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To see the best that Paris has to offer in one day, be prepared for a jam-packed itinerary. Start your busy morning with a trip to one of the European cafés. Pick up a café au lait and flaky croissant to give you some energy for Paris’ biggest attraction, the Eiffel Tower. You’ll want to make this your first stop because as the day progresses, the line to ride the elevator gets longer and longer (after all, almost 7 million people visit the icon each year). Snap a few photos from the top of the tower and then make your way back down to stable ground.
Now that you’ve checked one Paris monument off your list, it’s off to the Champs-Élysées and Rue Saint-Honoré for some fantastic shopping. Lined with shops from Louis Vuitton and Chanel to Zara and Abercrombie & Fitch, these streets easily could take up your day. But resist the urge to end your day there and make a stop-off at a brasserie for lunch.
Energy restored, it’s time to tackle the famous Louvre. Don’t even think about conquering this massive museum in a day; set aside about two hours to cover just a fraction of the exhibits. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend checking out the “Egyptian Antiquities” and “History of the Louvre” exhibitions. Be sure to join the swarms of tourists peering at the Mona Lisa.
After wandering through the Louvre for a few hours, refuel with a decadent Nutella-filled crêpe from one of the street vendors. Then make your way to Montmartre for an afternoon stroll. This eclectic neighborhood is known for the beautiful Sacré Coeur and its wild nightlife (think Moulin Rouge).
Finally, it’s time to clean up and head to dinner. Parisians usually don’t dine until 9 p.m. or later, allowing you plenty of time to rest before your meal. Cap off your day in the Latin Quarter for some ethnic food. Just off Boulevard Saint Michel, you’ll find an array of cuisine ranging from Swiss to Middle Eastern. After dinner, wander over to nearby Notre Dame to get one last glimpse of Paris — the gargoyles guarding the cathedral.
When Woody Allen’s 'Midnight in Paris' was released in 2011, it reignited our dreams of experiencing that notorious romance Paris is renowned for, from dusk till dawn. Since February last year, transporting visitors around Paris through the small hours of the morning is precisely what Benoît Légeret has been doing onboard his blue bus (+33 (0)6 63 807 061; www.lebusbleu.fr).
Tours of major cities by bus is not a new concept, but touring Paris onboard an original blue vintage 1950s Galion 2168 Renault bus is. Sitting on the slightly raised seats of the bus gives passengers a different perspective of Paris, especially with the vintage interiors and music to match. Also, with a maximum of nine people onboard at any one time (including the driver and the guide), the experience is a much more intimate one than visiting Paris in a large group or on a double-decker bus.
On the strike of midnight, the blue bus drives along the River Seine, from Concorde to Notre Dame and back again. Jostling along Paris’s cobbled streets, exploring the capital by moonlight for an hour reveals the magic so many films have tried to capture.
Tours can also be taken by day. There is a choice of three daytime itineraries: the half-hour tour takes passengers from Opéra, to the Trocadero via various sites including the Louvre and the Champs Élysées. For the hour-long itinerary, travellers must add on the following landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, the Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde, Madeleine and Place Vendôme. For visitors who have already seen the major Paris sites, there is a half-hour tour around Pigalle, formerly Paris’ red light district, up to Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur.
Although the itineraries are clearly marked out on the website, changes can be made at the time of booking. Day tours start at 18 euro per person, while ‘Midnight in Paris’ starts at 39 euro per person. Prices depend on group sizes and tour duration.