Only have a day or a weekend to spend in Paris? If that’s the case you’ll want to make the most out of every second. I have been asked a few times what I would do if I only had a couple of days to spend in the city of love.
The good news is even if you lived in Paris for 6 months you would still not see everything this magnificent city has to offer. I have always believed there are two types of tourists, the first being the ‘box tickers’ who speed through all the iconic tourist sites. The second is pretty much the opposite of the first, a tourist or traveller who explores with the intention to live and breathe a place like a local. There is no right or wrong but my preference is the second. After visiting Paris 6 times and walking straight past it many times I finally went to Notre Dame this year.
I’ve got nothing against tourist sites but they’ve never been a reason for me to visit a city or town. I’m far more interested in the cultural and way of life aspects destinations have to offer. Places are about people, I love meeting new people and learning about cultures.
Here are my top 10 tips of places to visit in Paris if you only have a day or two in the capital.
1. Passage des Panoramas
The Passage des Panoramas is the oldest of the covered passages of Paris, located in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris between the Montmartre Boulevard to the North and Saint-Marc Street to the south. It was originally built so the wealth Parisian’s could shop out of the rain. Today it’s a foodies dream with cuisine from all over the world on offer. I wrote a blog on my last visit, you can read it here.
2. Opera Garnier
I’ve always been fascinated with Opera Garnier, its sheer magnificent leaves you speechless. I always feel like I’ve stepped into Raoul’s shoes every time I walk up the grand staircase. Raoul was the Vicomte de Chagny from Phantom of the Opera.
3. Explore the Grand Boulevards
I can could spend days wondering around the Grands Boulevards, check out Boulevard Beaumarchais, Filles-du-Calvaire, Temple, Saint-Martin, Saint-Denis, Bonne-Nouvelle, Poissonnière, Montmartre, Italiens, Capucines and the Madeleine boulevards.
My favourite café is Le Brebant at 32 Boulevard Poissonnière. The burger is sensational, as it the cheese omelette.
4. Walk down the Siene
Avoid the tourist traps and simply go for a long walk from the Eiffel Tower precinct right down to Le Marais and Notre Dam
5. Say hello to Marie Ann Catin
I’ve never been to Paris without visiting Fromagerie Marie Ann Catin. Run by Marie Ann and her husband the Fromagerie is on the left bank on Champs de Mars. This area is very local and you really feel like you’re part of life in Paris. Buy some of the best cheese in Paris and enjoy by the river or in the nearby park, or take it on a picnic (see tip 6)
6. Take a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne
The Bois de Boulogne is a large parkland area and is around a 10 minute taxi from the Champs-Élysées, go around the Arc de Triomphe and leave the city limits behind. The Bois de Boulogne was home to Wallis & Edward, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor whos Villa is now occupied by Mohamed Al-Fayed. There are many places around the Bois de Boulogne to picnic, man-made lakes, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and an amusement park, Jardin d’Acclimation.
Now where to buy the food? That’s the easy part. Lafayette Gourmet at 35 Boulevard Haussmann for your bread, meats, condiments and wine, and of course Marie Ann Catin for your cheese.
7. Explore an arcade
There are so many great arcades in Paris, don’t just walk-by, take the time to explore the stores and chat with the local business owners.
8. A walk along the Champs-Élysées
Because it’s stunning, that simple. There is so much to see and do on the Champs-Élysées. Stop and relax on a park bench, take in the famous view or enjoy a coffee in the park. You might even hear the ZAZ song in your head. Listen to it here.
9. Explore Montmatre
I love this area, so many tiny shops, beautiful pâtisserie’s, local bars and the famous Montmatre steps.
10. Visit a famous café
This sounds naff but I actually don’t mind having lunch every now and then at a well-known café or restaurants. Les Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore and Ralph Lauren’s restaurant are a few of my favourites.
What are your favourite places in Paris? Leave a comment below, I would like to hear from you!