Is it really possible to savour the cuisine, enjoy the sights, and become acquainted with the rich history of Paris in just 24 hours? Yes, and you’ll still have time to get lost, happily, on the right bank. Stay at the Hotel Indigo Paris – Opera, which is situated at the heart of it all, and have the best 24 hours in Paris:
7:00 Wake up with the sun in Montmartre, a prime spot to watch the sunrise. Enjoy a panoramic view of Paris from the steps of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and awaken your senses with a walk around this bohemian hilltop neighbourhood.
9:00 Time for breakfast at one of the best boulangeries in Paris. A croissant is not simply a croissant. You have not experienced a croissant until you’ve had one at Du Pain et des Idées. Make that a pain au chocolat, actually. It’s flakey, buttery, and perfect. (Keep in mind it’s open only on weekdays.)
10:00 Stroll along the canal, cross the 10th arrondissement, and make your way into the “Haute Marais.” As the moniker suggests, this neighbourhood is très chic and home to galleries, concept stores, and even a movie star or two.
10:45 After a stop at Paris’s oldest covered market Marché des Enfants Rouges, continue along rue Vieille du Temple, the main artery of the Haute Marais. Visit the Hotel Salé, home to the recently expanded and re-opened Picasso Museum. Explore the life and work of this Spanish master, who had an affinity for France.
12:45 Heading south along the same street, you’ll reach one of Paris’s most famous decades old dining haunts, Robert et Louise. In this charming bistro, which maintains the tradition of grilling over an open fire, you can feast on escargot, côte de bœuf, confit de canard, and an array of other classic meat dishes.
13:45 Now is the time to get lost in the cobbled streets of the Marais, once home to the French aristocracy. In more recent history, it became the centre of the Jewish community, which we have to thank for the neighbourhood’s maintained vibrancy on Sundays, while the rest of Paris sleeps. A stroll through nearby Place des Vosges, an elegant historic square, once known as Place Royale, is a must. Writer Victor Hugo’s home, now a museum, is hidden within the brick facade.
15:45 Now turn towards the river. One of the most picturesque locations in the city is the Île Saint-Louis: the perfect place to sit along the banks of the Seine and admire the ever changing hues of the Parisian sky. It is on this island that the famous (and best) French ice-cream shop, Berthillon, can be found. It’s well worth the wait on line!
16:30 From here cross Pont Saint-Louis to the second of Paris’ islands, Île de la Cité, and you’ll encounter the medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral. By courageously climbing 387 steps to the top of the South Tower, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city…as well as a few gargoyles. Even after more than 850 years, this cathedral never ceases to charm. Just remember to arrive at least an hour before closing in order to gain entrance.
18:30 Evenfall is time for a new perspective. Walking the boulevards is one thing, but you must also explore Paris by boat. Just in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral on the south side of the river, jump aboard the Batobus, a river shuttle service. After a long day, it’s certainly the most relaxing way to enjoy the scenery! The boat passes most of the major sights, and a one-day ticket will allow you to hop on and off as many times as you like. You’ll cruise from Hôtel de Ville, office of the mayor, to the world’s largest art collection, the Louvre Museum. A stop here will bring you to the well manicured Tuileries Garden, where you can spend time with Rodin and Giacometti (in sculpture).
19:30 Continuing along the Seine via Batobus, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower. How better to savour a sunset than framed by this cultural icon.
19:45 Time again to stroll by foot, this time in the rive gauche. Exit the boat at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where you will find one of Paris’s most charming neighbourhoods. The streets are lined with cafés and restaurants, including Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, the two historic centres of the Existentialist movement. It was at these cafés that the intellectual and literary elite would often congregate—Hemingway and Sartre, to name a couple.
20:00 One of many French traditions is the evening apéro, shortened from l’apéritif, a before dinner drink. There are dozens of terraces in Saint-Germain that are perfect for indulging in a glass of red, white, or rosé. With an ever-changing wine list, Freddy’s is open until midnight. Sit down for a tasting while waiting for a table at either of their well-rated French eateries Semilla and Fish La Boissonnerie. Bon Appétit!
22:00 With an after dinner walk through the city by night, you’ll quickly understand why Paris is so often called the City of Lights.
23:00 For a taste of Paris after hours, head to the Latin Quarter, just a 15 minute walk away from Saint-Germain. There you’ll discover two of the cities oldest jazz clubs, Le Caveau de la Huchette and Le Caveau des Oubliettes, both open late into the night. These melodies will carry you home.