Ahh, the City of Lights. The City of Love. The City of Lights and Love. Whatever you call it, Paris is still the most beautiful city on earth. Paris is the city that feeds both the heart and the soul, the artist as well as the collector, the wanderers, professionals, students, the young and the old alike. And while a week or more is ideal, we’ve folded Paris up into a compact little packet for those of you who only have the weekend to spare. Here’s Paris in 48 hours.
For your first day, we’re going to focus on classic Paris – the glamorous, glittery Left Bank you see in films. Start out with a breakfast at Le Mouffetard or Le Pain Quotidien. Traditional Parisian breakfast includes a croissant or tartine with butter, a piece of fruit and café au lait. When you’ve finished, take a stroll through the Latin Quarter down Rue Mouffetard toward the Pantheon; the street is lined with quirky shops and stops and intricate architectural wonders like Sorbonne University and the Marco Polo Fountain.
As the sun climbs higher in the sky, choose between the Luxembourg Gardens or the Musée de Cluny, whichever suits your fancy (or the weather). Grab a bite at Le Balzar, a traditional Parisian brasserie in the heart of Saint Germain, then catch the metro to Île de la Cité.
We’ve packed all the essentials into this afternoon, so get ready. Your first stop is Notre Dame Cathedral. Take the time to soak up all the secrets; we’ve got a hold of them here. If time permits, check out the Conciergerie prison, where Marie Antoinette awaited execution in 1793. From here, you can cross as Pont Neuf (Paris’s oldest bridge) and walk to the Louvre.
If the art museum isn’t the whole reason you came to Paris (it was for me), make sure you see the Venus de Milo and, of course, the Mona Lisa before running over to Champs-Élysées and the Arc du Triomphe for obligatory tourist photos. When it starts to get dark, head over to the Eiffel Tower. It sparkles, literally, on the hour. You can climb to the top for €5 for a spectacular 360-degree view of the city (sans Eiffel Tower, obviously).
Take dinner at the lovely Cafe de l’Alma in the garden terrace at the corner of rue de l’université and avenue Rapp, and then catch a boat tour by Bateaux Mouches on the Seine.
On day two, we’re taking you to the trendy Right Bank. Take a traditional breakfast at Aux Delices de Manon before joining a walking-tour of The Marais, one of Paris’ oldest and most visually intoxicating neighborhoods. First developed in the 12th century, The Marias is drenched in a history of both prosperity and ruin.
After the tour, stop by the cultural center Georges Pompidou, where contemporary curiosities and Parisian style collide. The structure houses a huge public library, numerous stages, a café and the Museum of Modern Art. Take lunch in the café before beginning the ascent to Montmartre.
Montmartre is famous for being Paris’s artistic crown. It is undeniably the quirkiest of all neighborhoods, and perhaps the most charming. Explore the Salvador Dali Museum or stroll through the Montmartre Cemetery and down Rue des Martyrs, where the true essence of that French-bohemian lifestyle lives.
Finally, top off your weekend with dinner and a show at Moulin Rouge (buy tickets in advance) or dinner and cabaret at A la Bonne Franquette.
Then, start planning to come back.
Images courtesy Arthur Gonoretzky and Megan Kelly