Now you have a little more space to breathe. This itinerary also starts at the Eiffel Tower, but then takes off in another direction.
Start: The Champs de Mars, 7th arrondissement, Métro: Ecole Militaire, RER: Champs de Mars–Tour Eiffel.
1. The Eiffel Tower ★★★
If the lines for the elevators are too long, climb the stairs to the first floor. But for a better view, you’ll have to stand in line for the elevators to the second floor or, for a serious thrill, the third. You can beat the crowds with some forward planning, though, by reserving your ticket and an allocated time-slot from the tower’s website.
Take the RER C to St-Michel–Notre-Dame.
2. The Latin Quarter ★★★
Admire the Place St-Michel and the Boul’ Mich (boulevard St-Michel) and try to imagine it all filled with long-haired students throwing pavés (paving stones) during the heady days of May 1968, when protesters brought the country to a standstill. Then wander up the boulevard and consider stopping in at the Musée de Cluny ★★ (p. ###). After, continue up past the dome of La Sorbonne (one of France’s oldest universities, founded in 1257) to the Jardin du Luxembourg ★★★ (p. ###). Either picnic here or settle down at a nearby table:
Lunch near the Jardin du Luxembourg
If it’s a weekday and you are hungry, enjoy a terrific meal at La Ferrandaise, about a block away. If you just want something light, and/or La Ferrandaise is closed, stop in for a croque-monsieur (a French version of a grilled cheese sandwich) or a salad at Le Rostand, a Belle Epoque cafe with a lovely terrace just across the street from the gardens (6 pl. Edmond Rostand, 6th arrond.; 01-43-54-61-58; RER: Luxembourg).
Walk up rue Soufflot toward the stunning domed Panthéon at the top of the hill
3. Le Panthéon ★
Marvel at the neoclassical proportions of this national mausoleum’s magnificent interior dome, home to Foucault’s Pendulum, the device that first proved the Earth’s rotation.
Back on rue Soufflot, turn right down rue Saint-Jacques, the city’s old Roman road, and cross the Seine to Île de la Cité.
4. Notre-Dame ★★★
Visit the cathedral, and if the line is not long and you are not too tired, climb the stairs to see the fabulous view from the towers.
Walk across the Pont d’Arcole to the Right Bank and the place de l’Hôtel de Ville.
5. The Marais ★★★
By now you deserve a break from the city’s icons and are ready to shop or just sit in a cafe in this trendy—and beautiful—neighborhood. If you are still hungry for culture, you could visit one of the many museums here, but if not, save them for another day/trip. Around sunset, stop by Place des Vosges ★★★ for a pre-dinner apéritif before you hunt down a restaurant.
1. The Louvre ★★★
Start your day as early as possible at this mega-museum, which should keep you going until at least lunchtime, when you can either call it quits or simply take a nice long break and eat at one of the restaurants recommended on p. ###–###. If you are in a hurry to get back to the artwork, two sandwich counters are under the pyramid. After the Louvre, you can recover in the Tuileries Garden ★★★.
If you are in need of refreshment after the Louvre (and who isn’t?), this slick cafe on the Place Colette (right next to the Palais Royal) is an excellent choice. Great pastries, too.
Stroll west through the Tuileries Gardens until you arrive at the Place de la Concorde.
2. Place de la Concorde ★★★
From this grandiose plaza, you can look down the Champs-Élysées ★★ and see the Arc de Triomphe ★★★ in the distance.
Take the bus no. 84 or 94, or Métro line 12 (direction Mairie d’Issy) to the 6th arrondissement.
3. St-Germain ★★★
End your day in this delightful neighborhood, where you can visit two of the city’s loveliest churches (St-Germain-des-Prés; St-Sulpice), check out famous literary cafes (Les Deux Magots; Café de Flore), or shop ‘til you drop. Then find a restaurant, after which you can explore the nearby nightlife.