The perfect 2 days in Paris itinerary | How to spend 48 hours in Paris

We know there are hundreds, if not thousands of Paris itineraries out there. But we love this city so much, and have been there so many times, that we think we’ve now perfected the ideal Paris 2 day itinerary. We’ve packed in all the major sights to make sure that this would be a superb trip to the French capital. And whether this is your first time, a romantic weekend in Paris or even a trip with your parents, we’ve tried and tested this on most scenarios (and age groups). So, read on to find out what attractions make it into our must visit list with our perfect 2 days in Paris itinerary…

2 days in Paris - a weekend in Paris itinerary including the Eiffel Tower

Why go to Paris?

The city of love, fine wine and even better cuisine. I mean if you haven’t been to Paris before then you absolutely must – it’s one of the biggest bucket list cities for most. But just in case you need a bit more inspiration as to why you need to spend your hard-earned money on a weekend in Paris, then here goes:

  • France is absolutely littered with famous and iconic landmarks, and you’ll find many of them in the French capital. So, whether it’s your dream to climb up the Eiffel Tower, shop on the Champs Elysees or cross la Seine on Pont Neuf, you’ll find that you can cross off many bucket list items with two days in Paris.
  • We’ve mentioned it already above, and quite rightly we’ll be mentioning it a few more times in this article, including some must try out places, but the food and wine in Paris is wonderful. Whatever your budget from Michelin starred creations to the best crepes of your life, there is something for everyone to gorge on.
  • Probably able to make it into the landmarks list, La Louvre has to be the most iconic museum in the world! And you could easily get lost in that museum for a day (spoiler alert, we don’t suggest you spend that long). But Paris has a number of other amazing museums and galleries to explore, from our personal favourite, the Musee D’Orsay, to the Rodin Museum, Musee de l’Orangerie and an endless list of others to explore.
  • Up there with London and Budapest, it has to be our favourite city to visit in Europe at almost any time of year! There is so much to do that once you’ve been once it’ll draw you back time and again.
2 days in Paris - a weekend in Paris itinerary

The ideal 2 days in Paris itinerary

Although there is only so much you can see of Paris in a couple of days, we think that this is the perfect Paris 2 day itinerary, especially for first time visitors or those who haven’t been to the city in a while.

Day 1

  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Jardins du Trocadero
  • La Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)
  • Les Invalides
  • Pont Alexandre III
  • Grand and Petit Palais
  • Champs-Elysées
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Musee de Louvre
  • Pont Neuf
  • Notre Dame Cathedral

Day 2

  • Sacre Coeur
  • Montmartre
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Palace of Versailles

Is 48 hours in Paris enough?

If you’ve never been to Paris before, then a 2 days in Paris is probably the perfect way to get a really good feel for the city, will allow you to explore many of those key landmarks and at the same time leave you wanting to return for more…

However, there is so much to see and do in the city of love, that you could easily spend a week here and not get around to seeing even the main attractions! So, if you are able to extend your weekend in Paris, or midweek two day trip to a few more days, then the good news is that we’ve got a host of additional bonus activities that you can add to your Paris itinerary to extend it.

Paris in 2 days - Gargoyle from Notre Dame

And of course, if you’d like some more ideas of what to include in a longer itinerary, drop a comment below or get in touch with us here.

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Check out the latest travel insurance prices with Safety Wing here.

Day 1 in Paris

For the first day of your two days in Paris itinerary, we’ve mainly set this out as a part walking, part public transport tour. And don’t worry if you’re not too sure about using the Paris Metro (underground) it’s really easy, and we’ve got loads more details on it in the Getting around Paris section later in this article.

Arc de Triomphe

Start your day with one of the world’s most recognised landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe. Completed in 1836, it is located at one end of the famous Champs Elysees and is dedicated to the armies of the Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath it is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a pretty sombre reminder of the tragic losses endured in World War I.

Plan a trip to Paris - Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is interestingly one of the most famous triumphal arches in the world, a monument that was originally first conceived back in ancient Roman times, to commemorate significant events.

We have always found these fascinating and beautiful places to photograph, with some of the other iconic ones from around the world include India Gate in New Delhi, Washington Square Arch in New York and Wellington Arch in London. We were very fortunate to recently visit the stunning Patuxai Victory Gate in Vientiane, Laos.

You are also able to climb the Arc de Triomphe, with a museum inside outlining the history of this monument and great views from the summit.

Make sure that you get a skip the line ticket here before if you want to go into the Arc de Triomphe, it will save you a bunch of time…

2 days in Paris - the Arc de Triomphe

Location: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris

Open: 10.00am to 11.00pm (Apr to Sept), 10.00am to 10.30pm (Oct to Mar)

Fun fact: The Arc de Triomphe is set in the middle of a 6 lane roundabout, and given the lack of road markings and the notorious driving habits of the Parisians, it makes trying to navigate it in a car a rollercoaster of fear and excitement all rolled into one. We’ve driven around it a few times, and if you get the chance it’s surprisingly well worth it for that rush!

Finished at the Arc de Triomphe?

Take the Line 6 of the Paris Metro: Kleber Station to Trocadero

Jardins du Trocadero

The reason for stopping at the Jardins du Trocadero rather than heading straight for the number one tourist attraction in Paris, the Eiffel Tower? Well, you won’t find a better place to get a photo in Paris of the Iron Lady.

Originally the gardens of the Palais du Trocadero (Palace of Trocadero), the ones you see today were opened in 1937 as part of the Paris Universal Exposition and boast a beautiful central water feature – the Fountain of Warsaw – which frames the view of the Eiffel Tower.

Top tip: If you’re an early riser and want to find the perfect sunrise in Paris, then the Jardins du Trocadero is the spot to get that glorious Eiffel Tower sunrise shot.

The view from the Jardins de Trocadero

Location: 1 Avenue Gustave V de Suède, 75016 Paris

Open: 24/7 – we’ve also heard that it is beautiful to visit in the evenings!

Finished at the Jardins du Trocadero?

Take a stroll across Pont d’Iéna, crossing La Seine, to La Tour Eiffel.

La Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)

It’s already time to ascend the most famous structure in France; if not the world: the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower was incredibly built as an entrance way to the 1889 World Fair, having taken two years to build and is now one of the most-visited paid tourist attractions in the world.

Now there are two options – walking or the elevator – and pros and cons to each. Elevator access costs you more, has far longer queues but means less exertion! And, of course, walking up is cheaper, far quicker (sometimes without much of a line at all), but might stretch your lungs a little.

We’re always fans of walking up to the second level (as high as you can take the stairs), since you feel that the view is a reward for the effort. And at 116m you get an awesome view. Plus, you save a few euros for your post-walk crepe! Then take the lift to the top floor which, at 276m, provides the best views in Paris.

abIf you’re keen to beat the queues, book your tickets online here.

A shot from the Eiffel Tower over Paris during our 2 days in Paris

Location: Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris

Open: Daily from 9.00am to around midnight – check times here depending on time of year.

Finished the third stop of your day 1 Paris itinerary?

Once down from the Eiffel Tower take a walk down the Champ de Mars (park), to the Wall of Peace monument as you’ll get another great perspective back towards the Eiffel Tower. Then jump on line 8 of the Paris Metro from Ecole Militaire to Invalides.

The Eiffel Tower Paris from Champs de Mars

Les Invalides

A short walk from the Metro Station, you will find Les Invalides (or the Hotel des Invalides). This is really just a number of buildings with a hospital and retirement home, although it also has some museums, including the Musee de l’Armee (a great stop if your interested in the military, as this one is dedicated to the Army of France) and the Dôme des Invalides, the tallest church in Paris which also houses tombs of some of France’s war heroes like Napoleon.

We like jumping out here so you can also take a photo of some of the impressive government buildings nearer to the Metro Station including the Assemblee Nationale and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to name a couple.

Best things to do in Paris - Les Invalides

Location: 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France

Open: Daily 10.00am to 5.00pm

Next after Les Invalides?

It’s only a short walk to your next stop, Pont Alexandre III, another bridge on the Seine river.

Pont Alexandre III

So, head over to this breath-taking bridge, known for its views across the Seine river and dotted with gorgeous gold statues. It’s also a great starting point for a Seine river cruise, if you have the time to add it to your 2 days in Paris itinerary! We explore that option in a bit more detail in our bonus things to do in Paris section.

The Pont Alexandre III bridge is definitely not the most famous in Paris, that award goes to Pont Neuf, but this bridge is without doubt our favourite in the city. The bridge was completed in 1900 in homage to Tsar Alexander III of Russia, shortly after the Franco-Russian Alliance was agreed.

Walk along Paris' Pont Alexandre III bridge

Location: Pont Alexandre III, 75008 Paris

Grand and Petit Palais

These two museums generally don’t make the ‘Must Do List’ in Paris but since they are on your route, we suggest you walk past these super impressive buildings.

Like the Pont Alexandre III bridge, both the Grand Palais and Petit Palais were built for the 1900 world exhibition and have stood the test of time. We particularly like doing a short tour of the Petit Palais, since entry to all the permanent museum art exhibitions are totally free!

Paris 2 day itinerary - Petit Palais

Grand Palais Location: 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris

Open: Wed – Mon 10.00am to 8.00pm, Tuesday – closed!

Petite Palais Location: Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris

Open: Tues – Sun 10.00am to 6.00pm, Monday – closed!

Having walked by the Grand Palais and Petite Palais?

Continue on to the corner of the next road, where you will reach the Champs-Elysees!

Champs-Elysées

And having started your Paris 2 day itinerary on one end of the most celebrated avenue in the world, you are now re-joining it almost at the other end.

This street is roughly translated as ‘Elysian Fields’ i.e. heaven on earth. To be honest, you could have walked down from one end of the Champs Elysees to the other, perusing all the beautiful boutique stores en route. However, with only 2 days in Paris we don’t think you should waste it with shopping on this street!

Walk down the Champs Elysees

But if you are inclined to want to pick up some gifts to take home with you, we have a full guide on the best souvenirs to buy in Paris.

Location: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris

And next on the 2 days in Paris itinerary?

As you get onto the Champs Elysees, you’ll want to hang a right heading towards the Place de la Concorde – it’s not even a 10 minute walk from the two palais.

Place de la Concorde

Another major open space in Paris and another really interesting landmark. The Place de la Concorde is the square where the famous guillotine stood during the French Revolution. Although no longer there, it has now been replaced by the 3,300 year old Obelisk of Luxor.

2 days in Paris - Place de la Concorde

Location: Place de la Condorde, 75008 Paris

Finished at the Place de la Concorde?

Well cross over the square, as behind it you will find the Jardins des Tuileries, another lovely park to take a wander in. Within this park you’ll find the Musee d’Orangerie, another of our bonus ideas for your Paris 2 days itinerary. But more importantly, at the far end of the park is the Louvre Museum. The walk from the Place de la Concorde to La Louvre should only take around 15 minutes.

Musee de Louvre

Ah… La Louvre. More than just the backdrop for Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code novel, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip here. It’s hotly debated whether you should visit La Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay and, to be honest, both are lovely.

Although, if you’ve never been to the Louvre Museum before, or especially if it is your first time to Paris, then La Louvre absolutely has to be on your itinerary.

We’d suggest that you only spend a couple of hours in the museum and make a point of seeing the Mona Lisa (bucket list ticked!) and the Egyptian exhibition. It is our favourite part of the museum. However, if you are a museum nut, and don’t fancy all of our suggestions, then maybe consider half a day in La Louvre, and half in Musee D’Orsay!

La Louvre, Paris - a must visit for 2 days in Paris

We’ve heard really good reviews of this 1.5 hour La Louvre guided tour, that takes in the must-see places in the museum. So would be a perfect tour to do on your weekend or 2 days in Paris.

Location: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Open: Mon, Thurs, Sat & Sun 9.00am to 6.00pm, Wed & Fri 9.00am to 9.45pm, Tuesdays – closed!

Top tip: The later we go to the museum, the less crowded it seems to be!

Where after La Louvre?

So you’re probably getting a little heavy in the legs by now, but don’t fret – there are only a couple more stops to finish your first day in Paris. Exit La Louvre onto Quai Francois Mitterand which hugs the banks of La Seine, and a short walk away you’ll reach the most famous bridge in Paris.

Pont Neuf

Most famously depicted in a painting by Renoir, this is the oldest remaining bridge in Paris. Which is odd, considering ‘pont neuf’ means ‘new bridge’! Although many people get confused with the name, believing that it means the ninth bridge across the river…

Pont Neuf again provides some great little photo spots, and from here you’ll be able to access Ile de la Cite, home to Saint Chapelle, the stunning City Courthouse and Notre Dame.

Paris itinerary 2 days - Pont Neuf

Location: Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

Phew – you’ve made it! The last stop of the day is the Church of our Lady; one of many similarly named but undoubtedly the most renowned. Especially after the fire in April 2019 that pretty much gutted the entire church.

Notre Dame Cathedral was one of the must visit attractions in Paris, with beautiful stained-glass windows, the world’s largest organ and great towers that you could climb. Although since the fire you obviously can’t visit, it is another one to tick off that Paris bucket list.

2 days in Paris itinerary - Notre Dame before the fire

Location: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris

Open: Currently closed due to the fire

Alternatives to this walking tour

Sightseeing Bus

If you’re not that keen on the walking route that we’ve suggested for day 1 of your Paris 2 day itinerary, then you could look to the hop on hop off sightseeing bus instead. Check out the prices here, as they offer 1, 2 and 3 days passes that cover all the major attractions!

Day 1 in Paris interactive map

Day 2 in Paris

So, you’re exhausted from the first day of the 2 days in Paris itinerary? Don’t worry, your second day will be quite a bit more relaxed, although don’t pack away those walking shoes just yet! It’s time to visit a few more amazing Paris landmarks.

Sacre Coeur

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, or Sacre-Coeur Basilica as it is better known, is one of the most beautiful basilicas in the world.

Paris in 2 days - Basilica Sacre-Coeur

Set on the top of Montmartre it is the highest point in Paris, and the views of the city from the garden out the front are well worth the effort to get to this part of the city.

The Sacre Coeur Basilica was completed in 1914, having taken 39 years to build. And alongside visiting the beautiful interior of the church which is free to enter we’d recommend that you buy the additional ticket to climb the 300 stairs to the top of the dome. As at the summit you are rewarded with even better views of the city.

Sacre Coeur view - 2 days in Paris itinerary

Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris

Basilica Open: 6.00am to 10.30pm daily

Dome Opening Hours: 8.30am to 8.00pm (May to Sept), 9.00am to 5.00pm (Oct to Apr)

Montmartre

After visiting the Sacre Coeur Basilica, we’d suggest that you spend a little time exploring the Montmarte area. Famous for being an artist’s enclave, take a stroll through the square, Place du Tertre, which is flanked by artists looking to draw or paint your portrait for a handsome fee!

As you walk around the cobbled streets, you’ll find cute little arts and crafts style shops and bakeries with wafts of fresh pastries enticing you in. Do stop somewhere in the area for your morning coffee or breakfast.

Things to do in Paris - art and streets of Montmartre

Montmartre and the surrounding area is full of Paris hidden gems, if you just look for them!

Location: Place du Tertre, 75018 Paris

Finished exploring Montmartre?

It’s about a 15 minute walk from Montmartre to this famous cabaret venue, but it’s mainly downhill and you’ll some brilliant street art or graffiti along the way.

Moulin Rouge

And onto the last stop for your morning of day 2 of this Paris itinerary, an Instagram famous location, but really the name is synonymous with the Baz Luhrmann film, Moulin Rouge.

Created as a cabaret in 1889, the original Moulin Rouge burned down in 1915, only to be rebuilt with its striking red colour and iconic windmill, the venue is the birthplace of the can-can dance.

Moulin Rouge as part of 2 days Paris itinerary

Tip: Once at Moulin Rouge you will need to wait for your ‘photo ready moment’ since it can be difficult to capture a clean shot, but just have some patience for your turn.

Fancy something a little different for your one of your evenings in Paris? Then why not try out one of the dinner and cabaret performances at the Moulin Rouge?

Location: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris

Getting to the Palace of Versailles

Since it’s a 30 min drive, we suggest either hiring a car or, ideally, taking the RER C train line out to the chateau. The RER C line runs along many tourist attractions so get yourself back to the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Musee d’Orsay or Notre Dame (to name a few) if you missed them on yesterday’s tour.

Palace of Versailles

Our suggestion for the remainder of day 2 of your Paris 2 day itinerary is to head out to the Palace of Versailles.

The Palace of Versailles or Chateau de Versailles, was the royal home from the reign of King Louis XIV in 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789 ended the reign of King Louis XVI.

Gardens of Versailles - Paris itinerary 2 days

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, there are some incredible places to explore within the palace and the stunning gardens, from the Hall of Mirrors, to the fountains and flower bed arrangements.

The Palace is a must-see stop on any Paris itinerary, but it is a sprawling complex and you need to be smart about how you visit it. If the queues for entry into the chateau are snaking across the square when you arrive, rather spend your time visiting the gardens and the coach house. Usually when you return to the square, the line to enter will have shortened significantly.

Get hold of your palace and gardens ticket beforehand here – it’s a massive time saver as the queues for the Palace can be really long.

Things to do in Paris - Gardens of Versailles

Location: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles

Open: 9.00am to 5.30pm

Day 2 Paris itinerary map

Paris Pass

If you want a way to save loads of money on your Paris trip, then make sure you get yourself a Paris Museum Pass.

Available as 2, 3, 4 or 6 day passes, the Paris Pass provides access to over 60 of the leading tourist attractions in Paris, including the Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus, La Louvre, Palace of Versailles, Musee d’Orsay, Tour of Montmarte and the Arc de Triomphe to name just a few!

What’s more, along with access to all these great attractions, your Paris Pass also comes with a Paris Visite Pass – or Travelcard – that gives you use of the Paris Metro, buses, the RER, city trams and rail (SNCF) for free. What a bonus.

Look at the options and book your Paris Pass here.

How to get around Paris

The Paris Metro

Especially on Day 1 of our 2 days in Paris itinerary, we’ve included a few Metro station suggestions that will lessen some of the walking, so it’s worth buying a day pass, Ticket Mobilis, at any Metro station if you don’t get the Paris Pass!

The Paris version of the Underground is really easy to use, and one of the best ways to get around the city.

Metro - best way to get around Paris

Walking

If you follow our other itineraries, you’ll know that we absolutely love stomping the city streets and always advocate to try and walk around city centres when you first arrive.

The great news about Paris is that as long as you have a little bit of base fitness, many of the top attractions are all within walking distance. So, make sure you pack comfy shoes!

Taxis

With Uber revolutionising the taxi market, it has become a realistic and relatively affordable option for travelling in many major cities. And Paris is no exception, with Uber being the best way to use a taxi in the city. Just make sure you have the app downloaded!

Take a taxi to get around in Paris for 2 days

Additional public transport

Alongside the Paris Metro, the buses, rail and trams are great options for exploring Paris. And if you don’t get hold of the Paris Pass, which comes with free use of all these, then have a look at purchasing the Travelcard, Paris Visite Pass.

A zone 1 to 3 card will set you back €12 per adult a day (13 USD/10.50 GBP), and zone 1 to 5 (for visiting Euro Disney or Palace de Versailles) will cost you €25.25 for adults (27.50 USD/22 GBP).

Rental Cars

Nothing quite gives you the freedom to explore Paris like having your own car, especially if you want to also check out some of the surrounding area!

Find the latest deals on RentalCars.com.

Getting to Paris

Flights

With two international airports servicing Paris, Charles de Gaulle in the north of the city, and Orly to the south, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to flight options into Paris.

Whether it’s low cost airlines through to big international carriers, you can look for the best options and prices on Skyscanner here.

Eurostar

James actually used to take the Eurostar almost weekly for work, and used to swear by it. If you’re based in London, it’s a very easy and stress-free way of getting to Paris.

Here are the latest options and prices for Eurostar.

The Eurostar connects you easily to Paris, France

Driving & Ferry

Or the third option if you are coming from the UK, is to consider driving to Dover, hopping onto a ferry and then driving into Paris.

If you’re departing from London, the drive time, including your ferry transfer will be around 6 to 7 hours on a good run!

Although we’ve taken the Dover to Calais ferry a number of times, we’ve never done the drive to Paris.

We have driven from Germany (well specifically from Cologne) to Paris. And as handy as it was to have a car in Paris, it was for longer than a couple of days in the French capital! So, for such a short trip, we’d definitely recommend looking at the flight or Eurostar option.

Getting from Paris Airports into town

Orly Airport

Located a bit closer to the city centre than Charles de Gaulle, we find that Orly Airport is an easier option for a quick city break, although we’d suggest not taking the train from the airport into town as it involves a transfer…

Bus: The appropriately named Orlybus is a direct service that will take you from Orly airport to the city in 45 minutes and will cost around €8.50 per person (9.20 USD/7.50 GBP).

Taxi: Once again the easiest option, but most costly, a taxi from Orly Airport to Paris city centre will take around 30 minutes and there is a €35 flat rate (38 USD/30.50 GBP).

Charles de Gaulle Airport

There are three options when you arrive into Charles de Gaulle airport to get to the city centre.

Train: Our favourite option, both for ease and cost is to take the RER regional train B, which runs every 10 to 20 minutes from terminal 2 & 3. The journey takes around 50 minutes to get into the city and you can get off at Gare du Nord or Chatelets – Les Halles, both of which you can then transfer onto the Metro, other RER lines or jump into a taxi to your accommodation.

A one-way ticket will cost you €10 per person (10.80 USD/8.75 GBP).

You can get to Paris via train

Bus: Another cheap option is to take the Le Bus direct which departs from the Charles de Gaulle airport going directly from the airport to three central Paris locations (Porte Maillot, Etoile Champs-Elysées and Trocadero).

Although the bus takes a bit longer to make the journey, at around an hour, it’s possibly the most convenient of the public transport options.

The one-way ticket will set you back €17 per person (18.50 USD/15 GBP).

Taxi: The most convenient and fastest way to get into Paris city centre, a taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport will set you back €60 (65 USD/52.50 GBP) to anywhere in the city – it’s a flat fare.

It is worth noting that traffic can be pretty bad getting to Charles de Gaulle airport in rush hour. We’ve nearly missed flights on numerous occasions.

Where to stay in Paris

Unsurprisingly, with Paris being one of the most visited cities in the world, accommodation costs and options don’t come cheap or easy. However, if you’re willing to do some decent digging, you can still find some great gems at reasonable prices. Here are a few of our best recommendations.

Budget: It’s not the cheapest hostel you’ll ever find (this is Paris after all), but the cool quirky Generator Paris is undoubtedly one of the best hostels in Paris, and a cheap gem of a place. Very modern rooms with a lovely terrace, free WIFI and an inhouse bar makes this a sociable yet relaxed place to kick back after all that walking.

Mid-range: While Best Western hotels can be a bit hit and miss, the Best Western Star Champs-Elysees is a great bet. Located on the famous avenue you’ll have a lovely room at a relatively affordable price. The rooms are spacious and have all the amenities but what we really like is that they are surprisingly quiet for such a centrally located hotel.

Luxury: On the cheaper side of the luxury spectrum (and there are SO many luxury hotels in Paris), is Prince de Galles. It’s actually located right next door to the Four Seasons but the two hotels are decidedly different as Prince des Galles is a 1920’s style hotel which feels retro yet opulent. It’s modern but not over the top, and has one of the best restaurants, the Michelin-starred La Scene, right on its property.

Alternatively, try out one of the beautiful boutique hotels in Paris.

Paris 2 day itinerary - generic landscape

Best other Paris Museums

Of course we had to include La Louvre in our itinerary, and with only 2 days in Paris we limited your time in this world class institution – but just in case you’ve already been to La Louvre and would like some alternative museum suggestions to add into your Paris 2 day itinerary, here are some alternatives that we’d highly recommend.

Musée d’Orsay

There’s often a tussle between the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre as to which one people should really visit in Paris. If you can, we’d squeeze in both! That said, the d’Orsay offers something a little different to the Louvre in that its collections are smaller – 2,000 paintings and 600 sculptures – so you can whizz round in less time and it’s arguably the best showcase for Impressionist paintings in the world. You can lose yourself in Monet’s Poppies or Degas’ Ballet Class before heading to see Manet’s Olympia.

The museum is also a bit hit with historians and architecture fans as it is housed in what was originally a railway station! Originally the main railway terminal for southwestern France, the short platforms became unusable around 1939 as longer trains became the norm. It was originally set to be demolished but a later proposal from the Museum of France directorate saved the building and saw it converted into the stunning showpiece it is today.

72 hours in paris itinerary - Musee d'Orsay clock

Top tip: If you’re a keen Instagrammer the gallery also boasts one of the city’s favourite photo spots: the Musée d’Orsay Clock where you can get up close and take a cracking silhouette shot.

Location: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Open: 9.30am – 6.00pm Tuesdays to Sundays (closed Mondays)

Musee de l’Orangerie

Impressionist art lovers will again delight if they visit the Musee de l’Orangerie. Tucked away in the western part of the Tuileries Gardens, the museum is home to arguably the world’s most famous impressionist painting: Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. The eight panels of this magnificent work (which was originally destined for the Rodin), was specially installed in the museum along with Monet’s request for custom skylights, so that the paintings could be best viewed in natural light. Monet’s involvement in the museum was so important that it was first named the Musée Claude Monet.

paris itineraries - Musee de l'Orangerie

Fun fact: Actually, the building was never intended as a gallery or museum but was built by Napoleon III in 1852 to protect the citrus trees from the gardens when frost hit in the winter, hence the name! Nowadays of course it’s home not just to Water Lilies but works by a host of renowned artists including Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

Location: Jardin Tuileries, 75001 Paris

Open: 9.00am – 6.00pm Wednesdays – Mondays (closed Tuesdays)

Musee Rodin

Last, but definitely not least, on our museum line-up is the Rodin Museum. Dedicated to French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, this museum was first opened in 1919 and encompasses the Hotel Biron and surrounding grounds, filled with Rodin’s own sculptures but also some of the stand-out pieces he collected, including works by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The museum is really a showcase of Rodin’s exquisite sculptures including over 6, 600 of them dotted both inside and outside in the gardens. If it’s a sunny day we’d highly recommend you take a wander around these beautifully manicured gardens to see some of his works set amongst the greenery. Firm favourites include The Thinker or his gigantic The Gates of Hell, an unfinished but epic work.

The Rodin Museum, a great museum in Paris

Location: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris

Open: 10.00am – 6.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays (closed Mondays)

Bonus things to add to your 2 days in Paris itinerary

Opera Garnier

The Opera Garnier (also known as Palais Garnier) is often known as the most famous opera house in the world, and we’d probably agree (although we are also huge fans of the gorgeous opera house in Budapest!). Part of its fame is since the legendary Phantom of the Opera was set within it, plus it’s architecture and construction is second to none.

Built in 1875 at the request of Napoleon III, the opera house was the main home of the Paris Opera until 1989 when the Opera Bastille was built. Nowadays you’ll find it is usually home to ballet productions although a few operas or tourists (like yourself!) doing the self-guided or guided walking tours to take in this masterpiece of 19th century art and culture.

Things to do in Paris - Palais Garnier Opera House

Location: Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris

Open: 10.00am – 4.30pm daily (open until 6.15pm in summer)

Sainte Chapelle

If stained glass windows are your thing, you have to head to the incredible Sainte Chapelle, and be bathed in lavender and red-hued light. This gothic style cathedral, set within the Palais de la Cite, was home to the kings of France until around the 14th century.

It’s a gorgeous building but the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the windows – 1, 113 of them. They offer a wall of light with 15 huge glass panels set amongst the soaring pillars of this property. The windows, more than just a brilliant showcase of stained glass prowess, also depict key scenes from the Bible – the eastern side showcases the New Testament, the nave the Old Testament and the final west windows offer more contemporary history, chronicling the later French kings themselves.

Stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle

Location: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris

Open: 9.00am – 5.00pm daily (open until 7.00pm between April and September)

Shopping at the Bouquinistes

If it’s good enough for Hemingway, its good enough for us, right? Flanking the banks of the Seine river are about 217 licensed bouquinistes, essentially used booksellers. Dating back as far as the 16th century, these forest green painted market stalls started to pop up selling old books. The stalls stretch for about 3km boasting 900 ‘stalls’ or ‘boxes’ with approximately 300, 000 well-worn books for purchase, alongside old stamps and bound journals.

It’s a slightly touristy thing to do in Paris but you honestly can’t come to the city without browsing the wares here, even if it’s just to pick up a more garish postcard or a little Iron Lady shaped keyring.

Best things to do in Paris - walk past the Bouquinistes

Location: Banks of river Seine (Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre on the right bank; Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire on the left bank)

Open: Depending on weather but usually 11.30am – sunset

The Catacombs

It’s a fascinating if slightly gruesome tale behind this great attraction to add to your 2 days in Paris itinerary: The Catacombs. Essentially as Paris grew in stature, around the 17th century there were too many people living and dying in the city, and the cemeteries were overflowing. As the smell of the cemeteries became unbearable, the idea was floated to move the bodies into the underground tunnels, tunnels that existed since they were limestone quarries used to extract the building materials for the city.

And so began the task of moving almost 7 million bodies into the tunnels, as the city’s catacombs, starting in 1786. They lay there undisturbed for a few years before, in a macabre twist, the catacombs were opened for visitors to tour them in around 1809. Since then they’ve had a colourful history – opening and shutting many times and even used by the French Resistance during World War II as a tunnel system and hiding place.

Things to do in Paris - explore the underground catacombs

While we haven’t personally visited the tunnels, we’ve been told it’s a great thing to do in Paris, if you’re interested in this kind of history. You can tour it on a 1.5km circuit although be warned that there can be long lines as only 200 visitors can be inside at a time. It’s also pretty chilly down there (about 14 degrees Celsius) no matter the weather up top, and humid so you’ll get a sweat on!

Location: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris

Open: 10.00am – 8.00pm Tuesdays to Sundays (closed Mondays)

Tour Montparnasse

It’s been called the ugliest building in Paris but it’s still one of the best ways to get sweeping views of Paris: the Montparnasse Tower of Tour Montparnasse. Built in 1973, this soaring building is primarily an office block and considered an eyesore of Paris. Standing 210 metres tall it’s the tallest skyscraper in Paris and the third largest in France; both of which sound impressive but after it was built, the city banned the construction of buildings over 7 storeys high, apparently due to criticism of its design.

While the building might not be the prettiest (it’s actually been voted the second ugliest in the world!), you can go up to its observation deck on the 59th floor for very good views.

The second ugliest building in the world, Paris Montparnasse Tower

Location: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris

Open: 9.30am – 10.30pm daily (until 11.30pm between April and September)

Explore the Latin Quarter

Winding little streets, quaint cafes, bookshops galore and ancient buildings? They’re all part of the delightful Latin Quarter where you can definitely waste a few hours just wandering the alleys! We love this artistic corner of Paris, named due to the many students flocking to the Sorbonne University there who spoke and learned Latin.

The appeal of the Latin Quarter is not just visiting the attractions but just walking the streets. From the Place Saint Michel to Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Pres, this suburb on the left bank is jammed with things to see and do. Highlights include the Pantheon, a monument to the ‘heroes of France’ from the Revolution (it’s made to look like the Pantheon in Rome), the gorgeous gardens of Jardin des Plantes and the Natural History Museum which is actually three museums in one, dedicated to Mineralogy, Paleontology and Evolution.

Paris 2 days itinerary - Pantheon in Latin Quarter

One of the other must-visit locations is the marvellous Musee de Cluny and also the most renowned bookseller in the area, Shakespeare and Company. This independent bookstore was even chronicled in Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast.

Location: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris

The Centre Pompidou

It’s hard to explain the Centre Pompidou other than to say that it’s an ‘inside out building’. The first example of this kind of architecture, the building looks like an unfinished structure full of exposed circulation, bright green pipes and almost scaffolding-type design.

The walk to see it is worth it just for the architecture but the building offers a host of great activities within it’s walls. Like a huge public library (obviously best visited if you’re French!), the largest modern art museum in Europe, the Musée National d’Art Moderne and a number of cultural events, music offerings, live debates (yes, really!) and cafes to drink down a strong French coffee.

It’s worth checking their website before heading off, to see what’s on their current program of events.

Paris 2 day itinerary - Centre Pompidou

Location: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris

Open: 11.00am – 10.00pm Wednesdays to Mondays (closed Tuesdays)

La Seine River Cruise

If you’re tired of traipsing around Paris on foot (and you will be if you do everything in our 2 days in Paris itinerary!), then it’s worth looking into seeing the City of Lights from a different angle: by boat.

There are a number of fantastic cruises down the River Seine which will allow you to spot some of the top landmarks in Paris: the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and so much more.

Honestly, the views on these are pretty unbeatable and, let’s face it, it can be one of the most romantic things to do in Paris if you’re there with your significant other!

It’s hard to choose which tour to take but we’d suggest this one from Les Vedettes de Paris: it’s one hour on the water and you can even book a VIP section with a lovely terrace to get unobstructed views. Check out the latest prices and options here.

2 days in Paris - river cruise

Location: Vedettes de Paris – Port de Suffren, 75007, Paris

Open: Departs every 30 minutes between 10.30am and 11.00pm

Père Lachaise

If you liked the idea of the catacombs you’ll love this idea: a cemetery! Okay so it sounds a little odd but Père Lachaise is not just a cemetery but the largest park in Paris. Also, it’s great for celebrity spotting!

There are somewhere between 300, 000 and a million Parisians buried in the cemetery, many of which are very famous historical figures. You can check out the lipstick covered exterior of Oscar Wilde’s tomb, see the overwhelming floral arrangement on Edith Piaf’s grave or pay homage to composer Chopin whose remains are all buried here, with the exception of his heart, which was sent back to his home of Poland.

More modern hero Jim Morrison is interned here as is famous author Marcel Proust and American soprano singer, Maria Callas.

It definitely makes for a more unusual outing, that’s for sure!

Paris itinerary 2 days - Pere Lachaise cemetery

Location: Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris

Open: 8.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Fridays, shorter opening times on weekends

Disneyland Paris

Make like Mickey and spend time at the fun-filled Disneyland Paris, previously known as Euro Disney. This mammoth amusement complex is actually not in Paris but located about 34km away in the small town of Chessy and has had some bad luck since it first opened in 1992, as it opened amid a recession and had to be bailed out by a Saudi prince.

Today Disneyland offers all the requisite fan for kids (large and small), with five magical areas to explore. There are some cool adrenalin-type rides like Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain (for the adults), while the kids will love sailing at It’s a Small World or spinning in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups.

For anyone with kids this is a must-do day out! To get there just take the train for approx. 25 euros (27 USD/21.75 GBP), or rent a car.

We’d also highly recommend you get a Fastpass which gives you quick and easy access to some of the more popular attractions like the Toon Studio or Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. You can purchase one here.

Or check out all the latest Disneyland Paris ticket prices and packages here!!

2 day Paris itinerary - Disneyland Paris

Location: Boulevard de Parc, 77700 Coupvray

Open: 24 hours a day

Paris ePrix

It’s a little niche but if you’re a motorracing fan (plus love a side of sustainability), and you’re planning to be in Paris around April each year, definitely consider buying tickets for the Paris ePrix! The Circuit des Invalides street circuit opens up once a year for this sustainable feast of motorsport.

The temporary street circuit makes for an interesting race with 14 very challenging turns for drivers to navigate, making this quite the spectacle! It’s also got a lovely festive atmosphere so well worth the price of the tickets to see it all in action.

When to go to Paris

To be honest, Paris is beautiful in almost every season.

Our favourite would be autumn (fall) in September and October, or spring (April and May) since the city is warm enough to enjoy but the key landmarks are a little quieter than the peak summer months.

Summer (June to August) boasts lovely, hot weather but it can be heaving with tourists and the queues for places like La Louvre or the Eiffel Tower can be brutal.

If you don’t mind the cold, then the winter months are also a lovely time to visit, although we do find carrying jackets in museums (or at least taking them on and off all the time) is a pain. But many places do have good coat checking facilities.

Visit La Louvre, Paris itinerary

How much will a weekend in Paris cost?

Paris is not a very affordable city by any stretch of the imagination (see the hotel prices if you don’t believe us) but that’s not really too much of a surprise, as you wouldn’t pay less in London or New York.

But of course, any trip budget depends on your standard of living. Your Paris budget if you’re trying to save money will probably be at least €100 a day (108 USD/87.50 GBP) , whereas a luxurious, premium budget will set you back several hundred euros!

Paris Travel Tips

CurrencyEuro
Local TimeUTC +1 hour
Tipping It’s a gesture not an obligation since many times service is included. You can simply ‘round up’ in restaurants, cafes or taxis

What to pack for Paris?

Much like any European city, you can pretty much get away with any clothing in Paris, but don’t forget this is the home of chic, so if you want to dress up you will look and feel the part.

Just remember that it’s quite a lot of walking on our Day 1 itinerary, so you must pack comfy shoes. Maybe heels for the evening, but during the day think trainers or even hiking shoes!

And finally, don’t forget that you need to get a good travel adapter if you’re coming from outside of the European Union.

Take a cruise on the River Seine, Paris

What camera equipment and other gear do we use?

We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.

Although we did this Paris tour in 2 days, it’s definitely more on the whirlwind side, and if you’re able to afford the time, we’d definitely suggest extending it to make a 4 day Paris itinerary.

So, that’s it! Just like the film written by Julie Delpy, we’ve finished our 2 days in Paris! We hope we’ve shown you the best places to visit but, of course, let us know if we’ve missed anything by dropping us a comment below. And, if you are looking for a deeper dive into the vibe of Paris, we recommend you head over here!


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Ultimate Paris itinerary - looking to spend a weekend or a few days in Paris? We've put together the ultimate guide to the French capital!
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