Forget about visiting any museum in such a short amount of time. You need at least 3hrs for any serious visit to a Parisian museum. If you do want to visit a museum/go up a tower and so on, buy tickets online, it will save a lot of time. The waiting to visit monuments in Paris is legendary. Take your walking shoes and if you dislike walking, then, sorry, this is not the guide nor the city for you. Also check the subway map in advance and remember the direction of your trains.
My parents and I started off in Montparnasse train station and went straight to a hotel on Rue St Georges, close to Pigalle. The area is great if you are on a budget: many theatres, restaurants, bistros, supermarkets and the subway within a short walking distance.We arrived before the check in time so we just left our luggage at the front desk and went to explore the neighbourhood of the artists: Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur. We wandered the streets, making our way up to the Basilica. We were able to see one of the best views of Paris. If you decide to skip the visit to the Eiffel Tower, you can replace it with the view from the Sacre Coeur which is even better because you can see the tower from up here.
There was quite an expensive Christmas market on the hill, lots of enticing food and expensive little gifts. We decided lunch would be sandwiches from a supermarket right at the foot of the stairs were they even had a microwave oven and the price is a fraction of what we'd have paid on the hill.
We continued our walk heading south to the Grands Boulevards. These large avenues, designed by Mr Hausmann (of the Avenue of the same name), have changed the face of Paris, making it the city we now know. If you are a shopping fan, do head out to Les Galleries La Fayette on La Fayette street. This is the heaven of shoppers, the Harrod's of Paris. The other interests are the interior décor and the spectacular view from the upstairs terrace. Like I always say, the best way to see the Eiffel tower is not from up the tower. Just check these pictures, you'll recognise some landmarks such as the Notre Dame, the Opera, The Dome.
As I said, with so little time on our hands, we didn't go up the tower, instead we once again crossed the Seine to the Chaillot Palace (great way to see the Tower btw, and have your picture taken with it in the background). We wanted to see a bit of the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees before heading back to the hotel. This area is so full of tourists during the holiday season that we were more than happy to find the metro.
We finished our first day in Paris with cider and taboule, watching TV in the hotel room. Perfect way to end a nice, on the budget, day in Paris. Here you have our complete itinerary. Come back for Day 2, I'll try very hard to put this up on Friday.View Larger Map