As one of the most visited countries in the world, France has a lot to offer. It’s home to unique cuisine, wine regions and awe-inspiring architecture. However, one of its most popular attractions is Paris, the city of love and France’s capital.
Framed between Normandy and the Loire Valley, then flourished with an air of romance and baked goods, Paris is a city where there’s something to see around every corner, whether that’s the Eiffel Tower or a stroll along the Seine. Here’s our guide to making the most of eight hours in Paris.
- 10am – Notre Dam Cathedral
- 11am – Explore the Latin Quarter
- 12am – Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookshop or visit the St-Michel District
- 1pm – Walk in the Jardin du Luxembourg
- 2pm – Head to Montparnasse Tower
- 3pm – See the Eiffel Tower up close
- 4pm – Admire the Grand Palais
- 5pm – Explore the Champs Élysées
- 6pm – Visit the Louvre Museum
10am – Notre Dam Cathedral
Your day may typically start at the main train station in Paris, Gare du Nord, situated on the north side of the Seine. From here you can catch the RER into the city centre. The RER is an express train connecting Paris centre to its suburbs, operating five express lines both over and underground. The Gare du Nord has four lines passing through it, one of which takes you right to our first stop – Cathedral Notre Dame.
The train will take you right to the landmark in under ten minutes on the RER line, with a train departing from the station every six minutes on this line to the Cité station. From here it’s a two-minute walk. Despite the devastating events that occurred in April this year, Notre Dame remains the city’s spectacular monument. Thought you can’t go inside the Gothic architecture and grandeur overlooking the Seine still makes it a great landmark to start your day.
11am – Explore the Latin Quarter
Cross the Seine over the Pont au Double, admiring the views of Notre Dam once more as you head into Quarter Latin (Latin Quarter). Once you reach the other side, we recommend heading somewhere for breakfast. A Lacroix Pâtissier is a highly rated café, offering artisanal pastries, cakes and snacks all crafted daily by the hands of a master French Chef Pâtissier. If you’re more of a savoury-bruncher, there are plenty cafes in the area where you can enjoy a traditional croque monsieur. This quick snack included ham and cheese fried together in a sandwich, there’s even a croque madame which is topped with a fried egg.
After brunch, avid readers will love to visit the Shakespeare and Company independent bookstore, just a couple minutes’ walk along the Seine. This Parisian bookstore has been open since 1951 and offers shelves of new and second-hand books that any literature fan will adore.
Alternatively, you can explore the historic Latin Quarter further with a visit to the St-Michel District which runs along the south side of the Seine River. Here, you can admire the Square St Michel where a grand fountain resides, complete with a statue of the archangel Michel smiting Satan. Further into the quarter, Rue Victor Cousin is where you can admire the Sorbonne University – one of the oldest colleges in Europe.
Leaving the Latin Quarter, head into the arty St-Germain-de-Prés area, where the Jardin du Luxembourg offers formal gardens and parks to explore. This inner-city oasis is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful walk amongst more than 100 statues, apple orchards, fountains and manicured lawns. The gardens take around ten minutes to walk through, but they are ideal for a quick picnic lunch or coffee stop. There’s even a restaurant in the middle where you can dine al fresco.
Heading west, leave the gardens for a 15-minute-walk to Montparnasse Tower. At almost 60 floors high, the tower is Paris’ second-highest building at 210 metres tall. It also boasts Europe’s fastest elevator, whisking you to the top in just 38 seconds! From the top, the views are incredible, and you can enjoy a glass of Champagne as you take it all in. Spanning 40 kilometres on a clear day and offering a panoramic view of the city from above. Tickets are €20 for adults and €9.50 for children, but we advise booking ahead to save queuing on the day.
3pm – See the Eiffel Tower up close
From viewing it from afar to seeing it up-close, our next stop is the Eiffel Tower. This is either a 40-minute walk or a quick train journey on the metro line. An icon of Paris that no trip is complete without, the tower is an elegant spire stretching 324 metres tall. If you’re desperate to experience it from the top, pre-booking tickets are a must, but the experiences are just as enjoyable from the ground.
You can walk beneath the tower, admiring the ironwork that Gustave Eiffel constructed 130 years ago, or walk amongst the Champ de Mars gardens for a serene perspective of the landmark. There’s even a traditional carousel situated at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, alongside street vendors offering delicious crêpes with chocolate sauce, fruit and even savoury fillings.
4pm – Admire the Grand Palais
From the Eiffel Tower, walk along the banks of the Seine towards the Pont Alexandre III bridge. Along the way you can spectate river boat cruises offering guided tours of the capital, and appreciate the French architecture along the pedestrian streets, lined with trees. The walk is approximately 30 minutes and will take you to the stunning Grand Palais.
This historic building was founded in 1900 and receives 2 million visitor each year. As one of the city’s top exhibition venues, it’s a great place to uncover the story of France’s art nouveau past. Ticket prices differ depending on the time of day you visit, starting at €12 per person.
5pm – Explore the Champs Elysees
Once you’ve got your fill of culture, art and history, it’s a short walk to one of the best-known streets in Paris – the Champs Élysées. You have the option to head west and see all the high-street brands and shops line the paths forged by bustling tourists and locals, or head east and explore the Jardin des Tuileries where statues, landscapes and fountains reside in an expansive 17th-century garden.
6pm – Visit the Louvre Museum
Keeping to the east end of the Champs Élysées, end your day with a visit to the unique Louvre Museum, the largest and most visited art museum boasting thousands of pieces of artwork, including Greek antiquities, Egyptian artefacts and masterpieces by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and da Vinci – including his unparalleled Mona Lisa.
In this quick trip to Paris, a short visit won’t do it justice. But stand at the symbolic glass pyramid entrance and you can gaze down upon visitors wandering the galleries and even spot a few pieces of art from above. The perfect way to reflect on the history, culture and fascinating past of Paris.
Have you visited Paris during a cruise? Where are your favourite places to go in this romantic capital city? Let us know in the comments below!