24 hours in Paris is hardly enough, but sometimes you find yourself flying home from a work trip in Germany only to be stranded for a night in Paris. At least, that’s what happened to me last spring. I can certainly think of worse places to be stuck… If you’ve got a layover in Paris or can only spend 24 hours in the City of Light, below are my suggestions to best maximize your time.
Accommodations: Hotel du Cadran, 10 Rue du Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris, France
An amazing and reasonably priced boutique hotel located a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. If you’re lucky, you will have a view of the Eiffel Tower from your room. Hotel du Cadran is on pedestrian-only Rue Cler, a market street, in a quiet neighborhood with several cafes, bakeries, and shops nearby.
Breakfast: Artisan Boulanger Pâtissier, 45 Rue Cler, 75007 Paris, France
Don’t be fooled by some of the negative reviews online–this place is a gem! They have the best baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat in all of Paris and they are just steps from the Hotel du Cadran. The shop is run by two local women who don’t speak a lick of English. I know it sounds intimidating, but if you at least try to speak French and use gestures to point to what you’d like to order, you’ll be fine. I promise, the pastries and bread are worth it!
Museum: Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
How can I possibly be suggesting a museum other than The Louvre? I know, I know. The Louvre is great and I highly recommend going…but save it for a longer trip. You can easily spend an entire day in The Louvre. While you can spend just as much time in Musée d’Orsay, I think it’s good for a half-day visit. Housed in an old train station, Musée d’Orsay boasts the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat, and Van Gogh.
Lunch: Choose your own adventure!
There are so many delicious street cafes along the River Seine. Take your pick and enjoy an al fresco meal on a sunny day on one of the many cafe patios. A croque monsieur or croque madame is sure to hit the spot!
Scenic View: Notre Dame Cathedral, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
But Kathleen, what about the Eiffel Tower? What about the Arc de Triomphe? The panoramic view from Notre Dame is better than the Arc or the Eiffel Tower any day, I promise. Venture up the tower for a bird’s eye view of Paris that will take your breath away (and not just because of the 387 steps.)
Snack: Berthillon, 29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004 Paris, France
After climbing to the top of Notre Dame, make your way to Ile St. Louis and find Berthillon for some great ice cream. You earned it!
Walk: River Seine
With ice cream in hand, stroll along the River Seine and enjoy the beautiful French architecture. You can cross the river and mill around The Louvre if you want a picture with the infamous glass pyramid exterior. Head back to your hotel to freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: Au Bon Accueil, 14 Rue de Monttessuy, 75007 Paris, France
The contemporary dining room delivers an excellent meal, but you can also sit at a sidewalk table and soak up an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower if the weather is nice. They offer a €36 prix-fixe menu that is a real steal. Amazing food at a great price. What more can I say?
Nighttime: Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
You didn’t think I was going to make you stay at a hotel just footsteps from the Eiffel Tower and not suggest you visit, did you? While it’s not worth going to the top, the evening light show is spectacular. Grab a spot in the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower where you can catch a 5 minute light show every hour on the hour. Maybe bring a bottle of wine to toast the night.
There’s so much to see and do in Paris that no matter what you do with your 24 hours I know you’ll experience the magic of the City of Light. Safe travels!