Top 10 List for One Day in Paris

I’m your classic American in love with Paris. In love with the light, the food, the people, the art. I’ve lived there several times and often get asked for my recommendations on what to see and where to go. I love putting these lists together – a bit of the expected and unexpected, the known and unknown. So, dear readers, if I only had one day in Paris, here’s my top 10 list:

  1. Visit the Champs Elysees at 7am in the morning when there is no one around. You can look up the avenue from Place de la Porte Maillot to the Arc de Triomphe in the quiet and really soak it in. It’s even better if it’s around Bastille Day (July 14) and they have the huge French flag hanging from it.
  2. Walk up the steps of the Metro Opera and turn to see the glorious façade of the Opera Garnier. If you have extra time during your stay, get a box seat to a show mainly so you can stare up at the Chagall ceiling.
  3. Have a panoramic lunch at Georges. It’s on the terrace of the Centre Pompidou so you get a quick tour of that on your way to a lazy, beautiful meal.
  4. Wander through the ancient Marais district for window shopping and a little time in a dc. Its tiny, winding streets feel much different than a lot of Paris. Read “Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris” for more on this.
  5. Visit the Aile Denon at the Louvre. Wander through the Italian Gallery (including Mona Lisa), the large French paintings (read: Delacroix, Gericault) and the stunning Winged Victory of Samothrace at the entrance. The gift shop is definitely worth it.
  6. Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens and people watch. You’ll see small Parisian kids sailing boats in the basin, Sorbonne students sunbathing and you might even catch artists displaying their works.
  7. Take a late afternoon walk on the Pont Alexandre III – the most elegant bridge in Paris. You’ll get a wonderful view of the gold dome of Invalides where Napoleon is buried.
  8. Drink in the sunset with a dinnertime picnic on the west side of Ile de la Cite. You have to climb under ropes and down steps to get to the unofficial patio, but it’s worth it.
  9. Once it’s dark, grab a taxi and make sure it careens wildly through the glittering Place de la Concorde towards the Eiffel Tower.
  10. At the end of the night, recline on the Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, and dream of the next time you’ll be back.