48 hours in Paris is a perfect time to get a flavour of the French capital How does one spend a weekend in the most stylish and romantic city in Europe though? What are Paris must do things? Paris is full of iconic landmarks, historical architecture, cosmopolitan cafes and boho streets. There’s so much to do that planning a Paris weekend itinerary can seem frankly overwhelming. Luckily I have created a guide to 48 hours in Paris, to help you make the most out of your next weekend break there.
48 hours in Paris
How to get to Paris
It’s easy to explore Europe by rail with as part of a Europe interrail route and arriving in Paris by train is definitely an amazing experience. If you are travelling from the UK to Paris, I would really recommend coming by Eurostar. You can get some great deals if you book in advance. There’s also nothing like a glass of fizz on the Eurostar in the afternoon darlings! If train travel isn’t your thing, then why not check out great flight deals to Paris with Skyscanner?
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Take a break from gazing at your beloved by taking a tour of the creepiest place in Paris. The underground Catacombs of Paris are a network of old caves, quarries and tunnels holding the remains of more than six million people. The catacombs came about after huge cemetery overcrowding forced the Fench government to address the situation. In 1786, the former quarries were blessed and consecrated and the bones of the dead were slowly transported to what we now know as the Paris catacombs.
Why not skip the line and have a guided tour of the darker side of Paris? Book a Paris Catacombs tour in advance online. The advantage of taking small group tours is that they are led by expert guides who are passionate about Paris. You will even get to skip the queue, waiting in line is for suckers right? A tour will also give you a lot of historical context and information as you explore the solemn and hauntingly beautiful catacombs in Paris.
Head to northeast Paris to discover the delightful boho area of Canal Saint-Martin. This area has iron footbridges crossing over the waterways, an 1885 hydraulic lift bridge and splashes of street art, making it a funky little area to mooch about in. Simply walking around Canal Saint-Martin and taking in the sights is a great way to keep costs down in Paris. Perfect if you are trying to have a weekend in Paris on a budget.
Here, chic Parisians will sip coffee outside achingly hip boulangeries, you will also find thrift stores, market stalls selling fresh fruit and veg and impromptu picnics in Canal Saint-Martin. You could spend a whole day here hunting down fashionable boutiques, street art, cool cafes and Instagrammable spots in what has become one of the most fashionable areas of the city.
Montparnasse observation deck
Enjoy a panoramic view of Paris from the Montparnasse observation deck. Located in Montparnasse Tower, the observation deck offers stunning views of Paris from a dizzying height of over 200m, with spectacular 360° views of the capital.
View Paris from above with their two viewing levels, the 56th floor and the open-air panoramic terrace. Both viewing levels offer amazing Paris skyline photo opportunities, so you can have the most enviable Instagrams around.
There is also a bar on the 56th floor, meaning you can sip a glass of fizz as the sun goes down. One does not simply view Paris from above without a glass of champagne darling. It’s definitely one of the best places to see Paris at night for sure. I would recommend buying your Montparnasse observation deck tickets in advance online. This is because it is a popular experience and you want to make sure you secure your tickets.
Where to eat in Paris
When you think of French food you might imagine it is mostly comprised of frogs legs and snails. This is thanks to reinforced cultural references of France and popular culture ribbing. When you start eating out in Paris you will find there is so much to discover about French cuisine. There is such a huge variety of dining options in Paris that you might not know where to begin. The trick is to do your research, decide if you want Paris fine dining, cheap eats or street food and go in with a foodie plan in place.
Some of my favourite places to eat in Paris are Macaroons from Pierre Hermé. The refined cheese platter at Le Castiglione restaurant, burgers from Mamie Burger and the delicious dishes at Le Bistrot du 15eme.
Make full use of TripAdvisor and high-quality food blogs when making your dining decisions. Remember, just because a restaurant is ‘Instagrammable’ does not mean that it serves fantastic food. We had a very disappointing dinner at the famous Bouillon Chartier restaurant. It’s definitely one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in Paris.
We waited an hour for a table and were presented with tragic looking dishes of overcooked duck and bland steak. These mediocre dishes were a stark contrast to a beautiful and historical interior. Remember guys, don’t fall into tourist traps, great food is all around you in Paris, you just have to seek it out.
No trip to Paris is complete without gazing upon the face of the Mona Lisa, the ridiculously famous portrait painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci and one of the most viewed paintings in the world. The Lourve is always crazy busy with huge lines of snap-happy tourists just itching to get a selfie with the lady with the enigmatic smile. I would recommend skipping the line and going on an expertly led Louvre Tour.
View over 38,000 amazing works of art as you make your way to the iconic Mona Lisa on a small group tour. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the world’s most impressive and wildly popular museum. I always enjoy having an expert guide for art galleries and museums. I find it helps to have some historical context and expert knowledge so that I can fully understand the pieces I am viewing.
For example, did you know Leonardo was one of the first painters to use aerial perspective? Thought not. Trust me, take a Louvre tour and learn interesting art facts. You’ll soon be passing yourself off as an up-and-coming art historian in no time.
River Seine boat trip
Glide through Paris aboard a boating vessel and see some of the most iconic sites starboard side. There are so many boat trips to choose from in Paris, there are daily boat tours, illumination boat trips and dinner cruises on offer here, so you will be spoiled for choice. Get your Guide has a wide selection of Paris boat trips of varying cost and styles. We took a day boat trip and learnt more about the historic architecture as we passed underneath romantic bridges and passed historic monuments.
The best part about our boat trip was that we were able to board our boat clutching cups of hot wine to warm ourselves against the winter chill. One of the many reasons I love Paris is their extremely caviler attitude towards daytime drinking on boats. Our tour was approximately one hour long and we purchased our tickets on the day from a ticket office near Pont Neuf. Whilst it was a little chilly it was a really lovely way of exploring Paris and we managed to get some rather lovely shots of the city.
Golden Versailles Palace
The gorgeous Golden Versailles Palace is a royal château located in Versailles, the Île-de-France region of France, around 15 miles southwest of Paris. Many visitors to Paris don’t realise that that Versailles is located just outside of Paris, meaning you have to navigate French public transport if you want to see it. I would recommend booking a Versailles Palace Skip-the Line Audio Tour from Paris. With this tour, you can skip the long lines atGolden Versailles Palace and also enjoy an interesting audio-guided tour of the palace.
The other benefit is that you will travel by air-conditioned bus from Paris. This means you don’t have to negotiate public transport to the Golden Versailles Palace. You’ll save yourself the embarrassment of asking “is this the right station?’ in a comedy French accent, whilst gesticulating wildly. You don’t want to be that tourist right?
The palace was built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV and was almost destroyed during the French revolution. The palace has incredible architecture as well as stunning interior including stained glass, a hall of mirrors and a vaulted ceiling, this is a definite ‘must see’ place when you come to Paris.
You cannot move in Montmartre for aspiring artists and homages to famous ones. You are not only surrounded by beautiful bohemian architecture but you can walk in the footsteps of Picasso as you discover a love of art.
Wander around Place du Tertre Montmartre and browse the vibrant artist stalls, the streets are full of them, the whole place seems to function as an open-air art gallery amongst historic 18th-century buildings. Soak up the artsy atmosphere from one of the lively cafes or feast on a crepe from one of the many street vendors.
Love locks at Pont Neuf
The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge across the river Seine and is filled with love locks of romantics who have pledged their eternal love to each other in Paris. Like other locations in Paris, lovesick tourists have been attaching personalised padlocks to the railing or the grate on the side of the bridge, then romantically casting the key into the Seine river below. Paris does tend to inspire a sense of urgency to be fair.
As to how long this romantic phenomenon will be sustained is anyone’s guess as French officials were forced to remove the love locks t Paris’s Pont des Arts as their weight was damaging the structure. This means that you should go an take some snaps of the locks whilst you can, do make for ridiculously romantic Instagrams! If you aren’t inclined to attach a padlock to a bridge you will find plenty of patisseries, bars and cafés lining the Seine near Pont Neuf.
Surely one cannot be expected to visit Paris and not spend a day in the most magical place on earth? I am a massive Disney fan and I endeavour to visit Disneyland every time I am in Paris. Disneyland Paris consists of two parks, hotels, restaurants, rides and attractions. I recommend buying Disneyland Paris tickets in advance online so that you have instant confirmation of your tickets and skip the queue.
Getting to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is located around 20 miles (32kms) outside of Paris. You can get the train to Disneyland Paris from Paris Gare du Nord by taking the RER A train to Marne-la-Vallé Chessy. The travel time from Gare du Nord to Marne-la-Vallé Chessy is around 1 hour. When buying your Disneyland Paris train tickets from the machine remember to select ‘Round Trip’ for return tickets. Each adult ticket costs €7.60, making it a cost-effective and easy way to get to the Magic Kingdom!
Release your inner princess and spend a day on rollercoasters, in 3D shows, meeting Mickey & eating all manner of sweet treats. If you visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas time you will find there are special parades and additional seasonal entertainment. There is also Disney light and laser nighttime shows and beautiful decorations all around the park.
Tickets to Disneyland parks can be pricey, especially if you buy on the day. Try and buy your Disneyland Paris tickets in advance to save some Euros. Want to beat the ride queues? Make sure you pick up the special Disney FASTPASS. They are valid for only an hour, so make sure you picking up passes around every two hours or so. Not all rides are included, so make sure you check what rides are included in the scheme.
What did you think of my guide to 48 hours in Paris? What are your favourite things to do in the city of lights? Let me know in the comments below!
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