 p.m. However, the Orsay is open late on Thursdays if that is the day you happen to be visiting. So, if you are only going to do one, I suggest the Orsay. Don’t miss the 5th floor of impressionist works and great views from the back side of the Orsay clocks.

Whew, you have had a fun filled day, but don’t think that it is over yet! From the Orsay, I would suggest finding a cute cafe to sit and have a snack and espresso before walking along the Seine towards Eiffel Tower. By now it will probably be early evening and the sun will set soon. This is a great time to take in the view from Pont Alexander III of the Eiffel Tower. 

You can then stroll along the river to make your way to Bateaux Parisiens and enjoy a river cruise when the city lights are reflected on the water. The cruise is included in the Paris Pass, and operates until 10 p.m. but check for departure times for your particular day.

 

After your river cruise, you will be back at the Eiffel Tower. By now it will be lit up in its spectacular fashion, and depending on what time you get there, kill some time in the park or across the river by Trocadero to wait for the lights to twinkle. It happens at the top of every hour starting at 9 p.m.

You can enjoy an evening walk or jump on the Metro back to your hotel. The metro typically runs until 1 a.m. so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting back before then.

You can download a suggested itinerary for your length of stay at

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