The Ultimate Itinerary For Spending 24 Hours in Paris
When you've only got a day to spend in Paris, you won't want to miss a minute. Luckily we've worked it out for you.
Paris is known as the city of love, and we think it’s quite fitting – even the sight of the city lights twinkling in the dark sets our heart racing. But just because you’re here for a whirlwind affair rather than a long romance, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the best that the French capital has to offer. Here’s Plum Guide’s advice on how to spend a short 24 hours in Paris without feeling like you’ve missed a thing.
Morning: Pastries and art
When in Paris, there’s no better way to start the day than with a croissant made fresh in the boulangerie just hours before. The morning trip to the bakery is a serious deal in France; buying bread in a supermarket is almost unthinkable, as is eating a day-old pastry. (A cultural tradition we can definitely get behind). There’s nothing that will make you feel like a local quicker than queuing between Parisians purchasing their daily baguette.
After you’ve licked the last flaky pastry crumbs from your fingertips, it’s time to get cultural. With just a morning to dedicate to a museum, we’d advise you not to be too ambitious; you’re not going to be able to get around the Louvre in a scant few hours, after all. If we had to choose from Paris’s array of galleries and museums, we’d spent a morning in the Musée d’Orsay. The building itself, a former railway station in the Beaux-Arts style with a magnificent domed glass roof, is a sight for sore eyes and a work of art in it’s own right. The museum is mainly filled with artefacts and artworks from 19th and 20th century France, with a staggering collection of Van Goghs, Gaughins, and over 80 of Monet’s works. Even the least artistic members of your group will appreciate the talent displayed in these walls – and if they don’t, the museum also has a great cafe.
Afternoon: Books and bistros
Once you’ve finished oohing and aahing at the museum’s wonders, it’s time to move on to some souvenir shopping. We firmly believe that the best gift for a friend or family back home (or, let’s be honest, a memento for yourself) is a good book, and we know exactly where you can find one. Shakespeare and Company, on Paris’s Left Bank, is a city icon, and is by far the most well-stocked English language bookshop in the city. Buy a book or three, a tote bag to carry them in, and soak up the historic atmosphere. (True bibliophiles should consider staying at aptly named Hemingway’s Terrace; this Plum home has a beautiful outdoor area that’s just the perfect place to start one of your new holiday reads). If your trip to Shakespeare & Company has awoken the shopaholic within, you’ll love our guide to the best shopping available in Paris; just remember to bring the credit card.
After all that culture, you’ll be ready for lunch; for a taste of the real Paris, we recommend heading to one of the city’s small bistros. Jump on the metro (look out for the art nouveau signs - yes, even their underground system is stylish) to Belleville which has, in our opinion, the best lunches in Paris. If you’ve worked up a real appetite, Le Jourdain has a three-course lunch menu composed of French classics, ingredients drawn from the day’s markets. Or perhaps venture behind the green storefront of Le Baratin, where you’ll find a bustling little bistro beloved by gourmands but utterly lacking in pretension. (Similarly cheerful, charming and fuss-free is nearby Plum home The Charm School – if you choose to make Belleville your base, this is where to stay.) Go with the waiter’s suggestion for your dish, but make sure you accompany it with a glass of vin – they specialise in natural and unusual wines, so you’re sure to find something unique here.
Evening: Awaken your inner flâneur
It’s back to the very centre of the city for our next activity. In our opinion, taking a walk is the best way to experience any city; an aimless stroll, with a vague destination in mind, brings you down alleyways you’d never have known existed to discover tiny coffee shops, family-run boutiques, and hidden architectural gems. If you haven’t already fallen for the city, a walk along the Seine as the afternoon stretches into the evening will make sure that your heart is well and truly stolen by the time the sun sets on your 24 hours in Paris. We suggest you don’t concentrate too hard on navigation; it’s hard to get lost if you stick to the river, and you’ll certainly recognise the landmarks you pass. (Well, we hope you do. If you can’t identify the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe without a helpful map on your phone, we’re afraid we can’t help you.)
A walk is good for more than just the soul; it’s also ideal for working up an appetite for dinner. And trust us, you’ll want to be hungry for eating in the city that brought us some of the world’s finest gourmet dining. It’s almost impossible to choose where to eat in Paris, but if pressed we would be heading to Frenchie. This Michelin-awarded restaurant serves up refined, high-end French cuisine to stylish Parisians night after night, and this evening, you’re joining them. It goes without saying that you’ll have to make reservations.
Finish the night with a cocktail on high; Paris has whole-heartedly embraced the trend of rooftop bars. And why wouldn’t they, when they’ve got this kind of view? The crème de la crème, to borrow a term from the French, is the leafy oasis of Le Perchoir which overlooks the entire city. Gaze out over the skyline and fall in love with Paris all over again.
If you’re staying for longer than 24 hours in Paris, why not try to tick off all of our must-see sights in the French capital. We’ve even included some more restaurant suggestions to make sure every dinner is as good as a night at Frenchie’s.