The Only Itinerary You Need To Make The Best Of Paris In Two Days

Photo of The Only Itinerary You Need To Make The Best Of Paris In Two Days 1/1 by Himani Khatreja
Credit: Moyan Brenn

Two days aren't enough to see any place in the world. Especially not the city that is home to many world-famous attractions and intimate quarters that only reveal themselves to those who make the effort. While not ideal, what do you do if you have two days in Paris?

Well, stop thinking and start walking. Load your senses with as much as they can take in the most beautiful city in the world.

And just so you don't have to look around on the internet or ask around too much, I've put together some suggestions on what to see and do if you have just two days in Paris including where to eat, so you don't miss out on the best that Paris has to offer.

Day 1

Begin with a satisfying French breakfast at L’ Arc Cafe

Right in front of the Arc de Triomphe, this trendy and chic brasserie is open from 7am (except on Sundays when it opens at 9am) till midnight, and serves delicious French food in a beautiful setting. One of the options on the menu is the “international breakfast”, which includes a cappuccino or tea, one serving of eggs and the local favourite of tartine, with butter and jam. If you are looking for some lighter and quicker options, walk into any of the charming cafes on Avenue des Champs-Élysées for €1-3 coffee and croissant.

Credit: L'Arc

Photo of L'Arc Café, Avenue Carnot, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

To get there, take the Métropolitain or Paris Metro to Charles de Gaulle Etoile station.

Walk to the magnificent Arc de Triomphe

One of Paris' most historic landmarks, the spectacular Arc de Triomphe was built by Napoleon, the French emperor, in memory of his troops and is definitely one of the must visit attractions if you have 2 days in Paris. Today, it stands tall at the centre of the busy Place Charles de Gaulle and offers stunning views of the city. Take the underground passageway to reach the monument (the traffic here is crazy) and then proceed to take a stroll around the base and under its arches to admire its grandeur. If you have the time and strength, climb the 284 steps to its top (an elevator can take you till the 238th step) for a bird's eye view of the 12 streets radiating out from the Place Charles de Gaulle and the best views of the Eiffel Tower.

Credit: Luc Mercelis

Photo of Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The timings from April 1 to September 30 are 10am to 11pm, and from October 1 to March 31 are 10am to 10.30pm. Adult tickets to climb to the top are €8, but entry is free on the first Sunday of a month.

Get your shopping fix at the Galeries Lafayette department store

The largest departmental store in Paris, the 120-year-old Galeries Lafayette will impress you not just with its 3500 brands and the 3,500 square metre lingerie department, but also with its gorgeous history and design seen in the Neo-byzantine style stain glass windows and the dome roof. Head to the welcome desk, and get your hands on a map to guide you to the various stores on its seven floors. If you are here during spring or fall, don't miss the fashion shows at 3 pm every Friday in the Salon Opera on the 7th floor. After you're done shopping, make your way to the top floor for some breathtaking views of the city, including the Tour Eiffel, the Opéra Garnier and Sacré Coeur.

Credit: FilipeSoares77

Photo of The Only Itinerary You Need To Make The Best Of Paris In Two Days by Himani Khatreja

To get here, you can either walk 3km, or take the metro to Métro Havre Caumartin or Chaussée d'Antin La Fayette, on Line 9. The Galeries Lafayette is open on Thursday from 9.30am to 9.00pm, and other days from 9.30am to 8.00pm.

Head to the Tuileries Garden for a scenic lunch

The Jardin des Tuileries is a central garden, which extends from the Musée du Louvre along the Seine river, to the Place de la Concorde and the beginning of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. There once used to be a palace here, but it was burnt down in 1870. Now these lush garden remain with their trees, pools, statues, and street food booths, becoming a favourite place for Parisians to just stroll around and take a break. Throughout the garden, you'll find many lovely restaurants offering all kinds of food. Pick one that you like, and end your meal with a crêpe from any of the take-away booths.

Walk 1.8km to the garden from the Galeries Lafayette, or take the metro to Place de la Concorde, Tuileries or Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre station.

Photo of Tuileries Garden, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

Stroll along the Avenue de Champs-Élysées and indulge in some people watching

The Avenue de Champs-Élysées road was created in 1670 as part of a project to reconnect the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden by a great road. While it was a space only used by the high society in the early days, today, it is an incredible walking area lined with hotels, cafes, restaurants, souvenir kiosks and high-end luxury stores. Often referred to as the most beautiful boulevard in the world, the avenue is used for all major celebrations, including the famous Bastille Day military parade. Walk along the 2km-long road and take in everyday Paris life.

Credit: Josh Hallet

Photo of Champs-Élysées, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The Champs-Élysées is around an 8-minute walk from the Tuileries Garden.

Enjoy the exquisite art collection at Musée d'Orsay

The Musée d'Orsay used to be an old train station built in the 1900s. Today it is a museum that houses exquisite French masterpieces by the likes of Courbet, Monet, Van Gogh, Manet Seurat, Matisse and Degas. In addition to the artwork, you find temporary and permanent collections of sculptures, furniture and photography. And when you need to take a break, admire the opulent building located smack next to the Left Bank of the Seine and capture beautiful views of Paris with your camera.

Credit: Daniel Vorndran

Photo of Musée d'Orsay, Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The lines at the Orsay Museum can be long and tedious. A great hack is to go there on Thursday after 6pm (it is open till 9pm on this day). The lines will be shorter and the tickets are for €8.50 instead of the usual €11. Or get a professional guide to show you the place, in which case you can skip the whole line. The Orsay Museum is a 10-minute walk from Champs-Élysées.

Fall in love with the glittering Eiffel Tower at night

Very few experiences will beat the feeling you will get while looking at the lit-up Eiffel Tower glittering every hour against the dark blue night sky. But since you will be hard pressed for time, I recommend you skip climbing up. The night scenes near the tower are spectacular, and they will keep you occupied. Grab a bottle of champagne and a few glasses from a grocery store and watch the 20,000 light bulbs illuminate the tower. Lie down on the grass in the garden underneath and watch people drink, dance and make merry.

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Photo of Eiffel Tower, Avenue Anatole France, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

Take the metro from the Orsay Museum to the Gare du Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel. It should take you about 20 minutes.

Get a taste of fresh macaroons at the world-famous Ladurée

Stop at the French luxury patisserie, Ladurée, for a taste of its mouthwatering double-decker macaroons, which come in a variety of flavours, along with a cup of cappuccino or a glass of hot chocolate. The boutique on Champs-Elysées is one of the six stores that the brand has in Paris. In fact, it is so famous that it has been featured a lot in the media – you might recall them as Blair Waldorf's favourite patisserie in Gossip Girl. But it isn't just the macaroons that will leave you salivating; the chocolate almond croissant, the beautifully-flaky millefeuille and the delicious French toast deserve your attention as well.

Credit: Ard van der Leeuw

Photo of Laduree, Champs-Élysées, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

Ladurée is located at 75 Ave des Champs-Elysées, or 13 Rue Lincoln, 8th.

End the day with a 3-course meal near the Tour Eiffel

While most sit-down places to eat near this beautiful landmark are touristy, crowded and overpriced, Au Bon Accueil (pronounced oh bohn ah-kuhoy) offers a 3-course modern French meal at €32, which is absolutely worth the decent price! Located in a quiet street near the Eiffel Tower, the ambience is swanky and inviting. A few recommended dishes here include the Smoked Duck Carpaccio with Mesclun Salad and Green Pea Puree, the Marinated Salmon with Zucchini and Red Pepper Coulis, the Seared Whiting Fish with Spinach and Cream of Fennel, the lamb and their delicious desserts, such as the raspberry mousse.

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Photo of Au Bon Accueil, Rue du Rivage Boitel, Salperwick, France by Himani Khatreja

Find the restaurant at a 5-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, at 14 Rue de Monttessuy.

Day 2

Start the day with a bowl of café au lait in Montmartre

Coquelicot is an award-winning bakery in the charming neighbourhood of Montmartre that serves the absolute best bread in the area. Get here early to score a seat outside, from where you can watch Parisians begin their day. But if you don't manage to find a spot, head up to the first floor or the terrace and sit at the beautifully-decorated tables. Breakfast spreads here include a large bowl (yes, you read that right) of black or milk coffee, or hot chocolate, a brioche or baguette slice, a variety of jams, honey, spreads, salted butter caramel and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Coquelicot is closed on Mondays, but the rest of the week it is open from 7.30am to 8pm.

Credit: Coquelicot

Photo of Coquelicot, Rue des Abbesses, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

Have a Michelin-star lunch at Ze Kitchen Galerie

Lunch here will cost you anywhere between €30 to 40, but this is a decent price when you look at its one star Michelin status and the imaginative spread of food. The chef at this contemporary Asian restaurant works hard to keep his cooking relevant and fun. He apparently buys his vegetables directly from farmers and his spices and herbs from an Asian supermarket. Recommended dishes here include the roast and confit duck with a tamarind-and-sesame condiment and foie gras, lobster with mussels, white beans, and Thai herbs, the octopus and the tenderly cooked pork.

Credit: Ze Kitchen Galerie

Photo of Ze Kitchen Galerie, Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

Ze Kitchen Galerie is located on 25, Rue des Grands-Augustins, in the 6th and is closed on the weekends.

Walk around Montmartre before heading up to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica

The pretty bohemian Montmartre area used to be home to many artists such as Dali, Van Gogh and Picasso. Today, the neighbourhood thankfully retains its village-like charm because development has been restricted in the area. Walk around to take in the colourful cafes, interact with the caricature artists waiting to impress you and tour the patisseries, bookshops and perfumeries. Then head up the highest point in the city – the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which sits on a hill. You can climb till the dome of this Roman Catholic church or just sit in the park behind it, to admire its architecture.

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Photo of Sacre Cœur Basilica, Avenue du Prado, Marseille, France by Himani Khatreja

Though it shouldn't be difficult for you to spot the basilica, its official address is 35 Rue de Chevalier-de-la-Barr.

Get a whiff of the famous cabaret at Le Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is the oldest, biggest and most sophisticated cabaret in Paris. Originally established in 1889 as a house for the performance of can-can dance, today it is a tourist attraction that offers cabaret dance entertainment and women dressed in grand feather headpieces. The glitz and glamour, however, comes at a steep price. The cheapest tickets are for €95, which are only for the show with no drinks or dinner. But with only 2-days to see Paris, you should postpone seeing a show for your next visit. This time, stick to enjoying the red windmill installed on the iconic building and taking pictures.

Credit: Christine Zenino

Photo of Moulin Rouge, Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The Moulin Rouge is open daily on 82, Boulevard De Clichy, but you usually have to book 4 to 6 weeks in advance for a show.

Proceed to the Notre Dame cathedral for a spiritual awakening

The famous Notre Dame cathedral, along the Seine, will tower above you and take your breath away. Its architecture is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it was the first to use flying buttresses to support exterior walls. The statues, carvings and sculptures (including the popular architectural gargoyles) on this 850-year-old church’s exterior tell its stories. On the inside, the architecture is equally beautiful and that combined with the smell of incense in the air and the sweet sound of the choir will give you an experience difficult to replicate.

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Photo of Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal, QC, Canada by Himani Khatreja

There is no entrance fee at the cathedral, which is an 11-minute walk from Ze Kitchen Galerie via Quai des Grands Augustins. The official hours are 8 am to 6.45 pm on weekdays, with a 7.15 pm closing time on Saturdays and Sundays.

Take a tea break with Shakespeare on Paris' Left Bank

If you're a literature lover, the Shakespeare and Company bookshop will be the beginning of a torrid love affair with the most famous bookstore in the world. But if not, you will still enjoy the yellow-and-green facade and rustic-feeling interiors, which will transport you to a quieter, older Paris. Inside, every space is filled with books, deep philosophical signs, art objects, writer memorabilia and a cat. Sit, read and enjoy. And when you're done, head to the namesake cafe next door for some delicious coffee, pressed juices, gluten-free sandwiches, decadent pies and brownies, hand-rolled bagels and dark chocolate matcha cookies.

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Photo of Shakespeare & Company, Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The Shakespeare and Company bookshop is located at 37, Rue de la Bûcherie, and is a stone's throw away from Notre Dame.

End your 2 days in Paris at the second-most visited museum in the world

Let's face it. No number of hours will ever be enough to see the entire art collection at the Musée du Louvre. So if you get here by 3pm, you will have around 3 hours here. Today, around 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited in this museum, which is housed in the Louvre Palace. But before you head inside, take around half an hour to admire the exterior, which includes the gorgeous glass pyramid that serves as its entrance. Once you enter, pick out what interests you and take a tour. The most famous pieces in the Louvre are the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory. You can even download some free audio tours to make the most of it.

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Photo of Louvre Museum, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. The timings on Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday from 9am to 6pm and Wednesday, Fridays from 9am to 9.45pm. Tickets, available online, are for €15.

Have your last meal in Paris at Kunitoraya

Make your last meal in Paris a good one at Kunitoraya, a Japanese restaurant, which is a popular choice on the Paris food scene. Known for its authentic Japanese noodles, ramen, soba and udon soups, Kunitoraya has a minimalist decor with narrow, but well-utilised space. All noodles are handmade on site. You don't need to make a reservation, but be prepared to queue up for a bit.

Located at 1 Rue Villedo, the restaurant is open everyday except on Wednesdays. Lunchtime is from 12pm to 5pm and dinner from 7pm to 11.15pm.

Credit: Corinne Moncelli

Photo of Kunitoraya, Rue Villedo, Paris, France by Himani Khatreja

While walking around, don't hesitate to stop at roadside bakeries to pick up fresh baguettes, goat cheese, macaroons and all kinds of delicious baked delights. After all, you cannot claim to have done it all during 2 days in Paris, if you haven't got a feel of Parisian patisseries.

Au revoir! Have a great time in Paris.

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