Overnight in Paris: A layover guide to the city of lights

Apr 22,2016

Despite the fact that you're only in transit, you can still maximise your short time in romantic Paris. Whether you'd prefer to snap a photo at the city's iconic landmarks, shop and eat to your heart’s content, or soak up the local culture at some of the well-known bistros and brasseries in town, we let you in on what not to miss when staying overnight in the City of Lights.

Stick Close to the Airport

If time isn't on your side, venture in and around Charles de Gaulle to get the most out of the City of Lights. The airport itself has many shops and cafes to choose from. For a taste of Parisian high fashion, head to Lanvin, Dior, Longchamp, Cerruti, or Chanel. Or to savour local flavours, don't miss Michelin-worthy food at I Love Paris by Guy Martin, Fauchon for eclairs, Paul for crusty fresh Viennoiseries, and caviar with a glass of Champagne at The Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar. If you're staying at Millennium Hotel Paris Charles de Gaulle, hop on the complimentary shuttle bus that takes you to Aéroville, a sprawling €355 million shopping and entertainment complex that is a short 10-minute ride away. Here, where along with shopping and dining, you can enroll in a complimentary cooking class, watch a French flick on the big screen, or sign up your tot for an afternoon of arts and crafts.

Join a Well-rounded Tour of the City

Tour the Seine by boat. Photo by Joe deSousa / CC0 1.0

Tick off all of the city's must-sees by joining an organised tour of the city. Go on a tip-only 60–90 minute walking tour of the city with a local guide through Discover Walks. The company offers six complimentary English-language tours in the neighborhoods of Montmartre, Marais, Saint-Germain, Right Bank, Notre Dame, and the Latin Quarter. Alternatively, tour at your own pace on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour with Big Bus. Its fleet of double-decker buses will take you all over the city to unmissable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, and Moulin Rouge. A wonderfully charming way to tour the amorous city is on a cruise on the River Seine, which is also offered by Big Bus tours.

People Watch at a True-blue Parisian Cafe

An outdoor café in Paris. Photo by Atif Rafik / CC BY 2.0

One of the best ways to soak in Parisian culture is to have a café at a bistro or brasserie. Do as the locals do and stroll Rue Mouffetard. This narrow cobblestone street, which is located in the Latin Quarter, is packed with food and vegetable vendors offering the season's best produce, as well as charming eateries such as Cave La Bourgogne, Le Papillon, and Le Jardin d'Ivy where you can dig into top-notch French fare. Don’t miss the eclectic mix of shops, museums, restaurants, and art galleries in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is a 30-minute stroll northwest. At the centre of Saint-Germain-des-Prés sits a square with a Gothic-style church. Surrounding it are cafes that spill out onto the streets come spring and summer, such as Les Deux Magots, a spot Ernest Hemingway and other literary talents frequented, and Café de Flore, one of the oldest cafes in town and a former favourite among art and literary types.

Paris is a city that deserves to be loved and experienced over weeks. But even if you only have one day to spend there, jump at the chance to pack in as much as you can into that time.


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