Paris, the magical capital city of France, is a bucket list destination on your European trip. While a lot of people plan for an extended stay of a few days to a week in Paris, you can also see a great amount of this city on a stopover if you plan ahead.
Some of my best visits to Paris have been the flying, quick ones (suggested read: 24 hours in Paris) and most of the photos below are from various quick trips in and out of the city. Spending a few hours in the afternoon or a day stopover in Paris where I’ve just enjoyed the city for what it is and explored the sights has been some of my best times spent in this city.
First things first…
How to get to Paris from the Airport
Charles de Gaulle Airport
One of the most common ways to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is by the train. Trains leave multiple times an hour and take less than 40 minutes to reach the centre. You can find out more information on Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris trains here.
Paris Orly Airport is typically where budget airlines land in Paris and therefore if you have booked your ticket with a budget airline it is likely you will be landing here. The fastest way to get to Paris from Orly Airport is by train. You can find out more information on Orly Airport to Paris trains here.
On multiple previous trips I have stayed overnight near Gare Du Nord due to it’s convenient location to the airport line and other major train lines leading out of Paris (like to Dijon full of amazing French canals – you can read about them here: Glisser sur l’eau). It is also a stunning building in its own right.
How to use the Paris underground system
Personally, I like walking everywhere while in Paris because almost all the streets are very beautiful and very different to my normal commute back home in Australia. However, dependant on your preferences, mobility and time, there is also the Paris underground train system (more commonly known as the Paris Metro) that connects the city to each other.
If travelling via the Paris Metro, you can purchase a variety of tickets. If you know you will be using it quite infrequently or want to only use the metro to travel to a particular spot and back, you can buy a one way ticket from €1.90. If you want a day ticket these are available from €7.50 and if you are looking at longer term you can look at ticket cards which can be reloaded. For more information about the Paris Metro (including metro maps) please see here.
Suggested read: How to spend a stopover in Milan
Paris Stopover: One Day Itinerary
Whether you are spending a few hours in Paris, stopping overnight or in for a full day of exploring, follow this one day Paris itinerary (or switch it up a bit to suit your own time frame) to visit some of the most beautiful sights in Paris (just slightly condensed!)
Make your way to the Notre-Dame (Google Map directions) to begin your day of exploring Paris.
Notre-Dame has stood proud in the centre of Paris for over 900 years and is an iconic structure in French history (suggested read: Why is Notre Dame so famous?). It is also the home of 1831 novel turned Disney film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
The Notre-Dame famously caught fire in 2019 and has since been under reconstruction. I visited Paris on a one night stopover between visiting my parents in the South of France and flying home (via Singapore – love a good stopover!) in 2019, a few months after it happened and went to check it out. No one could get very close (there were a lot of people around coming for a look) and there were SO many police officers. It may be several years until the Notre Dame opens to the public again but you can still admire it from across the way.
Once you have taken in the sights of the Notre-Dame, walk along the Seine River for approximately 20 minutes.
Famous for its incredible array of artwork (and of course, housing the infamous, Mona Lisa), The Louvre Museum is a must do experience in Paris.
Budget travellers rejoice, there are multiple ways to experience the Louvre for free including having an EU passport and visiting on certain days and times of the month.
Don’t forget to grab a snap at the iconic Pyramids before you go. Although, hopefully you have slightly better aim than I did.
Sacre Coeur and Montmartre
Correctly spelt as Sacré–Cœur Basilica, the Sacre Coeur has stood at top of Montmartre village close to the centre of Paris since 1919. This area of Paris is very popular with tourists and is a very pretty area of Paris. You can wander through the streets as you head towards the Sacre Coeur.
Be wary of pick-pocketers and scammers here (especially those who try to put a bracelet on your wrist claiming it’s free, it won’t be haha!) but definitely stop by the markets and shops along the way if you fancy a bit of shopping.
There are also a lot of food options, we stopped for a crepe on the side of the road.
We didn’t have the time to go into the Sacre Coeur; however, admire the impressive architecture from the front steps.
Only a 13 minute walk from the Sacre Coeur, you’ll find the infamous Moulin Rouge. You can include an unforgettable show in your Paris stopover, or do like I did and stop by for a quick snap (although mine was quite late at night not in the middle of the day).
Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe
Champs-Elysees (accurately spelt: Champs-Élysées) is a famous shopping avenue in Paris and one of the most famous shopping districts in the world. While I can’t afford to shop at most of the places here, I do like picking up some make up each time I come through.
The street itself is almost 2km long and is very beautiful.
The Champs Elysees is also home to the Arc de Triomphe. Host to the tomb of the unknown soldier, you can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and admire a view across Paris. If you are under 26 and hold an EU passport, a trip to the top of the Arc de Triomphe is free. Otherwise you can book your ticket online. For more information on this experience see here.
And, of course, the most famous monument in all of France: the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was originally constructed in 1889 and has stood proud in Paris as one of the most iconic structures in the world.
While there are many places to snap a picture of the Eiffel Tower, my top recommendations are:
1. Across the River Thames at the merry-go-round (this exact spot here).
2. Approaching between the tall French buildings from a side street (this exact spot here).
3. From the staircase at the National Marine Museum across the Seine River (this exact spot here).
4. And at night, from anywhere. The Eiffel Tower lights up every night, and sparkles every hour on the hour. It certainly is worth a visit if you are staying in Paris overnight.
While you’re here, don’t forget to…
Enjoy a classic Paris meal on the sidewalk
Or grab something on the run from the many street bakeries
Stop to take in the view
The Eiffel Tower can be seen all across Paris…
Stumble across the love locks
While the love locks used to be found here near Notre-Dame, they have since been removed. However, since then I have come across the love locks while walking around near this area so keep your eyes out as you’re likely to stumble across other love locks while here. On my last visit in 2019 I found a few on this bridge.
Admire the street art
And great equality messages!
Paris Stopover Itinerary Google Map Link to Follow
To follow this route on foot: Google Maps link
If you are interested in reading you may also like:
- Cute villages and towns in France you must see
- 25hours Hotel Paris: The ultimate hotel near the Gare Du Nord
- How to do Europe on a Budget: The Ultimate Tips and Tricks
- The best photo spots in Luxembourg City: Beautiful places to photograph in Luxembourg
- How to spend a stopover in Milan
- 24 hours in Paris
- The 10 Most Beautiful Places in Europe.