Few tyties are as proud of their culture as Paris. Simply walking through the streets of the City of Light would be enough to soak in its historic magic, but if you really want to make the most of your time here, follow this itinerary!
8:00 a.m. Wake up at St. Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal
There are few better ways to start off your day in Paris than by waking up at this award-winning hostel overlooking the Canal St Martin. Pack your bag, grab some complimentary coffee, and get ready to begin your journey through the City of Light.
8:30 a.m. Eat breakfast at Le Pavillon des Canaux (3 min walk)
Head south on Rue de Crimée, and turn right at Quai de la Loire. The café will be on your right.
Just across the canal, you’ll find this quaint coffee house. “Prendez un café au lait et un croissant:” practice your French with some of the friendly patrons and, if you need to get some quick work done, do so at the “coffice,” a cozy room existing somewhere between lounge and workspace. Once you’re done, however, turn off the laptop; it’s time to take on the rest of Paris!
10:00 a.m. Explore Les Catacombes (45 minutes by metro)
Go to the Riquet metro station (Left on Quai de la Loire, left on Rue de Crimée, left on Quai de la Seine, right on Rue Riquet). Take metro line 7 to Gare de l’Est, then switch to the 4 train and take it 16 stops to Denfert-Rochereau. Cross the roundabout to reach the Catacombs.
Often called “The World’s Largest Grave,” the Catacombs hold the remains of over six million people. Skip the lines by booking a tour in advance, and spend your morning exploring these eerie, skull-lined tunnels below the city. Don’t be too frightened — the tour of this macabre labyrinth is actually full of rich history. Don’t stay down there too long or you might never find your way out … and there’s still so much more on your itinerary!
12:30 p.m. Have lunch at Welcome Café (30 minutes by metro)
Go to the Denfert-Rochereau metro station. Take the 4 train to the Chatelet stop, then switch to the 1 train and get out at Tuileries. Cross the Rue de Rivoli, and you’ll arrive at the café.
Overlooking the beautiful Jardins des Tuileries, the aptly named Welcome Café is the perfect stop for a quick, yet elegant Parisian lunch. The waitstaff is accommodating, the decor is contemporary and sophisticated, and the food is delicious. Never tried escargot before? This might be just the right time.
1:30 p.m. Take a stroll in Les Tuileries
Just across the Rue de Rivoli, you’ll arrive at Les Jardins des Tuileries. Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, these magnificent public gardens offer a wonderful setting in which to relax, enjoy some fresh air, and work off your lunch with a quick stroll. If you’d rather rest your legs, grab a seat by le bassin octagonal, a glassy, eight-sided pool situated at the northwest end of the gardens.
2:30 p.m. Grab a quick bite at Mi-Va-Mi (15 minutes by metro)
Go to the Tuileries metro station and take the 1 train to the Saint-Paul stop. Walk north on Rue Pavée. Turn left on Rue des Rosiers. The restaurant will be on your left.
We know what you’re thinking: “Falafel? In Paris? Shouldn’t I be eating a baguette with cheese, some fondue, perhaps un coq au vin?” Take our word for it — you won’t regret stopping in at Mi-Va-Mi, which offers some of the best Middle Eastern food in the city. Even if you’re still full from lunch, at least try some hummus — when’s the next time you’ll be in a city so famous for its food?
3:15 p.m. Admire modern art at Le Centre Pompidou (10 minute walk)
As you exit Mi-Va-Mi, turn left on Rue des Rosiers. Turn right on Rue Vieille du Temple. Turn left on Rue des Francs Bourgeois. Continue on Rue Rambateau. The center will be on your left.
You might recognize Le Centre Pompidou for its striking, high-tech architecture. But it also houses the Public Information Library, a center for music and acoustic research, and the largest museum of modern art in Europe, not to mention plenty of exhibition and performance spaces. Paris is a cultural hotbed, and few places are more in-tune to the heartbeat of modern culture than Le Centre Pompidou. You won’t have time to see it all, but it’s spectacular, so take a few hours to explore (and make sure to ride the exterior escalator, which doubles as a tubular photo opp!).
7:00 p.m. Get inspired at Shakespeare and Company (15 minute walk)
From Le Centre Pompidou, turn left on Rue Saint-Martin. Continue across the Pont Notre Dame and Rue de la Cité. Turn left on Rue de la Bûcherie. The bookstore will be on your right.
After a short jaunt across the picturesque Île de la Cité, you’ll come to the famous English-language bookstore on Paris’ Left Bank. Recognizable from films such as “Midnight in Paris” and “Julie & Julia,” this classic literary establishment exudes a magical ambiance that’s perfectly accented in the fading evening light. Note the shop’s motto painted above the entrance to the reading library upstairs: “Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise.” Treat yourself to a classic or a new favorite novel before dinner.
8:00 p.m. Eat dinner at Le Petit Chatelet
Right next door, you’ll find Le Petit Chatelet. After a long day of walking, it’s time to rest your legs and enjoy a fine French meal. The slanted tile roof, rustic gables, and black-and-white striped awning make this a quintessential Parisian dining experience — enjoy views of La Cathédrale de Notre Dame as you dine on puff pastries, a beef filet, and perhaps even some creme brulee for dessert.
9:00 p.m. Watch the sunset from Île De la Cité (5 minute walk)
Head north on Rue Saint-Jacques.
Though there’s no poor spot from which to enjoy a Parisian sunset, as night falls on the City of Light, you’ll want to make your way to the Île de la Cité. One of two remaining natural islands on the Seine, the original location of the medieval city sits at the heart of modern Paris and houses such landmarks as Notre Dame and La Place Dauphine.
10:00 p.m. Drop your bags at Le Citizen Hotel (25 minutes by metro)
Go to the Cite metro station. Take the 4 train to Gare de l’Est. Head south on Boulevard Strasbourg. Turn left on Rue Saint-Laurent. Continue on Rue des Recollets. Turn right on Quai de Valmy. Cross the Pont de la Grange aux Belles and the hotel will be on your right.
As the day comes to a close, make your way to your hotel for the night. Nestled on the Canal Saint-Martin, Le Citizen Hotel offers five-star luxury at boutique prices. After checking in, if you’ve still got some energy left, drop your bags and head out into the night air for one last Parisian hurrah.
10:30 p.m. Grab a drink at Le Comptoir General (1 minute walk)
Head south on Quai de Jemmapes. The bar will be on your left.
Take a stroll along the canal until you come to Le Comptoir General. Order a cocktail and enjoy the calming music offered every night in the lounge. If you feel yourself struggling to keep your eyes open, settle your tab, stroll back to Le Citizen, and turn in for the night. If this is your final day in Paris, bon voyage!
Header photo by Zach Murphy.