Summer time in Paris is busy, crowded and expensive. A lot of people recommend booking a lot of things in advance, however, that’s just not like us at all. We are definitely the type of people who make last-minute decisions and like the idea of ‘winging it‘. So, when we got to Paris, surprise surprise, we had nothing booked but our hostel.
But, despite that, we managed to cover a lot of ground in one day and managed to avoid long wait times. So if you’re like us, and don’t plan much ahead of time, this rough itinerary is probably right up your alley.
To avoid long line ups at the Eiffel Tower be there for when it opens, which is 9:00am (or 9:30 from the 15th of June). We were there half an hour before the ticket booths open and the line up wasn’t very long at all. We must have only waited about 10 minutes once the ticket booths opened. The only thing we had to wait for on the way up was for the elevator to come back down from its first load of people and that only took about 5 minutes.
Being there first thing in the morning also means that there won’t be hoards of people yet so you won’t have to fight people for some space to take some photos.
You may choose to spend less or more time then we did at certain places so from here time doesn’t matter much until later in the day.
When you are done and have come down from the Tower head to the green area behind it. At this time in the morning the lighting is perfect for photos of the Eiffel Tower because the sun in shining directly on it from behind you. Taking photos from across the river at this time will just give you a silhouetted photo.
Price: To the Summit
Adult : €17.00
Youth (12-24) : €14.50
We spent about 2 hours in the Eiffel tower, about half an hour taking photos from the bottom of it and then walked the 30 minutes to the Arc de Triomphe.
Depending on when you get there, there may or may not be a line. We got there at about noon and only waited in line several minutes. However, by the time we left, the wait time had grown to about 15-20 minutes (still not bad though).
Unless you are disabled or can’t walk up a lot of steps because of your age, you have to climb 284 stairs to the gift shop/ info area then 46 more steps to the very top. It’s definitely worth it though, the view is amazing. You can see straight down the Champs-Eylsees and the surrounding streets that lead like a pinwheel to the Arc de Triomphe. Plus it’s a great way to see the Eiffel Tower from a different angle.
Adult : €12.00
EU Resident under 26 : Free
Now that you’re basically at the start of the Champs-élysées, you might as well walk down it. Make sure to grab some lunch along the way and then head to Laduree for an afternoon treat.
Famous for its macarons, Laduree originated in Paris and the original bakery/cafe (open since 1862) is located on Rue Royale, just off the far end of the Champs-Élysées. Don’t worry, if macarons aren’t your thing there are plenty of delicious pastries to choose from.
From here head to the Louvre, it is only a short walk and quick train ride away.
Open late on Wednesdays and Fridays
Some people might choose to save the Louvre for a separate day, especially on days when it closes at 6. But it was open late when we were there and we were leaving the next day so it was a then or maybe never sort of thing. If you opt to leave it for another day, head over to Notre Dame Cathedral instead, it’s definitely worth seeing.
Apparently around 5:00pm is a great time to visit the Louvre though. There was no line up to buy tickets, no line up to go through security, and it was barely crowded. We can imagine during the day it gets much busier.
You can spend as little or as much time in the Louvre as you’d like, if you are visiting on a Wednesday or Friday it is open till 9:45pm. Some people can make a day of it but we were only in there a couple of hours; saw what we wanted to see and then left.
Well actually it went more like this: saw what we wanted to see, got lost looking for things that weren’t even in the Louvre/Country!, found our way back to the main area, got lost trying to find our way out, and then eventually left.
Note: Pick up a map before heading into any exhibits because everything is in French!
Adult : €17.00
EU Resident under 26 : Free
After the Louvre take a short walk along the Seine to Pont Neuf, cross the bridge and to the right, in the tiny square (of sorts) is where original pieces of the Love Lock bridge have now been moved to.
Over the last few years the bridge had started to collapse from the weight of the locks, so it had to be taken down. But it’s great to see that they have preserved all the locks in a way that they can still be appreciated and added to.
To end the night we headed to a shop to buy supplies for a picnic and then went back to the Eiffel Tower. This is a must do when in Paris! We were exhausted by the evening but we are so glad we pushed through for this. I think it was about 8pm by the time we got back to the Eiffel Tower. The sun was starting to go down so the lighting was perfect from atop the water feature, plus the heat had died down so we could sit and relax without sweating or getting sunburn.
We sat, relaxed, dangled our feet in the water, and people watched. It was the perfect end to a great day in Paris.