Pit-stop in Paris
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
You have a day in Paris, actually its something like 6-7 hours after you land, check-in to the hotel and actually travel into the city centre from the suburbs... what can you do with that time? With so much to see and not enough time let's breakdown how to take in the key sights of Paris.
So I was actually in Paris (and the outskirts) for 3 days, I was travelling with my folks for this one as we were attending a family wedding in the suburbs at the weekend. We had to travel in on the Friday so decided to make the most of the day out and about in Paris before the wedding.
As time was short I pre-planned what I wanted to cover in the few hours we had. Knowing what I wanted to visit I actually mapped out Google the distances to get an approximate route to decide whether we can cover this on foot with the help of the hop-on-and-off buses, or if we'd need to look at something else. This is where Viator really came in handy with something rather unexpected - custom tours. There were a few options but prices varied significantly, or were not quite custom - its not if the route is set! I went with the custom tuk-tuk tour as this was true to its name. You can hire the tuk-tuk from as little as 1 hour to a full day (8 hrs) and pick where you want to go. Each tuk-tuk can seat up to 6 people and you don't share so its yours for the duration you pay for. So perfect and different, I booked it for 4 hours. You can book through Viator or directly with the Tuktuk In Paris company. You can hire the tuk-tuk from as little as 1 hour to a full day (8 hrs) and choose where you want to go. Each tuk-tuk can seat up to 6 people and you don't share so its yours for the duration you pay for. So perfect and different, I booked it for 4 hours. You can book through Viator or directly with the Tuktuk In Paris company.
I actually left this booking a bit late as narrowing down the tour took longer than expected, but the team were great at organising things in 2-3 days for me, the driver was given my wish list and had worked out the best route to get me around it all. We started the tour at noon by meeting at a designated meeting spot and just after 4pm he dropped us by the Eiffel Tower where we could catch a river cruise to end the day. It is worth noting you would get a free hotel pick up if you were staying locally within Paris, we Uber'd to the meeting location as we were just on the outskirts for the wedding.
If you had more time then the hop-on-and-off bus or even the Batobus is great to let you wander around and leisure between stops and the different coloured but lines, But being rather time poor on this occasion our choices were limited. I did however really enjoy the tuk-tuk and would recommend it, we loved it and would have no issues hiring again even for a full day.
So what did I cover? Well most of the tourist attractions actually from the Eiffel to Sacre Coeur, I pre-booked all possible tickets to avoid having to wait in line - again you can do this online with Viator or booking.com. I did not go into the galleries or museums as of course I would need several hours in each, we did a drive past these however. I would also suggest to compare prices across sites for entrance fees, some will combine and give deals so it is best to decide which places you want to see.
Eiffel Tower and L'Arc de Triomphe
We started our tour with the first destination being the Eiffel Tower and we stopped at two different viewing points before heading to L'Arc de Triomphe. I had previously been up the Tower before so did not purchase tickets on this occasion but it can be done either by booking tickets in advance or purchasing at the time. Likewise with L'Arc de Triomphe, advance ticket purchases will help jump the queue, but you should be aware there are 284 stairs to climb on a spiral staircase to get to the viewing platform. There is one lift for wheelchair users, however this will only take you to the middle level. Once we had finished from here our driver said it would be best to get Sacre Coeur done given the time and it was the furthest place to visit. We covered Champs Elysee on the way.
As we were in a tuk-tuk it wasn't necessary to get the funicular or walk the 300 steps up, this turned out to be a plus for us that the tuk-tuk could navigate up to there. I do note however that there are steps to get to the basilica from the level at which the tuk-tuk can be parked. You do not need a ticket to get in but may face queues as there is a security check before letting people in and the basilica is a popular place to visit. I was told you feel much at peace inside so aside from wanting to see it from an architecture perspective I really wanted to just sit for a bit and pray. I did read there are some 300 more steps to get to the dome which I did not climb.
Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Musee D'Orsay
Sacre Coeur was probably the one stop where I spent the most time before moving on. We headed to the Louvre from here and covered Place de la Concorde and Musee D'Orsay on the way, the latter being such a great architectural marvel like many buildings in Paris. The Louvre needs no introduction, and it was VERY busy, I spent some time here to see the architecture. I would love to go back to visit the museum but I know I need several hours for this. If you want to visit the Louvre or Musee D'Orsay give yourself another day at least. As with the other places these can be booked in advance and paired for deals.
Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie, Notre Dame
After Louvre we headed for Sainte Chapelle but not before going by Conciergerie - I hadn't stopped to go inside here with my time restriction and didn't buy the tickets in advance but you are able to do this. For me Sainte Chapelle was THE place to visit after Sacre Coeur, I wanted to see the stained glass windows as I knew Notre Dame viewing from inside is not possible. What can I say, the place is magnificent. If you haven't been I would add this to the list. You can buy the ticket in advance which will let you bypass the queue, and there is always a queue here! You need to head upstairs to see the main stain glassed windows. Once finishing from here we drove up to Notre Dame. However due to the recent fire it is closed but can be seen from the outside from beyond the cordoned area.
We ended our trip driving past the site under construction for the 2024 Olympics before arriving at the Eiffel Tower once again to take the River Sienne cruise. Our trip with the tuk-tuk ended here and we continued to our boat ride after a bite and a quick drink near the riverside. Again, tickets for the river cruise can be purchased online or simply buy there directly. The cruise was an hour long and gives a different view of what can't be seen from the street - even the damaged of Notre Dame were visible. You get a lovely view of the bridges as they are crossed and with so many offers online you can even pick cruise with champagne, lunch or dinner.
That wrapped up our whirlwind tour of Paris as we headed back to the hotel for much needed food and indeed a few drinks! I hope this has given you a few tips on how to make even a few hours absolutely worthwhile in Paris - and it doesn't really matter who you are with, I could have done this solo! As with all blogs you can find photos from my trip in the album.