Paris is one of those places that surely lives up to its hype. How can you not be in total awe of the Parisian architecture, unique rooftops, amazing pastries, and the way the Eiffel Tower lights up at night? It’s one of those cities that keeps you coming back. I am guilty of not giving this city enough time though.
I’ve visited twice in the last year, but each time was only for 2 days. You need way more than a weekend in Paris to truly experience it. If you only have time for a short stay, here’s a good list of how to spend your 48 hours in Paris. Pick and choose your favorites!
Be Your Own Paris Tour Guide
Paris is well connected by train but is also an easily walkable city. You can see all of these stops in 2 days depending on your travel style. I planned our entire itinerary on my own and hope it inspires you if you’re planning a trip to Paris.
My favorite thing to do while I travel is to walk the streets and take pictures, so my adventures become very affordable. The majority of the stops below are free of charge. If you’re concerned about the cost of a trip to Paris, know that it can easily be a budget-friendly destination if you choose to make it so.
1. Jardin du Palais Royal– This garden had two stops that interested me, the lineup of trees and the striped columns. There were so many people near the columns though that I couldn’t get a good photo. I’d recommend waking up before the city does to get the best shots.
2. Arc de Triomphe– One of the most breathtaking views of the city and one of the most famous monuments in Paris. The tickets cost 12€ per adult. There’s usually a line but it moves quickly. Make sure you go with enough time before closing. Last admission is 45 minutes before closing time. You can also buy your ticket ahead of time and skip the line, click here to purchase.
3. Montmartre– It’s a little further out, but a gorgeous area to wander. It has some of the most popular Instagram spots that I’m sure you’ve seen on your feed. If you’re leisurely exploring the city, consider spending at least half a day here. There are so many things to see, eat, and do around Montmartre that I wish I’d given it more time. Always a reason for another Paris getaway, right?
4. Rue Crémieux– The most colorful street in Paris and my absolute favorite stop. You can find it in the 12th arrondissement, easily accessible by train. All the homes are painted a vibrant color and make the street come to life. A great place in Paris to photograph, while trying your best to respect the locals who live there.
5. Le Marais– Thanks to Ckanani, I learned that this area was the best to stay in while planning my first visit. It became a favorite and I stayed there again the second time around. Le Marais has plenty of gorgeous facades, cafes, and streets that remind you of classic Paris. It’s an easy area to photograph as you explore. The trains will quickly get you to the rest of the city. And, it’s only about a 3-mile walk to the Eiffel Tower.
6. Île de la Cité- It’s a small island in the middle of the city near Notre Dame, really you’re only crossing a short bridge to get there. It’s between Le Marais and Saint Germain area.
7. Saint-Germain-des-Prés– Another fun Paris area to explore by foot and with a camera in hand.
8. Eiffel Tower– Of course, you have to make your way to the Eiffel Tower. I tried to have a picnic (I know, so cliché) when I went back in May, but it was raining. It seems to rain a lot in Paris. I’ve visited in May and November and both times I experienced frequent rain.
Either way, I enjoyed walking the streets to see the Eiffel Tower from different angles. Make sure to not miss the nighttime light show! I wasn’t interested in going up the tower simply because the point of my photos was to get the Eiffel Tower in the photo. However, I’ve heard it’s a cool experience to see the city from this angle. Click here to get your priority access.
9. Museums and Palaces- I’m actually not a museum person, but I do wish I had the time to visit the Palace of Versailles. The train ride is about 30 minutes outside of central Paris and with my limited schedule, I couldn’t make it happen either time.
I also heard there are long lines to get in and I figured I couldn’t waste that much time going there when there were still so many macarons to try. It’s still a place on my list. Luckily, I found this awesome book ahead/skip the line ticket for you to enjoy this gorgeous palace. Click here for those tickets.
Another popular place to visit is the Louvre, which is considered one of the world’s best art museums. Click here to skip the line and marvel at the Mona Lisa.
10. Cruise the Seine- A cool thing you can do in Paris that isn’t necessarily self-guided is a cruise on the Seine river to get panoramic views of the city. It’s a great way to get unique angles for your photos. Click here to see the latest prices.
11. Bake Pastries- Another thing I wish we had time to do was a French macaron class. Imagine learning how to make those delicious pastries from a real French pastry chef? I think that’d be an amazing experience. Click here to book your spot in the class.
Where to Stay in Paris
InterContinental Paris Le Grand– This hotel is pricey, but I was able to stay for free. I booked this room with my free credit card points from my IHG card and got one of the most incredible upgrades and the best view we’ve ever had. We had two balconies overlooking the city and a view of the Eiffel Tower. The hotel was wonderful, and if I could actually afford it, I’d stay there again.
If you’re celebrating something special or looking to splurge then definitely consider Le Grand hotel. You will not regret the magic you’ll see from your balcony. Click here for the latest prices. I love using the HotelsCombined website because it shows you the prices for all the different travel sites.
We even got to see the light show from our balcony! It was a dream.
Hotel Georgette Paris– This hotel has lots of good reviews, it’s chic and is very clean. It’s located in the 3rd arrondissement on the other end of Le Marais. The rooms were affordable and came with a cool view. They also serve breakfast for an extra fee.
Airbnb– There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to Airbnb’s. Read more about the benefits of staying in an Airbnb on my post HERE. The prices of Airbnbs in Paris can be very affordable and are in ideal areas like Le Marais or Saint Germain. Click here for $40 off your first booking.
Affordable Restaurants in Paris
I have to admit, it was kind of hard to sit down for a full meal when I kept stuffing myself with pastries *though this will also save you money*. Paris has one of the best culinary scenes in the world. But I tend to shy away from Michelin starred restaurants or places that sever you tiny food on big plates if you catch my drift. I prefer local hot spots over a fancy (and expensive) restaurant. My list below includes more affordable places to eat in Paris along with lots of pastries and coffee shops.
Le Temps des Cerises– A tiny place with delicious food. Since it’s a small space there may be a wait, but they do have a bar area where you can enjoy a cocktail in the meanwhile.
Le Saint Régis– I kept trying to get brunch here because I wanted to try their french toast (in France, I know so cliché of me) but I learned they only do that on weekends. We had a small breakfast anyway and enjoyed our choices! I heard their dinner is good too.
L’As du Fallafel– Oddly enough, this is the most popular place to eat in Paris according to Yelp. There’s always a line, it moves quickly, and the falafels are excellent. Note: They are closed on Saturdays.
Best Pastries in Paris
I could not physically eat as many macarons and croissants as I wanted. Trust me, I did my best. I just need to go back. It’s the only solution.
Du Pain et des Idées– They have a perfect Parisian croissant. Jorge wanted to try their pistachio escargot and became a huge fan!
Pierre Hermé– One of my favorite macaron shops in Paris.
Carette– Another favorite for macarons, it’s really hard to choose between all of the options in Paris. They’ve all done such an excellent job.
L’Éclair de Génie– This was our first time trying eclairs (what a perfect place to do it right?) And they were a lot better than I imagined. Now, I have to make a stop whenever I’m in Paris.
Eric Kayser– More croissant perfection. I did not get tired of the flaky buttery crust. It’s always best to go early in the morning for the freshest and best croissants.
Ladurée– Probably the most famous macaron shop in Paris. We actually didn’t visit because we always get Laduree in NYC, and I wanted to try new places. But if you haven’t been, then I recommend it.
Best Cafes in Paris
Loustic– Jorge loved the coffee here! I was having a very hard time finding a cafe that served coconut milk so I sadly wasn’t able to try any of the coffee.
Ob-la-Di– Great coffee and greater avocado toast.
Matamata Coffee Bar– Another good option for a cappuccino on a really cute street.
Stay Connected in Paris
If you only have a weekend in Paris and would like to stay connected, don’t waste time trying to find wifi, make sure to get a hotspot. It’s a lot cheaper than international data plans. Trust me, it’ll make your days in Paris so much easier.
We used HIPPOCKET WIFI and had a flawless connection the entire time we were there. It was great to use for directions, Yelp reviews, social updates, etc. They shipped it for free to our hotel which also included a free return envelope, just had to drop it in any local mailbox.
You can actually use this wifi anywhere in France and many other countries in Europe, so definitely check them out and avoid unnecessary fees back home.
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Thank you to HIPPOCKET WIFI for sponsoring my hotspot while in France. As always, all opinions are my own. This site contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. In turn, it helps to support this blog so I’ll be forever grateful.