Paris is one of those cities which you can never get enough of. No matter how many times you have been to Paris, there will always be something that will surprise you and make you come back for more.
This itinerary is suited for those who are visiting Paris on a 3 day weekend but can also be modified to suit a normal 2 day weekend.
Pro Tip: Always buy Skip the Line tickets to all attractions in Paris and where applicable Skip the Line ‘Timed Entry’ tickets. These will save you hours in Paris especially when you are tight on time.
Unless you are high on walking or cycling, a transport Day pass is highly recommended.
St Chappelle – Skip the Line tickets
You can start your day visiting the glorious stained glass windows of St Chappelle, housed within the medieval Palais de la Cité, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century, which overlooks the River Seine. If you have more time on your hands, then by all means buy the combined tickets of the chapel and the Concierge, also inside the palace campus and was used as the prison cells during the French Revolution and includes the cell of Queen Marie Antoinette.
Notre Dame – No tickets
Just a 5 mins walk from the chapel is the famous Notre Dame, but unfortunately, after the disastrous fire you can no longer visit it from the inside. You can see it from across the river and also walk alongside the numerous book stores that line the Seine. Coming from Calcutta (India) which is another book lovers paradise, I love walking past those makeshift bookstores and would have picked a few bargains myself hadn’t most of the books being in French.
St Sulpice (Église Saint-Sulpice) – No tickets
This is the 2nd largest church in Paris, only slightly smaller than the Notre Dame and only about 1.5 kms away from Notre Dame. Apart from marveling at its beautiful facade and its Romanesque interiors, this church houses the famed ‘Paris Meridian’ from Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Although the authorities have discredited the Brown’s depiction of what it symbolizes, it is surely a place to tickle the conspiracy theorist in you.
At this stage you can break for a quick lunch before you head for the biggest mission of the day – visiting the gigantic Musee du Louvre.
Louvre – Skip the Line Time Entry tickets
Take your time to refresh before you start on this mission because Louvre is going to take a toll on you – physically and emotionally. Make sure you have already bought your timed entry tickets so that your waiting time is the least. Do remember that even with the timed entry, you will need to wait in a queue to enter the museum but the wait would be much shorter, may be a few minutes to 30 mins depending on the season.
The single most visited exhibition of the Louvre is (no points for guessing), the Mona Lisa but save your breath for some of the other wonders that it houses. Whilst a complete blog post needs to be dedicated to visiting Louvre, I have listed some of the must visit rooms here.
Must visit wings of Louvre –
- Denon wing (First floor) – home to the Mona Lisa and other Michelangelo masterpieces and also the sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace
- Sully wing (Ground floor) – especially the statue of Venus and the Egyptian galleries
- Richelieu Wing (Second Floor) – masterpieces from Rembrandt and Vermeer
Place de la Concorde – No tickets
After you have visited the Louvre, the next 3 sights are on a straight line, 4km end to end. Depending on your appetite to walk, you can either walk the entire distance or take the Metro. The first stop would be the Place de la Concorde which displays the Egyptian obelisk which was gifted to France in 1829. And looking at this marvelous structure if your heart desires for more of ancient Egypt, then why not read my blog on my Travel itinerary for Egypt. Back for Paris for now though. If you are walking to the Concorde you would be passing the Tuileries garden which is a nice walk in itself. If you are taking the metro, you can get still relax at the part of the garden adjacent to the Concorde.
Champs Elysee – No tickets
Place de la Concorde and the iconic Arc de Triomphe is connected by another iconic Parisian – the Champs Elysee. This tree lined commercial street in Paris is flanked on either sides by some of the best known establishments in the world.
Arc de Triomphe – Tickets required for climb to the top
One of the busiest circles in Paris and the nerve centre of Paris with 12 roads radiating from it, revel at the sight of the glorious Arc, commissioned in 1806 and not completed until 1836. Needless to say, you donot attempt to cross the road to reach under the gate, there is a tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle which can be accessed from the Wagram exit of the Metro.
Eiffel Tower by the night – No tickets
Its already been a long day and with all the walking involved, there is a need to refresh for Day 2. The only thing remaining today would be the magical view of the Eiffel with its lights on. Depending on what time of the year it is (at peak summer the first light show would only be at 11.30pm) you can either head to the Eiffel for its hourly light show or retire back to your hotel for some rest before heading out once again when it is dark enough.
You can watch the light show from either Trocadero which is often famed to be the best vantage point or from the gardens in front of the Eiffel. My personal favorite is from the gardens as I feel more up close with the Eiffel. Maybe you can try both, one on each day, because in all fairness one can’t get enough of the Eiffel when in Paris.
Eiffel Tower – Skip the Line Time Entry tickets to climb the tower
Start the day with Eiffel again, because hell yes you are in Paris. Again be prepared to stand in long queues despite your timed entry tickets. And beware of pickpockets while at the top!! I know of people who have been robbed. Small advice here: If you are pressed for time, I would recommend skipping the climb to the top altogether because in my opinion it is probably the most underwhelming experience in Paris.
Pantheon – Skip the Line tickets
This is one of my favourite places in Paris mostly because it is often overlooked by the horde of tourists and also because it is one of the most magnificent buildings in Paris. Once being a church, the Pantheon is now a resting place of some of the greatest figures of French history. It also houses the Foucault pendulum (a copy) through which Foucault demonstrate the Earth’s rotation way back in 1851. Apart from this, the inner walls of the Pantheon are illustrated with enormous paintings with my personal favourite being the depiction of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc.
Sacre Cour – No tickets
Expect queues at the Sacre Cour but they usually don’t last too long. You will get some stunning views of Paris from the hill which you can reach by climbing the stairs or taking the funicular, which is free on the transport pass. You can take the funicular to go up and then walk down the stairs for some great photo ops.
Here you can break for lunch and also indulge in some souvenir shopping from the bunch of touristy shops around. These are some of the cheapest in Paris but most of them not made in Paris (you would have guessed by now).
Montmarte walking tour – No tickets
You have already reached the heart of Montmarte so it makes sense to tour this artistic centre of Paris. There are several walking tours of Montmarte regions including a free tour which is highly recommended, however if it doesn’t fit your schedule then feel free to create your own walk tour map. You can follow this sample tour but do look around at every corner because Montmarte will have surprises for you everywhere.
Moulin Rouge – No tickets if viewed from outside
You will end the Montmarte walking tour at the historic Moulin Rouge. You can reward yourself with the Marlyn Monroe shot in front of the Moulin Rouge using the vent located just opposite. With the hoard of tourists and instagrammers already posing above it, I donot think you will have any trouble locating it at all.
Versailles – Skip the Line Timed Entry tickets
So you have now successfully toured mainland Paris as I like to call it. But no trip to Paris should be deemed complete without a visit to the grand Palace of Versailles. I will not go into details about this visit in this blog, but it is best to save an entire day for the Palace. Once done you can either straight for your onward journey or come back to Paris to bask in its evening glory one last time before you leave.
Hope this blog will help you plan your trip to Paris and if you need more information on tips for Paris or wish to share your thoughts, don’t forget to put it in the comments section.
See you soon but till then, Happy Travels!!