Paris is a city not to be rushed but time might not be on your side. So how do you pack in the main sights without overloading yourself? This 2-day itinerary breaks down the major sights in easy digestible chunks. There are also plenty of tips on metro stops, food recommendations and how to beat the queues. You can be in the heart of Paris in just 2hrs 16 mins with Eurostar and with up to 15 trains a day, there's great flexibility in pricing and timing.
With some comfy shoes, prepare to see stunning views of Paris as you visit its most famous monuments.
Start your first day in Paris at Notre Dame Cathedral. With much ground to cover today, you might want to skip the line to explore its looming towers, gothic architecture and intricate stained-glass windows. Look out for the famous gargoyles and if you’re feeling up to it, climb up the belfry (442-step ascent) to be rewarded with a jaw-dropping view of the capital.
Top tip: To get to the Towers, book your visit online ahead of time. Come early if you can, as the crowds tend to swell after 10am.
Take a break at Berthillon, the best ice cream of the capital is just a 7-minute walk from Notre Dame. Choose between 70 flavours of delicious sorbets and ice-cream, from thyme lemon to Amaretto Praline. Visiting during the colder months? Try their tasty waffles and patisseries in the tea salon.
After getting your sugar fix, head to the Louvre. With 35,000 works of art on display, buying your tickets in advance will save you heaps of time. The world's most famous museum is home to the famous Mona Lisa, Vénus de Millo, the Raft of the Medusa and the Coronation of Napoléon. But make sure to check out other treasures in the museum such as the Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. Exit the Louvre through the Cour Carré and walk a few minutes to get a healthy takeaway lunch at La Guinguette d’Angèle, perfect for a picnic in the Palais Royal Gardens.
Burn off those calories with a wander around the majestic Champs-Elysées. Start from Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were executed during the French Revolution (among others). Today, it’s famous for its prestigious hotels, the Luxor Obelisk and two gorgeous fountains (Fontaines des Mers and Fontaines des Fleuves). Continue towards the Champs-Elysées, Paris’s most famous avenue for some window-shopping. Don’t forget to grab a photo of the Arc de Triomphe (Napoleon’s tribute to himself), which crowns the avenue at the west end.
End your first day on top of the Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous monuments in the world. Get there with line 6 of the metro (from Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Direction Nation), for a great view of the River Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Stop at BirHakeim station (cinephiles will probably recognise the Bir-Hakeim bridge from Inception). If you still have strength in your legs, climb the steps to the second floor, then take the elevator to the top for amazing views of Paris. For a Michelin Star experience with impressive views, dine at Le Jules Verne restaurant, located on level 2 of the Eiffel Tower. To avoid disappointment, book your reservation well in advance.
Head underground to visit the dead before making your way to the tasty food market and Paris's most famous cabaret.
If you prefer to see the more morbid side of Paris, start your second day by exploring the Catacombs. The underground graveyard covers 11,000 square meters and houses the remains of more than 6 million Parisians. Between the late 18th and mid-19th century, overcrowded graveyards became a huge health concern in Paris, so the remains of bodies were moved underground. Walking through the passageways you’ll see neatly stacked bones, arranged according to bone type. The entry is located near Denfert-Rochereau metro station, in the Square de l’Abbé-Migne.
After a morning filled with skeletons, opt for a change of scenery by heading to Marais for lunch. Take the metro, stop at Arts et Métiers station and walk to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris's oldest food market. Enjoy exploring the variety of cuisines (Japanese, Moroccan, European) and even fresh flowers. If the market becomes too overwhelming, try l’Estaminet for a delicious brunch on Sundays or Lebanese galettes, rosti and creole black pudding. After lunch, explore Paris’ most intriguing district and discover the city’s medieval roots through secret passageways, hotels particuliers and private mansions hidden behind high walls. Have a break at Place des Vosges, a beautiful square dating back to the 17th century.
What better way to end your 2-day trip in Paris than a classic cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge? With its dazzling costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins, you’re in for a night to remember. Early reservations are highly recommended. Alternatively, try the best Italian restaurant in Paris: Pink Mama, for freshly sourced ingredients straight from Italy and authentic cuisine, from delicious truffle pasta to crazy-good meatballs.
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