As you embark on your summer plans, is a jaunt to Paris on the agenda? The city of lights is a prime European destination, and was on our travel bucket list for quite a while before we finally made it. With limited vacation to see the city, we knew we had to plan carefully. If we didn’t carefully organize our ‘must sees’, we were sure to get sidetracked and run out of time as there’s so much to see and do! Even with only a full day, you can still embark on an ambitious walking tour, taking on some of the most famous sites in the city.
Paris is a worldly city, full of history and culture. From museums to cafes, to searching out the perfect croissant or macaroon, the city is full of delights. My goals with travel are usually monuments, historical artifacts, and food (not necessarily in that order, probably the food first 😁) so this post will reflect our journey seeking out monuments..
Unfortunately at the time of writing, Paris is being disrupted by Yellow Vest protesters and the disastrous Notre Dam fire, but I still included these monuments and strolls on my list for the ultimate Paris list. Be sure and heed local warnings about any areas to avoid, and check your local embassy for any travel advisories.
Despite being a large city, the core of Paris is surprisingly easy to get around…as long as you are walking. Otherwise car traffic can be horrendously patience-trying! Walking is my favorite way to get around, and Paris is especially pleasant. Travel by foot allows us to enjoy touring all the shops, sites, and cafes that might be missed had we sped to our destination by taking a car. If we found ourselves far away with feet hurting, the Metro was the second best way of getting around. It avoids traffic, and stops at convenient sightseeing areas, like the Arc and the Latin Quarter.
Ok, enough intro already, what did we see? How did we see it in one day? Why did we choose to see it? Here’s our route on Google Maps:
The Eiffel tower is the iconic symbol of , not just Paris, but France itself. So naturally this was the first stop for us. We did not choose to climb the tower, after all, you can only climb to the 2nd floor. Instead we booked dinner at the restaurant within the Eiffel Tower; Le Jules Verne. Yes it was expensive, but when does one get to dine inside a national treasure? Indulging in the five course menu was a once in a lifetime treat! Even if dining in the tower is not for you, a visit to the tower should be!
From the Eiffel Tower the Place du Trocadero is an easy walk, and affords a different perspective of the tower and grounds. We enjoyed the large open spaces, free from motor vehicles where you can stroll and enjoy the tower from afar. It’s perfect for those camera ready shots!
Arc De Triomphe
From the garden, the Arc De Triomphe is about a twenty minute walk, and a worthy stop if you’re heading down Champs Elysees afterwards for some shopping. We reached the the tower by underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. Heed the warnings and do not try to cross the circle! Climbing to the top will cost you money, but it’s cheaper than climbing the Eiffel Tower, and grants you a different viewpoint from the top.
This street is the more touristy area of the city, but is still a pleasant walk to admire the storefronts of luxury goods. Its one of the main thoroughfares of the city and therefore has many businesses to complete the Paris shopping experience. We walked by the colorful macaroons at Lauderee, and marveled at the luxury leather goods at Louis Vuitton. You can stop by one of the many cafes for a fresh baked treat, or indulge in some gelato and enjoy people watching. The street will lead you all the way to the next point of interest…
The pyramid at the Louvre is another iconic image of Paris. The structure, with its modern design juxtaposed with the classic building in the background is almost jarring, but its art and it works. If you choose to go to the museum, make sure you have your art goals picked out beforehand (aka the Mona Lisa), the museum is huge and could take weeks to scour.
Ah, all of my Disney and “Pillars of the Earth” dreams came true when I saw the cathedral in person! The Notre Dam appeals to architecture and history buffs alike, and is a living artifact of humanity. Marvel at the gothic architecture, wonder at the stained glass windows, and caress the stones that have withstood time. In hindsight we would have made this our first stop on our one day trek, and probably orchestrated the path in reverse, as it opens early. Oh well, lessons learned!
Bonus – City Hiking in Montparnasse
I thoroughly enjoyed our time in this area of the city, but it will add another 2 hours to the walk. Admiring the hulking Sacre Coeur and meandering through picturesque streets. However it is away from the Seine and therefore might not be feasible to reach in one day. If you start early enough in the day, you can surely make it here for dusk to enjoy dinner and perhaps a show at the Moulin Rouge.
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