12 hours in Paris is a short amount of time, but with this itinerary, you can have a perfect layover! See all highlights, admire the Eiffel Tower and have an amazing time!
In the city, you can find some of the most famous sights on earth. For example, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Cœur, and the Louvre.
But besides all the famous sights, Paris has more to offer. There's an amazing atmosphere in the city. Spending time there, walking in the streets, and having coffee at a Parisian cafe is wonderful.
Paris is a city that never gets boring. But it’s also a city that is easy to explore during a layover. The public transport is very good and you can get everywhere fast. So having a layover in Paris is amazing!
With this itinerary for 12 hours in Paris, you will see the amazing sights and the atmosphere of the city. Even though 12 hours isn't a lot of time, you'll definitely have a wonderful experience in Paris!
Why Spend 12 Hours in Paris
The first time I went to Paris, I spent four days in the city. But the time after that, I was in Paris for only 12 hours. And it was definitely a great experience.
I noticed that Paris is the perfect city to explore when you don’t have a lot of time.
A reason why it’s convenient is that moving around the city is very easy. There are so many options and it’s very fast. Especially the metro network in Paris is incredible.
You can get everywhere in the city fast by metro. This can save you a lot of time. And for that reason, you can see many sights in a short amount of time!
Furthermore, many people have a layover in Paris. Paris is a popular city to transfer.
And if you’re already in Paris, why not explore this wonderful city? It’s so fun to see all highlights of the City of Love. So if you’re deciding on a city for a layover, I’d definitely recommend choosing Paris!
Moreover, if you want to travel on a budget, spending 12 hours in Paris is perfect! That’s because it saves you lots of money if you don’t have to book a hotel.
For example, you can get there by night bus and sleep on the bus. Then, you can spend 12 hours in the city. And after that, you can go back home by night bus again!
I did that several times and it was so much fun! Sleeping in the bus and waking up in this romantic city in the world is so wonderful.
But the most important reason to go to this city for 12 hours is that the city is incredible. It has so much to offer. And if you travel here, you’ll have an incredible time.
Travel Tips for a Layover in Paris
One of the most important tips is to bring an umbrella with you. It rains a lot in Paris every month of the year. In July, August and September, it rains a bit less. But there’s still a high chance of rain.
Even though the rain isn’t very fun, in Paris it doesn’t matter a lot. The city is very charming when it’s raining. But it is convenient to have an umbrella when you’re there.
Another tip is to take light luggage with you. You’re going to see a lot during your 12 hours in Paris! And you’re also going to travel a lot through the city. So it’s better to have light luggage.
Also, wear comfortable shoes when you’re in the city! You’re going to travel a lot by metro, but you’re also going to walk a lot.
Furthermore, I’d recommend taking a camera with you. There are so many picturesque places in the city.
Itinerary for 12 Hours in Paris
Here is the itinerary for the best 12 hours in the capital of France. If you follow this itinerary, you'll have the most amazing time in Paris.
You will see all highlights and make the most out of your time during your layover in Paris!
At the Start of Your 12 Hours in Paris, Arrive at Gare du Nord
For 12 hours in Paris, it is important to choose a convenient location to start the day. You want to arrive at a place from which you can go to the next place fast.
That's why I recommend going to Gare du Nord. This is the Northern train station of the city.
When you travel by train to Paris from the United Kingdom, Belgium, or the Netherlands this is where you end up.
But if you are coming from somewhere else in Paris, there are metro and bus connections that go here. For example, it is easy to get from any of the other train stations in Paris to Gare du Nord.
Also, if you have 12 hours between two flights, Gare du Nord is easy to get to. For example, from Charles de Gaulle Airport you can take the RER train, which takes about 30 minutes.
Gare du Nord is convenient if you need anything. There are lots of shops, where you can buy travel essentials or a newspaper for example. Furthermore, there are lots of opportunities to get something to eat here.
This is very convenient if you are in a rush or if you didn't have time at the airport to buy anything.
Furthermore, you can store your luggage at Gare du Nord. There are many luggage lockers that are open from early in the morning till late in the evening. I definitely recommend storing your luggage here.
Because you can have a much greater experience in Paris if you don't have to carry heavy luggage. This is very convenient if you have a layover in Paris.
Garde du Nord is near the amazing neighborhood of Montmartre. This is where you are going next if you use this itinerary and there is a lot to do there.
Breakfast in Montmartre
The first area that you go to during these 12 hours in Paris is Montmartre. Montmartre is one of the best places in Paris. There is so much to see here.
Everywhere you go there are little streets with beautiful buildings. And you'll definitely stumble upon a wonderful cafe or another spot.
This area in Paris is also a great place for breakfast. There are lots of breakfast spots where you can have a delicious French breakfast.
You could go to one of the small bakeries and get a baguette, a croissant, and some pastries. This is a typical French experience that I definitely recommend! Also, it is a quick way to have breakfast and see a lot of the city at the same time.
Besides that, you could also sit down somewhere and have a more extensive breakfast. There are lots of places to do so.
One place I like is Le Pain Quotidien at 31 Rue Lepic. You can have all kinds of bread with toppings here. Or you can go for another dish, such as avocado on toast or granola with fresh fruit!
If you have a layover in Paris, I'd definitely recommend having breakfast here!
After breakfast, it is time to explore the area of Montmartre. This is one of my favorite activities in this itinerary for 12 hours in Paris.
One of the highlights of Montmartre is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. This is a beautiful church on the highest point of the area. And it is definitely worth visiting! It is also one of the most popular landmarks in Paris.
The church looks amazing. It consists of three white domes and lots of other features made of white stone. The architecture of the building is very unique.
It looks like the Roman-Byzantine architectural style, but it doesn't fit in any of the styles. The city finished building the church in 1914.
Because the church is on the top of a hill, you have to climb some stairs to get there. This is a fun experience in itself. The area of the stairs is always very busy, and a lot of people hang out here.
You can also go to the top by using the Montmartre Funicular. This is an easy way to get to the top. It is part of the public transport in Paris, so you can use a normal public transport ticket.
At the top, you have an incredible panoramic view of the city. This is one of the best views you can get in Paris.
What's also great is that you can go inside of the church for free and this is an experience I definitely recommend! That's because the interior of the church and the art inside is wonderful to see. You should definitely do that when you're 12 hours in Paris.
You can also climb to the top of the Sacré-Cœur to get an even better view of Paris. For this, there is an admission fee.
Place du Tertre
After a visit to the Sacré-Cœur, you can visit another fun place near the church. This is the next activity during your layover in Paris. Place du Tertre is this place and it is only a short walk to the left of the church.
Place du Tertre is a square where you can see many artists who sell their paintings on the street. This is very fun to see. There are all types of artworks you can buy here. But walking by and looking at the artwork is a great experience as well.
You can also let one of the artists make a portrait of you. This is definitely a great memory of your time in Paris. But if you are only 12 hours in Paris, you won't have time for that.
The history of Montmartre is another aspect that makes the place great to visit. At the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of artists, including Pablo Picasso, lived here. This area was the place for modern art at that time.
From Montmartre, the fastest way to get to the next stop is by metro.
Now you are going to the Notre-Dame cathedral. This is one of the most well-known sights in the city and thus worth visiting when you have a layover in Paris.
Compared to the Sacré-Coeur that you already visited, the Notre-Dame is much older. It is already in use since the year 1345.
It is a beautiful cathedral in the French Gothic architectural style. Furthermore, the inside of the church is nice to see.
Also, if you happen to visit during Christmas, the Notre-Dame is a great place to go. There is a large Christmas tree in front of it, which looks wonderful!
In 2019 there was a large fire that destroyed the roof. The structure of the cathedral remains as it was, so you can still see the Notre-Dame as it always looks. But since then there are many renovations to the building.
From the Notre-Dame, it is only a short walk to the Louvre Museum.
This is one of the best museums in Paris, and even in the world! Furthermore, it is one of the largest art museums in the world.
So if you are in Paris, you definitely should go to the Louvre Museum!
When you are only 12 hours in Paris, going inside might not fit in your day. But if you go early and book your tickets in advance, you could go inside and see some of the highlights.r
Or if you are very interested in the Louvre, you can decide to spend more time here. Then you can go to the other sights for a shorter amount of time.
You find here a great collection of artworks. From prehistoric artifacts to objects from ancient Greece to more modern paintings. There is such a large variety at this museum. There are almost 40,000 objects on display!
One of the most famous artworks here is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It is on display in a dedicated room and it is very popular.
But there are so many great artworks you have to see here!
Besides the collection, the building of the Louvre Museum is amazing as well. This is the Louvre Palace and it was the home for the French Kings. Later, the French Kings moved to the Palace of Versailles, a little bit outside of Paris. During the French Revolution, the Louvre Palace became a museum
It is a very large building with lots of decorations that is very impressive to see. Furthermore, there is a glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. This modern glass looks great together with the old building surrounding it.
Champs-Élysées & Lunch
From the Louver the quickest way to get to the Champs-Élysées is by metro. You can end up at one end of this shopping street and walk from there towards the Arc de Triomphe. For that, you should get out at the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station.
At the Champs-Élysées you find many shops, including some very expensive ones. Many of these shops are very large, and feature products that you only find there.
Walking along the Champs-Élysées is a fun experience and a must when you have a layover in Paris.
It is also a good place for lunch. There are many shops where you can buy a sandwich or something else to eat. One of the best is the sandwich shop Paul. There are many options to choose from! You can also grab a coffee here.
Arc de Triomphe
After having lunch, I'd recommend going to the Arc de Triomphe. This is a very impressive monument in Paris that you have to see when you're 12 hours in Paris.
You can find this monument at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. So you're already very close to it! If you're going to walk there, you'll be there fast.
This is a monument that honors people who fought and died for the country. The Arc de Triomphe is about the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolutionary Wars.
Furthermore, there are names on the surfaces of the Arc de Triomphe. These are the names of all victories and generals of France.
Moreover, beneath the Arc de Triomphe, there's the Tomb of a soldier from the first world war. People call it the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier because it's unknown who it is. But it's there for all unidentified people that died in the war. This is very impressive.
So it’s a very interesting monument to see. At the Arc de Triomphe, you can learn about the history of France.
Besides its history, you should visit the Arc de Triomphe because it looks incredible. The monument is huge and it’s amazing to see its architecture.
A busy road surrounds the Arc de Triomphe.
You can also climb the monument! You can do that during your 12 hours in Paris, but only if it’s not too busy. Sometimes there is a very long queue, so then it will take too much time. But if it’s quiet, it’s definitely worth going up. The view from there is incredible.
You can see the Eiffel Tower from there. And you can also see the Champs-Élysées. Seeing the busy streets of Paris from above is wonderful. The city is so pretty!
Eiffel Tower: the Perfect Way to End Your 12 Hours in Paris
Your 12 hours in Paris are almost over. But you’re going to see one of the most beautiful places in the city now! Your layover in Paris will end at the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is definitely the most famous landmark in the city. People also call it "La dame de fer" or the "Iron Lady". It's in Paris since the 19th century.
A fun thing to know is that when Paris built it, many people didn't even like it! But that changed a lot. Because nowadays, it's one of the most popular sights in the world.
Furthermore, many people agree that it is one of the most romantic buildings. That's also why there are lots of marriage proposals here. And the Eiffel Tower appears in many movies.
You can get the metro from the Arc de Triomphe to Trocadéro. It won’t take very long, as the Arc de Triomphe is very close to it. Trocadéro is one of the best places to get a view of the Eiffel Tower.
It’s also the most popular place to see the Iron Lady. That’s because you have a very wide view from here!
There’s a large platform with stalls. There, you can buy something to drink or eat if you want to.
You can also find the famous steps at Trocadéro. The view from there is very nice. The steps look incredible and it’s also one of the best photo spots in Paris.
Furthermore, if you walk down, there are several benches where you can sit down! If you like to sit, it’s definitely a very relaxing place to see the Eiffel Tower.
It’s also fun to take some photos here!
How to Get to The City Center of Paris?
If you travel by airplane, there are two airports where you can arrive. You'll either arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport or at Paris Orly Airport.
From Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, you can get to the center by train. This is the easiest way, but you can also get to the center by bus or taxi.
There isn't a direct train connection from Paris Orly Airport. But you can take the metro and transfer. The best way to travel from there is by bus. Or you can take a taxi.
Furthermore, there are many trains that go to Paris. Both international and national high-speed trains go there. Some of the trains go to the center. Otherwise, you can travel to the center by metro after you arrived in the city.
You can also travel to Paris by bus. Some buses arrive in the center, but some don't. In that case, you can get to the center of Paris by metro.
How to Move Around If You’re 12 Hours in Paris?
Moving around the city is very easy. That's because the public transport is great. It's most convenient to move around by metro.
The metro network in the city is excellent. And you can get everywhere very fast if you do that. It’s the most common way to travel in Paris. If you follow this itinerary for 12 hours in Paris, you'll travel a lot by metro!
But there are also buses and you can take the RER train. These are very convenient as well.
Moreover, if you don't have to cover a very large distance, you can also travel by electric scooter. They are everywhere in the city. And you can rent a bike as well! You only need to download an app, and you can rent a bike or scooter!
You can also travel on foot in the city. That's especially convenient if it isn't a long distance. And it’s also a fun way to get around, as walking in the Parisian streets is amazing.
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