How To Spend 48 Hours In Paris

How To Spend 48 Hours In Paris

If you’re in town for a long weekend, this is our guide to the real Paris.

Paris was shaken by the events of 2016, it’ll take a lot
more to break the spirit and centuries-old charm of a city known
for love and romance. Now more than ever is the time to visit –
while inhabitants remain wary, the grand maisons still stand proud,
the local bistros buzz with characteristic French flair and leafy
streets beckon for meandering walks. If you’re in town for a long
weekend, this is our guide to the real Paris.


Aim for Montmartre, Saint Germain, the 2nd or 1st
arrondissements or near the Canal Saint-Martin. 9Hotel Republique is a good-value option –
though the area is a bit like the Leicester Square of Paris it is a
good launchpad for almost anywhere in the city, and well-placed for
late-night cabs home. If you’re angling for more lavish lodging,
Le Meurice, Le Bristol and Hotel Costes are
always winners.


Dinner: Head to Hotel
and ask to sit outside or in the conservatory, festooned
by candles and foliage which create an oasis in a previously
“no-go” part of Paris. The cocktails are dangerously fun, the food
quintessentially French – think generous portions with a modern
kick. It might be somewhat hipster but it retains its French soul,
while the Parisian cool cats who flock here make for exceptional
people watching. If you can’t get a table, go for La Belle Epoque,
another smart-casual gem with fab French cuisine and few

Drinks: If it’s good weather, Le Perchoir, is a chic
but chilled-out rooftop bar. If not, don your glad rags and head for
cocktails at KONG with views over the whole of Paris. If you’re
keen to go out dancing, be warned that the French clipboard patrol
have no mercy on bad footwear and that French women rarely dance.
Chez Manet is fun if you’re willing to brave the queue.


Breakfast: Soak up your hangover with with an
enormous croissant at Place du Voges, the square where Victor Hugo
lived and wrote Les Misérables. It’s well worth walking there as
that area of Le Marais is beautiful; once the Jewish Quarter it
overflows with elegant French architecture and an abundance of
patisseries. Café de la Carette offers some of the best pain au
chocolats in the city, and doubles up as a sun trap from which to
watch the world go by.

Walk: After breakfast, take some time to simply
inhale Paris, weaving through Le Marais and its infinite boutiques,
art galleries, cafés and chocolatiers. Turn south and walk west
along the river until you reach the Louvre.

Culture: Walk through the Louvre and cross to
Rue Saint Honore. This is one of Paris’ smartest shopping
districts, where you can enjoy wistfully popping in and out of
flashy boutiques. Towards the end of the street is Colette, the shop
selling “everything and anything new”. Once you reach the end of
Rue Saint Honore, turn south and cross over into the Tuileries
gardens, walking up towards the Louvre and stopping for a coffee in
the gardens. If you have the time, visit the colossal museum or opt
for Napoleon’s apartment, where ornate interiors a offer a snapshot
of imperial France.

Cross the bridge and head towards Saint Germain, once the
bohemian quarter but now the elegant and expensive epicentre of art
galleries, luxury shopping and smart cafés. Avoid the crowds at
places like Café De Flore and instead wander the streets – going
via 56 Rue Andre for the crêpe of a lifetime – before finishing up
at the legendary Deyrolle. This off-the-beaten-track treasure trove of
taxidermy has been open since 1831, with two floors housing every
exotic animal under the sun. You can buy beautiful mounted
butterflies in a framed box and beetle paperweights in their gift
shop – beats a souvenir Eiffel Tower keyring any day. Walk to
, a gloriously Parisian café near Saint-Germain-des-Prés
where you can sip a glass of rosé in the sun or snuggle under the
heaters with a hot chocolate.


Walk: Dress up and head to L’Opera in the 2nd
arrondissement, a majestic sight when lit up, steeped in history
and Phantom of the Opera tales. At this point you can either give
in and order an Uber if you’re in heels, or persevere to see
Paris at night, walking past the Moulin Rouge
and all the way to Montmartre.

Aperitif: Go up to the top floor of Terrass-Hotel in the old red light district and
Paris’s coolest enclave. At its vivacious core, Montmartre is
filled with bars and restaurants that stay open till the early
hours, while the fringes near Le Sacre Coeur represent a gentrified
bohemia, a once-gritty Paris now lined with discreet restaurants
and boutiques between breaking up the elegant buildings. Cocktails
at Le Terrace are imaginative and incredibly strong – stay steady
as you descend to ground level.

Dinner: Just a five-minute walk away is
Moulin de Galette
, an unfussy restaurant with exquisite French
food and a well-heeled local crowd. Arrive early for a drink at
their bar, placed so that you are overlooking the restaurant.

After hours: Persifleur is an upbeat bar for a
digestif where it’s pretty easy to get served as the majority of
the clientele are outside chain smoking.


Brunch: Wake up and clear your head with a
stroll through Les Enfants Rouges, once a 16th-century orphanage
and now a luxury food market within an imposing wooden edifice.
Options are endless thanks to a multitude of artisan stalls and a
buzzy Sunday vibe. If you prefer to sit down, an endless choice of
crepes at Breizh Café will keep you busy, but be sure to book
ahead because it’s packed on Sundays.

Culture: Walk off the Nutella, banana and
butterscotch pancakes in the Picasso Museum, just around the
corner. The 17th-century building, Hôtel Salé, is an exquisite
private mansion owned by the city since 1964 and housing one of
Paris’ most coveted art collections, as the Spanish artist spent
much of his time living and working in Paris. If Picasso wets your
art appetite, make the Pompidou your next stop where you can marvel
or frown at contemporary creations.

Shop: Come on Eileen is a vintage shop which
requires a beady eye and patient companion. Here, you will find the
Parisian gems of dreams from Chanel suits to Celine sunglasses,
with a kindly owner who is open to bartering if you buy in bulk.
Following this, take your shopping skills south of the river to the
St Germain and St Michel area, but don’t forget that a lot of
French shops close on Sunday, as well as Wednesday afternoons,
while most take two hours for lunch everyday.

Visit: Investigating a graveyard on your
weekend break may sound strange but Pere Lachaise Cemetery attracts
intrigue for a reason. Established in 1803, this was Paris’ first
garden and municipal cemetery, now resting place to some of the
city’s greats. Be humbled by Proust or Oscar Wilde’s tombs and
wonder at ostentatious displays of wealth in this 44-hectare
sculpture garden, with an eerie beauty which will stay with

Relax: If the weather permits and you have time
to spare, Jardin de Luxembourg hosts Paris’ relaxation on a Sunday
afternoon, perfect for lying on the grass reading or perching on
the edge of a water fountain admiring the elegant Palace du
Luxembourg. It’s also far less touristy than Jardin des

Dinner: Instead of a heavy dinner, go for Chez
Prune’s meat or cheese boards before your Eurostar. The young,
buzzy crowd is the perfect send off while the wine will aid your
impending two-hour train nap. Alternatively, if you’re an early
bird and wish to situate yourself as close to Gare de Nord as
possible, Chez Casimir is one of limited options in the area. The
restaurant couldn’t be get more French and is the perfect note to
leave Paris on – it doesn’t get more French than duck confit and a
bottle of vin rouge.

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