Transiting through Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, or any of the other airports around Paris, with 24 hours or less between flights? Be sure to make the most of your layover in Paris by using our 24-hour suggested itinerary. You may not consider yourself lucky if your layover is just 24 hours or less, but trust us, there are highlights in the city that you don’t want to miss. This itinerary will lead you to the city’s famous tourist attractions and some of the best places to eat. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs. Feel free to skip an attraction if you feel the pace might be a bit breathless. Enjoy Paris!
Things to know before traveling to Paris, France:
Speak French first – People who start babbling in English without even attempting to speak French first are seen very rude in France. Learn to say some basic French greetings and ask politely whether the person speaks some English. Neglecting to greet a person in French, whether you are asking the cost of a particular stuff or just asking directions, will likely get an undesired response. When you enter or exit a store or restaurant, do not forget to say “bonjour” and “au revoir”. Remember these handy phrases:
Bonjour. S’il vous plaît… (Hello, please…)
Parlez-vous anglais ? (Do you speak English?)
Merci (Thank you)
Currency exchange – France uses euros, the same currency now used by most Western European countries with the exception of the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Prior to travelling, you can buy some euros (enough for one day or whatever your preference) and then exchange your money in the banks to get the best rates. You can also use the ATMs at all main squares of every town, major airports and train stations.
Etiquette – For first time visitors, it is important to remember some do’s and dont’s to enjoy a faux pas free journey in France. Always greet with titles unless you’re on familiar terms with them. In France men are addressed as Monsieur (Mister) and women as Madame (Mrs./Ms.) or Mademoiselle (Miss). The French eat slowly. When eating at restaurants, the French servers will never ask “are you finished with that?” because for them, eating is a pleasure, not a task.
Getting around – Being a relatively small city, Paris can be easily explored on foot or on bicycle (you can either bike on your own or you can join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city). If you are on a luxury vacation, consider hiring a driver to take you around Paris. This option is expensive, but it will give you complete control of the trip. For our suggested itinerary, we recommend walking as you can always learn something unexpected when you do explore on your own.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Paris, from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like bed and breakfasts and inns. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend a stay in the historical center since all of the main sights are so close to each other and can be easily reached on foot. If you don’t plan to stay overnight and go straight to the airport after your layover tour, then you can store your luggage at the luggage counters and baggage storage facilities located at the CDGVAL (Charles de Gaulle Véhicule Automatique Léger) station exit, near the RER train station.
Hotels to consider in Paris:
Detailed itinerary: A day in Paris, France – How to make the most of you layover
Our first matter of business is breakfast. Obviously, the first meal of every trip should be solid. So, we recommend some top-quality, artisanal baguettes, which are long, thin loaf of French bread with a crunchy crust and soft fluffy crumb. One of the best places to get baguettes is at Eric Kayser Restaurant, which has several locations through-out Paris.
After breakfast, spend the morning wandering down Quays de la Seine, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Along the banks of River Seine you will find Paris’ most famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre and Notre-Dame. Do not forget to leave an extra hour at Notre Dame de Paris and marvel at its French Gothic architecture.
No trip to Paris is complete without Steak Frites (meaning steak and fries in French). This popular but simple dish consists of beef steak paired with French fries, is considered a national dish by both Belgium and France. Some of the best places to get this meal is at Le Relais de Venise, Le Severo, Le Voltaire, Au Boeuf Couronné, and La Maison de l’Aubrac.
After lunch, continue your walking tour. This time, visit some fromageries and chocolatiers. On this tour, you will surely realize that Paris is not just the city of lights, but also a gastronomic hub of France. Laurent Dubois is one of the best cheese shops in the city, and is actually a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a title given to the Best Craftsman of France. Here, you can choose from so many limited-production cheeses like the fresh goat’s cheeses with peach, Comté cheese, Vacherin Fribourgeois (Swiss cheese), and Boulette d’Avesnes (French-Belgian cheese).
Being the leader in the gourmet chocolate market, France is home to an ever growing numbers of chocolatiers. If you would like to do chocolate tour on your own, then you may visit some f the top-rated sweet boutiques within the city like the Un Dimanche à Paris, Meert, Edwart, and Jacques Genin. If you want to learn more about the French art of making chocolates, then join a Chocolate Walking Tour, which lasts for about 2 hours. In this tour, you will taken to the top-rated chocolate shops, which normally includes free tasting. Savor all things chocolate while learning the history and traditional chocolate-making methods in France.
In the afternoon, take the Métro to the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile station. Then, climb the 284 stairs to the top of Arc de Triomphe for a grand view of Paris. Up there, you can also view Champs-Élysées and Musée du Louvre, your next destinations. Descend to the Métro station beneath the Arc de Triomphe and take Line 1 to the Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau station. Stroll along Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Jardin des Tuileries then to Musée du Louvre.
In the evening, go to a traditional French restaurant for dinner. There are several restaurants to choose from near Musée du Louvre, and many offers no reservation dining. The customary French dinner hour is 8:00 PM. Some of the top-rated restaurants near Musee du Louvre are Bateau le Calife, Restaurant Guy Savoy and Zebulon Palais Royal.
Have you been to Paris or anywhere else in France? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: The Eiffel Tower, symbol of Paris (Thitiphan Pakseesuwan / Shutterstock.com)