Romance, magic, and light: One perfect day in Paris

Beautiful Eiffel Tower at night

A week in Paris wasn’t enough to do everything we wanted to, so a day is going to be even more of a challenge. Especially if you want to have the perfect day in Paris.

But, god forbid you only have 24 hours to spend in the City of Light, prioritize the following items and you will definitely NOT be sorry.


Breakfast: espresso, fresh-pressed juice, and pain au chocolat at any brasserie or café

Pain au chocolat is basically just a golden, flaky croissant with bits of chocolate in its layers. Please enjoy as many of these as you can abroad, as you’re unlikely to find its equal once you return to the United States. And espresso is the highly-concentrated, extremely pungent, jet-fuel of a drink that will help you see sounds and enjoy your day. We recommend a double with cream if you’re not down for full-on jet-fuel!

The best part is, nearly any brasserie or cafe will do – simply choose one you like the looks of, approach, and sit down at a table. Someone will be out shortly to provide menus and take your order.

Make sure to linger a bit with your breakfast. French meals should never be rushed – and there’s only so fast you can drink an espresso shot, anyway.


Things to do, part 1: get touristy in the morning

  • Walk around Île-de-la-Cité and enjoy the ambiance (and, you know, Notre Dame).
  • Or, head over to Montmartre for beautiful street scenes and Sacré Coeur.


Lunch: Sit on the banks of the Seine with local baguette and charcuterie/fromage.

It’s very romantic to pick out food from local eateries, but it’s quicker and more affordable to nab some wine, Serrano ham, and brie from a Franprix and a baguette or two from a nearby boulangerie. Bring a few other essentials (flatware, napkins, plastic cups), and you’ve got yourself a very tasty picnic. Linger here even longer than you did at breakfast, because the view is 100% impossible to leave.

RELATED:  “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”: Exploring the Pont St. Bénézet

If you’re here on a weekend in the spring, you might get to watch some locals drink beer and play pétanque on the courts near the river.

Boyfriend Perspective: Seriously, we could have eaten a baguette, meat, cheese, and wine every meal with complete satisfaction. The multitude of FranPrix and boulangeries make this very easy to do. For gluten free travelers, there were at least a dozen bakeries just for gluten free around the city with high quality goods. Search “gluten free” on Google Maps, and you should be a short metro to enjoying food like everyone else.


Things to do, part 2: Get off the beaten track in the afternoon

  • Head up, up, up to the 59th story of Montparnasse Tower to see the city.
  • Voyage into the dusty past at La Galcante.
  • Indulge in macarons from Pierre Hermé.


Dinner: Les Ombres

Les Ombres only takes reservations a few weeks in advance, so make sure to watch their online scheduling tool and book a table early. Make sure to book a time slot that includes sunset and dusk.

Once you arrive, you can choose to sit in the sun or in the shade – don’t bother picking shade, as the sun will keep moving. Order a glass (or a bottle!) of rosé and enjoy the view. Once you finish your meal, walk out on their rooftop deck and watch the Eiffel Tower light up the night. Then, head out and across the Pont de l’Alma for an even more romantic view of the brilliant tower overlooking the city.

Boyfriend Perspective: There are a few other restaurants with a view of the tower that we weren’t able to try, though the roof top view is only at Les Ombres. Just know that – at least for us – we ended up really paying for the view and experience more than the actual food.


RELATED:  Shakespeare & Company: English language nerdery in Paris

Dessert and drinks: Harry’s New York Bar

If you’re lucky, while walking from the nearest metro stop to Harry’s, you may stumble upon a group of people of all ages dancing the tango on the steps of the opera house. Make sure you stop to drink it in, even though the night is slipping away.

When you enter through the bar’s saloon doors, ask to be seated downstairs. There, you’ll find two seasoned musicians at a piano and drumkit, playing live jazz for the small, intimate room. Order a French 75, a Sidecar, or a Monkey Gland (it’s delicious and not at all what it sounds like!!), and enjoy the red velvet, dark wood, and fantastic ambiance. If you’re lucky, you might hear some riffs on the oh-so-classic notes of Cole Porter. If so, be prepared for your soul to briefly leave your body.

Boyfriend Perspective: The downstairs of Harry’s is legitimate a time machine to the Golden Age. Feel free to dress up a bit to enjoy the classy table-side service of the bartenders and exquisite sounds of 1920s – 60s while you cozy up to your date for the evening.


Enjoyed this story? Pin it for later!

[media-credit id=1 align=”alignleft” width=”200″]One perfect day in paris pinterest[/media-credit]

Also published on Medium.

10 Replies to “Romance, magic, and light: One perfect day in Paris”

  1. Montmartre is such a lovely part of town! Sounds like you had a fantastic day in Paris – you make me feel very nostalgic!

    1. Our time in Paris was definitely unforgettable. Ups and downs, as with any trip, but MANY more ups (especially in Montmartre!! hah), and we’re both desperate to go back soon!

  2. It looks like you had an amazing trip. I so want to go to Paris and use this artical as my guide…

    1. We did! It was our first trip to Paris (and to France, in general) and we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the city. If you do go and visit any of these places, I hope you’ll let us know what you thought! And/or if you found any other fantastic, hidden gems 🙂

  3. Looks like you two had a great time! Love the pics!!


    1. It was one of the best trips we’ve taken, so far 🙂 and thank you!! 😀

  4. Oh I miss Paris so much! Love your photos.

    1. You have our sympathy – we miss it already! Thank you so much 🙂

  5. It looks like you had a great time! Your pictures were so fun to look through. I loveloveloved reading your boyfriend’s perspective too!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed. He always has a more pragmatic perspective on our travels, which makes us a great balance for each other 😀

Leave a Reply