2 Days in Paris
Paris is a city of magic.
As touristy as it is, no one seems to be able to deny its resplendence.
When people are planning for their first trip to Europe, Paris is always on the itinerary. It might be the dazzling lights of Eiffel Tower, or the tantalising French pâtisseries, there are a million ways that Paris could find a way to your heart.
To me, Paris is just unskippable, especially for your very first trip to Europe.
Many people tend to want to see as much as they could in Europe in a short time. Sometimes that means Paris is just allocated for just 2 days.
After living in Paris for a few months now, this is the best way to see the best of Paris in 2 days!
2 Day Itinerary in Paris - Day 1
7am - breakfast fix at any boulangerie
Start your day in Paris by getting your breakfast fix in one of the many boulangeries. This is part and parcel of la vie Parisienne.
Depending on which arrondissement your accommodation is located, there are different boulangeries that you could visit. My favourite few are:
- 11th arrondissement – Boulangerie Utopie. This is not too far from where I live. When I have time, I would walk there, get a croissant before I hop on the metro to get to work. It’s located right next to Oberkampf station which makes it more convenient. It could get quite busy because of the raving reviews so I highly recommend that you get there early. They open at 7am so if you get there before 7:30am, you can get a spot quite easily.
- 15th arrondissement – Pascal et Anthony. This boulangerie is my actual favourite. I always make an excuse to visit my friend who lives in the 15th arrondissement just so I could go there!
- 20th arrondissement – La Gambette à pain. They are closed on weekends. I learnt my lesson!
These are just my recommendations. Don’t feel like you have to visit these boulangeries for the best breakfast. Most boulangeries in your arrondissement will get you an equally gratifying experience.
9am - visit the Louvre as one of the first visitors
I recommend going to the Louvre first thing in the morning. The reason being this is one of the indoor places in Paris where it gets touristy super quickly, all thanks to Mona Lisa and other magnificent works.
The ticket line is dizzyingly long. So, book your ticket well in advance. At least 1 day in advance would suffice. That way, you only have to line up for security clearance.
The quickest way to get in Louvre is through the Carrousel Du Louvre. Not many people seem to know about this entrance.
Go straight to see Mona Lisa when she wakes up. It gets annoyingly crowded in just 30 minutes – everyone’s fighting for a selfie with Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa lives in Denon Alley on the first floor. Just go to the first floor and let the signage help you out.
It’s free on the first Sunday of each month and on the 14th of July.
On my day off, I would spend the whole day at the Louvre. Up till now I have spent a total of 3 full days in the Louvre and I haven’t seen it all. However, given that we only have 2 days in Paris in this occasion, I suggest seeing these main areas of Louvre:
- Denon Wing France paintings of 1780-1850 and Italian paintings of Italy paintings of 1250-1800. They are located right outside of Mona Lisa
- Victory of Samothrace Staircase – one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world is located here.
- Grand salon in Richelieu – walk all the way to see Napoleon III’s apartment
- Leave the Louvre through the Cour Marly. It’s also in the Richelieu wing.
Seeing all these will probably take around 3-4 hours.
12pm - get a lunch menu in a French restaurant
And it’s time for lunch! Don’t dine in around the Louvre because it’s expensive and touristy. Walk a few blocks away to enjoy better food at a lower price.
Take advantage of a lunch menu where you can have a full 3-course meal for cheap (15-35 euros).
These are the top 8 Parisian restaurants that I have compiled after asking my Parisian friends what their favourite restaurants were. On top of that 8 restaurants, these are a few restaurants to you could try out.
- Le Petit Vendôme – amazing lunch plate for just 15 euros. Their menu changes everyday to attract the working class around the area. Cheap French wine by the glass as well.
- Le Bistro Marbeuf – Typical Parisian ambience with authentic French cuisine. Take advantage of their menu as they offer their best for a cheap price. Moreover, they use seasonal ingredients so you know that it’s the freshest you could get.
- Le Chalet du 8ème – If you don’t think you could stomach a whole meal, go to my favourite crêperie. It’s also another cheap option.
1pm - Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and more
After having lunch, start walking towards Arc de Triomphe through Champs-Élysées. It is one of the most visited avenues in Paris.
In addition to the Arc de Triomphe, there are many impressive buildings around the area to look at, including Petit Palais and Grand Palais. Some of the stores in Champs-Élysées are extravagant that’s worth having a look at. For example, Apple, LV, Dior etc.
If you haven’t had enough food or you just wanna stop for a coffee, stop by Ladurée.
Ladurée is basically the hallmark of le macaron, a traditional French pastry loved by the world. About what to get at Ladurée – make sure you get a coffee/ hot chocolate, some macarons and some chocolates to go home with. The packaging is exquisite so you can buy some souvenirs for your family if you’d like to.
3pm - Eiffel Tower, highlight of your trip to Paris in 2 days
After seeing Arc de Triomphe, head towards Jardins du Trocadero to catch a glimpse of the iron lady. It has one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, despite the sheer amount of tourists.
Make sure to avoid people that are constantly trying to sell you souvenirs. Just walk away.
It’s up to you whether you want to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. First of all, it’s not cheap. Secondly, it’s crowded. And the most important reason why I don’t think it’s worth it to go up the Eiffel Tower in Paris is because once you’re up there, you see the whole of Paris but not the Eiffel Tower. You will feel like the view is missing something that’s typically Paris.
If you do want to go, at least book a ticket in advance.
If you have time, walk slightly more to see one of my favourite bridges in Paris, Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
4pm - Île aux Cygnes and Statue of Liberty
Pont de Bir-Hakeim allows you to access Île aux Cygnes, which is a long island that stretches between two bridges along the river. Visit the Statue of Liberty of Paris, which was ironically given to France by the US. I say ironically because the Statue of Liberty in New York was gifted by France to the US.
5pm - Montparnasse Tower, gorgeous viewpoint of Paris
Exit Île aux Cygnes from Pont de Grenelle. Hop on a metro and get to Tour Montparnasse. I think this is the best time to go because you could see the sunset transition of this magical city. On top of that, you could see the dazzling lights of Tour Eiffel when it’s dark enough.
Stay for a while, take in the view of this gorgeous.
7pm - Paris comes alive at night!
Go back and freshen up before heading out for dinner. Marais is the area that you gotta explore. Start with some aperitives, which is a common sport that Parisians do. Get some discounted alcohol when it’s still within the happy hour.
When you have enough booze in your body, have dinner! There are a million options to dine in around the area so just pick one.
- I love La Fresque simply because of the painting in the building – it’s fantastic and it’s also just 5 minutes away from where I live.
- Camille is another good option that offers traditional French food for a cheaper price.
- For a great ambience, head to La Terrasse des Archives. You could do both your aperitive and your dinner here.
Head to a few more bars to fully appreciate the bar culture in Paris. I love the bars in Paris where all the tables are set very close together and shone under red lights. But if you could only squeeze in 1 bar, it would be Le Barav, an exquisite wine bar.
Head back home and get ready for the next day.
2 Day Itinerary in Paris - Day 2
8am - Parisian breakfast fix take 2
You can do a slightly later start. Again, start your day with some amazing baked goods/ viennoiseries.
10am - Paris Catacombs
Get a skip-the-line ticket for Catacombs. The Paris Catacombs is one of the most sought after destinations in Paris. Lines can get ridiculously long especially during the summer months.
1 hour is more than enough to see the catacombs.
11am - Jardin du Luxembourg
Spend time at Jardin du Luxembourg.
You know, Paris being Paris, there is a palace there in the garden. The buildings around are incredibly gorgeous so make sure you spend some time here. There’s another Statue of Liberty here!
12pm - it's lunch time! Get a lunch menu in Paris
I worked at Rive Gauche for a while (the right bank of the river, which is the south of Seine River) and my boss basically told me that these two are his absolute favourite places in Paris to eat.
If you only have 2 days in Paris, you really have to plan well on where to eat so you get the best out of Paris.
Can’t argue with that especially when you look at the interior décor and the food presentation! Scrumptious food too! After lunch, head up towards the river as we go to Rive Droite (the left bank of the river) and explore more of Paris.
2pm - Instagram opportunity, Les Deux Magots
Head to take some photos of Les Deux Magots. Super historical – Les Deux Magots even has an Wiki page on it!
This place has been popping up on everyone’s Instagram feed because it’s just so photogenic. It’s a restaurant so if you haven’t eaten you can check it out.
3pm - Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame
Walk towards the Seine river and you could see more and more impressive buildings popping up. Visit Sainte Chapelle, one of the most beautiful chapels in Paris. Heavily ornamented interiorly, it is finished with the most gorgeous stained glass art I have ever seen in my life. It can get very touristy.
Visit Notre Dame. A fire broke out on the day of my birthday in 2019 which engulfed the roof and the spire. It’s currently being rebuilt now.
This could easily be your highlight of your 2 days in Paris.
4pm - Montmartre, the bohemian dose of your 2 days in Paris
Take the metro to Montmartre. There are so many things to do in Montmartre so I will dedicate another post on it!
6pm - Palais Garnier/ Galeries Lafayette
Take the metro to Opera station. If you have some extra cash to spend on, watch something in Palais Garnier. You are not just paying for the opera/ballet/musical, you are also paying for the grandeur of the venue.
For some free activity, you can take a metro to Chaussée d’Antin, the closest metro station to Galeries Lafayette. It’s an amazing shopping mall with an elegant interior design. Head up to the roof and get a view of Eiffel Tower. Not too many people know about it yet!
7pm - how to eat cheese in Paris? Fondue!!
Gotta have a fondue savoyarde before you leave Paris! Super calorific but super gratifying. There are a few restaurants specialising in fondue around the area.
There’s Le Café Marivaux and Les Marmottes. I prefer Les Marmottes because it has the real grilling set-up and other essentials for an authentic fondue. Apparently there’s a waiter that doesn’t provide the best service in Le Café Marivaux but my experience has been good.
Like yesterday, you could explore the other bars at night.
There are some night cruises that you could take to see Paris at night. Say goodnight to Paris and then head to your next destination to conclude your 2 days in Paris.
- The official website for public transport in Paris is https://www.ratp.fr/en. It’s not the most user-friendly, unfortunately. I use it only to check for updates especially when there’s a strike.
- In my opinion, Moovit is the best because it involves other transport services including e-scooter, e-bike and ride-hailing services. Moovit is available in Paris. An alternative is City Mapper, which was named as the best map app in Europe.
- There are a few websites to check out if you are travelling to another city from Paris:
- SNCF: The official website of the French Railway transport. Book in advance to enjoy cheaper rates. There are multiple reductions for different people so check if you’re eligible.
- Comparabus: A handy website that compares all the bus offers. It includes results for trains and flights too!
- Rome2Rio: A website that allows you to see potential routes between cities.
- BlaBlaCar: If you are on a budget, try out this carsharing platform which gets you to many places!
From 2017 onwards, you can use your Sim card wherever you go as long as you are in the EU. Prepaid deals differ by a large amount in different countries so I recommend getting one before landing in Europe.
Moreover, if you don’t speak the language, you can get scammed quite easily. If you are unfortunate, they might even offer you the highest priced one instead of the option that’s best suited for you.
If you want to save the hassle, just get a sim card before leaving for Europe. I always use SimOptions because they deliver fast and the telecommunication companies offered are actually based in major European countries.
I recommend the company “3” because it is present in many European countries and data plans are great:
- If you are in Europe for less than 30 days – Smart Gold plan by 3
- If you are in Europe for a few months – Smart Platinum plan by 3
Alternatively, you could opt for a pocket wifi which allows you to connect to multiple devices. This is perfect if you travel in a group or if you have a few devices that needs internet connection concurrently.
I always opt for TEP wireless because they are fast and reliable. Superb customer service too!
If you are not on AirBnB yet, you need to be! AirBnB is a great alternative to conventional accommodation. From private room to the whole apartment, AirBnB has been the go to for a while!
I always found amazing condominiums and apartments on AirBnB. It’s like a cherry on top of my trip most of the time!
Sign up to AirBnB with this link and get $25 instantly!
I swear by travel insurance these days. So many things could go wrong and the trip of your lifetime can end up horribly wrong.
When it comes to travel insurance, I just go with World Nomads. It’s quick and claims are processed pretty quickly.
Please buy it if you can. Hopefully you don’t have to use it. However, in the unfortunate circumstances that you have to use it, you will thank me for a long time.
You are welcome.
Where to stay?
Paris is ginormous and that’s why I recommend staying at Marais. That way, you don’t have to spend much time on commuting every day and the metro tends to be the hotbed for pickpocketing in general. Besides, you are close to many restaurants, bars and attractions.
Budget – Bastille De Launay is a rare gem as compared to other accommodations offered at the same price range. Breakfast here was beyond my imagination while I was staying here. Highly recommend!
Comfortable – The interior design of Hotel du Petit Moulin is impressive. It’s next to a market, a metro station, a beautiful park, a huge shopping centre and right above one of the best boulangeries in town… what more can you ask for?
High-end – I certainly think the Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte should be a tourist attraction itself. Be ready to be pampered like kings and queens (well, it’s named Bonaparte for a reason).
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