Things to See in Paris in 2 Days

In the words of Audrey Hepburn, ‘Paris is always a good idea.’  If you’re looking for a weekend away and just have 2 days, Paris is perfect.  Even though Olivier is French and was born in Paris, we still found new things to see in Paris in 2 days. 

This city never fails to please and it’s one of the most romantic places on the planet.  So, have you got a couple of days to spare?  Looking for a weekend break?  If so, here are our recommendation of things to see in Paris in 2 days.

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 2.5-3-hour drive on the motorway to the centre of Paris. 

Alternatively, you can go to Paris by rail by catching the 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.  The train stop you need is Marne La Vallee. 

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 you need to take the RER B (blue line) heasing in the direction of Robinson or ST-Remy-les-Cheveuse and the train will stop in central Paris such as Gare du Nord. Trains run from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris between 04:46 and 23:56 Monday to Sunday.

From Orly: One of the most time-effective 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 11.30€ one-way and 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. For others possibilities and latest information check this website: parisbytrain.com.

Once you’re there, there are so many things to see in Paris in 2 days.

Paris metromap

Where can I stay in Paris

The most popular tourist choice is to stay in the centre of Paris.  However, we are Off the Tourist Treadmill and have local knowledge.  Consequently, we chose to stay in the Hotel Sofitel in La Défense which is north west of the main centre of Paris.  Here are our reasons why:

  1. The Hotel Sofitel Paris La Défense is described as ‘an urban cocoon’. It has parking for guests and is conveniently situated to help you make the most of your short time here.  The hotel is just a short walk from La Défense station where 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!
  2. La Défense 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!
  3. La Défense is also a very safe area for children because it is completely pedestrianised. There are attractive plazas with water features and, at times, there is street entertainment on the esplanades.
  4. 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 because it’s perfectly aligned on the Historical Axis (Axe Historique) which runs through Paris.  Also, there’s a huge shopping mall called Les Quatre Temps with over 200 shops, restaurants and a cinema.

 

la defence

Things to See in Paris in 2 Days – Day 1

Musee d’Orsay

musee d orsay

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 and the Louvre is vast.  You could spend the whole day here.

So, if you’re short for time, why not visit the more manageable Musee 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 museum displays mainly French art and has the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world. 

However, not only is the Musee d’Orsay a fabulous art museum, it 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 Musee d’Orsay’s first ‘work of art’!  Victor Laloux’s fabulous ornate golden clock still keeps time, but now dominates one end of the art gallery rather than the station.

The Musee d’Orsay is closed on Mondays between 1st May and 25th December.  Otherwise, the opening hours are 9.30 am until 6.00 pm.  The museum is open late on Thursdays until 21.45 pm.  Tickets cost 12 Euros.

For more information check the website: www.musee-orsay.fr

La Rive Gauche

pont des arts

After leaving the Musee d’Orsay, turn right and walk along the left bank of the Seine and soak up the sights and sounds of Paris.  The famous love padlocks which adorned the Pont des Arts have been gradually removed.  Instead, the Parisian authorities have replaced parts of the bridge with Plexiglass sheets.  These have been erected amid fears of structural damage owing to the weight of the sheer number 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. 

Whilst we were on a romantic weekend in Paris, we chose not to add to the number of padlocks.  Arguably, it’s a romantic gesture to carve your name on a padlock and leave it in this beautiful city of love.  However, for us travelling Off the Tourist Treadmill means respecting our surroundings.  If it’s true love, it will never die.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Keep walking and you will come across the magnificent gothic Notre Dame cathedral (Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris).The first stone of this cathedral was laid in 1163.Situated on an island in the middle of the Seine called Ile de la Cite, Notre Dame was the centre of ancient Lutetia, the Gallo-Roman predecessor of Paris.  Notre Dame remained the centre of medieval Paris and, even today, it’s the centre of contemporary Paris.  Outside the cathedral, discover the Point Zero des Routes de France.   Embedded in the concrete floor is a brass plate with a compass star which marks the exact centre of Paris.  All other locations in France are measured in distance radiating from this point.  For us, this imposing cathedral and UNESCO Word Heritage site is a must see and entrance to the cathedral is free! Inside, the Rose Windows are mesmerising.  The spectacular Rose South or Rose Sud is dedicated to the New Testament and has a diameter of nearly 13 metres!  For mathematicians, this stained-glass window has 84 panels spread over four circles.  The colours are an incredible sight in the gloom of this gothic cathedral.

Don’t leave Notre Dame without climbing its towers!  Climb the 422 steps and you will be rewarded with a unique and breath-taking view of the Paris skyline from amid the gargoyles!

There is currently a 10 Euro charge, but it’s 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 or use the ‘JeFile’ app which is downloadable for free on the Appstore or Googleplay.

We highly recommend visiting at sunset.  This provides some amazing photo opportunities of the Paris skyline with silhouettes of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.

Visiting Notre Dame’s towers and getting up close to the bells in the belfry and gargoyles, is one of the best things to see in Paris in 2 days! Make sure you check out the cathedral’s website before you visit as it’s full of fascinating facts and information: www.notredamedeparis.fr

Things to See in Paris in 2 Days – Day 2

L’Opera

We started our second day in Paris by exploring La Defense (see above).  After that, we headed to the Opera National de Paris – Palais Garnier.  This beautiful building is open nearly every day from 10.00 am until 5.00 pm and entrance for adults costs 12 Euros.  Somehow Olivier had never visited this Parisian landmark!

We urge you to go and visit the mythical home of The Phantom of the Opera!  Marvel at the marble staircase (Grand Escalier) with its 30 m high vault.  It’s an overwhelming construction which celebrates marble in an extensive palette of colours.

Then, take a peek into the Auditorium with its velvet, gilding and 7 tonne chandelier made of bronze and crystal with 340 lights at a cost of 275,000 Euros!  Surrounding this chandelier are Chagall’s 12 painted canvas panels which represent ‘birdsong’.

The grandeur and intricacy of this building is undeniable!  The marble columns and ceiling of The Grand Foyer are unforgettable.  They feature ornate gilding and beautifully painted panels and the room is lined by enormous chandeliers.  We defy you not to be transported back in time. If you love beauty, this building will truly take your breathy away!  The scale of its opulence is magnificent.

Paris opera
Paris opera chandelier
paris opera staircase
paris opera grand hall

Shopping – Boulevard Hausmann

Once you’ve finished exploring L’Opera, make time to do some shopping along the nearby Boulevard Hausmann.  Admire the chique displays in Galeries Lafeyette and then head to the roof top café of the department store, Printemps. 

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 things to see in Paris in 2 days.  Be sure not to miss it!

Roof Paris
Paris Printenps

Final Thoughts

This is how we chose to spend our 2 days in romantic Paris.  There are so many things to see in Paris in 2 days.  There are many popular tourist sites that we have not featured.  If you want to visit any other popular destinations and need further information, please comment below.  We will be happy to give you our advice!  Bon voyage and enjoy la cite d’amour!

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