So, you've managed to finally book a weekend away in Paris, but how can you possibly choose how to fill your limited time in the City of Love? The capital is so jam-packed full of amazing sights, activities, food, and drink that it can be a real challenge to decide what you should see and what you can give a miss.
Here's a rundown of the best and most interesting things that the city has to offer. Where's the best place to lay your head if money isn't an object? Where can you eat some amazing authentic food for just a couple of Euros? This article aims to answer these questions and more and to make sure that your 2 days in Paris are unforgettable.
If you're trying to decide what to do in Europe, but you're short on time, check out my article on one-week vacation ideas in Europe.
Where to stay?
Possibly the most important decision you'll be making in the run-up to your trip will be where to sleep. Having a comfortable room in a convenient location is really a must-have. It can be the difference between having a relaxing time and rushing around, trying to navigate public transport in a foreign language for hours every day just to get back to a lumpy bed.
Here are some of the best options for a range of budgets.
If you're looking for something truly special and you're willing to splash out on the best of the best, look no further than Le Bristol. This is an example of a classic luxury Parisian hotel is genuinely stunning. Its opulent 18th-century decors ooze class, and when walking the halls you will feel like a member of the aristocracy of old. The in-house restaurant has gained three Michelin-stars and its food is considered among the best in the city. Unsurprisingly, a night here could easily set you back somewhere in the region of €1,000.
Obviously palatial luxury isn't in the budget of your average traveler. Not to worry, there is a huge selection of great accommodation available at mid-range prices. One of the most interesting possibilities is the Hôtel Odyssey. This stylish, design-centric building is perfectly located within a short walk of central sights such as the Louvre. The price you'll pay for this convenient and cool hotel is closer to €150 per night, making it a much more accessible option.
If your budget won't allow for this sort of spending either, there is still plenty of space in Paris to meet your needs. There are a lot of good quality hostels in central locations. These can range from as little as €25 a night, so they definitely won't break the bank.
If you need any other budgeting tips for Paris, try my post dedicated to visiting Paris on a budget.
Where to eat?
It's not an exaggeration to say that Paris is one of the best places, if not the best, place to eat in the world. The French take food seriously and they can really pull out all the stops when it comes to producing beautiful, creative and mouthwatering food. There are dozens of world famous, Michelin-starred establishments, but also some fabulous local haunts hid away from the tourists. In fact, some of these can be just as good to grab a delicious dinner from, and only a fraction of the price.
At the top of the price range (you are only in the city for 2 days remember, so why not always out!) are places like the Restaurant Guy Savoy. The three Michelin stars held by these guys are justified by perfectly cooked, indulgent food and impeccable service.
For those of us who can only dream of this sort of extravagance, why not try some of the hundreds of budget-friendly yet brilliant restaurants. Failing this, you could just drop into a pâtisserie for a lovingly-made and cheap snack on almost any street corner.
What to see
What to spend your time seeing is a tough decision when you only have 2 days in Paris. Obviously, there are the big-hitters of the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, and The Louvre, among others. These are all amazing sights that should be seen at some point in your lifetime, but be prepared for hideously long queues and swarms of view-hogging tourists as a rule.
If you're anything like me, you would rather spend your precious time seeing new things than being stuck between tourists jostling for a square centimeter of space. If this is the case then there are many other things to see without quite as many crowds. Maybe try one of the lesser-known galleries or museums such as the Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet. This stunning old mansion house contains a huge Claude Monet collection, as well as works of many other impressionist painters. An architectural wonder is the Sainte-Chapelle, which despite being fairly unknown, houses a jaw-droppingly huge strain glass window.
For other ideas check out this great list of interesting places to visit that are off the classic tourist trail.
Excursions out of the city
You might want to get see a bit more than the city center, but think it's impossible on such a fleeting trip to Paris. Think again. There are countless options for things to see and do within a short distance of the center. You can easily go for an exciting day out to escape the claustrophobia for a while, and make it back for dinner.
Versailles palace and gardens are an obvious choice if venturing out of the city. They are certainly a worthy place to spend a day, but there are many other equally fulfilling possibilities. The Medieval city of Chartres is only around an hour's drive from Paris city center. It is full of amazing residences, churches and old-fashioned streets and places to eat and drink.
Another alternative to Versailles is the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau. This mansion was built in the 12th Century and loved by Napoleon, as well countless other French historical figures of note. The rich history of the house and its admirers stem from its exceptional and undeniable beauty. Its hundreds of rooms are tastefully decorated with ornaments and paintings to showcase the fabulous wealth of its past tenants. The gardens are also an impressive sight. All of this is accessible within just an hour's drive from Paris.
A perfect destination for kids is the world-famous Disneyland Paris. Whilst this place can't offer quite the cultural and refined experience of the other suggestions, it is still a great day. Everyone will come home thoroughly entertained and exhausted after a day exploring ‘the happiest place on earth’.
In truth, there is no right or wrong way to spend your 2 days in Paris. The city has enough richness and variety to fill 200 days with new sights and experiences, let alone 2. I hope this article has helped to give you some inspiration and guidance for your trip to Paris, but whatever you choose to do, I guarantee you'll love it.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment below.