In the words of Audrey Hepburn, ‘Paris is always a good idea.’ If you’re a first-time visitor looking for an easy two days in Paris to save you time and hassle, our 2 days in Paris itinerary is the solution!
Deciding what to fit into a short break in Paris can be a challenge as there are many different Paris itineraries to choose from. Our 2 days in Paris itinerary has been written by a French native who was born in Paris. Follow our itinerary and maps to help you maximise your short visit to Paris.
Whenever we visit Paris together, we always find new things to see and do. This city never fails to please, no matter how many times you visit or how long you stay. So, whether you are a first time visitor or a returning visitor, use our essential 2 days in Paris itinerary to see the most of Paris in a short period of time.
2 Days in Paris Itinerary – DAY 1 📍 Map of itinerary here
Did you know that a large area of Paris around the Banks of the River Seine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Paris is also one of the most romantic cities in the world! If you follow our easy 2 days in Paris itinerary, you will make the most of your time in this beautiful city and have a memorable weekend.
DAY 1 – La Rive Gauche and ÎIe de la Cité, Paris
The Rive Gauche means ‘Left Bank’. There are many sightseeing opportunities on the Left Bank. These include the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Sorbonne University, Panthéon, Les Invalides and the atmospheric café scene of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood.
1. Musée D’Orsay, Paris – French Art Museum
Most people head straight to the Louvre to catch a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa! Personally, I was disappointed at the size of this portrait. Also, the Louvre is enormous and you could spend the whole day here! If your heart is set on visiting the Louvre, this 2-hour guided tour with skip-the-line tickets may interest you. Click here for details.
If you’re short for time, why not visit the more manageable Musée d’Orsay instead? This museum is on the Left Bank of the Seine (La Rive Gauche) opposite the Tuileries Gardens (Les Jardins des Tuileries).
For lovers of French culture, the Musée d’Orsay displays mainly French art. It has the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world. Famous artists include Monet, Degas and Renoir.
In addition to being a fabulous art museum, the Musée d’Orsay is also of architectural interest too. The museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station which was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900.
Some say that the building itself was the Musée d’Orsay’s first ‘work of art’! Victor Laloux’s fabulous ornate golden clock still keeps time. It now dominates one end of the art gallery rather than the station platforms.
The Musée d’Orsay is closed every Monday, plus the 1st May and 25th December. Otherwise, the opening hours are 09:30 until 18:00. The museum is open late on Thursdays until 21:45. Tickets cost 16 Euros.
To save money, visit the museum on the first Sunday of each month. Admission on these dates is free for all visitors but you need to reserve in advance.
For more details about special exhibitions and there information about this art museum, check out the Musée d’Orsay website.
Interesting Paris Fact
Did you know there are five Statues of Liberty in Paris? One of them is inside the Musée D’Orsay, see below for the location of the others!
2. Le Pont des Arts & Le Pont Neuf
After leaving the Musee d’Orsay, turn right and walk along the Left Bank of the Seine (La Rive Gauche). As you walk, take time to soak up the sights and sounds of Paris.
The famous love padlocks which adorned the Pont des Arts bridge have been gradually removed. Instead, the Parisian authorities have replaced parts of the bridge with Plexiglass sheets. There were concerns about structural damage owing to the weight of the padlocks attached to the bridge.
However, on our stroll along La Rive Gauche, we crossed the Pont Neuf and found that lovers have continued to leave their love tokens here. We chose not to add to the number of padlocks out of respect for the city.
3. Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris
Keep walking and you will come across the magnificent gothic Notre-Dame cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris). Tragically, Notre-Dame was damaged significantly in a fire on 15 April 2019.
*We wrote this post after visiting the stunning Notre-Dame cathedral before the fire in April 2019. At present, you cannot visit inside as restoration and construction work has started. It is hoped that this will be completed soon.
However, it is still possible visit the exterior of Notre-Dame. You can do this from the small streets on the ÎIe de la Cité. Alternatively, you can get a good view from Les Quais Rive Gauche (river banks of the Left Bank) and the ÎIe Saint Louis.
The first stone of Notre-Dame was laid in 1163. Notre-Dame is situated on an island in the middle of the Seine called ÎIe de la Cité. The cathedral was the centre of ancient Lutetia (Gallo-Roman Paris). Notre-Dame continued to remain the centre of medieval Paris.
Even today, Notre-Dame is the centre of contemporary Paris. Outside the cathedral, see if you can find the Point Zero des Routes de France.
Embedded in the concrete floor in front of Notre-Dame is a brass plate. A compass star marks the exact centre of Paris. This distance from Paris to all other locations in France is measured from this point.
Inside Notre-Dame, the Rose Window is a stunning stained-glass window. The spectacular Rose South or Rose Sud is dedicated to the New Testament. It has a diameter of nearly 13 metres with 84 panels spread over four circles. The colours are an incredible sight in the gloomy interior of the gothic cathedral.
Don’t leave Notre-Dame without climbing its towers*! There are 422 steps to climb. At the top, you will enjoy a unique view of the Paris skyline and gothic gargoyles! Visit at sunset for amazing photo opportunities with silhouettes of the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur.
There is currently a 10 Euro charge* to climb the towers of Notre-Dame, but it’s definitely worth it! Numbers are restricted for safety reasons and there is no fast track or online ticketing. You can buy your ticket on site with an allotted time. Alternatively, use the ‘JeFile’ app which is downloadable for free on the Appstore or Googleplay.
For us, this imposing cathedral is a must see. It forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and entrance to the cathedral is free*! Before you visit, make sure you check out the official Notre-Dame website as it’s full of fascinating facts and information.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is in the 6th Arondissment of Paris and the neighbourhood was once known for its literary artistic celebrities. Today, it’s a great place to shop, eat and drink and enjoy some cultural experiences.
Sit back and soak up the relaxed atmosphere of this area on the Left Bank of the Seine whilst you eat or drink at one of the many cafés, brasseries, restaurants and bars. Favourites include the famous literary café, Les Deux Magots, the Café de Flore or Brasserie Lipp.
Afterwards, browse the many art galleries, antique stores, street markets and clothing retailers or take a walk in the geometric Jardin du Luxembourg which was inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Look out for the Statue of Liberty on the western side of the gardens.
If you love art, don’t miss the Musée Delacroix which is dedicated to the French painter or the Ecole des Beaux Arts which has open days in June and July. Other cultural musts include the Abbey Saint-Germain-des-Prés which has the oldest bell tower in Paris and the Eglise Saint-Sulpice which was the setting for much of the filming in The Da Vinci Code which starred Tom Hanks.
5. La Sorbonne
Since the 13th Century, the beautiful Sorbonne has been a prestigious university in Paris. It is located in the Latin Quarter close to the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 5th Arondissement.
The Sorbonne is full of architectural delights including the Chapel, the Observatory and the Grand Amphitheatre. To visit this magnificent building and its elegant rooms, you need to take a 1.5 hour guided tour in groups of 10-30 people.
6. Le Panthéon
The Panthéon was a place of worship designed by Soufflot to rival St Paul’s Cathedral in London and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Unsurprisingly, this grand building in the 5th Arondissement was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and is an architectural masterpiece.
Highlights of the Panthéon include a visit to the crypt and its permanent exhibition. This honours the influential French individuals who are buried here like Voltaire, Rousseau and Dumas. In addition, you can marvel at Foucault’s pendulum which demonstrated Earth’s rotation.
7. Les Invalides
If you are interested in military history, Les Invalides in the 7th Arondissement is well worth a visit. Orginally, King Louis XIV ordered Les Invalides to be built in recognition of the sacrifices of the country’s soliders. Today, it is a museum celebrating the military history of France and is still a hospital and care home for French war veterans.
Les Invalides is a complex of 17th Century structures and courtyards. Its Army Museum features a large collection of arms, armour, paintings and decorations right up to the end end of World War II. Monuments include the tomb of Napoleon who is buried in the church (Dome des Invalides).
8. La Tour Eiffel
Of course, no first visit to Paris is complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower. This iconic landmark is recognized worldwide as the symbol of Paris and was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel in 1887.
A few years previously, Eiffel had famously designed New York’s Statue of Liberty. Interestingly, this has a central pylon inside which is reminiscent of the structure of the Eiffel Tower.
From the Eiffel Tower, you can enjoy amazing panoramic views of Paris. There are different levels to visit and each gives you a different experience and viewpoint. From the ground, the Esplanade gives a unique view of the imposing iron monument which rises majestically 324 m above your head.
You can then ascend to the first floor, second floor and the top of the Eiffel Tower. On the first floor, there is an incredible glass floor which allows you to look down on Paris beneath your feet! From the second floor, you can see other famous Paris landmarks including the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Les Invalides and the famous River Seine. A glass-walled lift will transport you to the summit for dizzying views of the city!
If you would rather visit the Eiffel Tower instead of seeing it from a distance, click here for details. You can visit as part of a small guided group with direct admission.
9. Cruise Dinner
A memorable and romantic thing to do in Paris is to enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise on the River Seine with someone special. You can choose to take your cruise during the day or at night for spectacular views of the city from a glass roofed boat. Why not combine beautiful scenery and atmosphere with fabulous French food?
2 Days in Paris Itinerary – Day 1 Closest Metro Stations
|Saint-Germain des Pres||Saint-Germain-des-Prés|
|La Sorbone||Cluny la Sorbonne|
|Le Pantheon||Cardinal Lemoine|
|La Tour Eiffel||Champ de Mars|
2 Days in Paris Itinerary – DAY 2 📍 Map of itinerary here
We started our second day in Paris by exploring La Défense which is where we decided to stay. To make the most of your 2 days in Paris itinerary, you need to think carefully about where to stay. See below for more information about where to stay in Paris.
1. La Défense, Paris
La Défense is a very safe area for children because it is completely pedestrianised. There are attractive plazas with water features. At times, there is also street entertainment on the esplanades which creates a good atmosphere.
Also, there are things to do and see in La Défense which other tourists may miss. From La Grande Arche you can get a magnificent view of the Arc de Triomphe. These Paris landmarks are perfectly aligned on the Historical Axis (Axe Historique) which runs through Paris.
If you love shopping, there is an enormous shopping mall called Les Quatre Temps with over 200 shops, restaurants and a cinema.
2. Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triophe is one of the most visited public landmarks in Paris and is located on the Places Charles de Gaulle in the 8th Arondissement. From the top of the Arc de Triomphe you can enjoy a fabulous view of the world famous Avenue Champs-Elysees and the crazy traffic which circles the Place de l’Etoile.
Napoleon ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe to honour the victories of his army and work began in 1806. Every evening, a torch is lit underneath the Arc de Triomphe in memory of an unknown solider. It is a moving experience to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
3. Champs-Elysées – The World’s Most Beautiful Avenue
The Champs-Elysées is a beautiful avenue which runs from Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle in the 8th Arondissement. The Champs-Elysées is nearly 2 km in length and is a must-see attraction in Paris. It is an iconic avenue which is popular with Parisians and tourist alike.
During the day, the Champs-Elysées is renowned for shopping. There are glamorous luxury stores, along with famous French brands and other well-known and more affordable retailers.
At night, the Champs-Elysées is a popular part of Paris nightlife. There are some excellent Michelin star restaurants and colourful cabaret shows.
The Champs-Elysées also plays a central role in famous events which are part of Paris life. On 14 July, the Bastille Day parade is held on the Champs-Elysées and this famous avenue is the starting line for the Paris Marathon and the Tour de France. On New Year’s Eve, the Champs-Elysées hosts the nation’s celebrations against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe.
4. Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. It is situated in the 8th Arondissement at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysées. In the past, it was the site of many public executions including King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette was also guillotined here.
La Place de la Concorde is an octagonal-shaped public square. In each of the eight angles are statues which represent French cities: Brest, Rouen, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille and Strasbourg.
In the centre of the Place de la Concorde is a 23 m high Egyptian obelisk covered in hieroglyphics. The obelisk was given to the French by the Egyptians and once marked the entrance to the Luxor temple. In 1836, it was put in the centre of the Place de la Concorde by King Louis Philippe.
Place de la Concorde also boasts two beautiful fountains which were designed by Hittorff. One is themed on rivers and the other on seas.
5. The Louvre Museum & the Louvre Pyramid
The Louvre is the national museum and art gallery of France. It is the world’s largest and most-visited museum with over 38,000 works of art from different time periods and civilisations.
The Louvre featured in the Dan Brown book, The Da Vinci Code, which was subsequently made into a film starring Tom Hanks. Parts of the film were shot on location in the Louvre itself.
Perhaps the most famous exhibits in the Louvre are the Mona Visa by Leonardo da Vinci and the Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch. Before the Nazis invaded Paris, the Louvre staff smuggled the most valuable works of art out of the museum. No-one knows where they were hidden for the duration of the war!
The entrance to the Louvre is a magnificent glass and metal pyramid which was designed by the Chinese-American architect, I.M Pei. The Tuileries Gardens, Carrousel and Musée Eugene-Delacroix also form part of the Louvre.
6. L’Opéra National de Paris – Palais Garnier, Paris
Your Paris in 2 days itinerary must include a visit to Paris’s famous Opera House (Opéra National de Paris – Palais Garnier), home of the mythical Phantom of the Opera! The grandeur and detailed architecture of the Opera House is unbelievable! It is an unforgettable experience to walk up the imposing marble staircase (Grand Escalier).
On the tour, you can also take a peek into the Auditorium with its plush velvet, gilding and 7 tonne chandelier which cost 275,000 Euros. The chandelier has 340 lights and is made of bronze and crystal. Surrounding the chandelier are Chagall’s 12 painted canvas panels which represent ‘birdsong’.
Another highlight is the marble columns and ceiling of The Grand Foyer. They feature ornate gilding and beautifully painted panels. This magical room is lined by enormous chandeliers. We defy you not to be transported back in time.
If you love beautiful architecture, the Opéra National de Paris will truly take your breath away! The scale of its opulence is magnificent.
This beautiful building is open nearly every day from 10:00 until 17:00. The entrance price for a self-guided tour is 14 Euros. There is free admission children under 12.
7. Boulevard Hausmann – Paris Shopping Experience
Once you’ve finished exploring L’Opéra, why not experience chic French shopping along the nearby Boulevard Hausmann? You can admire the glamorous displays in Galeries Lafeyette. Then, head to the roof top café of Printemps (department store).
Head up to the 9th floor via the escalator, grab a coffee from the self-service restaurant and enjoy free panoramic views of the city! From here, you get a bird’s eye view of Paris including the Eiffel Tower.
Montmartre is a large hill in the 18th Arondissement of Paris on the Right Bank of the River Seine. Towards the end of the 19th Century, many artists lived in this area including Monet, Renoir, Degas, Picasso and Van Gogh. Tourists still head to the Place du Tertre which is where these artists gathered and worked. You can still see artists at work here today.
Montmartre is a charming part of Paris with cobbled streets and is home to the famous Basilica, the Sacré Coeur. Another famous landmark is the windmill of the Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret which is home to the can-can dance.
9. Sacré Coeur
The Sacré Coeur is a graceful white Basilica which can be seen across Paris. This Romano-Byzantine church was built at the end of the 19th Century and is a stark contrast to the Gothic Notre-Dame. It is an important place of worship dedicated to the heart of Christ.
Inside the Sacré Coeur, you will find the largest mosaic in France. The Apse mosaic is 475 square metres and is called the Mosaic of Christ in Glory. Another impressive feature of the Sacré Coeur is the Grand Organ. This was built in 1898 and was the last instrument commissioned by Cavaillé-Coll.
To reach the Sacré Coeur, you can take the funicular from the Place Saint-Pierre. From the steps of the Sacré Coeur or the top of the dome, you can enjoy amazing views of Paris.
2 Days in Paris Itinerary – Day 2 Closest Metro Stations
|La Défense||La Défense – Grand Arche|
|Arc de Triomphe||Argentine or Kléber|
|Place de la Concorde||Concorde|
|La Pyramide du Louvre||Palais Royal|
|Opéra National de Paris||Opéra|
|Boulevard Hausmann||Havre – Caumartin|
Where Are The Five Statues of Liberty in Paris?
- The biggest Statue of Liberty is located at the end of the Iles aux Cygnes – 📍 Map here
- Inside the Musée D’Orsay there is another – 📍 Map here
- Inside the Jardin du Luxembourg – 📍 Map here
- 2 for the price of one in the Arts et Metiers museum (one outside and one inside) – 📍 Map here
Now you know the locations of the five replicas of the Statue de la Liberté in Paris, but did you know that there are many others in France?
Bonus: You can see a replica of the Flame of Liberty near the Pont de l’Alma bridge. It is now a memorial to Princess Diana who died in the tunnel below in August 1997 – 📍 Map here
Where to Stay in Paris?
The most popular tourist choice is to stay in the centre of Paris. However, based on our local knowledge of Paris, we chose to stay in the MGallery Nest Paris La Défense Ex Sofitel.
La Défense is situated north west of the main centre of Paris. It is the main financial district of Paris, but at the weekend it’s very quiet. As a result, it’s an excellent base for getting into the centre of Paris quickly with no commuters in sight! There are great public transport links!
The hotel in La Défense has parking for guests and is conveniently situated to help you make the most of your short time in Paris.
The hotel is just a short walk from La Défense station. From here, you can take the Paris RER (express train) Line A which is one stop from the Arc de Triomphe or the Metro Line 1. Paris is just a short journey away!
Click here for a helpful step-by-step guide that Olivier has written about How To Use The Paris Metro.
If you are concerned about travelling on the Paris Metro, check out our useful article about safety on the Paris Metro.
For more option about where to stay in Paris you can check at Booking.com
How Do I Get to Paris?
Travelling to Paris is very straightforward. From London, we travelled by car on the Eurotunnel shuttle from Folkestone to Calais. From Calais, it’s an easy 3-hour drive on the motorway to the centre of Paris.
Alternatively, you can go to Paris Gare du Nord by rail by Eurostar. Take the train from London Kings Cross, London St Pancras, Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International (both in Kent).
If you are planning on going to Disneyland Paris, you can travel there direct by Eurostar from Paris. The train stop you need is Marne La Vallée.
Paris also has two international airports: Charles de Gaulle and Orly. From these airports, it’s easy to reach the centre of Paris by the Metro (underground/subway train).
From Charles de Gaulle airport: Take the RER B (blue line) heading in the direction of Robinson or St-Rémy-les-Chevreuse. The train will stop in central Paris stations such as the Gare du Nord. Trains run from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris between 04:46 and 23:56 Monday to Sunday.
From Orly airport: One of the most time-efficient ways to travel into Paris from Orly Airport is by the RER. The closest RER station is at Antony, accessed from the South or West terminals by the airport’s driverless light rail transit line, the Orlyval.
The combined fare for the Orlyval and RER is 12.05 € one-way. Tickets can be bought from ticket booths before departure. The Orlyval departs every few minutes between 06:00 and 23:00 and the journey takes 10 minutes.
From Antony RER station, take the B (blue) line going in the direction of Mitry-Claye or Charles de Gaulle Airport. The journey takes about eight minutes into central Paris.