Your Perfect Paris Itinerary
As I’ve been to Paris a few times, a friend of mine asked me to put together a Paris itinerary for them, so I thought this might be a useful starting place for anyone who wants to make the most of a weekend away.
I’ve recommended using Eurostar as my preferred method of transport as it’s locally accessible for me and I find it a stress-free way to travel, but you could substitute this for flying from your local airport.
Depart from London on the earliest Eurostar. There is a very early train from London, departing at 05:40am. I suggest doing this, as this will allow you to make most of your short break to Paris. The train arrives into Paris at 9:32am (French time), but if this is a bit too early, there is a slightly later train at 7:01am. Be aware you’ll need to check Eurostar timetables, as these times will vary.
Arriving in Paris in the morning gives you the whole day to explore the city at your leisure.
I would first recommend going to the Arc de Triomphe. Hop on to RER B (direction Saint-Remy-Les-Chevreuse), change at Chatelet-les Halles to RER A (direction Saint-Germain-en-Laye) and exit at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. This journey should take about 15 minutes.
A visit to the Arc de Triomphe is highly recommended as this monument was built to honour those who fought for France and is famous for housing the Tomb оf thе Unkown Soldier and the eternal flame. You can choose to admire the structure from the outside, but you can also take a trip inside too. Although be aware this is on one of Paris’s busiest roundabouts, so only use the subway underneath the roundabout to gain access.
Access to the Arc de Triomphe costs €8 or you can buy tickets in advance and skip the queue.
Once you’ve taken in the sights and sounds at the Arc du Triomphe and marvelled at the cars whizzing round the roundabout off the Champ Elysees, I would suggest a walk to the Eiffel Tower, it’s about a 30 minute walk. Walking in Paris is a real pleasure. You can take in the eclectic mix of the architecture. As you are walking to the Eiffel Tower, you’ll cross over the Seine. Take a look at all the bridges you see during your stay, they are nearly all ornately decorated and beautiful.
Perhaps now might be a good time to stop at one of the pavement cafes for a coffee and a bite to eat. I wouldn’t recommend stopping around the Eiffel Tower area, as this will be overpriced to maximise the tourist trade, but keep your eyes out on your walk for a cafe. I would highly recommend a croque-monsieur, which is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with béchamel.
The queues at the Eiffel Tower can take quite a while, especially in the peak of the summer, so if you are feeling energetic you can walk up the steps to the second floor. But just be aware it’s 704 steps, so it’s not for the unfit. The Tower opens from 9am over the summer peak and 9.30am the rest of the year. Alternatively, it’s also very nice to take the view in at night. The Eiffel Tower is open until at least 11pm (midnight during the summer) so you can take in the view from the top, once the sun has set if you prefer?
A trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower will cost you €15.50 or if you can pay a bit more and book in advance.
From the Eiffel Tower, this is the ideal time to see this amazing city by boat. There are a number of sightseeing cruises you can board from the pier by the Eiffel Tower. If you wish to book in advance, you can book a dinner cruise. On budget, just hop on one of the sightseeing cruises. Or for something really special, why not book a champagne tasting cruise. I booked this for two of my friends on their honeymoon and they loved it. On the boat cruise, you’ll also see what I mean about Paris’s bridges.
If you aren’t eating on the dinner cruise, I would head to the Latin Quarter to find somewhere for dinner. It’s really budget friendly, has a great atmosphere and you are sure to find a restaurant to suit your palate. This is the area most frequented by the students attending Sorbonne, hence the budget-friendly, but in recent years it has become more trendy and there is a really vibrant night scene in this district.
Get up early and miss the crowds heading to the Louvre Gallery. The early bird WILL see the Mona Lisa. The Louvre opens every day except Tuesdays from 9am. I would plan your visit in advance as there is lot in the gallery. Work out what you really want to see in advance, otherwise you might come out feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Upon exiting, you may find yourself ready for lunch. If it’s a nice day, I recommend finding yourself a local boulangerie (bakery) and grabbing a filled baguette. The Jardin des Tuileries, the grounds just outside the Louvre, is a lovely spot for a picnic lunch.
After lunch, amble the half an hour walk from the Jardin des Tuileries to the Notre Dame. Just before you arrive at the Notre Dame, you’ll cross a bridge called the Pont de l'Archevêché. This is famous because it where couples have declared their love by adding a padlock to the bridge. If you are travelling with a loved one, make a stop off here and add your own declaration of love.
Once you reach the Notre Dame, you can choose to have a guided tour, but it’s just as lovely to do a self-tour. Gaze upon the beautiful structure, light a candle for a loved one, lose yourself in the artwork of the magnificent stained glass windows. Take some time to sit and think. Even if you aren’t religious, some time for inner quiet can be very rewarding.
The cathedral is open until 6:45 pm (7:15 pm on Saturdays and Sundays) and is free to enter.
From here, I would highly recommend visiting the Montparnasse Tower. If you enjoyed the Eiffel Tower, then the Montparnasse Tower will give you another view of Paris. This time with the Eiffel Tower in the frame. The Montparnasse Tower is another 30 minute walk across town, but again walking through Paris has its benefits, as you can stop for a hot drink and a delicious French cake or pastry at one of the local patisseries.
The Montparnasse Tower gives you panoramic views of Paris for €15, if bought on the day, but booking in advance will save you money. The tower is open until at least 10.30pm (11pm on some days) so if you did visit the Eiffel Tower during the day, perhaps take in the view from the Montparnasse Tower at dusk or night.
If you have time and fancy doing a little bit of shopping, you are right by Rue d’Alesia which is known for its out of season, mid-range designer clothes. I haven’t been myself, but I’ve heard it’s good for a bargain if you are prepared to have a rummage.
I expect by now, you are heading towards the end of your trip, full of the joy that Paris brings you, but also a little exhausted from fitting so much in, in just 2 days.
What else would you add to your perfect Paris itinerary?
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