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24 HOURS IN PARIS: How to see the best of Paris in a day!

Mel taking a selfie wearing blue sunglasses in front of the eiffel tower on a sunny day with bright blue skies in Paris

24 HOURS IN PARIS: How to see the best of Paris in a day!

Can you really do Paris in a day? Of course you won’t see everything. But you can certainly visit Paris’s most iconic landmarks and hot spots in less than 24 hours by following this expert guide on how to see the best of Paris in a day. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go (or alors allons-y)!

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8.30am: Breakfast

France are famous for their excellence in pastry making and it would be a CRIME for you not to have a traditional French breakfast whilst you’re visiting Paris! So start your 24 hours in Paris by indulging in some delicious, fresh buttery pastries for breakfast.

Wherever you’re staying, I guarantee you’ll find a patisserie within a five minute walk away. They’re THAT much a part of French culture! So you don’t have to worry about wasting time trying to find somewhere to have breakfast.

Mel holding and looking at croissants in Land and Monkeys bakery in paris

However, for my vegan travellers I’d recommend the amazing vegan bakery, Land and Monkeys. They sell a HUGE range of vegan baked goodies! These include a variety of croissants, pain au chocolat and croque madam. As well as a range of baguettes and special organic and naturally leavened breads.

They also sell all your dessert favourites such as cookies, cakes and tarts. All without milk or eggs, but with allll the taste and texture!

Mel holding a paper bag of pastries up outside Land and Monkeys bakery in paris

9.30am: Arc de Triomphe

Fresh from breakfast, start off your day in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. It’s one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing over 160 feet tall in the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

It was built between 1806 and 1836 upon instructions from Napoleon to make “a column dedicated to the glory of the Grand Armee” after his victory at Austerlitz. The arch was modelled after the ancient Roman triumphal arch but in a neoclassic style which is simply stunning!

Front of the white stone arc de triumphe in Paris at sunset with crowds in front

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I also rests beneath the arch which pays tribute to the 1.3 million French soldiers who died in World War I. The slab above carries the inscription, “Here lies a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914-1918”, which symbolises the unmarked graves of those that gave their lives.

It only takes about half an hour to have a proper look around (which is free), but I would highly recommend getting skip-the-line rooftop tickets as they’re only £11.18 and you get to see an incredible 360 view of Paris!

Inside the inner white stone arch of the arc de triumphe in Paris at sunset

11.00am: Notre Dame Cathedral 

After visiting the Arc de Triomphe, take the metro to St-Michel Notre Dame on the blue line and visit the unmissable Notre Dame Cathedral.

It’s the most famous gothic church from the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size, antiquity and architecture. But millennial travellers will always remember first hearing about Notre Dame in the Disney classic, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ let’s be real! 😜

Outside Notre Dame Cathedral a white stone medieval Catholic cathedral in Paris

Let me tell you honestly – Notre Dame is fascinating! Even just being outside and admiring the iconic features of its facade, like the towers and legendary gargoyles, are enough to leave you with a sense of awe!

Inside, it’s even more impressive with gothic interiors, a 13th century organ, 10 large original bells and two towers with breathtaking views over central Paris and the Seine.

Sadly, we’re unable to go inside Notre Dame as it’s still undergoing renovation works due to the devastating 2019 fire. But you can go on a guided walking tour outside the cathedral if you’d like to learn more about its history. These tickets also include a tour of the archaeological crypt of Paris so they’re well worth it!

Skyline of Paris from Notre Dame at sunset with a gargoyle at the side

12.00pm: Eiffel Tower

After Notre Dame, take the metro and get off at Champ de Mars/ Tour Eiffel on the RER C line and head over to the Eiffel Tower!

Known locally as ‘la dame de fer’ (the iron lady), the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognised landmarks in the world (of course!).

Originally built as a temporary structure for the World’s Fair in 1900, it still stands over 100 years later. Which is a credit to how much it is treasured as part of the Parisian skyline!

Although they’re quite cheeky…basic entry tickets only allow you onto the two bottom floors and you have to climb 674 steps to get up there!

I would recommend booking direct access tickets in advance which allow you to skip the ticket queue and gives you access to the tower’s summit and lift.

Mel taking a selfie wearing blue overalls underneath the bottom of the eiffel tower in Paris with crowds in the background

1.30pm: Lunch

Before you head down, stop off for lunch and a glass of wine at the Eiffel Tower restaurant. It’ll give you a whole other perspective on Paris and is a great place to ‘break’ before your next stop.

If you fancy something a little more casual and cost-effective, check out the HappyCow app and find somewhere local to grab a quick bite.

But beware of the overpriced vendors that are around the tower – it feels like daylight robbery just buying a sandwich!

View of the Paris skyline from the top of the Eiffel Tower in paris

3.00pm: The Louvre

Never mind spending 24 hours in Paris, you could spend 24 hours in The Louvre – it’s HUGE! It’s one of the greatest museums of all-time and a must-see in Paris. It has such a vast collection of art and historical artefacts – all of which you can see for only £15 a ticket!

Originally built as a palace, The Louvre opened in 1793 with just 537 paintings. It now has a collection of over 20,000 works and is one of the most visited museums in the world with a staggering 9.7 million tickets sold every year!

It plays host to a number of star items such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. As well as a wide range of renaissance masterpieces, ancient sculptures, Islamic art, Eastern antiquities and Egyptian relics.

Outside the Louvre in Paris a glass pyramid next to a fountain

Controversial opinion here: I thought the famous Mona Lisa was a little disappointing (and tiiiiny!). I found that there are so many other paintings that are more poignant and beautiful in the museum (sorry Leonardo!).

However, something that positively won’t disappoint you is the Egyptian section. The Louvre houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities after the Cairo Museum and it’s incredible!

If you’re not a museum person, you may only do an hour or two and be ready to go. However, the museum shuts at 6pm most days, so you have plenty of time to have a proper look around or take a guided tour.

The Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre in Paris

6.00pm: Dinner time!

After a full day of getting to know Paris, your bellies will be well and truly rumbling. So by 6pm it’ll definitely be time for dinner! Luckily you’re visiting one of the best cities in the world for food so you’re spoilt for choice.

In fact, food is such an integral part of French culture that UNESCO declared their way of eating an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2010! France are famous for their decadent pastries, mature cheese and meats but unfortunately this can be a bit problematic if you have any dietary requirements.

If you’re vegetarian (or vegan like me!) finding vegan alternatives is more challenging in Paris. I found that there wasn’t a lot of restaurants that offer many vegetarian or vegan options but there are a handful of vegan and vegetarian restaurants that are excellent. You just need the HappyCow app and a metro card!

For dinner I would recommend the vegan restaurant, Le Potager Du Marais. They serve veganised versions of all the best French cuisine, so you get a taste for the culture without having to compromise on quality.

It’s also perfectly located as it’s only 10 mins on the metro from the day’s last stop – The Louvre!

Casserole dish with vegan onion soup in it with a layer of vegan melted cheese on top at vegan restaurant le Potager du marais

For starters I recommend the French onion soup. It’s made with a rich broth, caramelised onions and topped with a melty vegan cheese top layer over sliced baguette.

For mains, the buckwheat pancake stuffed with leek fondu, the spinach-walnut lasagna with melted vegan cheese and the seitan stew with red wine and mushrooms are amazing vegan French alternatives.

Just look at that crispy triple cooked potato below – NOMS!

There’s also half a page of desserts on the menu that are a mixture of French classics. These classics include: crème brûlée and chocolate mousse as well as apple pie, red berry crumble and a selection of cakes.

Seitan "beef" stew with mushrooms and triple cooked potato at vegan restaurant le Potager du marais

8.00pm: Crazy Horse Show

After recharging with a little dinner and a quick outfit change – get ready to hit the Parisian nightlife, starting at the Crazy Horse!

The Crazy Horse in Paris was founded by artist, Alain Bernardin in 1951 and is famous for its daring burlesque shows performed by classically trained dancers integrating sensuous choreography.

Following the theme of “totally crazy”, the 90 minute shows incorporate changing sets and dance routines every five to 10 minutes. All with their own theme, props, outlandish costumes and colourful wigs!

It’s a fantastic show performed in a small, intimate setting which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the artistry of the show.

I can’t share any other photos unfortunately as there is no photography allowed inside. But take my word for it – you just need to see it for yourself, it’s amazing!

Menu and glass of champagne at the Crazy Horse Paris with pink light shining on it

11.00pm: Head out for the night in Paris!

If you’re not collapsing into bed by this point in the day – I applaud you! But if you still have energy to spare after the Crazy Horse, why not head out in Paris for the night?

Paris is well-known for its lively and diverse night life. From sophisticated wine and cocktail bars to banging music venues and glitzy nightclubs – Paris has got a fabulous night out no matter what mood you’re in.

Now, where your 24 hours in Paris ends is entirely up to you. Just make sure to buy some Lucozade and Rennies for the morning after!

Mel posing in front of the Eiffel Tower at night wearing a blue dress with flowers on it for a night out

Is there anything else you would want to see if you were only spending 24 hours in Paris? Let me know below! 😃

Quick FYI guys – this post contains affiliate links to various products and tours. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!