Having a long stay in Paris is amazing, and just a few days can reach the spot, but many people only have a few hours when they have a layover, and, they tend to stay in the airport! I’m here to tell you that if you’ve got an 8 hour layover in Paris or more, you should get out of the airport and explore the City of Love! Here is an itinerary in my favourite neighbourhood, Le Marais, so you can feel Parisian for a few hours.
Paris Layover Guide
First off, it will take you approximately one hour to land, get through immigration and get out of the airport. Don’t forget to check if you need a visa before your trip! If you’ve got extra luggage that you don’t want to carry around with you while you visit the city, drop your bags off at Bagages du Monde. It is located in Terminal 2 at the Gare TGV (level 4), just opposite the Sheraton Hotel.
Take a taxi from the airport to Bastille. It should take one hour maximum and cost you 65€ with a normal taxi, or 45€ with an app like Uber.
Start your day by having breakfast or a snack – not just any breakfast, the most amazing breakfast, at the bakery Maison Passos (28 rue de la Roquette ). Ask for a pain au chocolat, a croissant or a financier (the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted I swear). Look up at the July Column of Place de la Bastille as you eat.
Once you’ve finished licking your fingers, go to Place des Vosges, one of the finest squares in the city.
Head to Village Saint Paul after that; it is just behind Saint Paul’s Church (between rue Charlemagne, rue Saint-Paul and rue des Jardins Saint-Paul). You’ll go through small passages under arches and cobbled stone streets and arrive at a lovely place with antique designers, little boutiques, art galleries, cafés and restaurants… It is a sublime place to spend a few moments. Of course longer is better, but when you have a few hours, we have to go a bit quicker!
Right next to the Village Saint Paul, you will come across ruins of a long wall. This used to be the wall of Philippe August, they protected the city of Paris in the 11th and 12th centuries. Unfortunately, three are few remains left, the biggest enduring part is this one.
Next up is the Jardin des Rosiers – Joseph Migneret. Go to Rue des Rosiers, walk up and down the lively street, watch the people, take in the smell of fresh falafels, and maybe even do a little vintage shopping. Then enter an oasis of calm and silence at No. 10. This secret garden is surrounded by hotel-particuliers from the 17th century; it is a beautiful place to rest for a while. So lie down on the grass, or sit on a bench, read a book and enjoy the moment.
Walk to the Marché des Enfants Rouges (39 rue de Bretagne). You’re standing in the oldest food market of the city (the name comes from the children clothed in red in the former neighboring orphanage). Look for a small iron gate to get in! Here you will find fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers but also restaurants where you can buy delicious meals. Time to eat!
Right next to the market, you’ll find a shop called Bibi (35 rue de Bretagne). It is a wonder, filled with cute and fun gift ideas for children as well as adults. I personally love the giant posters of Paris by OMY to colour in.
Up next is the Centre Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, a modern art museum (crossroad between rue Rambuteau and rue Beaubourg).The building in itself is interesting to look at if you don’t have time to go inside. Almost every day, you can find street artists and performers in front of the museum and around it; magicians, dancers, painters… Keep your bag close to you though as this area is known for pickpockets!
Last stop after a day of walking is Le Loustic, a cosy café (40 rue Chapon). With its retro decoration, friendly staff and great coffee, this is the perfect place to end your layover! Order a café crème with a slice of cheesecake, you won’t be disappointed!
Time to head back to the airport! Go to Chatelet – Les Halles station, only a few minutes from the coffee shop, and take the RER B to Roissy Charles de Gaulle. Count one hour to get back to the airport; the journey costs 10€. Remember to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your next flight, so you have time to check-in, go through security, etc.
Depending on how many hours your layover is, you might not have time to do all of the above, so pick the activities you want to do the most and skip the others.
Voilà, you have all the information you need for a perfect day in Paris! I hope you enjoyed being a true Frenchman (or woman!) for a few hours!
If you want to have a local guide with you during your layover, feel free to check out our layover tours in Paris, by Emmanuel Rozenblum, Paris.