Paris – for centuries, it has been synonymous with glamour, culture and the effortless chic that the French exude. Today, it remains one of the most popular destinations anywhere in the world and is beloved by people of all ages.
While Paris’ sprawling size and many neighbourhoods mean you could easily spend a number of weeks examining it, those who have just two days will also find plenty of Parisian flair with our recommended 2-day itinerary.
In the morning
Resist the urge to sleep in – you’re in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, and it is well worth getting up early to enjoy it! Plus, getting up early is the best way to beat the lines, which can be enormous in the most popular parts of Paris.
Our first recommended stop is at the Louvre, perhaps the most famous art gallery on the planet, and home to such works as the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is also the largest art gallery in the world, so it is necessary to choose just a few sections rather than try to see too much and end up overwhelmed. We suggest bee-lining for the Mona Lisa and then spending 2 – 3 hours admiring the other beautiful works nearby.
The Louvre is located quite close to the Notre Dame Cathedral, another of the most famous of all Parisian landmarks. This 13th Century Cathedral is absolutely beautiful, and it’s obligatory to take a photo in front of its Gothic exterior to prove you really were in beautiful Paris!
After this, it’s time to experience another of the quintessential Parisian experiences by dining at one of the many beautiful cafes. We suggest walking 10 – 15 minutes away from the Notre Dame and looking for somewhere that takes your eye. While it is quite difficult to find a bad meal in Paris, those that are on offer close to the main tourist sights tend to be more expensive and lack the French provincial charm of many others.
Depending on what time you finish up at the Notre Dame, there may also be time to fit in a third Parisian favourite – the Sacre Coeur, which can be reached via the metro or by a 45 – 50 minute walk. The Basilica itself is beautiful, and so too is wandering around Montmartre, an area with beautiful views that is particularly popular amongst artists and students who you may find working on their latest paintings or drawings.
After the sun goes down
Paris is a beautiful city by day, but by night it has a certain elegance and glamour that makes it even more exciting. A night-time show at Moulin Rouge is a spectacular sight – although perhaps one that may raise your eyebrows! If you’d prefer to dine around fully dressed – and ultra-fashionable – Parisians, head for the tenth and eleventh districts which both boast beautiful wine bars and delectable cocktails. Maybe not too many as we’ll be up early again tomorrow!
In the morning
Begin your day at the Champs Élysées, one of the most famous streets in the world and surely the best (but perhaps most expensive) shopping in all of Paris. Whether your budget only allows for window shopping or you plan to bring home a chic souvenir from your time in the city of love, spend at least an hour walking along Paris’ most famous boulevard.
The Boulevard is also the location of another famous Parisian landmark, the Arc de Triomphe. You can simply admire it for afar, of if you prefer, you can get a beautiful view of Paris by climbing its 40 steps to the top.
As an alternative, if you prefer, you could instead skip the shopping and climb the Eiffel Tower. While (of course) our itinerary will feature the Eiffel Tower later, if you wish to see it by day, now is the best opportunity – arrive as early as possible to avoid the queues!
In the afternoon
For lunch, we recommend picking up a baguette in true French style and heading for one of the many pretty green spaces to people watch and relax. One of the most beautiful is the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is less than 6km from the Champs Elysees. Not only is it a beautiful park, but it also has various beautiful sights including the Palace which was built in 1612 for the widow of King Henry IV.
After your lunch in the Garden, continue a more leisurely overview of Paris by wandering through the beautiful 6th Arrondissement and particularly the area of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. This area has historically been the cultural centre for Paris, with many famous philosophers, musicians, artists and writers frequenting the area. Feel free to stop in at one of the many famous cafes (such as Les Deux Magots) or beautiful publishing houses.
As tonight is your last night in Paris, it is of course obligatory to see the most famous landmark in all of France – the Eiffel Tower. The tower is located in the 7th Arrondissement, less than 5km from Saint-Germain-des-Prés. If the weather is nice and you don’t mind a walk, it will take less than an hour. However, you can also get a taxi or the metro if you are short on time.
You can view the tower from up close, giving you every opportunity to snap the quintessential Paris selfie in front of the enormous tower. However, it is perhaps most beautiful from afar, especially at night when it is lit up with lights giving it a glamorous, glittering effect.
To take in its full beauty, we recommend getting lunch (and perhaps genuine French champagne) at a restaurant with a view of the tower, such as Restaurant Les Ombres or Chez Francis. There is surely no better way to close off your 48 hours in Paris, than with a glass of champagne in hand, savouring French delicacies while taking in the beauty of the city’s most famous and recognisable landmark
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