Plan the perfect day trip from London to Paris with our unique itinerary that takes in the best of Paris’ iconic sights and trendy neighbourhoods.
Paris, the city of romance, aesthetics and chic, is a city everyone must visit at least once. With so many attractions to see, museums to visit, neighbourhoods to stroll through, events to experience and memories to make, spending time in the French capital is the perfect excuse for some more of that Parisian joie de vivre.
Whether it’s your first time in the city or you’re already a Paris expert, spending time in the French capital is always a good idea. Whether you have a week or just a day in Paris, you’ll still be able to get a great deal out of a visit to Paris.
Every minute counts when you’re on a day trip from London to Paris and we know it. If one day in Paris is all you’ve got your going to want to make the most of it which is why we’ve done most of the planning heavy lifting for you. Keep reading for our best day trip from London to Paris itinerary that takes in as much as possible in 12 hours. From Paris’ iconic sights to uber-cool neighbourhoods and local spots, we’ve got you covered.
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Approaches Towards a Day Trip from London to Paris
You’ll want to start your day trip from London to Paris by firstly thinking about your approach. Paris is a huge city with so much to offer and generally, one day isn’t enough time to see most of it. You’re going to have to prioritise and choose just a handful of things you really want to see. Don’t worry though you can always extend your trip to Paris for 2 Days or come back again another time.
There are a few different ways to approach a Paris day trip. Here are some of my suggestions.
1. You plan your trip independently and explore the city from the ‘outside’. What I mean by from the ‘outside’ is to cover quite a bit of ground in Paris, seeing most attractions and museums from the outside but not spending much time in them. This kind of approach will give you a good overview of the city and will allow you to see many of Paris’ attractions but not in much detail.
2. Plan your own itinerary that focuses on one or two neighbourhoods and/or attractions. This is a great idea for those that have been to Paris before and want to get to know the city in a bit more detail. It’ll allow you to get to know one or two neighbourhoods really well while also spending a good deal of time in museums such as the Louvre which do require quite a bit of your time to see properly.
3. You hop on an organised small group tour of Paris from London. A 1 day tour from London to Paris is a great option because you’ll have your whole itinerary organised for you and the tour will take you to all the best sights and attractions in a day. You won’t need to worry about opening hours, time management, transportation etc. Day tours are definitely something to consider if you only have a London Paris day trip.
4. You head to Paris by Eurostar yourself but do a tour when there. There are many city tours of Paris where you can learn about and visit the major attractions in a few hours. This will give you a great overview of the city while also giving you some time to explore by yourself and prioritise some of your own spots.
Choosing an approach and what you personally want to do in Paris on this trip will really help with the planning process. In this London Day trip to Paris, I’ve tried to take into account each one to give you as much information as you need to plan the perfect trip to Paris.
Prefer a two day trip to Paris from London instead? Read: Paris in 2 Days Itinerary: The Definitive Weekend Guide
Getting from London to Paris
Heading for a day trip from London to Paris is completely feasible with the city of romance being just 2 hours and 15 minutes away from London.
The best way to get from London to Paris in the fastest possible time is by taking the Eurostar. Take the first Eurostar train from London St. Pancras International and the last train from Paris to London to maximise your time.
Train times vary depending on the day of the week but generally, the first train leaves at about 7 am (it used to be 5.15 am) which will get you to Paris Gare du Nord at 10.20 am. The last train back is after 9 pm getting back to London at about 22.30 pm. This gives you about 11 hours in Paris.
To check ticket fares and book you can use the Eurostar website or Omio, a train and bus booking platform I love and use religiously. It’ll also tell you exactly how much does a train ride from London to Paris cost for your dates at first glance.
A Eurostar ticket from London to Paris costs from £78 return, providing your dates are flexible and you book well in advance. If you book at the last minute the train tickets can be very costly.
The fast Eurostar train is generally the only option you should consider when heading to Paris for a day trip. Yes, you can fly and you can take a bus from London but all these options generally take much longer, given airport travel time etc. They will seriously reduce your time in the city so it’s no longer worth coming just for a day.
Is a Day Trip from London to Paris worth it?
On a Eurostar day trip to Paris, you’ll get 11 hours in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Is it worth it to you? My answer is definitely yes!
While you won’t be able to explore the city and most of its sights, you can do quite a lot in 11 hours on a Paris day trip. You’ll be able to see some of the most beautiful and iconic museums in the world, walk the prettiest neighbourhoods, have a croissant and coffee in a stylish Parisian cafe, go shopping and climb the Eiffel tower. It most definitely is worth it.
Of course, if you can extend your trip then do it, but if not, one day is still a good option.
What to Do in Paris, France
The French capital is a real delight of a city with many things to do in Paris. With just one day in Paris, you’ll need to prioritise a little based on your interests. If it’s your first time in Paris you’ll probably want to see the more iconic sights. If it’s not your first time in Paris, perhaps you’ll want to head to the places you haven’t been to before.
Here’s what my perfect day trip to Paris looks like:
Morning: Louvre, Palais Royal, Jardin des Tuileries, Concorde
Afternoon: Le Marais, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Latin Quarter
Evening: The Eiffel Tower
Start your Paris day trip at the 1st Arr, the grand, classical centre of Paris. Here there are quite a few things to see but most of them can be seen simply by walking by, from the outside.
In this area, you’ll find the luxurious Place Vendôme, the Palais Royal, the Louvre museum and the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. Apart from its sights, this area is also known for its upscale boutique shopping.
While your legs are still fresh start at the Louvre, Europe’s most popular and most visited museum. From Gare du Nord you can take the metro to Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre in order to get there.
To not waste time make sure to skip the queues and book your Louvre entrance ticket in advance here. Ticket lines to the Louvre are always really long and nowadays you also need to book your time slot to visit.
The Louvre is a museum like no other. Famed for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the classical Venus de Milo, the Louvre is also full of ancient Greek sculpture, Renaissance painting and French revolutionary painting. There really is so much to see here. You could easily spend a whole day here so make sure to plan your visit well. Grab a map and head to the galleries that interest you the most.
If you prefer you can also book a guided 2 hour Louvre tour with skip-the-line tickets where you can learn more about the most famous works and the museum itself.
After the Louvre, head up to Palais Royal. It’s a former palace that’s now the home to a few different government offices. You can’t actually visit many of the rooms inside the palace but it’s worth seeing the building from the outside. It’s also worth seeing from its beautiful inner courtyard, the Courtyard of Honor.
The courtyard actually contains the famed Colonnes de Buren, a sculptural installation that’s now a famous photo spot in Paris. It’s a lovely place to take photos and admire the beautiful neo-classical architecture. The outer colonnades of the palace and the gardens are also really beautiful so make sure to take these in too.
Jardin des Tuileries
From Palais Royal, it’s just a short walk back down to the Louvre and into the Jardin des Tuileries. This is one of Paris’ most beautiful public gardens. The almost picture-perfect garden is full of beautifully manicured lawns, classical sculptures, duck ponds, romantic pathways and stone benches.
The best thing to do is just to stroll around the park taking in all the Parisian scenes, joggers, stylish dog walkers and locals taking a break from the office. If you need to rest your legs you’ll also find the park littered with green chairs- find a free chair and have a rest in the beautiful surroundings.
I highly recommend walking through the whole garden to see the iconic Place de la Concorde on the other side.
Place de la Concorde
If you’ve come out of the other side of Jardin des Tuileries, make sure to have a look at the gigantic Place de la Concorde- a major public square centred around a large Egyptian obelisk. The square has many fountains, and statues and in the past, this square also saw many public executions.
It’s located at the foot of the Champs-Elysees, the famous shopping boulevard.
After taking in the square, jump on the metro at Concorde and head to the nearby Marais neighbourhood.
VARIATION: If you’d prefer to do something a little different while also seeing many of the highlights of Paris from the river, why not opt for a 2-Hour River Seine Lunch Cruise? This highly-rated Seine River Cruise will allow you to take in many of Paris’ sights from the river which include the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Musee de Orsay.
You’ll also have a delightful 3-course lunch while watching Paris go by. Click here to find out more about the Seine River Lunch Cruise and Guided tour.
If you opt for the cruise, you’ll need to change this itinerary up a little. The cruise departs from the Eiffel Tower so you might not want to visit the Eiffel tower again later in the day. Instead, after the lunch cruise, I’d head to the Latin Quarter, then see the Notre Dame while heading into Le Marais where you can end the day.
Le Marais is one of my ultimate favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. Filled with pretty Parisian cafes, boutique stores, patisseries and gorgeous streets, it’s a buzzing neighbourhood that’s waiting to be explored.
While in Le Marais, make sure to check out Land & Monkey’s, Paris’ best plant-based bakery, the lovely little Jardin Anne Frank and the gorgeous Musee des Archives Nationales. You can also have lunch at Le Potager du Marais, one of the best plant-based restaurants in the neighbourhood for classic french dishes.
If you’re an art lover you might also want to take a quick look at the Centre Pompidou, one of the most unique contemporary art spaces in Europe.
Apart from that the best thing to do is just walk around and take in all the cute corner cafes, the ivy-covered facades and the lovely shop windows. It’s easy to spend the whole day in Le Marias but try not to as more awaits when on a day trip from London to Paris.
VARIATION: If you already know Le Marais and you prefer to explore a different area, Montmartre is another great option instead of Le Marais, it’s just quite a bit further north.
Take the metro there and explore the hilly, cobblestone streets that are full of bohemian charm, cute cafes and restaurants as well as the iconic Sacre Coeur. You can also get an unforgettable view of Paris from there too.
Notre- Dame Cathedral
Located on the île de la Cité, Paris’ famous island in the middle of the Seine, Notre Dame is the city’s most iconic cathedral. It’s one of France’s best examples of Gothic architecture that’s witnessed quite a bit of change throughout its lifetime (it started out as a medieval, Romanesque-style church).
Today Notre Dame is celebrated for its intricate rose window, which you can see from the outside, as well as its sculptural decorations. I mean, those Notre-Dame gargoyles are pretty heavily featured in French stories and tales.
Unfortunately, following the devastating fire of 2019, Notre Dame still remains closed and in the process of being rebuilt. It’s currently not possible to go inside. Luckily you can still see a good deal of its structural features from the outside. It’s still worth coming to check it out on your day trip to Paris from London.
The Latin Quarter or 5th Arrondissement
From Notre Dame cross the bridge over to the left back to the Latin Quarter or the 5th arr. The Latin Quarter is another of Paris’ most unique and atmospheric neighbourhoods. It’s filled with antique shops, atmospheric bookstores, beautiful cafes and more. It’s one of the best places for a stroll in the city as many of the small streets and alleyways are pedestrian-only.
For an hour or two, you can walk the scenic streets and experience this gorgeous little neighbourhood before moving on. There are also plenty of spots to stop for an afternoon coffee or snack. If you have the energy you can also walk a little further south to visit the Pantheon.
The Eiffel Tower
For sunset, head out to the Eiffel Tower, the cherry on top of this Paris day trip. No day trip from London to Paris is really complete without a close-up look of the Eiffel Tower. It’s best to head out here just before sunset so you can see the Eiffel Tower both by day and by night.
There are many great spots from which you can see and take photos of the Eiffel Tower. They include Rue de la Universite, Rapp Avenue, the Champ de Mars, Jardins du Trocadero, Bir-Hakeim Bridge and Avenue de Camoens. You might not have time to check out all these viewpoints but the ones you find you’ll be rewarded with insane views of the Eiffel Tower.
Going up the Eiffel Tower, especially for sunset is another bucket list item everyone has to do at some point. The view of Paris is just incredible.
Make sure to buy your ticket ahead of time online here to skip the queues because they can be really crazy, especially in the summer months. Opt for the summit ticket and book them really in advance as they sell out fast. Check out more information and the Eiffel Tower’s opening hours here.
Once the sun goes down, seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle is a real highlight so you’ll want to time your visit for that. The Eiffel tower lights up on the hour, every hour after dusk until 1 or 2 am and lasts for 5 minutes. It’s a wonderful opportunity for photos, and videos. It’s also just a really lovely and romantic moment to savour and end your day trip to Paris.
Just make sure to know that when visiting in summer, you probably won’t be able to see the Eiffel Tower tower light up. This is because the sun sets way too late and you won’t be able to make the last Eurostar train back to London.
If this experience is high on our list I really recommend staying in Paris for one night. You might also want to time your visit to Paris for spring or autumn when the sun sets a little earlier.
Top Tips for a Trip to Paris
↠ Factor in daylight hours during your visit. When visiting during the summer your entire day will be full of light. In the winter, however, the sun sets at about 4 pm, giving you many hours of darkness. If you are doing a day trip from London to Paris I recommend doing it between the months of May-October. This way you will get the most out of the day. Also, many attractions reduce their hours in winter.
↠ Buy skip-the-line tickets for all major attractions. Time is of the essence with just one day in Paris so you’re going to want to avoid having to wait in line for just about anything. For the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and other museums or attractions where you need a ticket- get it online beforehand.
↠ Platforms like Viator and GetYourGuide are your friend on this trip. They’ll take the stress out of planning everything and give you a worthwhile tour in a short amount of time. I personally book all my tours through the two platforms.
↠ If you prefer not to walk so much, you can also go for the ever-popular Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour. Opt for a 1-day ticket and you’ll be able to see much more of Paris. The bus will take you to places like Trocadero, along the Champs-Elysees, past the Opera Garnier, and over Pont Alexandre III, the most beautiful bridge in Paris.
While the bus tours are pretty ‘touristy’ there’s no denying that you’ll be able to see more and cover more ground, especially if you only have one day in Paris and it’s your first time. The open top bus will give you a great overview of what the city has to offer. Buy your hop-on-hop-off bus tickets here.
In Paris tips:
↠ Have a leisurely lunch but a quick on-the-go dinner. Service can be a little slower in Paris as leisurely dinners are just a way of life here. As you don’t want to miss the last train so prioritise having a longer lunch while just grabbing a quick dinner later.
↠ Use the Metro to get around. Paris’ metro is fast, efficient and reliable and it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get around, especially at rush hour. Uber is good too but it might mean you’ll get stuck in traffic for much longer than you wanted to.
↠ Pack an umbrella– it might always rain in Paris so it never hurts to come prepared.
↠ Arrive back at Gare du Nord with at least 1.5 hours to spare. You can’t just arrive at the station and get on the train. You’ll need to clear both French and British customs and go through security too. All this takes time, especially in summer. Make sure to arrive early to not risk missing your train.
Discover some more great Paris tours and day trips from London to Paris below:
Ready to plan your day trip from London to Paris? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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Booking.com for great deals on hotels
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