48 hours in Paris – A guide to the city of lights

How does one spend a weekend in the most stylish and romantic city of Europe? Paris is full of iconic landmarks, historical architecture, cosmopolitan cafes and boho streets. There’s so much to do that planning a 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 - A guide to the city of lights

I went to Paris most recently on a Euroventure Interrail trip, as part of my role as their brand ambassador. It’s easy to explore Europe by rail with an interrail pass and arriving in Paris by train is definitely an amazing experience. There’s nothing like a glass of fizz on the Eurostar in the afternoon darlings! I would highly recommend starting your European interrail adventure in the city of lights.

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Explore the Catacombs

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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Why not skip the line and have a guided tour of the darker side of Paris and book a tour with The Paris Guy? These guys offer small group tours led by expert guides who are passionate about Paris and will take you to the hippest spots, you will even get to skip the queue, waiting in line is for suckers right?

They are the sister company to the Roman Guy, who offer some pretty fabulous tours of the eternal city. I went on their incredible foodie tour with them when I was in Rome and I was really impressed by the fusion of awesome culinary finds and vast cultural knowledge. They will totally look after you as you explore the solemn and hauntingly beautiful catacombs in Paris.

Discover the bohemian charms of Canal Saint-Martin

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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

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 its green spaces. 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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

View Paris from above at the 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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

View Paris from their two viewing levels, the 56th floor and the open-air panoramic terrace, both offering amazing 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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Feast on incredible foodie treats

When you think of French food you might imagine it is mostly comprised of frogs legs and snails, thanks to reinforced cultural references but there is so much to discover about French cuisine. There is such a huge variety of eating options in Paris that you might not know where to begin. The trick is to do your research, decide if you want fine dining, cheap eats or street food and go in with a foodie plan in place.

Some of my favourite foodie finds 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 trip Advisor and high-quality food blogs when making your dining decisions, remember just because a place is ‘Instagrammable’ does not mean that it serves fantastic food. We had a very disappointing dinner at the famous Bouillon Chartier restaurant.

We waited an hour for a table and were presented with the sorriest looking dishes of overcooked duck and bland steak, which were a tragic 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.

See the Mona Lisa in the Louvre

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 with Paris enthusiasts The Paris Guy.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

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, as I find it helps to have 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 tour, learn interesting art facts and you will be passing yourself off as an up-and-coming art historian in no time.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

See the sights from the River Seine

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 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.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

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.

Marvel at the 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 going with a guide from The Paris Guy and remove the hassle of planning a trip.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Your guide will collect you and your small group from the centre of Paris and transport you to the Palace, meaning you will save yourself the embarrassment of asking “is this the right station?’ in a comedy French accent, whilst gesticulating wildly in that oh so British way. Your small group will experience both the palace and the stunning palace gardens on this tour and a return ticket to Paris is included in the tour price.

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

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.

Browse art at Montmartre

You cannot move in Montmartre for aspiring arts 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.

See the 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.

What did you think of my guide to 48 hours in Paris? What are your favourite things to do in the city of lights?

48 hours in Paris - A guide to the city of lights

Pip Jones

Pip Jones is a travel blogger, writer and content creator, she has been shortlisted for a Vuelio blogging award, is a brand ambassador for Euroventure Travel and is a Travelex ‘Top blogger’. She can normally be found drinking wine, typing an article and taking a selfie all at the same time.