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Jam-Packed 2 Days in Paris Itinerary + Map

2 Days in Paris Itinerary

Planning a trip and looking for the perfect 2 days in Paris itinerary? From museums to Montmartre, cafes to Champs-Élysées, this jam-packed itinerary details things to do from morning to night. I’ve (Gemma) also included tips on how to get around, where to stay and eat as well as budget and time-saving tips. So let’s dive into the City of Lights, Love and the Louvre. 


Can’t travel just now? What about a group tour of Paris with a Parisian guide? This hilarious virtual tour game is a fun team builder and intro into Parisian life. I did it with my friends and it was a hoot.


Get your bearings! Paris is divided up into areas called arrondissements. The 1st arrondissement is where you will find the popular points of interest such as the Louvre, Palais Royal, Tuileries Gardin. Then the areas wind around the 1st like the country’s culinary decisive meal, snails.

Paris Arrondissement Map Districts in Paris

How to Spend 2 Days in Paris 

Day 1: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées

If your accommodation provides breakfast, gorge on all the pastries and bread to set you up for the busy morning in Paris.

If your accommodation doesn’t include breakfast, this is actually a blessing because there are boulangerie (bakers) all around the city selling rolls/buns, croissants and pastries.

If you prefer a name, Angelina Paris is a chain of traditional cafes in Paris, famous for its long lines and hot chocolate. It is quite the tourist tradition to dine here.

Personally, I didn’t want to wait (you can book ahead) so I had a cake to take away. Nice but not the best cake I had in Paris. Keep reading to find out which was…

Holybelly 5 and Holybelly 19 are breakfast joints which come highly recommended for aesthetically pleasing breakfast and brunch so if you are close to 10th arrondissement and you love quality sourced food for breakfast, it might be worth taking an hour out to enjoy a meal here. 

Regardless, you definitely want to spend some time in cafe, enjoying a coffee and people watching because that is a must-do in Paris.

Cafe Marais Christmas Paris

Trocadéro and the Eiffel Tower

Now that breakfast is sorted, let’s move on with our first stop of the day, Trocadéro.

Trocadéro is an area in the 16th arrondissement. There is a metro stop with the same name.

As you approach you will wonder why I’ve sent you to your death to dodge the cars using an incredibly busy roundabout.

I’ve not. The star of the show is yet to be seen!

The Eiffel Tower is the landmark lattice-shaped tower that many people think of first when they think of Paris and even France.

Created by the engineer Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair, this ‘temporary’ tower has withstood the elements since then.

While it is not the tallest tower in the world, it is the tallest structure in Paris at 324 metres (1,063 ft) and can be seen all around the city. This is especially true at night when its famous illuminations start, on the hour.

Trocadéro’s free viewing area is where couples get their engagement photos and tourists take their Instagram shots.

Can you spot the carousel which features in everyone’s Instagram grid?

If you want crowd-free shots, come for sunrise and eat breakfast afterwards.

If you plan to go up the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadéro area is where you collect your voucher if you have reserved a skip the line ticket with GetYourGuide. 

With this ticket, you have the option to view the city from the second floor of the tower or go all the way to the summit!

Set aside 1.5 – 2 hours for an Eiffel Tower visit. Once you are finished walk ten minutes to Bir-Hakeim Metro to Estació de Charles de Gaulle – Étoile for the Arc de Triomphe.

Alternatively, enjoy the 30-minute walk between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Or use the Paris hop-on/off sightseeing bus which also includes an audio guide and stops all around the city from morning to evening.

If you decided not to climb the tower, walk to the Arc de Triomphe from Trocadéro (25 minutes), ride the metro or use the hop-on/off bus. Eiffel Trocadero Paris_

Paris Eiffel Tower Merry Go Round

Arc de Triomphe

When you arrive at the Arc de Triomphe you will most likely notice two things.

Firstly, traffic. Holy smokes, Parisian drivers are crazy and the Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of a mental roundabout.

Do not try to cross the road, use the underground tunnel to the right of the Arc with the  Champs-Élysées behind you.

Secondly, you’ll see tourists flirting with the road to get their photo taken just in front of the Arc with the Champs-Élysées behind again. Be careful here.

OK so now the logistics are sorted, it’s time to go underground, walk passed the long lines waiting to buy tickets and join the direct access line.

Next, flash your skip the line ticket on your phone to the staff then head through security.

You have to put your bag through airport-style security at every Paris attraction for obvious reasons. Factor this time into your itinerary if visiting in high season. 

Once cleared, hike up the challenging snail-like staircase to the museum floor. Here you will find free toilets.

The next set of stairs to the rooftop is less of a breath-stealer.

Enjoy the 360 views from the top of the Arc, take some photos, point to where you’ve just mean and then head back downstairs, swinging by the Eternal Flame which burns at the foot of the Arc before heading underground to the Champs-Élysées.

Arch de Triumph Paris_

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

If you need a snack, hit up with crepe stalls at the foot of the Champs-Élysées. They are reasonably priced for a tourist spot.

Champs-Élysées is Paris’s most famous shopping street. It starts at Place de la Concorde and ends at the Place Charles de Gaulle, where you’ve just visited the Arc de Triomphe.

To walk the full length would take around 30 minutes without stops for shopping and there are many to pop in to.

The first time I ever came across Sephora aka makeup mecca was on this street. My credit card was hit hard during that trip.

Champs-Élysées isn’t just about flexing your money muscles though, many events are based around this stretch including the Tour de France cycling competition, Christmas lights and the New Year’s Eve celebrations which are projected on the Arc de Triomphe.


» You may also like | The best New Year’s Eve parties around the world


Arch de Triumph Views

Afternoon Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Using your metro pass or the hop-on/off bus, make your way to Montmartre.

Spend your first afternoon in Paris strolling around the Montmartre neighbourhood looking out for the landmark pink cafe, Vignes du Clos Montmartre vineyard and the restaurant with the 17th-century windmill (Le Moulin de la Galette). 

Le Moulin de la Galette

Expect to see plants crawl up the facades of houses but be surprised by the splashes of modern and political street art as you climb (yes, it’s hilly) towards the Sacré-Cœur. 

On your way, pass the portrait artists at Place du Tertre. Sit for a picture if that’s your thing. 

Now, it’s your chance to try snails at the historic Le Consulat Restaurant.

Sacré-Cœur

Visiting the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is free with donations welcome. 

Underneath the Basilica is a crypt which is free to enter. You can pay a fee to see the city from the top or enjoy the views from just outside the Basilica. 

Sacre Coeur Paris

Head down the stairs, face the Sacré-Cœur and look to your right. Tilt your head, lining the grass horizontally and now you have one drunk house in Paris!

Drunken House Paris Montmartre

Continue your wandering through Montmartre by walking towards the Sacré-Cœur and walking past it on its left. 

I recommend the crepe shop here too. Yeah, I love crepes!

Crepe and Nutella Paris

On your way down, be sure to find Place Dalida, from the bottom this is where the street swooshes up and the Sacré-Cœur can be seen, just, at the top.

Definitely one of the prettiest streets in Paris.

Rue De L’abreuvoir Paris-_

From the bottom, make your way to Le Refuge for that red and white photo stop with the metro sign. 

Dine at Moulin de la Galette (windmill) for French cuisine, the photogenic Le Refuge or lesser-known Le Pain Quotidien where the onion soup is filling.

Le Refuge Paris_

Note: some of the business owners aren’t too impressed with girls twirling in front of their premises for ‘the gram. 

Be courteous, buy their products and ask if you can take a photo. Or catch it when it’s closed like I did (below).

This is not a new thing! 

Back when I first visited Paris in 2003, all customers had to buy something from the menu at the movie Amelie cafe, Café des Deux Moulins. 

I was cheap and didn’t want to pay for an overpriced coffee so let my friend, at the time, down and she was a big movie fan. 

Don’t be that d*ck or you’ll regret it as I do! 

Montmartre Street Pink Building Paris 

Evening Moulin Rouge or Bar Crawl

If this is a big trip that you’ve budgeted well for, one of the most popular things to do in Paris is to visit the Moulin Rouge to see a show. Dining is optional. You can reserve tickets here.

Alternatively, enjoy a Montmartre bar crawl. 

Get to bed at a reasonable time as you’re only one day into your 48 hours in Paris itinerary. 

Moulin Rogue in Paris_

Two Days in Paris

Morning Jardin Des Tuileries, Louvre,  Les Deux Plateaux 

Pop into Pierre Herme Cambon bakery (4 Rue Cambon) for croissants, macaroons or tarts, whatever takes your fancy and enjoy in Jardin Des Tuileries, the city’s popular gardens. 

In winter, this is where the biggest Christmas market takes place.

Visiting Paris in winter? Here’s our guide on what to do and practical tips

Next, make your way through the park to the Louvre Museum, skip the lines with this early timed entry ticket.

The Louvre is one of the most iconic attractions in Paris and recognised by its pyramid glass structure and long lines.

Louvre Museum Paris _

So what’s the fuss? 

Visitors are keen to see Leonardo da Vinci’s, Mona Lisa which, you may be surprised to hear, is one of the smaller works of art in size at the Louvre. 

You will have to wait in line to take a photo of the work like Beyonce and Jay Z, security controls this. 

Mona Lisa Line Louvre Paris_

Other notable areas include the bright glass-roofed patios which have a garden feel in the Richelieu wing and Napoleon III Apartments which is dripping in gold and chandelier.

Gaudy by today’s standards but a striking contrast to the patios.

Before leaving, check out the inverted glass pyramid which feels space-like.

The Louvre is not a peaceful museum so expect crowds and noise. At a minimum you need forty minutes, using a line skip ticket.

Inside Louvre Paris_

Les Deux Plateaux

End the morning with a bit of controversial art at Palais Royal – Les Deux Plateaux (Colonnes de Buren). 

Feeling like something French for lunch?

I recommend the quiche at Le Nemours cafe next to the palace and the jewelled Palais Royal Metro Station.

Need to pick up some souvenirs? Rue de Rivoli closeby is a cheaper option to the Champs-Élysées shops.


» You may also like | Gift guide for Paris lover


Les Deux Plateaux in Paris

Afternoon: Musée d’Orsay, River Seine or Sainte-Chapelle, Saint Germain

Option 1: Musée d’Orsay and River Seine Tour

There are two options for your second afternoon in Paris and both involve activities on the Left Bank of the river. Well, one is in the river.

The first option involves an afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay, the popular museum (a must-see in Paris according to lots of our audience) and a River Seine ride (one hour). 

If you time it right you might just make the panoramic boat ride at sunset. 

As with all attractions in Paris, it is advised to purchase a timed entry for the Musée d’Orsay, which was once a railway station. Popular work includes Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone and Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

I’ve not been, yet thanks to the Paris strike, but I do know that the famous Musée d’Orsay clock is a popular photo spot with secret city views. Pretty unique.  

Seine River cruise, Paris France tour

Option 2: Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co, Sainte-Chapelle

The second option is to visit Ile de la Cité, which is a little island in the middle of the Seine, to see a special building, Sainte-Chapelle.

Walk over the oldest standing bridge, Pont Neuf, past the Notre-Dame and over the road to the bi-level bookshop, Shakespeare & Co. 

It’s not just a bookshop, there are cartoon plaques upstairs detailing stories about the famous characters and loyal customers who used to visit including Hemingway who, like many authors and artists, lived on the Left Bank

There’s also a coffee shop attached to the store.

Shakespeare + company Shop Paris_

Sainte-Chapelle

Not an attraction that appears in the generic top things to do in Paris guides but one that came highly recommended by our Facebook followers and since I was in the area, and it was raining, I thought, why not.

If you like architecture, photography, light, heck even decor goals, then a quick trip to Sainte-Chapelle should be considered for your Paris two day itinerary. 

The self-guided visit takes a maximum of 30 minutes unless you want to purchase the audio guide. If you don’t buy the skip the line ticket it will take longer. 

There was a line outside of the chapel in December to give you a comparison for other months.

Sainte-Chapelle Paris_

Commissioned by King Louis IX, this isn’t just a holy chapel it’s a royal holy chapel. Its location is historically important as Ile de la Cité is where the royal family lived.

King Louis IX wanted to show that he was not just a king but also the leader of the Christian world.

He died during the conflict and his funeral took place over the road at Notre Dame Cathedral. He was later made a saint

Sainte-Chapelle has two floors, the top is grander with its arches and statues. When you climb the tight staircase and reach the top, get ready for a wow sighting. Hard to describe, just go! 

Note: I struggled to find the entrance of Sainte-Chapelle. Walk past the Ordre des Avocats à la Cour de Paris gates to the long line of tourists

Sainte-Chapelle in Paris_

Île de la Cité Tour By Foot

If you’d prefer to walk with a guided tour, this 4.5-hour tour focuses on Île de la Cité Paris highlights – Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Louvre and a Seine cruise.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Literature and art fans will know Boulevard Saint-Germain as the street with the historic haunts of many great and Bourgeois artists and writers.  

Popular cafes include the art deco, Café de Flore. 

If you do make it to this area, head to Aux Merveilleux (meringue) for the best cake I tasted in Paris.

There is a Christmas market on Boulevard Saint-Germain too.

Aux merveilleux paris cake

Evening: Drinks or Alternative Options

Since you have two nights in Paris, you can, if you like, use one to do as the locals do – drink wine, beer and people watch while sitting on the streets just outside of bars. 

Don’t worry if it’s cold, many of the bars provide heaters and wine helps! 

One of my favourite streets to do this on is Rue Montorgueil where you can also dine and buy Stohrer pastries to takeout. 

Montorgueil Paris

Since 2 nights in Paris is not enough, here are other things to do depending on your travel style: 

  • Dinner in Marais District 
  • The Centre Pompidou for modern art 
  •  Le CENTQUATRE-PARIS events or food
  •  Shopping at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann or Printemps
  • Canal de l’Ourcq – different side of Paris, cafes, art and green space
  • Trocadéro – Back where it all started to watch the Eiffel Tower illuminations on the hour

Eiffel Tower at Night

Planning Paris In 2 Days

Paris Accommodation 

Paris Hotels

  • Le 123 Sébastopol: Personal choice. Excellent location close to Rue Montorgueil and Les Halles. Fast WiFi, free movies, outstanding hot and cold buffet breakfast. Highly recommend. Pictured below.
  • Hôtel Emile: Fun Marais district, this is an affordable option.
  • Pratic Hotel: Affordable option in an ideal location, clean rooms, happy customers.

123 Sebastopol Paris

Hostels in Paris

What to Wear in Paris 

  • Layers for the shade and evenings in summer and warmth in winter
  • Don’t pack denim if you can as it’s not pleasant when wet
  • Waterproof coat/jacket and a padded warm coat if visiting in winter
  • Waterproof shoes or boots and trainers without air holes (wet weather)
  • Umbrellas are just a pain/it gets windy
  • Refillable water bottle – water is safe to drink in Paris
  • Tote bags for shopping – save the environment
  • Camera
  • Anker battery packs for an additional charge on phones US / UK
  • Hydration tablets for damn wine hangovers US / UK
  • Hats, gloves and scarf for winter
  • Tights with skirts/dresses and under trousers/pants if out all day and temperatures are low
  • I also wore socks over tights for toasty toes

Don’t forget your travel insurance – See True Traveller or World Nomads

Gemma tartan Eiffel Tower_

Paris Weather 

Summer in Paris is the warmest time to visit with July and August enjoying 20°C  (68 °F) however, September sees the least rainfall

During winter, prepare for a mix of rainy and dry days with lows of 3°C (37.4°F) and highs of 8°C (46.4°F) in December. It can hit minus temperatures. 

In winter, sunset is around 17:00-17:30 making the day shorter than summer which is actually a benefit if you plan to see Paris for its lights!

Louvre Gemma_
Currency

France uses the Euro. Check up-to-date rates here

The majority of hotels, restaurants and shops accept major debit and credit cards.

You can tap the card machine or use chip and pin. 

Some shops have unusual cash tills which return out coins like a vending machine.

It means the server doesn’t have to touch dirty money! Genius. 

Euro in front of Louvre Paris

Tourist Information

There are a variety of tourism offices in Paris. The main one is at 29, rue de Rivoli Paris 4e. For the full list, see here.

Top Tours + Line Skips For Paris

Get the most out of Paris in two days by investing in these tours and link skips:

Expect to go through security at every location. To save time, have your bag ready.

You can take water bottles through so pack one to reduce waste.

Eiffel Trocadero Paris France

Getting to Paris

There are two airports in the city, Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY).

You can use public transport from both airports to get to Paris. 

The RER B train goes from CDG to central city stations in 30-40 minutes – under 11 euro.

Orly does not have a direct train to Paris.

Visitors use the OrlyVal train to the RER station at Antony. This journey takes around 40 minutes.

It is likely you will then use the Metro to get to your accommodation. 

Tabac Cafe Paris

Getting Around

Paris’s neighbourhoods/areas are called arrondissements.

Here are the highlights in the most popular arrondissements.

1st arrondissement is in the middle then the next arrondissements wind round forming the shape of a snail! How apt for France since it is a culinary option. 

  • 1st arrondissement for the Louvre, Palais Royal, Tuileries Gardin.
  • 2nd arrondissement is where you will find Rue Montorgueil for bars.
  • 4th arrondissement is home to the lovely Marais and LBGT+ scene. 
  • 5th arrondissement aka the Latin Quarter is where you will find Shakespeare & Company.
  • 6th arrondissement for Hemingway and Boulevard Saint-Germain. 
  • 7th arrondissement for the Eiffel Tower and Rue Cler (foodie street, on my list for next time)
  • 8th arrondissement for Arc de Triomphe. 
  • 9th arrondissement for Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.
  • 14th arrondissement for Montparnasse and Paris Catacombs.
  • 18th arrondissement for the gorgeous Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur. 

Paris has a well-connected public transport system which includes the metro, RER trains, trams, buses, taxis, Uber (more expensive), e-scooter and boat tour rides on the Seine! 

Passlib is the official tourism pass that lets you access public transport, a Seine cruise and Paris museums. You can choose your preferred number of days here.

Metro tickets can be bought in packs of ten (un carnet).

Paris Attractions Map

Here’s an ever-growing map of Paris which has pins to the activities and locations discussed in this guide.

Le Nemours Paris


Final Words 

Paris is a city that people return to time and time again because regardless of how many days you have, you will still feel like there’s a neighbourhood unturned, an attraction you’ve not yet seen or a cafe you’ve not lost an hour to and the latter will be one of your trip highlights.

However, now you are more equipped to plan your Paris in two days itinerary, tell us in the comments below what you decide for your trip to the City of Lights. 


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One Day in Paris: Four Itineraries + Map

One Day in Paris Itinerary_

Celebrated architecture, popular museums, cafe culture and of course, the twinkling Eiffel tower, one day in Paris is just about enough to enjoy a taster of what the French capital has to offer. This 24-hour guide will detail exactly what you should do to get the best out of your Paris itinerary, provide advice on how to save time and as always, offer choice!

Whether you are visiting Paris as part of a layover, a day trip during a Euro train tour, as part of a multi-destination vacation, or only have an hour to steal like Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset, let’s take a look at the best things to in Paris, all year round. 


Can’t travel just now? What about a group tour of Paris with a Parisian guide? This hilarious virtual tour game is a fun team builder and intro into Parisian life. I did it with my friends and it was a hoot.


» You may also like | How to spend 48 hours in Paris


One Day in Paris Itinerary 

To make the most of the following Paris in a day recommendations I suggest you consider the hop-on / off open-top bus for three reasons.

Firstly, it’s a mode of transport that covers all of the most popular Paris attractions such as the Louvre Museum and Montmartre which take just over one hour to walk between and since you only have one day you want to curb time-wasting. Your feet will thank you for it too.

The second reason is height. From the top deck, you get to see the Paris points of interest from approximately 13 feet in the air. During one stop, you are pretty much underneath the Eiffel Tower. The top deck also has 360 panoramic views.

Finally, the open-top tour has a multi-language audio guide. Personal earphones can be used or fresh ones are provided by the driver.

You can hop on all around the city and tours run from morning until early evening.

I used this tour during a strike when the Paris Metro was closed in protest. I started the tour across the road from the Louvre next to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

The tour then passed the Musée d-Orsay and Concorde, along Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

I rejoined the tour for the Eiffel Tower light show and took the bus back to the central point, Madeleine.

You just purchase your ticket here and show the representative/bus driver on the bus. They give you a voucher which you show at other stops. Simple. 

Open Top Bus Paris Louvre_

Morning – Louvre Museum, Les Deux Plateaux, Rue de Rivoli

Hopefully, your hotel will provide a banquet of bread and French pastries but if not don’t stress, there are plenty of boulangerie bakery shops around the city which you can pop into.

Alternatively, delightful Angelina cafes are dotted all around Paris but are busy so if want to dine here, arrive for the cafe opening. Fitting for the next stop, there is one close to the Louvre (Angelina Musée du Louvre Aile Richelieu).

At some point during the day, you definitely want to take time out to sit in a cafe and order a coffee or hot chocolate. If it’s possible, drink it outside so you can people watch too.

If you need a coffee to kick start your day, do this now. It’s part of the Parisian culture to do so.

The first Paris stop on our itinerary is the Louvre Museum.

Louvre Paris Lines

Louvre Museum

The Louvre is the pyramid-like glass structure you will be familiar with from postcards, movies such as The Da Vinci Code or even maybe the Beyonce/Jay Z video for Apesh*t. 

Regardless of it being featured in a variety of literature, there is one main reason for the outside (avoidable, see below for tips) and inside long lines and that is to see Leonardo da Vinci’s, Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa Line Louvre Paris_
The Louvre is one of the most popular things to do in Paris so my advice is, invest in a timed entry ticket as you don’t have time to waste standing in line. 

You could easily spend a day in the Louvre if you are interested.

If not, set aside an hour for your visit, pick up a map on entry and head to the lines for the Mona Lisa, which is tiny and has security surrounding it.

Photographers might want to swing back to get a shot of the Louvre at night with its lovely warm glow. There is a cool frame to the right of it close to Les Deux Plateaux.

Paris Louvre at Night

Les Deux Plateaux

If you’ve seen anything related to Paris on Instagram you will be familiar with Les Deux Plateaux (Colonnes de Buren). 

This black and white art installation looks like it belongs to the Pompidou not the Palais Royal in Paris!

It is common to see tourists climb up on the tube-like stone structures for photographs.

Another cool photo spot just outside of the courtyard is Palais Royal Metro Station with its oversized crown jewels.

Les Deux Plateaux in Paris

Palais-Royale metro
Hungry? Dine at the Le Nemours cafe next to the palace. Try the quiche as you sit close to other customers in this tight, Parisian cafe. Locals dine here too.

Le Nemours Quiche Paris

Rue de Rivoli

Since you only have the day, don’t go out of your way shopping for souvenirs. You can pick up some at Rue de Rivoli which are cheaper than those on the Champs-Élysées. 

Jardin Des Tuileries

Jardin Des Tuileries is a popular garden between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, where the likes of Marie Antoinette were executed. 

During winter, this is where the biggest Christmas market takes place.


» Visiting in Winter? Here’s our Paris at Christmas guide


Just here to shop? 

Shopping in Paris

From the gardens head to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann for floors of shopping. 

During Christmas, this is where a huge decorated Christmas tree is located.

All-year-round there is a free rooftop with city views if the skies are clear.

Other popular shopping locations include Champs-Élysées (street), Printemps (store), Westfield Forum des Halles (mall), BHV Marais (store), Marasi independent shops and high-end designers can be found at the Golden Triangle – Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V. 

Paris views from Arch de Triumph

Alterative Museum – Musee d’Orsay

Already decided the Louvre isn’t for you?

Musee d’Orsay is an ex-train station on the left bank of the River Seine.

It is frequently cited as a favourite museum by visitors, including many of our social media followers.

Here you can see popular paintings such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone.

Don’t try to visit without a timed entry or again, you will waste your day. 

Afternoon
Option 1: Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and River Seinne Tour

On your way to the majestic Sainte-Chapelle, you can walk past the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and pop into the famous Shakespeare & Co bookshop if you are into literature.

This is where the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s work was nurtured by the owner, Sylvia Beach.

Shakespeare + company Shop Paris_
Sainte-Chapelle 

This royal chapel is a grand as you’d expect with its dreamy blue stained-glassed windows and gothic architecture. 

Set aside around 40 minutes and skip the line with this pass.

This is the only Paris GetYourGuide pass I managed to get on the day, all the other vouchers had to be pre-booked at least one day before and that was during winter.

I struggled to find the entrance of the Sainte-Chapelle. Just walk past the Ordre des Avocats à la Cour de Paris gates to the long line of tourists. 

Sainte Chapelle Paris

River Seine Cruise

It’s not just the buses that have open decks, the boats do too!

This one-hour Seine cruise glides you along the river passing some of the best Paris sights to see.

If it’s raining you can view the tour from the floor to ceiling glass windows without getting wet. 

Depending on what time of year you visit, it might just be getting dark enough to the City of Lights in action from the boat.

Seine River cruise, Paris France tour

Option 2: Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower

Walk along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is.

Arch de Triumph Viewing Platform

Head underground to the Arc de Triomphe ticket office, walk passed the lines and flash your skip the line ticket on your phone then brace yourself for the winding stairs to the museum then the next set to the rooftop.

From the rooftop, you can see your next stop – the Eiffel Tower. The image above taken from the rooftop. 

At the foot of the Arc is the eternal flame monument. Lots of tourists pile up across the road for a photograph.

The traffic around the Arc is crazy, be careful and use the underground path.

Arch de Triumph Stairs

Arch de Triumph_

Eiffel Tower

Ready for dinner? Grab some pizza and wine under the heaters at Mokus l’Écureuil while you wait for the illuminations at Trocadéro, the best place to view the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Eiffel Tower at Night

Trocadéro and Eiffel Tower 

On the hour, every hour of the evening, the Eiffel Tower illuminations spark up and twinkle in the dark. 

This area is very busy with tourists so be careful of your belongings. 


» You may also like | Gift guide for Paris lovers


Option 3: Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur and Moulin Rouge

For some, visiting Montrmarte’s cute houses and historic streets will be a must during their 24 hours in Paris itinerary.

Montmartre

Montmartre is one of my favourite places in Paris. Grey-stone buildings with pastel-coloured shop fronts, a city vineyard, steep yet winding streets with hidden nooks and crannies and out of place street art. What’s not to love? 

Find the Buste de Dalida monument and look up to the Sacré-Cœur for one of the best views of the Basilica lined with Parisian houses.

Look out for one of two remaining windmills at the restaurant, Moulin de la Galette.

Grab a phot0 at the Le Refuge, if you can beat the Instagram crew. 

Montmartre Street Pink Building Paris

La Refuge Paris_

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

The hike to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is not for the faint-hearted visitors which makes the view so good.

Unsteady on your feet or unwilling to sweat? A cable car (train) connects Montmartre with the Sacre-Coeur.

The Sacré-Cœur is free to enter and there is a crypt below which is also free. To see city views from the dome there is an additional charge. 

Sacre-Coeur Montmartre

Close to the Sacré-Cœur, there is a great crepe shop which you can order from a window. 

Watch out for the drunk house of Paris.

Walk to the bottom of the Sacré-Cœur stairs, look back at the basilica and move your head to your right. 

Adjust your camera so the grass is in a horizontal line and then you have a sunken building to fool your friends with.

Drunken House Paris Montmartre

Moulin Rouge

Not the cheapest thing to do in Paris but still a popular option, see a show and/or dine at the Moulin Rouge to end your day in Paris.

Moulin Rogue Paris_

Option 4: Le Marais, Pompidou and Rue Montorgueil 

If you only have 1 day in Paris, Marais, on the Right Bank, is a perfect location for accommodation as there is a bustling neighbourhood for food (try falafel), traditional and hip cafes and independent shops around.

Plus, you can walk to the Louvre and its surrounding attractions in under 25 minutes. Ideal for squeezing as much as possible into your day.

People watch a Place des Vosges then head to the Pompidou. If you are a fan, the Musée National Picasso-Paris is in Marais. 

Pick up an unusual souvenir Legay Choc bakery. 

Square Louis xiii Marais Paris_

Penis Cookie Legay Choc Bakery

Centre Pompidou 

The modern art museum, Centre Pompidou, is my personal favourite museum in Paris. 

You can’t miss it with its industrial facade and toy-like tubes.

There is also a city viewpoint and rooftop bar/restaurant.

Polish off the evening on the jumping street of Rue Montorgueil where you can dine, hide under the heaters drinking wine and buy all the pastries at the oldest patisserie in Paris, Stohrer. Perfection.

Pompidou Museum_

Montorgueil Paris


Paris Day Tours

If you prefer to let someone else take the direction of your day, consider a day tour of Paris. 

Île de la Cité Tour By Foot

This 4.5-hour tour focuses on Île de la Cité taking in the Paris highlights Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Louvre and a Seine cruise.

Inside the Louvre Paris_

Full-Day Versailles & Paris Sightseeing Tour with Lunch

If you want to cram two days into one, this 10-hour multi-attraction tour is for you.

Visit Versailles outside of the city, take a boat ride on the Seine, see the city from the Eiffel Tower plus more from the bus tour. Lunch is included.


Paris Travel Planning Advice

Where to Stay in Paris

Paris Hotels

  • Le 123 Sébastopol: I stayed here. Excellent location close to Rue Montorgueil and Les Halles. Fast WiFi, free movies, outstanding hot and cold buffet breakfast. Highly recommend. Pictured below.
  • Hôtel Emile:  Next visit, I plan to stay in the hip Marais district, this is an affordable option.
  • Pratic Hotel: Budget option in an ideal location, clean rooms, great reviews.

123 Sebastopol Paris

Paris Hostels

What to Wear in Paris 

  • Layers – cardigans and pullover sweaters
  • Avoid denim if you can as it’s not pleasant when wet
  • Waterproof coat/jacket and a padded warm coat
  • Waterproof shoes or boots and trainers without air holes (wet weather)
  • Umbrellas are just a nuisance when hopping in and out of places/it gets windy
  • Refillable water bottle – you can drink the water here
  • Tote bags for shopping
  • Camera for all the snaps
  • Anker battery packs for an extra charge on phones US / UK
  • Hydration tablets for wine hangovers US / UK
  • Hats, gloves and scarf for winter
  • Tights with skirts/dresses and under pants if out all day and temperatures are low
  • I also wore socks over tights

Don’t forget your travel insurance – See True Traveller or World Nomads

Paris Weather 

July and August are Paris’s warmest months at 20°C  (68 °F) however, September sees the least rainfall

During winter, prepare for a mix of rainy and dry days with lows of 3°C (37.4°F) and highs of 8°C (46.4°F) in December. It can hit minus temperatures. 

In winter, sunset is around 17:00-17:30 making day shorter than summer which is actually a benefit if you plan to see Paris for its lights!

Le Moulin Blute-Fin Windmill in Paris-
Currency

France uses the Euro. Check up to date rates here

The majority of hotels, restaurants and shops accept major debit and credit cards.

You can tap the card machine or use chip and pin. 

Some shops have unusual cash tills which return out coins like a vending machine.

It means the server doesn’t have to touch dirty money! Genius. 

Euro in front of Louvre Paris

Tourist Information

There are a variety of tourism offices in Paris. The main one is at 29, rue de Rivoli Paris 4e. For the full list, see here.

Top Tours + Line Skips For Paris

Enjoy online electronic bookings and 24-hour cancellation options with GetYourGuide as well as peace of mind that you have your tours and link skips booked so you can cram in this jam-packed 24 hours in Paris itinerary. 

Expect to go through security at every location. To save time, since you only have one day, have your bag ready.

You can take water bottles through so pack one to reduce waste.

Eiffel Trocadero Paris France

Getting to Paris

There are two airports in Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY).

You can travel by public transport from both to the city. 

Use the frequent RER B train goes from CDG to central city stations in 30-40 minutes for under 11 euro.

Orly does not have a direct train to Paris.

Visitors use the OrlyVal train to the RER station at Antony. This journey takes around 40 minutes.

It is likely you will then use the Metro to get to your accommodation. 

Eiffel Tower Merry Go Round Paris_

Getting Around

Paris’s neighbourhoods/areas are called arrondissements.

Here are the highlights in the most popular arrondissements.

1st arrondissement is in the middle then the next arrondissements wind round forming the shape of a snail! How apt for France since it is a culinary option. 

1st arrondissement for the Louvre, Palais Royal, Tuileries Gardin.

2nd arrondissement is where you will find Rue Montorgueil for bars.

4th arrondissement is home to the lovely Marais and LBGT+ scene. 

5th arrondissement aka the Latin Quarter is where you will find Shakespeare & Company.

6th arrondissement for Hemingway and Boulevard Saint-Germain. 

7th arrondissement for the Eiffel Tower and Rue Cler (foodie street, on my list for next time)

8th arrondissement for Arc de Triomphe. 

9th arrondissement for Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.

14th arrondissement for Montparnasse and Paris Catacombs.

18th arrondissement for the gorgeous Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur. 

Paris Arrondissement Map Districts in Paris

Paris has a well connected public transport system which includes the metro, RER trains, trams, buses, taxis, Uber (more expensive), e-scooter and boat tour rides on the Seine! 

Passlib is the official tourism pass which lets you access public transport, a Seine cruise and Paris museums. You can choose your preferred number of days here.

Metro tickets can be bought in packs of ten (un carnet).

Paris Attractions Map

Here’s a map of Paris which has pins to the activities and locations discussed in this guide.


Save for later by pinning to your Paris planning board

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Final Words 

Paris in a day is doable and will leave you with a desire to return! So if you are swinging by before Disneyland, hopping off the train on a Euro inter-railing trip or just enjoying a quick stopover, enjoy the City of Love and share your experiences with us in the comments below. 

Paris in December: 34 Reasons To Visit in Winter

Paris in December Winter Christmas_

They say Paris is always a good idea but is Paris in December really worth it? If you like crisp mornings, fewer crowds at attractions and a cup of warm vin chaud with your Christmas shopping then yes, Paris in winter is highly recommended. Locals, keep reading for festive advice, visitors here are the best things to do in Paris in December.


Can’t travel just now? What about a group tour of Paris with a Parisian guide? This hilarious virtual tour game is a fun team builder and intro into Parisian life. I did it with my friends and it was a hoot.
I’ve (Gemma) been to Paris three times, once in January, the second time during a glorious May weekend and most recently in December and I have to say, December gets my vote.

Speaking of democratic rights, I was in Paris during a strike! You can read more about my tips on how to navigate the city when it is protesting here.

Let’s take a look at the reasons for visiting Paris during Noël and things to do there. I’m really excited about writing this guide. I have to be honest, it has taken me years to warm to Paris and ironically I melted the freeze during my coldest visit and I can’t wait to go back, with Craig, in March!


» You may also like | How to spend 24 hours in Paris or 48 hours


Paris Eiffel Tower Merry Go Round_

Reasons to Visit Paris in December

1. Christmas Markets in Paris 

While Paris is no Berlin when it comes to Christmas markets there is a handful located around the city worth spending a penny for a Chocolat chaud or crêpe with Nutella. 

As to be expected as this is France, vin chaud (mulled spiced wine) is served at each market too. While the markets are open in the afternoon, they are at their best when night falls and lights fire up. 

A cup of mulled wine ranges from 3 to 5 euros and simple crepes are around 3 euros. 

Fairground Ride Christmas Market Paris_

2. Jardin Des Tuileries Christmas Market

The Tuileries Garden is one of Paris’s most famous public gardens sandwiched between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement (area/district).

→ Note: If this is your first time visiting Paris, read the full guide for advice on how the city is laid out. During summer, these gardens are awash with locals sunbathing and the flowers, plants and trees in bloom.

Come winter, trees are leafless and lifeless and most of the park is quieter bar one section, the Christmas market.

Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market Vin Chaud mulled wine

Jardin Des Tuileries Christmas Market is Paris’s biggest market and the one that most resembles the likes of Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz.

The sweet smell of friend sugar leads you to food trucks and chalets selling Nutella waffles (5 euros) while stalls with hanging meat and cheese entice you in.

If you want more than fairground-style snacks, there’s a covered bar and restaurant for proper sit-down meals.

Here, vin chaud is boiled in batches served by the ladle to individual reusable cups. Locals gather around tables, chatting and laughing, while faces turn rosy with the cold and alcohol.

Prefer the finer things in life? Check out the festive Champagne bar.

For kids, there is a loud fairground with flashing lights and a large ice rink.

Chalet stalls sell crafts, jewellery and souvenirs under strings for fairy lights. I would guess there are around 100 huts at Jardin Des Tuileries.

  • Metro: Tuileries
Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market Paris

3. Le Village de Noël at Les Halles Xmas

Le Village de Noël at Les Halles Xmas’s huts are mostly tucked under the canopy of the shopping mall at the top of the escalator. Ideal if it is raining. 

There are a handful outside too.

The shopping mall also has a tall tree with classy decor.

This is a quiet market with no social areas.

  • Metro: Les Halles 
Le Village de Noel at Les Halles Xmas

4. Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques Christmas Market 

Rows of huts are erected under the watchful eye of St Jacque’s statue.

This is a flyby festive market with no seating area. Ideal for those swinging by on the way to Sebastopol or Marais.

Chaud vin is obviously sold at one of the stalls.

Combine with a trip to Centre Pompidou for modern art, independent shop crawl or pick up a falafel in Marais. Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques Christmas Market 

5. Abbesses Christmas Market at Montmartre

The Montmartre Christmas Market is a neighbourhood affair set up in the square across from the Church of Eglise Saint-Jean I’Evangeliste (21 Rue, which means street, des Abbesses, 75018).

Chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and a mushroom dish are popular here.

There is a small seating area and kids’ ride in the square.

Check out the cute mural made of tiles with lots of languages at Square Jehan-Ritus behind the market then spend a few hours getting lost in Montmartre. 

  • Address: Place des Abbesses, 75018
  • Arrive by Abbesses metro.
Abbesses Christmas Market at Montmartre

6. Marché de Noël at Saint Germain des Prés Xmas

A series of Christmas huts draped in fairy lights sell tree decorations, pastries and mulled wine along the busy Boulevard Sant Germain

If you make it to this market, take a detour to Aux Merveilleux meringue shop. Nothing festive about it, just sugar heaven. I dare you to try to walk past it without being sucked in by the smell.

Wander down to Shakespeare & Co and over the River Seine to the Louvre. 
  • Metro: Sant Germain-des-Pres
Saint Germain Christmas Market Paris_

You may also like | The best cities for Christmas markets in Europe

7. Catch the Christmas Decorations in Paris 

Paris does decorations in a big way. You can even take a night tour on an open-top bus to see them. 

Each neighbourhood has its own set of lights hanging in the air and a sign lit up to say where you are which is really handy for tourists like me.

Public Christmas trees wear cute metallic bows in different colours around the city and some of the street lights even get a festive makeover!

Christmas decorations in Paris lights

It’s not just the public land that takes lights seriously, private shops compete for attention too. 

Check out Louis Vuitton’s eye-catching display on Rue Saint-Honore (1st) and Vrai Paris in Montramarte looks stylish with its baubles.

The talked about department store, Galeries Lafayette has been animating its storefront religiously every November since the 1920s. 

But it’s not just about the outside, you have to go in to see the star of the show…

8. Photograph the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann Christmas Tree

Galeries Lafayette is packed with shoppers and Christmas fans as this is where Paris’s prettiest tree is on show.

Instagram users will be familiar with the remarkable tree draped in individually designed decor under the glorious art nouveau dome of Lafayette.

Every year a new designer is invited to decorate the tree with notable previous artists such as the designer Vivienne Westwood and the extravagant singer-songwriter, Beth Ditto.

This tree is a Christmas tradition in Paris and visitors from all over the world come to take a photo at the 16 metres high Glasswalk bridge on the third floor.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann Christmas Tree

9. Head up to Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Terrace

The third floor isn’t the only reason for visiting this department store.

The rooftop usually features on Paris itineraries for its free views of the city but at Christmas time there’s a little sparkle added for the kids in the form of an outdoor ice rink.

Feeling peckish? There’s a cafe selling hot food, coffee and cakes with nice views just below the rooftop.

  • Address: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann Rooftop Terrace Christmas_

10. Shop at Printemps Department Store

Giving Lafayette a run for its money, Printemps also has a popular rooftop terrace with views of the Eiffel Tower.

Don’t just go up, look around. Do the Christmas tree hunt around the store to see how many you can find.

As you leave, check out the Printemps window display which changes each November.

  • Address: 64, Boulevard Haussmann 75009 (not the Louvre store)
Printemps Tree

11. Place Vendôme

In summer this is simply a square with high-end fashion stores, come winter it becomes the backdrop of many selfies! The attraction? Its numerous very tall Christmas trees. Place Vendôme Christmas Trees Paris

12. Hot Drinks in Traditional Tabacs

It’s Paris and a huge part of the Parisian culture is the cafe scene.

Step into a traditional Tabac cafe and order a coffee with milk in the morning (café crème) and a coffee without milk (café/espresso) in the afternoon. Asking for milky coffee after 12pm is a no-no apparently. Stand at the bar like a local (cheaper) or grab an outside seat to watch the locals. What time of day can we order hot chocolate?  Tabac Cafe in Paris

13. Chat, With Wine, Under Heaters

One of the best things to do in Paris at night is huddle under a heater at one of the many cafes and drink wine until the wee hours of the morning, stopping conversation only to people watch. Rue Montorgueil is the perfect street to do this on. Montorgueil Paris

14. Louvre Museum

If you are interested in architecture and seeing the Mona Lisa, visit the Louvre, twice. Once during the day to see the small masterpiece with the big following by Leonardo da Vinci and again at night to see the pyramid lit up against the midnight blue sky. Photography fans, a great frame can be found at the arch to the right of the museum if facing away from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The water doesn’t flow outside of the Louvre in winter so don’t be surprised on arrival. Skip the entrance line by buying a timed entry ticket. You will still have to wait in line if you want a picture of the Mona Lisa though. She’s one popular bird!
  • Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001
  • Metro: Louvre Rivoli
Mona Lisa Line Louvre Paris_ Night Louvre

15. An Empty Les Deux Plateaux

Usually, a popular photography spot in summer, the black and white art installation was empty when I visited on a rainy day in December. Does Les Deux Plateaux, also known as Colonnes de Bure, remind anyone else of sticks of rock or is it just me? This modern art piece belongs to the 17th-century Palais Royal.
  • Address: 2 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 
  • Metro: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre or within walking distance from Louvre
Les Deux Plateaux in Paris

16. Dine Among The Pine Needles At Le Nemours

Try a plate of dense French quiche and an espresso at the cafe next to Palais-Royale.

I always suspect that eateries next to touristy sites are just for visitors but I sat next to a local who was reading her newspaper and she conversed with another native in front of us. We had a pleasant lunch talking together. Every Parisian I met was truly friendly. A female local even walked me to my hotel when I couldn’t get a taxi late at night and I couldn’t get my bearings. I know what you are thinking, Parisians are not renowned for their softer side but honestly, this trip has changed my perception. That’s what travel is all about. At Le Nemours, expect crammed tables and coats on stands. A really charming cultural experience. For a winter experience, dine outside next to the trees, under the heater.
  • Address: 2 à 7 Galerie de Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 75001 
  • Metro: The bejazzled, Palais-Royale metro
Le Nemours Paris Palais-Royale metro

17. Enjoy Montmartre, To Yourself

Avoid elbowing the Instagram crew on the pretty streets of Montmartre, which you will inevitably have to do during high season. 

Have the winding streets from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica to Le Refuge bar to yourself. 

La Refuge Paris_

Remember to start at the small Christmas market to fuel up on hot chocolate before tackling the hills and I can personally recommend the crepe shop next to the Sacré-Cœur if you are looking for a sugar fix.

Wait, did you have a hot chocolate or rum-infused mulled wine at the market because this building looks drunk?!

Drunken House Paris Montmartre

It’s just an illusion of course!

Unravel the trickery. Walk to the bottom of the Sacré-Cœur stairs, face back at the basilica and then look to your right. See the peach house?

Now take the same image and trick your pals by moving your camera at an angle. Get the grass in line and leave out, or crop out using edit, any trees for the perfect photography lie.

Look at the walls for the subtle and not-so-subtle street art around Montmartre. Expect to see murals, stickers and a man trying to escape a wall! 

Stick around until it is dark so you can see the Montmartre Village decorations but more importantly, the Moulin Rogue flashing in all of her glory. 

18. Visit Sacre-Coeur at Christmas

On Christmas Day, there are a number of masses at the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre and Christmas Eve enjoys an organ show and midnight mass.

Not into mass? You can visit any other day for incredible views of the city, a glimpse of the inside, underneath in the crypt and for an additional fee, up on the roof. 

A cable car, which looks more like a train, connects Montmartre with the Sacre-Coeur.

  • Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018
  • Metro: there are many. Jules Joffrin or Abbesses + cable car as an example
Sacre Coeur Paris

19. Church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre

A simple nativity scene, protected from the elements, can be found at one of the longest standing churches in Paris.

  • Address: 2 Rue du Mont-Cenis, 75018
Church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre

20. Warm Up With French Onion Soup 

Pile into Le Pain Quotidien for a hot bowl of traditional onion soup topped with thick garlic bread. 

  • Address: 31 Rue Lepic, 75018
French Onion Soup Bowl Paris

21. Attend a Moulin Rouge Show

Lights, feathers, action! The Moulin Rouge Christmas show serves up a course of seasonal meals, Christmas Yule log and lots of bubbles. 

Reserve your seat for the show and dinner here.

  • Address: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
  • Metro: Blanche
Moulin Rogue in Paris_

22. See Sainte-Chapelle

Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus or not at Christmas time, you can appreciate the beauty of the royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle.

Don’t be fooled by the first-floor entry. While the deep blue arches with gold stars are dazzling, the real deal is yet to be seen. Walk up the tiny winding stairs to the stain-glassed Gothic wonder. I struggled to find the entrance, walk past the Ordre des Avocats à la Cour de Paris gates to the long line of tourists. That’s the Sainte-Chapelle line, even in winter. I managed to sneakily buy a skip in the line ticket while waiting then smugly walked past the suckers! This was the only attraction that wasn’t sold out the day before on GetYourGuide. While December is definitely quieter, the top sightseeing spots in Paris are still popular.
  • Address: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001
  • Metro: Cité
Sainte-Chapelle in Paris_

23. Attend Paris Concert in December 

In the month of December, the Saint-Chapelle opens its doors for a night of classical music.

While I’ve not done this myself, reviews say it was the highlight of their trip to Paris in December! 

The show lasts for 55 minutes and guests are asked to arrive 45 minutes before. A lovely festive thing to do a night in Paris for music fans, religious or not.

Sainte-Chapelle Paris_

24. Shakespeare & Company

Buy local at Shakespeare & Company, which is not only a bookshop, it is also a museum!

The bi-level shop and cafe next door is located in the 5th arrondissement near the Notre Dame.

Make your way up the steps to the second floor to read about its relationship with literary giants such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald who were close to the owner, Sylvia Beach. 

These celebs moved in the same circles in Paris, drinking heavily and pushing boundaries in literature.

I was reading a book called The Paris Wife, which is a fictional account of Hemingway’s first marriage, while I was roaming the streets of Paris. I recommend doing the same as there is something special about seeing the buildings and streets described on the pages in real life. 

The store has also featured in many movies set in Paris such as the classic Before Sunset. A lovely movie I urge you to watch, along with Before Sunrise, during your Paris planning. When visiting, watch you don’t sit on the sleeping cat!
  • Address: 37 Rue de la Bucherie
  • Metro: Saint-Michel, Cluny – La Sorbonne, close to the Notre Dame
Shakespeare and Co Bookshop Paris_

25. The Centre Pompidou

Another unusual place to pick up a gift is the home of modern art in Paris.

You can’t miss the industrial-looking monstrosity which looks like it has swimming pool flumes/chutes dangling from it.

Don’t be put off by the outside, this is my favourite museum in Pari. 

Two floors of photography, sculptures, murals and paintings from renowned and new modern artists. 

Bonus, first Sunday of the month is free and there are gorgeous views of the city from the terrace (with a restaurant and bar). 

  • Address: Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques, 75004
  • Metro: Châtelet
Pompidou Museum_

26. Eiffel Tower and Illuminations 

Arrive at sunrise to have winter views of the Eiffel Tower from the popular terrace, Trocadéro, to yourself.

Return for dusk to see the sunset, the famous carousel spin and the tower sparkle on the hour, every hour. 

Trocadéro is one of the stops on the Paris open-top bus. I used it to get back to the centre at night. 

Eiffel Tower at Night

27. Escape the Cold on Paris Open-Top Bus

Paris is a perfect city to use the hop-on/off tour bus service as some of the things to see are quite far away from the likes of the Louvre. 

For example, it would take 50 minutes to walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. Then you’ve got to climb those stairs I will warn you about in the Arc de Triomphe section (plus photograph).

The distance between some of the main tourist spots in Paris was the main factor I struggled with when the metro staff were on strike!

The solution? Purchase an open-top bus tour electronic ticket and hop on at any of the popular stops on the three lines/routes.

I did this from afternoon into the night. I was pretty much underneath the Eiffel Tower when it was sparkling, in the comfort of the top deck of the bus!

You also pass some of the Christmas tree decorations while on the bus, with panoramic views.

The buses are tours too so you can listen to audio guides as you pass Paris’s points of interest. Nifty eh?

A good way to speed things up in winter to avoid the cold or save your sweat in summer. 

Sure, you can normally use the metro but you’ll miss on the sights and the audio guide along the way.

You can see the three routes and reserve either one, two or three-day bus tour here.


» You may also like | Gift guide for Paris lovers


28. Marche Montorgueil

Christmas is about spoiling yourself right? 

Well, if you like cakes? You’ll love Rue Montorgueil. 

With patisseries on both sides of the street you are literally sandwiched by desserts. 

Check out Stohrer, the oldest patisserie in Paris, open since 1730 for classic cakes, moose and macaroons. Cakes come in fancy boxes, naturally. 

There’s plenty of choice for dining and drinking under the festive lights in this pedestrianised area.

29. Champs-Élysées Christmas Lights

Visit the famous shopping street the Champs-Élysées to see its Christmas lights shine from November until January. With shops such as Sephora and Zara on either side, the lights lead the way to the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most visited spots in Paris.

30. Arc de Triomphe

See one of Paris’s top attractions with fewer people, the Arc de Triomphe offers some of the best 360 views of the city for a small fee. 

Arch de Triumph Paris_

While the crowds are not as busy as those in June to September, I still bought a line skip ticket online before I arrived and I’m glad I did because there was a long line to buy on the spot before going through security.

You have to go through security at every popular attraction in Paris for safety reasons. Water bottles are accepted. 

Don’t eat cake before visiting, as I did, the spiral stairs are quite the challenge!

  • Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 
Arch de Triumph Stairs

31. Disneyland Paris in December

Kick-off Christmas at the happiest place on earth.

Fake snow, Mickey’s Christmas Big Band and mulled wine. Yes, Disneyland Paris in winter is a fun trip for adults as well as kids.

Ride Big Thunder Mountain, experience the 4D Ratatouille and lose your stomach at the Tower of Terror, without the need of the FastPass. Fewer crowds mean more time for rides!  You can get around two parks in one day at Disney in December. No need to spend money on a FastPass if you don’t mind doing single rider. Good luck trying to get an Insta-shot at Sleeping Beauty Castle though! Save money, pack your own lunch and buy your Minnie ears before you arrive. 

→ Get there: RER A Paris train to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station (35 mins) or the Disney shuttle bus from Paris.

Minnie Mouse Disneyland Paris Christmas Parade_

32. Christmas Shopping in Paris 

Paris is a shopper’s delight.

Two of the main department stores are Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and Printemps which offer floors upon floors of shopping options from clothes to homeware. Bon Marche is another popular store.

Westfield Forum des Halles is a modern mall with European high street names such as Aldo and Esprit. You will also find international brands like Calvin Klein and Gap. 

Les Halles Xmas Tree in Paris

This mall also has a cinema and restaurants. There are many fun streets around the centre too for drinking and dining. 

Rue de Rivoli (4th), close to the Louvre, predominantly offers souvenir shops, cheaper than Champs-Élysées.  

BHV Marais is an affordable department store selling French lines across from Hôtel de Ville. 

If on Rue de Rivoli, look out for the unique 59 Rivoli street art. Once an abandoned building, now an art space with an unusual storefront. 

Marais is a great district with tasty falafel, crammed full of cool independent shops and European stores like Cos. Look out for the phallic-shaped cookies at Legay Choc bakery for a humorous souvenir to take home.

Luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton can be found around Rue Saint-Honore (1st) close to the impressive Christmas trees at Place Vendôme.  

Penis Cookie Legay Choc Bakery Eataly Marais

33. Vintage Photobooth

Visiting Paris in December with your partner? It is the city of love after all. Or have you watched the movie, Amelie? If so, you’ll know that photo booths are quite the thing in Paris. Scattered over the city there are vintage-style booths that let you take four different photos. A lovely souvenir of your festive break. This booth is located at The Tuileries Garden Xmas market but there is a permanent Foto-Automat at Palais de Tokyo and 53 rue des Trois Frères, Paris 18e. I want to see your pic! Tag me @twoscotsabroad Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market Photobooth

34. And if it Snows in Paris… Buttes Chaumont

Buttes Chaumont is a large park in the northeast of Paris and a popular spot when there is snow in the city.

As it has steep hills, locals go to sled and even ski! 

  • Address: 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019

What to do in Paris in December: 4 Day Itinerary

Day 1

  • Open-top bus to get your bearings
  • Louvre museum
  • Les Deux Plateaux
  • Rue de Rivoli for souvenirs
  • Shakespeare & Co
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Marché de Noel at Saint Germain des Prés Xmas Market
Louvre Museum Paris _

Day 2

  • Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • A museum such as d’Orsay on the River Seine Or
  • Shopping at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
  • Jardin Des Tuileries Christmas Market
  • Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro for illuminations
Gemma Eiffel Tower tartan cape

Day 3

  • Marais district
  • The Centre Pompidou
  • Abbesses Christmas Market at Montmartre
  • Step back in time at Montmartre (image below)
  • Sacré-Cœur 
  • Moulin Rouge
Rue De L’abreuvoir Paris-_

Day 4

  • Shopping at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann or Printemps
  • Le Village de Noël at Les Halles shopping and Xmas market
  • Rue Montorgueil food, drinks, cakes and people watching Or
  • Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques Christmas Market Or
  • Open-top bus at night
Alternative Day 4
  • Day trip to Disneyland Paris 

Book your ticket for the Disneyland Paris Express leaving from four meeting points here.

Cinderella's Castle Disneyland Paris Christmas_

» Read next | Europe’s most romantic cities


Paris Travel Planning Advice

Where to Stay in Paris

Paris Hotels

  • Le 123 Sébastopol: I stayed here. Excellent location close to Rue Montorgueil and Les Halles. Fast WiFi, free movies, outstanding hot and cold buffet breakfast. Highly recommend.
  • Hôtel Emile:  In March, I plan to stay in the hip Marais District, this is an affordable option.
  • Pratic Hotel: Budget option in an ideal location, clean rooms, great reviews.

Paris Hostels

What to Wear in Paris in December

  • Layers such as cardigans and pullover sweaters or jumpers as we call them in Scotland
  • Tights with skirts/dresses and under pants if out all day and temperatures are low
  • I also wore socks over tights
  • Avoid denim if you can as it’s not pleasant when wet and takes an age to dry
  • Waterproof coat/jacket and a padded warm coat
  • Waterproof shoes or boots and trainers without air holes (wet weather)
  • Hats, gloves and scarf
  • Umbrellas are just a nuisance when hopping in and out of places/it gets windy
  • Refillable water bottle – you can drink the water here
  • Tote bags for shopping
  • Camera!
  • Anker battery packs for an extra charge on phones US / UK
  • Hydration tablets for hangovers US / UK

Don’t forget your travel insurance – See True Traveller or World Nomads

Sacre-Coeur Montmartre

Paris Weather in December

The weather in Paris in December can be unpredictable.

Prepare for a mix of rainy and dry days with lows of 3°C (37.4°F) and highs of 8°C (46.4°F). It can hit minus temperatures. 

Sunset is around 17:00-17:30 making day shorter than summer. Consider this during your Paris planning, it’s great for seeing the city of lights!

The temperature drops at night so wrap up for the Christmas markets.

You will need a warm coat, layers and a waterproof outer gear to stay snug and dry.

Arc de Triomphe Viewing Platform Eiffel Tower

Does it Snow in Paris in December?

Paris can get a sprinkling of snow but mostly in January and February. 

When it does, expect transport disruptions and join the locals at Buttes Chaumont for sledging! 

However, my good friend Mhairi, and ex-pat in Paris, was stranded in Paris in December 2010.

As the public transport shut down, she was left dragging her suitcase along a snowy Champs Élysée all the way to Pont Neuf trying to get to her accommodation.

The saving grace? A Scottish bar called The Highlander which her brother worked at.

They say ‘a bad day in Paris is still better than a good day anywhere else’…

Don’t be put off! Snowfall is so infrequent it is normally celebrated. Just be prepared by watching the weather app and speaking to your accommodation. 

Currency

France uses the Euro. You can check up to date rates here

Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept all major debit and credit cards. You can tap the card machine or use chip and pin. 

Some shops have strange cash tills which spit out coins like a vending machine. It means the server doesn’t have to touch dirty money! Genius. 

Euro in front of Louvre Paris

Tourist Information

There are a number of tourism offices in Paris. The main point is at 29, rue de Rivoli Paris 4e. For the full list, see here.

Best Tours + Line Skips For Paris in Winter

I was thankful to have GetYourGuide tickets while in Paris during Christmas. The 24-hour cancellation option meant I could postpone visits to attractions which were affected by the strike. 

I also hate waiting in lines, regardless of the time of year, so the timed entrance and line skips are ideal for my kind of travel. 

Expect to go through airport-style security at every attraction. To save time have your bag ready. You can take water bottles through so pack one to reduce waste. Louvre Paris Lines

Things to do in Paris at Christmas

Christmas Day in Paris 

The 25th (Christmas) of December and 1st (New Year’s Day) are official public holidays in Paris which means there will be reduced activity around the city.

On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, the metro, RER and public buses run on a reduced timetable. 

On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the main things that are open will be:

  • Hotels that serve Christmas lunch/dinner – reserve while booking stay 
  • Ethnic restaurants who do not celebrate Christmas 
  • Local convenience stores who do not celebrate Christmas
  • Paris attractions such as Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, Sacre-Coeur for mass, Seine cruises.

Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day 

  • Louvre 
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Arc de Triomphe

If staying in an apartment, get your grocery shopping done before Christmas Day and enjoy the city to yourself!

New Year’s Eve 

So now Paris at Christmas time is over, let’s look at the next big celebration, 31st of December.

On the water, up the tower, at the church, in a bar, how will you spend New Year’s Eve in Paris?

The official New Year’s party explodes around the Arc de Triomphe, with a family-friendly animation and firework display.

Naturally, restaurants should be booked in advance and club nights will have an additional charge. 

Getting to Paris

There are two airports in Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY).

Both have public transport links connecting them to the city. 

The frequent RER B train goes from CDG to central city stations in 30-40 minutes for under 11 euro.

There is no direct train from Orly to Paris. Visitors use the OrlyVal train to the RER station at Antony. This journey takes around 40 minutes.

It is likely you will then use the Metro to get to your accommodation. 

Getting Around

Paris’s areas are called arrondissements which just means neighbourhoods or districts.

1st arrondissement is in the middle then the next arrondissements wind round forming the shape of an animal the French like to eat. A snail!

1st arrondissement for the Louvre, Palais Royal, Tuileries Gardin.

2nd arrondissement is where you will find my favourite street, Rue Montorgueil and its bars. 4th arrondissement is home to jumping Marais with its falafel, shops and LBGT+ scene. 5th arrondissement aka the Latin Quarter is where you will find Shakespeare & Company. 6th arrondissement is home to Hemingway and Boulevard Saint-Germain. 7th arrondissement is where you will find the Eiffel Tower and Rue Cler (foodie street, on my list for next time) 8th arrondissement for Arc de Triomphe. 9th arrondissement awaits the shoppers at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores. 14th arrondissement for Montparnasse and Paris Catacombs. 18th arrondissement for the gorgeous Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur.

Paris Arrondissement Map Districts in Paris

Paris has a well connected public transport system utilising the metro, RER trains, trams, buses, taxis, Uber (more expensive), e-scooter and boat tour rides on the Seine!

Passlib is the official tourism pass which lets you access public transport, a Seine cruise and Paris museums. You can choose your preferred number of days here.

Metro tickets can be bought in packs of ten (un carnet).

Things to do in Paris in Winter Map

Here’s a free map of Paris which includes pins to the activities and locations discussed in this guide.

Pin to your Paris planning board Any questions or comments? Leave them below. 

Tag us @twoscotsabroad in your photos

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A city so easy on the eye, like Paris, is a good idea any time of year. Whether you are visiting Paris for a vin chaud or choosing the city as your annual December trip, there are so many things to do during the Paris winter festival. Tell us what you get up to in the comments below.

Still undecided if Paris is for you? Here’s our guide to Europe’s best winter breaks.

25+ Paris Gifts For Those Who Adore The City

Paris gifts

Paris. A city which epitomises love and romance. A tick wanted on many a bucket list. The name itself evokes the thoughts of sipping champagne on the Champs-Elysées and watching the sunset from the Eiffel Tower. Bringing a little bit of France to you, this Paris gift guide will sort out your French souvenir quandaries. Heading to Paris? Here’s how to spend 24 hours or 48 hours there.


Can’t travel just now? What about a group tour of Paris with a Parisian guide? This hilarious virtual tour game is a fun team builder and intro into Parisian life. I did it with my friends and it was a hoot.


» Read too | How to spend Paris in December


Best Gifts from Paris

Paris Gifts for Her

1. The French Beret

For that perfect Paris themed gift for her, why not opt for this French Beret US / UK.

A walking cliché but everyone associates this woollen hat with a souvenir from Paris You will find these in various Paris stores and online.

Go the whole hog and team it with the long-sleeved, blue and white striped mariniére made famous by Jean Paul Gaultier and all you will need is a glass of wine to take you right back to your vacation memories.

Blonde and brunette women in berets giving gifts in Paris

2. Macarons

For those with a sweet tooth, there is nothing better than the perfect pastel macarons from Laduree.

French gifts don’t come any sweeter than these. Small and yummy, they might not make it all the way back to the intended recipient, thankfully we’ve got this covered in the links below.


» You may also like our London inspired gifts


Colorful macarons in a box with flowers

3. Bonjour Mug

For a Paris gift online, check out the cheeky Bonjour B*tches mug US / UK.

4. Soap Dish

Keep it clean and plastic-free with a cute bar of soap and stylish French soap dish US / UK.

A Paris gift that is a sure winner for someone who loves a little bit of sophistication in their powder room.

5. Baguette, anyone?

The smell of a freshly baked loaf wafting its way through the home gets everyone to the kitchen quickly.

But how to cut it properly?

A handy board US / UK which secures the baguette in places like a guillotine.  This makes sure there’s no wasting that crispy loaf of deliciousness.

One of a few truly inspired French gift ideas.

Women wearing striped top, baguette, pink flowers

Unique Gifts From Paris

6. Paris Clock

Quiet ticking, good-looking wall mounted Paris clock US / UK

7. Glass Wear

Yes, they drink wine in Paris, but they also drink whisky. This is glass wear with a difference.

Pouring some of the amber nectar into one of these will catch everyone’s eyes.

Shop glasses here for whisky glasses with Paris maps here (US only). Shop for Paris skyline etched glasses here (UK only).

8. An Unusual Paris Map!

Let’s go old school and put that phone away, a crumpled map US / UK is a fantastically different Paris gift idea. A map which is unique and a traveler’s best friend.

Sitting with your coffee, planning your next adventure, you don’t have to worry about folding it back into position or keeping it dry.


» You may also like: our Scotland gift guide


Crumpled City Map Paris

9. Wine

Everyone loves a cheeky red or a sophisticated white. What better way to educate your taste buds than this book. Something to read while you’re sipping a glass. Check out the Wine Folly’s Guide to Wine.

This paperback teaches you what to look for when tasting and is classified as the best introductory book by The Washington Post.

Wine glasses, romantic couple vacation Paris

10. City Notebook

Why leave the men out from looking chic; with a gorgeous little notebook, all about Paris, the man in your life will certainly make a statement.

The notebook includes a detailed map of the city, lined and blank paper and customizable tabs.


» Love to travel? Here’s our essential items we can’t travel without


Eiffel Tower Gifts

11. Eiffel Tower Earrings

Every girl loves a bit of glitter and sparkle in their life. These Eiffel Tower earnings are the perfect Paris themed gift for her.

12. Paris Key Chain

Eiffel tower key chain US / UK are popular souvenirs.

13. Model of the Eiffel Tower

Another perfect Eiffel Tower gift, budding engineers can get their hands on Eiffel Tower kit US / UK and happily build away, dreaming of the time they visited or whilst planning their visit.

Eiffel Tower keyring rose gold

Paris Inspired Gifts for any Paris Lover

14. Phone Case

It’s our most used piece of equipment, never out of our hands. So why not style your phone up with this piece of art? A wooden phone case, with a UV filter to ensure it does not fade.

This Paris themed souvenir ships from the US to the UK for free so everyone can enjoy it!

15. Drink Coasters

Be a ‘Monica’ and insist all drinks are put on fabulous French coasters.

16. French Phrases Calendar

Why not become a linguist and learn a French phrase every day US / UK of the year with a handy phrase a day calendar.

Learn a new French word every day calendar

17. Paris Monopoly

Who doesn’t love a board game?

The French edition of the most famous of all high rolling games, you’ll buy and sell your way around France with this ideal French-themed gift.

18. Towel

Brighten up your bathroom with a statement piece of towel linen. The black and white colours will complement everyone’s colour scheme.

19. Tote Bag

Going plastic-free has never been more stylish with a canvas tote bag. Great for shopping along the Champs-Élysées.


» Fighting the plastic tide? Read our beginner’s guide to zero waste


20. Refrigerator Magnets

Make your notes stand out on your refrigerator with these colorful additions to the kitchen.

21. Coloring Book

Treat your inner child!

This Paris themed coloring book US / UK will calm and soothe whilst you create a masterpiece to frame.

The book includes multiple pages which you can shade and send to friends. It’s the new personalised postcard.

22. Pocket Guide to the Louvre

An art lover’s paradise, Le Louvre is a must on any traveler’s list. Yet a handy pocket guide will ensure you don’t miss a thing on your Paris trip.

Making up Paris Gift Basket? These next few ideas are just perfect to pop in and make your special loved one’s day.

23. Paris: 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise

Now let’s talk romance! You, your partner, a boat and the city all lit up as you sail along the Seine. How does that sound?

This one hour boat tour takes you past famous Parisian landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Tours leave from 10am to 10pm so you can choose a day trip, dusk sail or a night time ride.

An audio guide is available in 14 different languages and seating is available onboard. However, with panoramic views, you might not be able to keep off your feet!

Don’t let the rain stop you from booking, the inside seating area has floor to roof windows for your viewing pleasure. Book your Illuminations River Cruise before you go here.

Seine River cruise, Paris France tour

24. Paris 1, 2, or 3-Day Hop-on Hop-off Ticket

Walking is all well and good, but those feet soon get tired. This Paris related gift is a practical one. From £30/$39, you will make your Francophile friend’s day with this ticket. With over 40 stops at top landmarks and attractions, this gift card for Paris will have them saying ‘Je t’aime’.

25. Disneyland Paris

It’s not all about ticking off the historical sights, sometimes it’s about letting the big kid at heart out. A day off the tours and having fun is something Paris can provide.

This day ticket to Disney will let your traveler enjoy a day meeting their favourite characters and enjoy a well earned day of fun.

26. Eiffel Tower

No visit to Paris would be complete without a photo from the top of the Eiffel Tower. A selfie must for all Paris souvenir hunters.

With this priority second-floor access pass, the recipient will be able to skip the line, hear about the history and enjoy unlimited time inside the tower.

Hey lovers! You may also like our guide to Europe’s most romantic cities.

Red heart umbrella, couple kissing, romantic Eiffel Tower

Final Words

Whether your buying Paris gift bags, looking for a piece of Paris memorabilia, or simply wanting to have a little piece of France in your home, this Paris themed gifts guide has surely given you all the present ideas you could want.

Like it? Pin it to your Paris board

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» Read next: the best places to spend Christmas in Europe


Author – Ruth is a school teacher and a travel fanatic with a bucket list that’s getting smaller.
A passion for shopping and deals. Bringing you gifts and trips to make your life easier.