Paris has long been known as the city of love. It is the place to go for a romantic getaway and boasts a perfect proposal location on top of its famous Eiffel Tower. But the city also offers much more than just the romance it’s famous for.
With beautiful museums, fashionable boulevards, delicious food and drink and a rich history, Paris definitely packs a punch. Here we have put together an itinerary to help you see and do as much as possible during a 48-hour break in the city.
Day 1 – Discovery
Today is all about discovery and getting a feel for the city. We’re going to start by getting up high for the best views around and navigate the waterways to get our bearings.
Morning – Look Down on Paris
On your first morning in the city where better to start your Paris discovery than at the most famous Parisienne landmark of them all: the Eiffel Tower.
Designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Statue of Liberty in New York, the tower was made for the world fair in 1889 and despite being criticised at the time, has come to be one of the most recognisable and most loved structures in the world.
The tower has 3 levels in total with restaurants on the first and second and an observation deck on the third with fantastic 360 degree views of Paris. Being one of the most popular tourist sites in the world means getting up the tower can be a busy event. But if you can’t make it to the tower early to beat the queues you could try another tactic…
That is, if you want to dine above one of the worlds most picturesque cities. That’s right, if you book a table at one of the towers’ restaurants you get to bypass the queues! However, do bear in mind that this will only allow you to reach the floor that the restaurant you’ve booked is on.
Top tip: If you need to use the metro to get to the Eiffel Tower we’d suggest getting off at Trocadero which is just across the River Seine but provides picture perfect views of the tower.
The River Seine ranks alongside the Thames, Danube and Rhine as one of the most iconic waterways in Europe and is the heartbeat of the city. So what better way to discover the beauty and history of Paris than taking a relaxing river cruise.
Cruises run from a pier close to the base of the Eiffel Tower and usually last one hour and include an audio guide. You will take in sights such as the Bastille, Louvre and Notre Dame which line the river so be sure to be camera ready!
After all of this early morning sight seeing it’s time to indulge in another of Paris’ famous offerings: pâtisserie. Crossing the Pont d’léna away from the Eiffel Tower and through the gardens of Trocadero, there is a place not far away called La Pâtisserie des Rêves. This pâtisserie serves delicatable sweet things which are as creative and perfect as the surrounding decor.
Afternoon – Cultural Discovery
Sampling Parisienne cuisine should leave you ready to start the afternoon by experiencing its cultural side with a visit to one of the most famous museums in the world, the Louvre. The largest art museum in the world, the Louvre houses some of the most iconic pieces of art ever made, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
This afternoon’s cultural discovery doesn’t stop there though. From exploring an art museum housed in a former palace, cross the Seine to experience one in a majestic former train station.
The Musee d’Orsay may be overshadowed by its more famous big brother the Louvre, but don’t let that fool you. Inside is a fantastic collection of art from some of the most well-known painters the world has seen including, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
Evening – See it sparkle
As the sun begins to set the landmarks in Paris really come to life. Nowhere is this more true than for the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is an imposing structure sitting in the middle of a roundabout at the head of the Champs-Elysees boulevard. It is a monument to those who died for France during the revolution and is an iconic structure the world over. Climb to the top just as the sun is setting for picture perfect views of the city.
Top tip: Make sure you’re on top of the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the hour as it is the perfect vantage point to watch the Eiffel Tower light show which occurs every day on the hour after sunset.
To top off the first day in the city we’re going to enjoy some cocktails in the top floor bar of the only skyscraper built in the centre of Paris, Tour Montparnasse.
The tower was built in the early 1970s and left locals horrified by the effect on the city skyline. So while that meant no other skyscrapers were built after it, Tour Montparnasse was left as the place to go for the best unobstructed views of the city and the Eiffel Tower.
Day 2 – Finish in style
On your second day in Paris we’re going to continue the cultural exploration and end with a fitting show to bring down the curtain on your trip.
Morning – See the sun rise over Paris
Similarly to the first day, we’re going to start today with a view over the city that is hard to beat. That view comes from the steps of Sacre Coeur in northern Paris.
Sacre Coeur is a famous basilica which sits on top of the highest point in Paris and gives breathtaking views of the city and it’s famous monuments below. It is an especially good place to be early on a morning as the city begins to come to life.
A little more than a stones throw from Sacre Coeur is Place du Tertre where you can find many artists and painters displaying their works. Take a leisurely stroll around and enjoy the artwork, perhaps doing as the French do and stopping for a coffee and a pastry to help take it all in.
Afternoon – Old and New
This afternoon is going to be a bit of a mix of the old and the new.
First up is Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann which is the flagship store of the department chain Galeries Lafayette. The store has been open for more than a century and boasts fantastic art nouveau architecture inside with a fantastic rooftop view of Paris to boot. Of course, you can also indulge in a bit of retail therapy in the fashion capital of the world too!
The next stop incorporates a bit of culture in a very intriguing building indeed. The new style museum of Centre Pompidou is famous for having its ‘inside’ on the outside creating a vastly different architecture to what was explored on Day 1. The centre opened in the late 1970s and is a melting pot of culture, housing a vast modern art museum as well as a literary library and is well worth incorporating into any itinerary.
To finish off our afternoon adventure we’re going to visit one of the most famous cathedrals in the world: Notre-Dame de Paris. Meaning ‘Our Lady of Paris’ in English, Notre-Dame was built in early medieval times and its famous towers and French gothic architecture make this a must see attraction. Perhaps the film could be included in your pre-trip planning/watched on the journey!
Evening – A fitting finale
There’s no better way to finish our 48 hours in Paris than with a trip to the iconic Moulin Rouge for dinner, drinks and party. The windmill topped building is the venue which inspired the Hollywood blockbuster film and is the birthplace of the can-can dance which helped inspire cabarets all across Europe.
We hope you are inspired by this travel itinerary for spending a fantastic 48 hours in Paris. Are you thinking of travelling to the French capital soon? Let us know in the comments below.
The Rambling Travellers