Have you ever thought about whisking away to Paris for a weekend? Worry that that isn’t enough time? Well, have no fear! When it comes to the perfect weekend itinerary for Paris – you’ve come to the right spot!
Paris is a wonderful city that has layers upon layers to see, experience and explore – this means there is a never-ending list of things to do while visiting the city of lights.
As we all know, Paris is the capital of France and one of the major European centers for fashion, arts, culture, food and immigration. The river Seine separates the main hub of the city into two areas: Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité. When pulling up Google maps when planning this 2-day adventure to Paris it is important to keep in mind is that all of the areas will have fun and exciting things to do, amazing restaurants, and those unique Parisian vibes. You just have to then decide, how do you want to spend your precious time? I think I can help!
Before landing in the beautiful city of lights I recommend a little prep work to ensure you have the smoothest time possible. The biggest thing you will need to invest in when you are traveling around Paris for a weekend is the “skip the line passes”. This will ensure that you will be able to use little time standing in lines and waste the little time you do have in this beautiful city.
The next pass you should invest in before leaving on your trip is the “Paris passes” you can purchase these in 24-hour increments, which allows you to buy for 24-, 48- and 72-hour cards. These passes give you access to over 60 museums like: Musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Musée Rodin, Notre Dame (when it opens again), as well as Château de Vincennes, Chantilly, Versailles or Fontainebleau.
There is also usually even a low-price package deal where you can combine a museum pass, a daily pass for the Hop on Hop Off bus, a public transport pass (bus, metro, tramway, RER train, and the Montmartre funicular) and an hour-long cruise on the Seine with an audio guide! Whatever you elect to do with your time, there are amply of choices for you while also sticking to your budget.
If this is your first time to Paris, then I know you are going to want to hit all of the major sights to see of the city, or at least as many as you can. To start I would suggest starting off not with a “where” but a “what” and locating your closest bakery and getting a classic French croissant and café. There is no better way to start a trip in Paris than heading down the Champ de Mars with a café and croissant in hand! And if you follow this itinerary you are going to need the extra energy and of course, you shouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to taste one of the many foods of France that is worth the trip alone!
Depending on where your hotel is located around the city, eventually, you’ll want to find yourself in the heart of the city. I suggest starting at the Eiffel Tower…personally. If the Eiffel Tower is on your “must see” list, I’d suggest going in the morning when the lines are shorter than they are in the afternoon or evening.
From the Eiffel tower, you need to start making serious decisions, about where you want to go next. A weekend is far too short a time to see and discover all the tourist attractions with any kind depth. Still long enough for making an unforgettable holiday, but it means you will need to make priority decisions on what you’d like to see after the Eiffel tower. I’d suggest going over to the Arc de Triomphe.
You can easily use the Hop on and Hop off bus to get over to the Arc faster or even use your Paris pass to use the subway system. There is a metro stop that is just below the Arc. Another beautiful feature of the Hop on and Hop off bus is right in the title! I use these buses almost every major city I travel too due to the convenience and the ability to see most of the city without wasting precious time. You also have access to the audio guide, which is always a plus to have the history of what you are seeing while on “public transportation”.
Or if you brought good walking shoes I suggest another more scenic route that will take you down one of Paris’ most beautiful bridges over the Seine.
I believe that one of the best ways to discover a city, any city but especially Paris, is to walk around the streets and wander a bit off the beaten path. Though my feet hate me for it later, this is my ultimate favorite method of traveling around a city. More than ever when that wandering adventure brings me to Notre Patisserie. The Notre Patisserie is roughly a 10-minute walk from Champ de Mars and Pont Alexander, making it the perfect rest stop to grab a second morning croissant (or first if you didn’t already!) or a healthy juice or coffee before heading over the famous bridge!
There are numerous bridges along the Seine in Paris, but Pont Alexander III is definitely one of the most beautiful ones. It is well known for its elaborate decorations and meticulous designs. The bridge connects The Eiffel Tower and the Invalides area with the Champs-Élysées and its neighboring Jardin des Tuileries, making it the perfect route to see several of the city’s most famous landmarks in a short amount of time.
At this point in your itinerary, all roads have lead you to the The Champs-Élysées! This street has rightfully earned this name due the beautiful trees that line each side of the street to either lead you to the Arc or away from the Arc to the Place de la Concorde.
Are you ready for a break yet? By now you might be ready for lunch if I timed your day out correctly. I can’t, in good conscious give you all these suggestions for places to see without also pairing those suggestions with places to eat! Paris is known not only for the beautiful city with its landmarks and history but also for the food scene! Some of the greatest chefs in the world have either started their journey in Paris or found their way training in Paris at some point in their career.
I know that many of us have different tastes in food, so it is only fair to share a few food suggestions for restaurant locations and prices in this area of the city:
Bustronome Paris – $$$$
L’Etolie 1903 – $$-$$$
Paul Café – $
Café de Paris Friedland – $$-$$$
La Scene Theleme – $$$$
From this list you can find restaurants to fill different tastes in food and in your budget! Don’t take my word for it! Try some of these places and see for yourself! These are just a few of the multitude of restaurants to eat along The Champs-Élysées. Remember though that the further off the main street you go the cheaper you’ll find some eatery locations. In Paris, sometimes, it is all about location!
Next on the big-ticket item locations is the Louvre. To me, this is a hard one to include in a two-day itinerary because you could easily spend a week in this MASSIVE museum and still not see everything. Especially with their new, state of the art audio and visual guide, the amount of information that you can obtain from a lengthy visit would be quite overwhelming. If you are only interested in going to see the Mona Lisa painting, then you can easily take a quick visit to the museum, and it not take much time from your weekend adventure. However, if you want to spend more than an hour here, you might need to plan a second weekend trip to Paris and start with the Louvre.
Ultimately it depends on what is high on your priority list of what you’d like to see during a short trip.
Ending your day you have two options and both are fabulous choices. You can head back to the Eiffel tower to watch the famous light show (the tower lights turn on about 30 minutes after dusk and the light show starts 45 minutes after it is night – FYI) from the lawn along the Avenue Pierre Loti. OR you can choose to take a night riverboat cruise! Both are fabulous options, and you can still do both if you time it correctly. Most of the boats leave on these tours from the Port de Bourbonnais, which is located just behind the Eiffel Tower,
To make the most out of your stay, you can find several guided tours that will allow you to discover Paris’s neighborhoods and monuments: the Marais, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur, just to name a few.
One of the greatest trips I made to Paris is when I scheduled a food walking tour of Montmartre (technically called Faubourg Montmartre). If you spend your first day in Paris with your shoelaces tied tight like I listed above, you will have time to see the major sights with also having time to take a walking or food tour. Should you take my “day 2” suggestions then you will want to visit of some of these amazing other neighborhoods to make you feel like you’ve gotten the most out of your stay.
There are lots of options for guided tours allow you to discover Paris’s neighborhoods and monuments, or even self-guided walking tours the Marais, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur.
None of these neighborhoods (also important to note that they aren’t really called neighborhoods but rather they are called districts or “arrondissements”) should be looked over in my opinion – but if you can only pick one, I’d recommend Montmartre. Did you know that hidden deep in the Montmartre district you can find Paris’ secret vineyard? There is only one restaurant in all of Paris you can find the wine from this vineyard for sale, La Bonne Franquette.
A self-guided or even a food tour usually lasts about half of your last day but during that time you will have covered a lot of ground of the narrow winding streets of Paris. Before you finally leave the Montmartre, you should take a peak into the Opera Garnier.
Does this name sound familiar to you? Any Phantom of the Opera nerds out there? Yes this is the same famous “Paris Opera House” that is portrayed in the film. Visiting the Opera house was a true “dream come true” moment for me. Mostly because it was amazing for me to see that the got every detail correct in the film as you will see in person.
Trust me, it is worth the time spent!
What to do with your remining time?
My suggestion? Go visit Quasimoto! Unfortunately, since the horrific fire in April 2019, the iconic Parisian cathedral Notre Dome is closed to the public. You are still able to go to the cathedral and see it but you can’t enter it yet (stay tuned though for future planned trips). It might not be the same as going inside but just walking around the cathedral is quite an experience. The city called all young artists to draw what they believed the cathedral signified to them and so the walls all around the cathedral are covered in beautiful pieces of artwork from children of all ages. It really does show you the love of the community for this beloved cathedral. Then wandering through the surrounding streets and doing some people watching while relaxing by the Left Bank was still a fun experience and allowed me to feel like I saw some of the cathedral.
When you’re done, move on to the nearby Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This bookshop was originally a library, created by George Whitman and patronized by big literary names like Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Richard Wright, and Julio Cortázar among others. Now the bookstore hosts events every week. You have probably seen this shop in a few movies and all over Instagram. Take the chance to stop by and enjoy a good pastry at their coffee shop, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch one of the musical performances as well! It’s a perfect stop to take a quick break.
Before you finally wrap up your last day in this magical city, I have one final location for you to visit: Luxembourg Garden.
Though finding green and lush beauty isn’t hard to find in Paris, nor are gardens – a proper trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without an evening stroll through the Luxembourg Garden. I saved the Luxembourg Garden for last because it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful garden in Paris. Which means that you shouldn’t leave the city without experiencing it for yourself, even if it’s just a quick tour while you walk through the gardens. With lots of dining options around the gardens as well you won’t be left stranded in the city of light without a fabulous final meal.