Dreaming: If I only had one day in Paris

No matter how many times you have been to France, or in this case, Paris, it’s always good to dream of the next visit. Paris is always a good idea, isn’t it? But what if for some reason this was going to be your last visit to Paris and you could only be there for ONE day… I recently posed this question to members of the MyFrenchLife private Facebook group and I’m sharing 17 of their answers. Why? Well, I found it interesting and I expect that you might too!

These unedited dream responses came from a group, where some members live in Paris and others travel there frequently. In other words, Paris is well known to them all. So, this is not meant to be a list of places for first-time visitors to Paris to add to their itinerary, necessarily. This is a list of how those who know Paris well would choose to spend their last day in the City of Light.

Even though this was not the intention. This list has ended up being a perfect list of recommendations for someone who’s never visited Paris before!

If you’re not in Paris at the moment, are you ready for a little whimsy, a little head in the clouds, a little dreaming? Yes? In that case, let’s go to Paris… come with me.

Only one day in Paris

1. Susan

Sit in a parc for a while, walk along the Seine, sit in a cafe and people watch, have a special meal, and just breathe.

Anna replies to Susan: I would do something similar. Maybe the Seine, maybe walking in Luxembourg Gardens. People-watch. Savor the essence of Paris. People-watch. Breathe and feel blessed to be doing this. Nothing more.

2. Lis

Only One Day in Paris

Having done exactly that a few years ago to see ‘L’heure Bleu’ the exhibition at Musée Marmottan Monet all about the wonderful Danish painter Krøyer…who was part of the famous Skagen group… I was dropped off at the TGV from Aix at 07.00…and collected again at 21.00…it only takes 3hs from Aix to Gare de Lyon…and I took a taxi everywhere in Paris especially as it was just after COVID…

Only one day in Paris 3

Lis Continued: After the museum visit, I had a booked lunch… can’t remember the name of the restaurant… but not worth mentioning…very disappointing… and after lunch, I, of course, went up to Le Sacré Coeur… just chilling and enjoying the views… Long day…but felt like I had plenty of time and I totally enjoyed it…!PS! I can highly recommend this museum in 16th arr… and if you are a Monet fan… they have the biggest collection of his paintings there… also the ‘in-house’ collection which is there all year round is just beautiful!

3. Jocelyne

I would enjoy a visit to the Musee d’Orsay, relax with a hot chocolate at Café Flore, and marvel once more at the beauty of La Sainte Chapelle, before wandering in the streets to admire the Hausmanian architecture, but I’d probably run out of time halfway through…

4. June

If I had only one day in Paris, I would not do something new. I would have lunch at Willi’s Wine Bar then go through the Tuileries to the Orangerie to spend some time with my favorite Renoirs and Monets. Then I would meet up with my friend for a glass of wine.

Only one day in Paris 5

5. Sue

I would avoid all the tourist spots and wander around the back streets of the Latin Quarter and St Germain. If the queue wasn’t too long I’d try to visit beautiful Sainte-Chapelle one more time.

Only one day in Paris 6

6. Suzanne

Tough one, but I think I’d start my day enjoying coffee and pain au chocolat somewhere in Le Marais. After, I’d go for a long walk along the Seine admiring the many monuments along the way. I’d probably sit for a while and watch the boats go by. I’d make my way to the Tuileries where I’d wander through taking in the different scenes (playground, students hanging out by the pond on the famous green metal chairs). I’d contemplate running into L’Orangerie but would most likely end up finding a seat somewhere to watch the world go by. Possibly grab a jambon beurre and stay for a while.

only one day in Paris

Suzanne continued: After? If I had a lot of time I’d go up to Montmartre. I love the neighborhood behind the basilica where the vineyards are so I’d walk through there and stop and soak it in. I’d then go into Sacre Coeur and admire the beauty and enjoy the peace. I have many memories here. Then, I’d sit on the steps with the rest of the world and look down on Paris. To end the day, I’d go to the Lido because I’ve never done that.  Voilà

Only one day in Paris

7. Cynthia

Top of mind. Perfume shops; Pierre Hermès; hot choc and tarte tartine at Deux Magots; walk along the Seine; vanilla milkshake and another cake at Laduree; stock up on some food items at Bon Marche; see the Monets at L’Orangerie and/or Picasso gallery in the Marais. And wander through Place Des Vosges and/or Jardin du Luxembourg; jazz in the evening. Of course would have to plan the day for optimum efficiency!
Bon Marche

8. Jeanne

Musée d’Orsay

9. Lori

Go back to the day in 1981 when I was in Paris and 29 years old. I met a handsome man walking along the street. He walked with me but we couldn’t speak each other’s language. He had me sit at an outside cafe and ordered me an espresso. We just smiled at each other. He walked me back to my hotel and indicated that maybe he could come with me but I indicated no. I wish I could have known him more.

10. Jacqueline

Jardin de Luxembourg

11. Philip

Luxembourg Gardens, Cafe de Flore, lunch at Bar du Marche, exhibition, possibly at Orsay, ballet at Garnier, drink at Cafe de la Paix, back to Flore for a nightcap. Grab some street food, probably Chinese to take back to a nearby hotel.

Only one day in Paris

12. Tracey

I’d walk along the quay and wander around the Eiffel Tower before crossing the bridge to Trocadero Gardens. Then I’d walk through the 16th to the Arc de Triomphe and finish my day visiting the various artists in Montmartre.

13. Beverly

That’s a tough one given the endless possibilities, but I would first check out how the restoration of the Notre Dame is coming along. I would also enjoy a Seine River cruise as I’ve never done that before.

There would have to be a stop somewhere for a pain au chocolat while having a stroll in Saint Germain. My love of Macarons would entice me back to a place near the Louvre to indulge in one of these delicious treats or maybe two!

Again my tastebuds would take me to a bistro near Gare du Nord where a few years ago I discovered the best-ever French Onion soup! As night would descend, I would once again ascend the 275 steps (yes, I’ve counted them) of the Arc de Triomphe to enjoy the dazzling view of the beautiful Eiffel Tower!

I would then make my way to the Champs-Élysées and join others to wander this famous avenue and peek in and out of shops that are still open and eventually my feet would ask for a rest and it would be time to find a place to dine! It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a wonderful restaurant to end my gastronomical journey through Paris! …

14. Debbie

For only 24 hours, first of all, I wouldn’t sleep a wink. I would still book a night at Esprit Saint Germain to visit with their wonderful staff, freshen up, and store my purchases.

Esprit Saint Germain Hotel, Paris - Only one day in Paris

I would have breakfast and Cedric Grolet pastries at Le Meurice with my friend and her wonderful daughters.

Then we would be shopping for things I can’t easily get at home for my US family & friends, and myself. A few outfits for Jacqui’s girls. I would have a list of stores from high-end to Monoprix. We would stop somewhere fun for lunch, then continue on. I would take an hour break to see the grand foyer of the Palais Garnier, as I seem to have missed it on my last 2 visits.

Then, if weather permits and it’s not Friday, walk around the Grand Mosque in the Latin Quarter. More shopping until the stores close or I’m spent. Dinner – hopefully still with my friend and her daughters in tow. An end-of-the-night cruise on the Seine. Then I’d walk along the Seine and bridges until I’m ready to crash!


15. Anne

I’d spend the whole day just hanging out in Montmartre – my special place.

16. Sandra

Montmartre, Musee d’Orsay, Seine river cruise, Eiffel Tower

Montmartre - only one day in Paris


And that’s a wrap! What would your dream day be in Paris? Please share in the comments below.


About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife.org MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon - MyFrenchLife.org

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One Comment

  1. Beth Anderson Jan 7, 2024 at 12:40 AM - Reply

    The year of the huge Monet exposition I did 48 hours in Paris, from Washington DC. The last weekend of the show it was open 24 hours a day. I landed on Saturday morning, and blearily hit the ground running. I haven’t written in my own blog in a very long time (years), but it is still alive and below recounts my 48 hours in Paris, from the east coast of the USA and back again.

    “And now, I am home. From Paris. Two nights, six museums, and countless macarons”


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