Louvre, Sacré-Cœur, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. The French capital hosts some of the worlds most famous attractions. Let me show you how you can see the most of Paris in 1,5 days – without spending much.
Paris in 1,5 days
Start in Montmartre at night
Begin your Parisian adventure with an evening stroll through Montmartre. Get off at the subway station Château Rouge and walk up the stone steps of Rue Maurice Utrillo, close to the Café Botak. The old street lamps give this scenery a special atmosphere. Up there you’ll see the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. From morning to night the forecourt on Pavis du Sacré-Cœur is always full of people.
Take a seat in front of the church and enjoy the view over the city for a while. Maybe you’re even lucky enough to hear one of the street musicians play. Head West when you’re ready, with no particular destination in mind. Let the streets guide your way. Cobble stones, narrow streets and cute little cafés and restaurants – behind every corner something new will surprise you.
Begin the next morning at the Louvre. The closest subway station is Louvre-Rivoli from where you can already see the main entrance into the museum complex. Since 1793 theses walls hold a wide range of art. Its most famous piece is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci.
Due to time pressure don’t bother getting in line at the Pyramide – better save the time to walk around outside. The former fortress and Royal Palace is a real piece of eye-candy and offers a bunch of great photo spots. If you get creative and seek out even some unusual perspectives, you’ll be rewarded with terrific shots and great memories.
After you marvelled enough at the historic ornamentations, start heading west in the direction of the Tuileries Gardens. It’s the largest and oldest public garden in Paris. On your way you’ll cross beautiful fountains, green spaces and you will have your first glimpe of the Eiffel Tower.
I promise it’ll almost look unreal seeing the Tower for the first time with your own eyes. But first keep walking under the mini-Arc de Triomphe and, if you want to, take a seat at the Grand Bassin Rond. It’s a small pond which is surrounded by green lawn chairs. No worries, you won’t get lost. Simply walk straight in the direction of the Arc de Triomphe which you can already see from here.
Place de la Concorde
Soon you find yourself standing in front of the Obelisk of Luxor and the Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation: You’ve made it to the Place de la Concorde. The Egyptian obelisk has been given to the French in 1829 and in 1998 the government of France added a gold-leafed pyramid cap to the top of it.
Apart from these remarkable architectual objects, the Place de la Concorde mostly went down in history for being the square where probably the most famous French Queen of all time was beheaded. If you search for a marked stone on the ground, you can find the exact spot where Marie Antoinette was killed by the guillotine in October 16, 1793 at 12 pm.
After leaving the memory of the French Revolution and the Place de la Concorde, walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. YES, the Champs-Élysées. The first part of it is lined by arranged trees and pebbles. Keep walking and you’ll soon realize why the French proudly nickname this world-famous avenue “la plus belle avenue du monde” – the world’s most beautiful avenue.
The Champs-Élysées offers a wide bunch of theaters, cafés and luxury shops. Everywhere you look, you’ll see fashionable people and seemingly old buildings belonging to big fashion brands. One thing I noticed instantly was the cleanliness of this street. Everything looks well put together and not at all like masses of tourists are passing it everyday. It also has some kind of Rodeo Drive charm to it which feels like it came straight out of a a movie.
The eight traffic lane wide street is also used for public events like the Bastille Day on July 14, where the largest military parade in Europe passes down the lanes. Something really pretty to look at has to be the lighting during Christmas season from late November to early January. However, the Champs-Élysées isn’t always about happy events but has been the ground of large political protest meetings in the past as well.
Arc de Triomphe
You’ll have walked more than 2 kilometers when the Champs-Élysées turns into one of the biggest roundabouts ever. Here 12 different streets come together, do I have to say more? Towering above in its center is the Arc de Triomphe. It was built to honour the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte.
To understand the proportions of the 50 meters high triumphal arch check out the photo below – can you see the people standing on the panoramic terrace? It takes 284 steps but then you’ll be able to see out over Paris. Give yourself at least an hour time to take it all in. A single ticket costs 9.50 euros and with that it’s much cheaper than going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plus you’ll have the Tower itself in your photos. I call that a win-win-situation.
The Eiffel Tower at day
Next stop: The Eiffel Tower. It’s only a stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe. Simply headdown Avenue Kléber and the Tower will lead your way. You’ll see some fine architecture like four- to five-story apartment buildings along the way which have bright fronts and are decorated real modestly. They’re characteristic for Paris and France in general. Also keep an eye out for the entrances into the subway (“Metropolitain”). They in themselves are pieces of art which you cannot see anywhere else.
Finally at Palais de Chaillot, you’ll have an open view on the Eiffel Tower. The sight is incredible. Did you know that at the time of its construction, the Tower was the tallest building in the world and actually was not intended to be a permanent construction? Could you imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower? Today there are even more than 30 replicas around the world.
When it’s warm outside the public park nearby is a great spot for a little lunch break. Be sure to bring some sandwiches, baguette or anything you like with you. Enjoy your surroundings but be careful: Even in early summer the Parisian sun can burn faces.
When you’re ready to enter the fray, start walking over the Pont d’Iéna to the Tower. Masses of people are probably already waiting in long lines to go up the 1,665 steps or to take one of the elevators. In earlier times Gustave Eiffel even owned an apartment at the top of the Tower. Just imagine the amazing view he had every day after walking up!
Lucky you, you already have been on the Arc de Triomphe and so you don’t need to waste time on getting in line for another viewing point – not if you don’t want to at least. Instead you can marvel at probably the world’s most famous tourist attraction. Fun fact: Due to temperature changes the height of the Tower varies by 15 centimeters (5.9 inches).
Behind the Eiffel Tower you can see the Parc du Champ de Mars which is always crowded with people. They’re chatting, reading or playing with their children. Even though you’re right in the city center this place is so calm you can hear birds chirping. In earlier times this park was used for military purposes or to grow vegetables during war times.
Are you ready to go on? Great. Now it’s time for a walk along the Seine.
The Seine is a river which flows right through the middle of Paris and divides the city in two. Start walkingfrom the Eiffel Tower in the direction of Notre Dame. You’ll have some magical views along the stroll. Of course you could also go on a boat ride – but trust me on this – it’s so much nicer to walk. Otherwise you’ll miss out on beautiful things like painters, cafés, bars, a flea market for books and records, activities for kids like a colossal chalk board which everyone can write on and the Pont des Arts.
This pedestrian bridge became famous for its love locks. Couples signed them with their initials and fastened them on the bridge’s railing. Due to the amount of padlocks the Pont des Arts partially collapsed and recently the government decided to have wooden panels put up to cover the love locks.
At one point or another while walking along the Seine you’ll get to Notre Dame. The church is located on a small island within the Seine close to the Louvre and the technical epicenter of Paris. It took nearly 200 years to complete this French Gothic church which was among the first ones to use flying buttress. The purpose of any buttress is to resist the lateral forces pushing a wall by redirecting them to the ground.
You can easily identify Notre Dame by the two towers which are flanking the entrance or by the crowds of people waiting in front of it to go in. You should skip the line and just walk around. There’s a cute little park behind the church or you can check out the neighborhood which actually is one of the oldest parts of the city.
The Eiffel Tower at night
Seeing the Eiffel Tower at day is one thing but seeing it at night is a total different story. After sunset every hour on the hour until 1 A.M. 20,000 light bulbs transform the Tower for five minutes into one huge sparkling Christmas tree. The French don’t really like the illumination that takes but as a traveler I have to say it’s really nice to look at and a free attraction you shouldn’t miss out on.
Montmartre at day
To begin the next day like the French buy some croissants in a local bakery. Eat some now and keep the rest for a later snack. After that take the subway and get off at Blanche. On the Boulevard de Clichy you can already see the famous red windmill of the even more famous Moulin Rouge.
If you hike up the Rue Lepic you’ll wander deeper and deeper into Montmartre and eventually also come into the world of “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain” which was filmed here. The district is also well-known for its goose liver which you can buy in preserving jars in a lot of shops. Next to macarons and seafood.
With every step you take walking up that hill, the better the views over Paris will get. You’ll also more and more realize that Montmartre could keep its charm of a former village alive. The streets will not be as crowded as in the city center and dead ends will turn out to be little beautiful green paradises. Montmartre is definitely a Must See.
You will end this trip the same way you started it: with Sacré-Cœur. Because it’s still early there’ll only be a few other people at the church. Head right to the ticket office and buy a ticket to go up to the top of the dome. It’ll cost you 6 euros but the spectacular panoramic views over Paris will be so worth it. Especially when the sun is out.
After getting back down step inside of the basilica. The entrance is free but its forbidden to take pictures. The complex also includes a garden for meditation and a fountain. Sit down on one of the benches and unpack the rest of your croissants while enjoying your last minutes of Paris in 1,5 days.
Have you been to Paris? Is there anything you would add?Tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear it?