What does a perfect evening in Paris mean to someone who set foot in the city for the first time? What are the things to do in Paris at night when the museums are closed and you don’t want to spend money on shopping or clubbing in the new city? Where can you go to get the best views of the city of lights and understand the great complex city in such a short time? Hope this article answers your questions.
It’s no wonder that the city of lights looks her best self at night. Paris was the fourth destination of our Euro-trip and to be honest it was not loved at first sight. The metro lines were too complex, signboards were mostly in French, and getting from one point to another was not as simple as I found it to be in Amsterdam. But the best thing about Paris is that the city never sleeps, so as a tourist you have all day and all night to explore. And once you start that, you realize why the city has been romanticized to this extent in novels and movies alike.
I love to write travelogues but I know listicles are more helpful for readers. So I settled in between. Here’s the list of what I did (and how I did) and what I could have done (if I knew better), on my first evening at Paris.
Walk at Champ De Mars
3:30 pm: We took the “Paris Pass” for our 3 day trip to Paris, which gave us free unlimited public transport and free entry to most museums and attractions. We have just reached Paris and have already had to buy metro tickets twice because we got confused and exited the metro station instead of reaching the right platform! We somehow reached our hotel at Montmartre, which turned out to be smaller than we expected, unpacked and rushed to get our Paris pass. The only thing we have had since the morning was a small sandwich at Bruges railway station.
Read a detailed review and cost-benefit analysis of the pass here (jump to the section Travel Cards).
Around 4:30 pm we reached Champ De Mars– the huge public park leading to the entrance of the Eiffel Tower. A walk down the park is a great way to start the trip- it’s a place where you can actually feel the vibe of this city with the locals cycling on the tracks, chirping tourists and vendors selling Eiffel tower souvenirs at a really good price.
After clicking a few photographs of the great Eiffel Tower here we headed to the banks of Sienne river to get something to eat. Bad decision! In our rush, we completely neglected a large number of restaurants and food outlets in the neighborhood of our hotel. We purchased some overpriced Panini at one of the cafes near the Eiffel tower and somehow filled our belly.
Reiterating the first rule of travel (often told by our parents over and over ) – avoid food outlets right across the main tourist spot.
Eiffel Tower Summit
Like any tourist, we were really excited to see that one thing you have seen in every Paris snapshots- the Eiffel Tower. Remember that the tickets to Eiffel tower summit are not covered by the Paris pass.
We purchased tickets to Eiffel tower summit and thankfully the queue was just about 45 mins long(yes, that’s less for peak season).
The panoramic view of the city from the world’s most famous telecommunication tower was just photo-perfect- the square canopies of trees lining the Champ De Mars, the Sienne river, and all beautiful monuments adorning the landscape of Paris. However, I would rate the panoramic view from the 56th floor of Montparnasse tower over this for one reason – what’s a Paris Panorama without the Eiffel Tower in it?
When we went the price to the summit by elevator was 25 Euros. Check out the current ticket prices below.
Child under 4 Rate(2)
Second floor by elevator
Summit (the top) by elevator
Second floor by stairs
Second floor by stairs + Summit by elevator
Open time – 9:30 am to 11:45 pm.
So yes, you can defer your visit till late at night.
Sienne River Cruise – the best thing to do in Paris at night
The next on our plan for the evening was the Sienne river cruise, but before that, we strolled along the lively banks of the river for a while watching the boats and birds and people – which in itself is one of the best things to do in Paris.
If there’s just one thing I could do in Paris, it has to be the Sienne river cruise in the evening. We boarded the cruise at around 9 pm when the sun just started to set. You can either sit in the warm cozy restaurant area or go up to the roof and have an experience of a lifetime. The one hour cruise took us on a memorable journey, while the dusk loomed upon the land and the city started to lit up slowly. As you sail through the city you see all the famous buildings that you would have read about – The Notre-Dame, Orsay Museum, the Roue De Paris (the big Wheel) etc.
The fully illuminated Eiffel Tower is a sight to behold, but add to it the five minutes of sparkling and you have a visual that would stay in with you forever. We were lucky to witness this beauty on our first evening itself from the cruise. Here are some photos we took from the cruise.
Named after the battle of Trocadero fought in 1823, this place was built on the hill of Chaillot. The palace that stops this hill was formerly named after Trocadero but now called Palais de Challiot. The large area outside the palace is always in a festive mood with open-air performances by dancers and musicians and tourists flocking in to get the breathtaking view of Eiffel Tower from here.
Ticket price for a 1-hour cruise is 15 Euros but we got it covered by our rocking Paris pass.
Open timing- 10:30 am to 10:30 pm.
After this soul-filling experience, we returned to our hotel at Montmartre for dinner and resigned for the day. As I said earlier, there’s much more than we could do if we knew better- and here’s a list of those. You will not be able to visit all in one evening, so you can split them out accordingly during your stay. Keep in ming the closing time of these attractions so that you can plan your day sightseeing accordingly.
Place du Trocadero
No entry cost here and it is open all night.
Climb to the roof of Arc De Triompe to see Paris at night
A historic monument raised during the first World War to honor the soldiers who laid their lives for the country. The monument is not only a symbol of patriotism but is a reminder of the inevitable death and destruction due to wars. A candle is lit all the time at the site beneath where people come to pay their respect. During WWII, when Hitler marched with his forces into Germany, he too went around the monument and not between the 2 towers, as a sign of respect. A history lesson I took up from the BigBus audio guided tour 🙂
Arc De Triompe is open till night so, if you are done with your planned activities of the day you can enter the monument and climb up the narrow stairs to the top of the Arc and get another panoramic view of the city. Again, this too for me, trumps the view from Eiffel Tower, both because of its historic significance and the view of the Eiffel Tower itself.
Ticket price: 12 Euros
Open time – 10:30 am to 10:30 pm
56th Floor Montparnasse Tower
This is a 689 feet high office building which is the only skyscraper in Paris (Googled info!). The glass terrace is weather-proofed for all season and offers a clear panoramic view of the city. We went to this place around 11pm at night and experienced the mesmerizing view of the city illuminated at night with its famous landmarks – the Sacre Coir at Montmartre, Arc De Triomphe, Notre-Dame, the BigWheel and of course The Eiffel Tower which is the right opposite.
The roof is open till 11:30 pm at night but the restaurant below, which happens to be the highest restaurant in Paris, is probably open even after that. You can’t help but notice how exceptionally fast the lift is, so when I later read that this is the fastest elevator in the world I was not surprised at all. We ate at an Indian Restaurant, about the 5-minute walking distance from here- fantastic food at really affordable rates.
Open time – 9:30 am to 10:30 pm from Sunday to Thursday. Open till11 pm from Friday to Saturday.
Price of the ticket – 18 Euros
Walk down the street of Montmartre in the after hours
We were put up at IBIS styles hotel at Montmartre, but it wasn’t until our last night at Paris until we discovered that it was just 7 minutes away from the famous Moulin Rouge. Walk down the street for great food, take pictures of the red windmill and try not to notice the sex shops and strip clubs lined along the street 😜😈. We had a fulfilling dinner at an Indian restaurant here too. Great way to end an evening well spent!
These for me are the top experiences for a perfect evening or evenings in Paris when you are not into shopping or pub-hopping. What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section.
Wow, this indeed looks like a perfect evening in Paris! One would think that it’s not possible to cover so much ground in just an evening but the tourist infrastructure in Paris is amazing. I always loved how easy it is to get from one touristy place to another in this city.
I’ve been to Paris many times and am just hearing about the 56th floor of Montparnasse tower for the first time! That’s on my list for sure for the next time I’m in Paris. I took a Seine river cruise the first time I was in Paris and loved it as well, so definitely agree on that as a must-do when in Paris!