The best way to spend a day in Paris


Paris is famous for many things: film, food, romance, and, of course, fashion.

The city of fashion, good food, and beautiful architecture. Image credit: encrier/iStock
The city of fashion, good food, and beautiful architecture. Image credit: encrier/iStock

Year after year, Paris tops the charts as one of the most-visited cities in the world, and it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone here.

From Michelin-starred restaurants with their famed French techniques to family-run bistros and bakeries. From world-class art museums housing masterpieces to artists whipping up sketches on the street for a Euro or two. From the grand architecture of the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe to the hidden winding cobbled streets. With all this spread across a swirl of 20 Arrondissements, where do you begin?

If you’ve got a day in the French capital, here’s where to go.  

Museum hop

Paris has more than 200 museums. So, although that means it’s impossible to visit them all in one trip, it does mean you’re bound to find something you like. If it’s your first time in the city, visit classics like the Louvre, with its iconic glass pyramid and the Mona Lisa, Musée d’Orsay for impressionism, and Centre Pompidou for modern pieces and a panoramic skyline view from the 6th floor.

For smaller quirkier museums, try the Cernuschi Museum for Asian art, Musée Rodin for sculptures or, if you’re into architecture, the Maison La Roche, which displays drawings and plans from the architect Le Corbusier.

Discover the 10th Arrondissement

Hailed as the places to be for bobos, French hipsters, the 10th Arrondissement is only a 15-minute drive from big sights like the Louvre and the Notre Dame, but atmosphere-wise, it couldn’t be more different.

Walk the banks of Canal Saint-Martin spotting scenes from the film Amélie and the ever-changing street art as you go. If you’re feeling hungry, order a pizza from Pink Flamingo. They deliver their experimental topping combinations to wherever you’re perched on the canal. Or you could get your pastry fix at Du Pain et Des Idées, often called one of the best bakeries in Paris.

If you’ve got an evening here, head to New Morning for live music. This gritty yet charming venue has jazz, blues, and sometimes rock or reggae acts on most nights of the week.

The Canal Saint-Martin. Image credit: espiegle/iStock
The Canal Saint-Martin. Image credit: espiegle/iStock

See Paris From above

Paris’ skyline is famous for a good reason, with its rows of rooftops punctuated by iconic landmarks. And if you don’t have time to see them up close, heading to a vantage point is the next best thing.

You’ve got a few options. The most popular is, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Take a lift to the top of the iconic structure for 360-degree views of the city and linger in the bar with a flute of champagne or glass of rosé.

Alternatively, skip the crowds and head for Tour Montparnasse. With an observation deck two hundred meters above the city, you can take in the Eiffel Tower, along with the Notre Dame and Sacré-Cœur.

If you want a drink with your view, head to one of Paris’ rooftop bars like Terrass Hôtel or The Montana. For a bit of culture with your cocktail, try the Zyriab in the Institute du Monde Arabe or check out a fashion or art exhibition at Cité de la Mode et du Design before heading to the terrace for river views.

 Feast on French food

The food is an attraction itself in Paris, from bakeries and bistros to Michelin-star restaurants. Start with a classic; the croissant. While you could head to almost any neighborhood bakery and you’d be guaranteed a good pastry, check out La Maison d’Isabelle, Des Gateaux et Du Pain or Bo&Mie for their inventive raspberry filled croissant.

The raspberry croissant at. Image credit:
The raspberry croissant at Bo&Mie. Image credit: Bo&Mie

For a low-key lunch, pick up a selection of cheeses from Fromagerie Laurent Dubois Bastille and a crusty baguette from Miss Manon a few stores down then walk to nearby Place des Vosges to eat on a bench or patch of grass.

Come dinnertime, try Canard & Champagne. Tucked in the Passage des Panoramas, this chic restaurant serves up the French classics of duck and champagne.  

Find new fashion favorites

Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world and even if you’re not in town for Fashion Week, you can still experience the famed Parisian sense of style throughout the city.  

Learn about the history of fashion with a visit to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs within the Louvre then get in on the action yourself with a shopping trip to the famous department store Galeries Lafayettes on Boulevard Haussmann. Take in the architecture of this 1912 building with its domed roof then browse designer fashion, accessories, cosmetics and homeware. There’s even a free 30-minute fashion show each Friday. Head to the world famous shopping street, the Champs-Élysées, for the newest store from the luxury brand.

Browse Boulevard Saint-Germain for designer boutiques from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Then, try the Marais for vintage and concept stores, such as L’Eclaireur, with its 147 built-in TV screens among men’s and women’s clothing, and Merci.

Sample Paris' delectable cheese offerings. Image credit: Fromagerie Laurent Dubois Bastille
Sample Paris’ delectable cheese offerings. Image credit: Fromagerie Laurent Dubois Bastille

Get back to nature

For a capital city, Paris has a lot of parks; 421 of them to be exact. Parisians value their green space and public parks as a place to unwind and soak in the sunshine.

Wander through Jardin du Luxembourg for sculptures and fountains, Jardin des Plantes for decorative plants or grab a hot chocolate from Angelina and take a stroll through the nearby Jardin des Tuileries.

Get even closer to nature by booking a Blacklane car service in Paris to one of the city’s green “lungs” – Bois de Vincennes, which sits just east of the city, and Bois de Boulogne to the west. Both parks feature swaths of greenery, lakes, and walking and cycling paths. If you head to Bois de Vincennes, don’t miss the 14th-century Chateaux de Vincennes and if you’re in Bois de Boulogne, check out the nearby Louis Vuitton Foundation. The building itself is a work of art with its dramatic glass structure and inside, you’ll find contemporary art and a view of La Défence.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa Gibbs

Vanessa Gibbs is a freelance writer covering travel around the world for magazines and brands. Away from her laptop, she likes to explore her hometown of London, scuba dive wherever she can, and collect passport stamps along the way.