Seeing Paris over a weekend, or any two days, might seem like an impossible task, but it can be done! Before you embark on these packed two days, try to get the Paris Visite metro pass. It gives you unlimited access for 24 hours of travel. Also, remember to wear sturdy shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking!
There is much to explore in this city of tree-shaded boulevards, romantic bridges, and spectacular museums, but here’s how you to maximize your time in Paris.
After breakfast, start your first day at the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. It was inaugurated in 1836 by the French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. The Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch in 1921, and the flame of remembrance is rekindled every day. Walk down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde. Explore the numerous shops and cafes along this packed street. Try stopping at Laudree, home to some of the world’s finest macaroons.
From here, walk or take the metro to Paris’ most iconic landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Rising 300 feet above the city, the tower was built in the 1880s, and named after architect Gustave Eiffel. Use the lifts to visit the upper levels, and look at the magnificent views of Paris.
Walk along the Seine and walk around in the famous Latin Quarter of Paris. Just across the river from Notre Dame, this picturesque area is home to the famous university, the Sorbonne, as well as numerous bistros and has a lively atmosphere. Stop here to have lunch at one of the numerous cafes. Don’t miss the famous bookshop Shakespeare & Co., Paris’s oldest English bookstore.
Once you’ve fortified yourself with some excellent French cooking, cross the Seine to the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most spectacular medieval Gothic cathedrals in the world. Along the way, don’t miss the numerous bridges that dot the banks of the Seine. Amongst them are the famous Pont des Arts, and Pont Neuf, though their iconic locks have since been removed. Spend a few hours at Notre Dame, and especially make note of its spectacular buttresses.
Begin your second day at the Louvre museum. Though you may not have time to see all the magnificent works of art on display, don’t miss its most famous pieces: the Mona Lisa, the statue of Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, Raphael’s St Michael, and Botticelli’s Venus. The Louvre is a massive building, the biggest in the world at nearly 15 acres! So make sure to look at a map before you explore the museum.
If you have time before lunch, visit the Musee d’Orsay. Once a train station, it now houses some of the most famous impressionist paintings in the world. Manet, Monet, Degas, Cezanne, and Van Gough are all represented here.
Relax after the museums at the Jardin des Tuileries, across the Seine from the Louvre. This 17th-century formal garden is a great place for a walk, or just to sit and enjoy its beauty. Follow this up with a bit of shopping on the nearby Rue de Rivoli, which has many famous stores.
As the day draws to a close, take the metro to Montmartre, the hill overlooking Paris’s 18th arrondissement. Start at the Sacre Coeur Basilica on its summit, and watch the sunset over the city. Then explore this neighborhood, known for its artistic history and quaint architecture. Have dinner in one of the restaurants lining the streets of this area. If you can, end your Parisian weekend with a quick visit to the Moulin Rouge on the Boulevard de Clichy in this area, catching a show if possible.
And there! You’ve done it. You’ve seen the best of Paris over just two days. Congratulate yourself on this amazing feat as you leave this beautiful city.