The prospect of a weekend in Paris is quite an exciting one, and so it should be. The French capital is famed for its charm and cosmopolitan culture, and there is much to see and do. This is a city where café terraces pepper the streets, art, and fashion abound, gastronomy is world class and 19th-century architecture is mesmerising.
A weekend in Paris requires careful planning if you’re to make the most of it. Fashion lovers might head straight for the designer boutiques of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré or Champs-Élysées, while history and architecture buffs might prioritise awesome landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, or the myriad museums. Outdoors types will love a stroll by the River Seine, and foodies will indulge in the many bistros serving up unparalleled local cuisine.
There’s no reason why you can’t fit all of this and more into a 48-hour trip, but it helps to have an idea of what’s available before you arrive. The following guide will help you make the most of this beautiful city and hopefully save you some time and money while you’re there.
Weekend Travel Guide to Paris – What To Do, Where to Go
Getting around Paris
Once in Paris, you’ll be wondering about the best ways to get from place to place. Note that the Metro might seem a little complex at first, so prepare yourself for that by downloading a map. Metro will get you from place to place quickly and it’s cheap enough at €1.90 per journey, so it could be smart to familiarise with it.
A lot of visitors use the Uber app, which works out less costly than city cabs. If you don’t mind splashing out on this trip, consider hiring a shuttle driver for a day and take the stress out of navigation. A budget option would be to take the bus, or hire a bicycle and get some exercise if you don’t mind braving the roads.
What to do in Paris
Wander around some world-famous museums
One thing Paris does well is museums, some of which are works of art in themselves. One such museum is The Centre Pompidou; it is absolutely wonderful to look at, with its vibrantly-colored exterior made up of exposed pipes and air ducts. It’s a clever design as this created more expedition space inside. The art exhibition is the biggest and most revered in Europe, and you can also watch performances, films and relax with a book in the library.
Another of the city’s most famous museums is The Louvre. It’s the biggest museum in Paris and attracts international crowds all year around. Internally it’s a giant maze, and every level has different galleries. If you haven’t yet seen the Mona Lisa, this is where you’ll find her… nestled somewhere amidst 35,000 other artworks, artifacts, and sculptures! Save time and money by buying your ticket here or getting a Paris Museum Pass. This helps you bypass the lengthy queues outside the most popular museums.
Wine tasting at the Caves du Louvre
The Caves du Louvre is a mystical place where wine meets history. There’s much to see and more to learn while you sup on some of the finest wines in these renovated 18th-century cellars. The caves are close to the Louvre Museum, so you can tie these experiences into one day easily enough. The Caves were originally built by Trudon, the sommelier of Louis XV. The cellar of his private mansion once contained the finest wines for the king and his court.
Not only will you explore the 600 m² of vaulted wine cellars and taste some delicious local wines; you’ll learn about how to make quality wine too. You can even make your own wine label and take it away on a bottle if you wish.
Climb the Eiffel Tower
No Parisien trip would be complete without a venture up the Eiffel Tower. The tower is quite a sight, and as one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, it’s quite a treat to see at up close. Made from wrought iron lattice, it looms large at 300 ft high on the Champ de Mars (on the Seine River’s southern bank). If you can get up it, even better, but you will need to reserve a spot in advance as it is incredibly popular. It’s a great idea, as the views you’ll get at the top are going to make your day.
Explore the Port St Ouen flea market
Bargain hunters who want a souvenir or two from their Paris trip can’t go wrong with Port St Ouen flea market – it’s the largest flea market in the world! Situated at the edge of the city, it is chock-full souvenirs, unusual vintage clothing items, a whole host of other wares and plenty of antiques. Retro fashionistas will have a field day here, given that Paris is (and always has been) the fashion capital of the world.
Hang out in Montmartre for a while
The Montmartre area is a great choice if you also like the idea of gorgeous buildings covered in ivy, and you’ll be in the right place for a visit to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hill, with its impressive white domes and gorgeous green surroundings. A trip to Paris should consist of at least a couple of hours relaxing like a local in one of the many cool cafes; fortunately, Montmartre is also home to plenty of hips, retro cafés. We particularly like Marlette and Café Lomi for the great coffee and chilled vibes. If you’re there in the evening, you can get yourself a ticket for world-famous cabaret Moulin Rouge.
Walk the medieval streets of Le Marais
Le Marais is a historic and aristocratic district of Paris, and here there is a great deal in the way of impressive architecture. At one time it had fallen into disrepair after the French Revolution but has regained prominence today. Taking a walk through the medieval streets and alleys of this area should help you feel like you’ve had a genuine, traditional Parisian experience! There are also plenty of unique little shops, uber-cool galleries and cafés, and some quality bistros for when you fancy a bite to eat. Lastly, there is quality nightlife if you want to let your hair down.
As we mentioned, Paris is absolutely full of possibilities. There are so many activities you could do that a weekend may not cover them all, but we hope this guide serves as a good start! Paris is wondrous, exciting, charming and sophisticated. It may be your first visit, but it’s unlikely to be your last!
About The Author: Cal Bailey runs mountainleon.com – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest blog posts.
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