We love Paris. We know it’s not the most offbeat of destinations, but there is just something about it that we can’t get enough of. Paris could take days, months, weeks, years to explore properly, but if you only have 24 hours to take a look around, here’s how our locals suggest you spend your time.
Early Morning: 7am – 9am
This has to be the best time in Paris because the sites aren’t yet overcrowded by tourist groups, camera flashes, and big bus tours. Take advantage of the quiet by walking the empty streets. Follow the river from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre for a perfect morning stroll, then relax your legs on the terrace of any of the great French cafés. Indulge in a typical French breakfast — an espresso and a croissant — and watch life go by as the capital slowly wakes up.
Morning: 9am – 12pm
Enter the Louvre at 9am and head straight to the Mona Lisa for the chance to admire the most illustrious masterpiece without anyone in front of it. Ponder, as millions of tourists have before you, why this painting became one of the most photographed in the world. After seeing the smiling Mona, get lost in the largest museum in the world, wandering a maze of rooms and galleries. Don’t forget to pass by the private apartment of Napoleon III and to visit the museum’s underground level, where you’ll find the remains of the original medieval tower of the Louvre, which used to be a defensive castle.
Lunch: 12pm – 2pm
It’ll certainly be time for lunch by then, so why not try the ultimate French experience at Chez Denise, one of the few remaining market restaurants. Denise used to cater to the market workers, which explains the HUGE quantity of food on your plate! Their beef tartar is simply irresistible, and the décor inside the restaurant is as rustic as it can get: zinc bar, wooden panels, waiters in black-and-white suits, and black chalkboards scribbled with the daily menu.
Afternoon: 2pm – 6pm
Walk off your lunch (Paris is best explored on foot!) with a stroll through La Marais, the oldest neighbourhood in Paris. Wander the delightful little medieval streets, buzzing today with trendy designer shops — a great place for combining sightseeing with shopping. Don’t miss the Rue des Rosiers, the historical centre of the Jewish community in Paris, full of delicious falafel stores and bakeries selling sweet Eastern European pastries. Head to the riverbank, get yourself a cheap bottle of French wine, and jump in one of the numerous boats which cruise the Seine. Admire Notre-Dame Cathedral from a completely new perspective and sip “French nectar” while looking at hundreds of years of history passing by. Head back to your hotel to relax before dinner.
Dinner and Evening: 6pm onwards
To try more contemporary French food, head to Frenchie (5-6 Rue du Nil, 75002). Their ever-changing menu reflects the mood of the chef and the fresh products of the market. The price is set and quite cheap for a three-course menu in such a classy and trendy setting. For some drinks after dinner, you can try the best cocktails in Paris at the Experimental Cocktail Club (37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002) — a sultry, hipster, dark little den.
If you fancy seeing Paris like a local, our guides offer Paris tours that explore the hidden corners of this incredible city!