How to see the best of Paris in 2 days
It’s been said that you haven’t been to Europe until you’ve visited Paris. For most of foreigners, especially from United States, Paris is the capital of Europe and one of the top cities in the world. I visited Paris twice before I went there with Edwin last December and I have to admit that in my case it wasn’t love at the first sight. I didn’t feel madly in love with Paris until the third time I went. And this time, it was a real crush!
Paris is an enormous city and to be able to visit all of the museums and spots of interest inside and outside the city you should book between 5 and 7 days, however I do believe it’s possible to see the best of Paris in only two days, prioritizing what’s the most important for you.
Day 1 in Paris
We arrived from Disneyland to Paris late afternoon so we didn’t count this day for sightseeing. We decided to take some rest instead and go out for a dinner. This way we woke up next day full of energy and ready to discover the city. It was Edwin’s first time in Paris and I wanted to show him the most important places with no rush and without walking too much as he still wasn’t 100% recovered from his last summer leg injury. Our hotel was situated in 10th district, 15 minutes walking from Opera Garnier and the vibe in the neighborhood was very cool as there was a lot of bars and restaurants.
The funny thing about Paris is that you can never predict the weather. We were leaving the hotel with a a barely cloudy sky and once we left the metro it was already pouring down. Suddenly, 10 minutes later the sun came out again. It happened again one hour later and after that it wasn’t raining at all for the rest of the day.
We started our day with the obligatory café au lait et croassant and then headed to Place du Trocadéro, one of many great spots to admire Eiffel Tower. I said one of many because the tower can be seen from different angles all over the city and it’s hard to decide which view is the best. As we came to Trocadéro early morning, there wasn’t a lot of people and we could take our pictures calmly. The weather was getting better so we decided to take a walk from Jardins du Trocadéro, crossing the river and Champs de Mars. There is a lot of great spots to capture Eiffel Tower on the other side of Seine, especially when the tower emerges from among the buildings. Paserelle Debily, Square Rapp or the crossing of Rue de la University and Avenida Bourdonnais are only some of them.
We crossed back the river and continued our walk towards Arc de Triomphe, making break for another café au lait and some local libraries. Arc de Triomphe connects with the most emblematic street of Paris – Avenue des Champs-Élysées – also knows as the most beautiful avenue in the world. As it started to rain again, we used this time for some real shopping and window shopping because Champs-Élysées is a home to the most expensive and luxurious brands we cannot afford so far 🙂
From Champs-Élysées we took metro to the Galeries Lafayette, a shopping mall with the most outstanding Christmas decorations I’ve ever seen. If you visit Paris during Christmas period, I can assure you that it will be an unforgettable experience. The whole city is beautifully decorated, from the facades of the smallest shops, through restaurants to the main squares – the lights, the ornaments and the atmosphere are truly one of a kind. Galeries Lafayette also offers a stunning view point and for me personally it turned out more worthy that the views from Eiffel Tower. I was on the top of the tower twice before and of course it’s a unique experience but for safety reasons everything is blocked with the barriers, unlike the Galeries Lafayette where you have the entire panoramic view for yourself and without crowds.
After lunch and trying the famous croque monsieur, we headed back to our hotel to change and let Edwin’s leg rest a little. Later in the afternoon we went to the Latin Quarter, the oldest district of Paris, also known as Paris’s 5th arrondissement and a home to the Sorbonne University. The area is also famous for bookstores, such as the popular Shakespeare & Company with I completely felt in love with. The bookstore is situated in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and looks like taken out from a fairy tale. If it wasn’t because there were closing in 20 minutes, I would spend there my entire evening.
The Latin Quarter is an area with many welcoming cafés and restaurants filled with Parisians, especially students. It’s also very charming to walk because of its narrow, winding, cobblestone streets and the Pantheon in the heart of the district. We would stay there much longer but we had booked a Seine cruise for that night, so we headed to the harbor by bus. I have to say that traveling by bus was way more comfortable for us than metro, considering the fact that Edwin didn’t have to climb the stairs.
We ended our day in the most romantic way possible – discovering Paris by the river during 2 hours cruise. According to your preferences you can choose a cruise by day or by night, a cruise with dinner or even a sparkling cruise with Champagne included. It really is a great alternative, especially if you have limited time or you cannot walk a lot because of injury, like it was in our case. The tickets can be booked in advance and the audio guide introduces you to the most symbolic buildings of Paris. Admiring the sparkling Eiffel Tower was simply breathtaking and it will definitely be one of our top dates for a long time!
Day 2 in Paris
Our second day in Paris started with Louvre, however we didn’t enter the museum. I already visited Louvre museums some years ago and I recommend it a lot but this time we preferred to skip all the museums and prioritize other things. We spent around one hour on the Louvre Square and then headed to Palais Royal Gardens, which are only 5 minutes walking from Galerie Vivienne, one of the covered passages of Paris.
Something we had clear before we came to Paris was the fact that we must try the sweets from Angelina – the most popular tea house and café in the city. Angelina is known primarily for its almost pudding-like hot chocolate, however for us their macaroons were a real winner! Simply delicious and yes, pretty expensive but worth the price!
There are several Angelina locations in Paris and we chose the one in front of Jardins de Tuileries. After doing some shopping, exploring the gardens and visiting Place Vendôme, we headed for lunch and tried our best creme brûlée. We decided for a small, charming restaurant with the nicest attendance and the menu was amazing. Edwin is a huge fan of French cuisine and the menu was very traditional so we had a chance to try some of all the most important French dishes. You will have to excuse be but I am not able to recall the names but there was a duck, mashed potatoes and much more!
We spent our last afternoon in Paris in Montmarte district, primarily known for its artistic history and the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur. Le mur des je t’aime was our first stop as soon as we left the metro station. It’s a wall with a tiled area of 40m2 and the word “I love you” written in all languages of the world! Sounds great, right? And it makes such an impression! A place like this had to be found nowhere else but in Paris, the most romantic city in Europe. The wall is very easy to find, it’s located in Place des Abbesses, only 3 minutes walking from metro Abbesses.
Our next stop, Place du Tertre, is a place with many artists setting up their easels for tourists every day. This is where you can take a portrait or a caricature while drinking coffee in a local cafe. Place du Tertre recalls the times when Montmartre was a Mecca for modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many painters lived there, including Pablo Picasso. In my opinion, this place perfectly reflects the Parisian atmosphere.
Place du Tertres is located just a few streets from the Sacré Cœur Basilica, and so are the other most important spots of the district. Everything in Montmarte s very close to each other and you can enjoy it by walk. The Sacre-Coeur Basilica should without a doubt be on your must-see list in Paris. It is not only a beautiful Catholic church, but also a place of many pilgrimages. In addition, it is located on a hill, in the highest point of Paris, from where there is an amazing view of the entire capital of France.
I would risk and say that the most instagrammable places of Montmarte are actually two cafes. Le Consulat Café has been open for decades and has witnessed many changes in the area over the years. Step inside and you’ll find a menu of typical French wines, an extensive drink list, and loads of French cuisine, along with loads of vintage charm. On the other side, there is La Maison Rose. This pink house is a cafe that has been open for over 100 years. A place where many artists have stayed, such as Picasso or Albert Camus, and many other writers and painters. Nowadays, you can still eat good cake and coffee at La Maison Rose, but it’s mostly a touristy place, not much visited by Parisians themselves. However, the protagonist of Emily in Paris did visit the place 🙂
Our last destination in Montmarte was Moulin Rouge, the iconic Parisian cabaret and undoubtedly a must see on the Paris Montmarte district sightseeing list. The cabaret was created in a former mill, to which it owes its name – moulin rouge means a red mill. There is a characteristic red windmill on its roof, which is the hallmark of this place. I think it was Edwin’s favorite spot and the pictures testify to it themselves!
It was a long day but we weren’t ready yet to say goodbye to Paris and we decided to come back to the Latin Quarter for our last night. I loved the fact that there was a happy hour all over the district and we could try different local bars before we headed for a dinner. Our last night was as amazing as we could wish for – with live music concert, good wine and delicious dinner. Edwin felt in love with Paris from the very first moment. I needed 3 trips to really feel the charm of Paris and I am thankful for that. It’s very different to explore a city when you are 18 than when you are 31, especially when you visit it with the love of your life this second time. So now, after those 2 magic days I can honestly say that Paris is outstanding and I cannot wait to come back!
I hope you enjoyed our 2 days itinerary in Paris and we convinced you to visit this beautiful city! If you are planning to go and include Disneyland, don’t forget to check our latest post about how to organize your stay in Disneyland Paris.