48 Hours in Paris
Leah Walker April 15, 2013

There aren’t many things that bring me as much joy and heartache as the thought of 48 hours in Paris. On one hand, I have 48 hours in Paris! And on the other, I only have 48 hours in Paris? When faced with the fantastic dilemma of filling two nights in the City of Light, what would you do?

Bottom of the Eiffel Tower

Paris has as many possibilities as travelers, and often times that can feel overwhelming, especially if time is very limited. Others will tell you that there are places you’re ‘supposed’ to go and things that you ‘have’ to do, but is there really is a right or wrong way to experience Paris? We each have our own personal travel styles, tastes, and interests, but I believe the key is to actually dive deeper than what’s printed on postcards.

I wouldn’t want anyone to simply copy my itinerary and expect to have the same experiences. That won’t happen. I’d like people to find their own way of traveling. I merely tell my stories, make a few suggestions, and then it’s up to the traveler to choose their own path.

Perhaps a place to start would be helpful though. The three questions I’m most asked are: Where should I stay? What should I see? What should I eat? I’m a big fan of the“Would you rather…” game, so let me help jump start your 48 hours in Paris by giving two options for those three basic travel questions. From there, you should be able to fill in the holes.

Opera in Paris France

Where to Stay in Paris

 

I’m not the person to ask about hostels or budget hotels. Yes, I could put in the research and find some places, but it’s not my area of expertise. Look, you’ve got 48 hours in Paris, and it’s probably the most glamorous city in the world. Do yourself a favor and go all out. In my mind, you have two options:

Apartment

 

Paris Apartment

Have you ever wanted to know what it is like to live like a Parisian? You don’t actually have to move to Paris to get a little dose of that life. Instead of taking the traditional route of a hotel, why not rent an apartment? You’ll have all the conveniences of home, but in Paris. There’s no need to forgo luxury just because you’re crashing in someone else’s pad either. Take for instance Hosted Villas’ Parisian apartments. Not only do they offer fabulous apartments that rival five-star hotels, but they also come with a Local Host that will help you discover your neighborhood and the city. From restaurants and points of interest to transportation and special events, the Hosted Villas’ Local Host is your expert and go-to guide for all things Paris. They’re like having your very own personal concierge.

By forgoing a hotel and renting an apartment, you’ll have the opportunity to live like a local. You’ll also get a look into day-to-day Paris rather than what’s simply presented on postcards. Apartment rental is an ever-growing trend in vacation accommodation options and one that I absolutely recommend.

 Hotel

 

Luxury Paris Hotel

After flights, the second thing that most travelers choose is a hotel, and Paris has some of the best in the world. Luxury properties abound in the City of Light, and they’re all eager to cater to your every need. No matter your taste, Paris has something to fit the bill.

If over-the-top, traditional opulence is what you desire, then the Four Seasons George V is a great choice. It is located just off the Champs-Elysees and is considered one of the best, if not the best, hotel in the city. Saying that I’m partial to this property would be an understatement. From the lobby’s extraordinary floral arrangements to the innovative cocktails in Le Bar, George V doesn’t miss a detail. The service is typically Four Seasons. The George V might very well be my favorite hotel ever.

Paris France Church

How to See Paris

 

In reality, there’s no way you can expect to really see Paris in 48 hours. It’s simply impossible to do the city justice in that amount of time. But like I always say, some Paris is better than no Paris. So how do you go about getting the most of the City of Light? I believe you have two options:

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus

 

Paris Sightseeing Tour

When time is of the essence, especially in a city like Paris, taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour is a great way to see the highlights of a city. For about 25 euro, you’re given headphones for the audio tour and a map. Planned stops allow you to get off the bus and explore. Then when you’re finished, just find one of the bus stops and get back on. Popular attractions include the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Opera, Champs Elysée, and Notre Dame. By taking a bus tour, you get a lot of bang for your buck. It certainly will give you a descent overview of Paris and allow you to tick the big attractions off of your list.

Metro and Meander

 

Paris Cafe

Dare I say that Paris is an easy city to navigate? Even for those without much experience with subways, Paris’ metro system is simple to figure out. Find your nearest metro station, grab your iPhone and a map {metro and city}, pick an area of the city that you’d like to explore, and go!

Part of the fun of Paris is discovering things that aren’t in the guidebooks. By sticking to the traditional tourist trail you’re likely to only find things designed for tourists. That is not really Paris. Even if you’re bound and determined to see Notre Dame, make it a point to wander off of the main road and have a look around. There’s so much history and art as well as a bounty of unique shops and cafes, that you never know what you’ll find. Sometimes getting ‘lost’ yields the most memorable experiences. Often I find the journey more rewarding than the destination.

Blue Skies Paris France

How to Eat in Paris

 

Choosing how to eat in Paris is akin to picking between Bradley Cooper and David Beckham. Both are fabulous, delicious, and you can’t go wrong with either. It’s simply a matter of taste and how you’re feeling in the moment.

Multi-Course Michelin Meal

 

French Food

Paris has more than 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, so there’s no shortage of fine food options. There’s something to be said for relaxing in a beautiful setting and being waited on hand and foot by a whole legion of servers. Six, eight, and even ten courses are delivered to your table. Perhaps you can’t pronounce what you’re eating, but you’ll certainly remember the taste.

Not only are Michelin meals a feast for your mouth, but also your eyes. Don’t think that the most beautiful works of art are only hanging in the Louvre. Sometimes they sit on the finest of China waiting to be eaten. One of my most memorable experiences in Paris was my four-hour lunch at two Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Cinq. The time investment certainly was worthwhile.

Culinary Crawl

 

Paris Food

With only 48 hours in Paris, perhaps the idea of sitting at a dining table for four hours isn’t an appealing option. Instead, why not take a culinary crawl? Some sort of organized tour probably exists, but I’d simply choose an arrondissement and explore.

Have a glass of wine and some bar snacks to start off and then move on to the next. In each location, have something different to eat and a cocktail of your choice. Try typical French dishes like escargot, soupe à l’oignon, ratatouille, aligot, and croquettes. And when you think you couldn’t possibly eat another bite, stop for dessert at a crêpe stand for my favorite, a Nutella crêpe. By forgoing the long, drawn-out meal at an extravagant restaurant, you have the opportunity to explore more of Paris. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll see along the way.

French blue Skies

Even with such a short time in the City of Light, much can be experienced. Paris is one of those places that a hundred years wouldn’t be enough time to properly discover, so don’t try to jam as much as you can into those 48 hours. Just like with chocolate, wine, and jewelry–Paris is about quality and not just quantity.

For some offbeat suggestions for Paris, check out my lovely friends from Bruised Passports.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I make a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. It costs you nothing more, but helps keep me stocked in French wine {and a roof over my head}.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

33 Comments

  1. Paris Paris Paris! One thing that I love (and possibly as I am based in the UK and not that far) is exactly to go for 48 hours – and each time I do something different. There are so many different sides of Paris to be discovered.. you could literally go 100 times and not see, eat or drink in the same place, and all would be fab!

    But I shall give it to you, your “2 options” guide is a very good compromise.. so, as I understand it, I have two options – I need to go back twice and try each way!

    1. Rub it in, why don’t you, Ana? I wish I was a short train ride away from Paris! And yes, you have two options: You can go with me to Paris in June or you can go to Paris with me in July.

  2. I am definitely going with an apartment this summer, but it is out of a desire to save money and experience paris like a local. Airbandb has some great places listed!

    1. Apartments are a great way to save money, especially if you’re traveling with several people I’m so jealous that you’ll be traveling to Paris this summer! Perhaps I can sneak over for a visit, hopefully one longer than 48 hours this time.

    1. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, Sofia, but like you, I’d love to go back. In fact, I will go back this summer!

  3. Paris was always a dream for me until my Uncle took me there for my college graduation present – I know, luckiest niece ever! This brought me right back. Clearly, I need to go back to Paris, I’m just so in love with everything about it.

  4. Oh how I love Paris! Spent less than 24 hours there last year and I agree…the hosted villa sounds great. I stayed at the airport and felt out of the mix…but who cares, I was in Paris for the night and still able to get out, enjoy the food, the sights and the ambiance. Will have to try the hop on hop off bus one of these days. I know I will be coming back!

  5. so so happy you popped you Paris cherry with moi. it is my FAVORITE city and i’d gladly go back with you any time. we really did do it right even if we didn’t make it to every highlight. so happy you were able to return and do more.

  6. Great tips…well, except for the hop on hop off bus. Naturally, I wouldn’t be caught dead on one:) But I suppose if time is short in a new and unfamiliar city they can come in handy. The Michelin dining…that’s an idea I can support:)

    1. You, the guy who regularly goes to Disney World, is turning your nose up on a hop-on hop-off bus? Give me a break!

  7. Oooh, now I am wanting to go back and enjoy a Michelin meal. I always try to eat so cheaply when I travel but that means I’m missing out on some really delicious and beautiful meals. Next time for sure!

    1. Good thing I have his phone number and don’t have to waste my time looking. If you’re sweet I’ll share it.

  8. j’adore. come august, you can add “escape to the countryside” and write ALL about how you took the train to a tiny little town outside of paris to hang out with me and the hubs and the pug and eat baguettes. it’ll be parfait. xo! the romantic

    1. If you don’t think I’m coming to visit you in August then you’re sadly mistaken. I’ll be there with dog treats.

  9. Excellent photography, as usual!!! I normally find apartments vis http://www.vrbo.com with great results. I get to make a connection with the owners at least by email and they can give great tips on what they like by their apartment. I’ve stayed in some choice locations in Paris, Rome, Krakow with this approach – and quite cheaply too!!! Your pix of food are making me VERY hungry right now – I thought I’d let you know…

    1. Thank you very much, kind sir. I’m sure there are great places to stay throughout the world. It’s just a matter of taking the time to seek them out and sort through the junk. I’m a huge fan of apartment stays.

  10. My next 48 hours in Paris = apartment + culinary crawl. The amount of time I spend looking for an affordable centrally located hotel in Paris is longer than my stay in Paris. I haven’t done culinary crawl in Paris yet. A very good idea!

  11. Living in Australia and the time frame it takes to get there I couldn’t contemplate the dilemma of only being in Paris 48 hours. I was there for the first time last September for 5 glorious days and loved it. A culinary crawl sounds like a plan next time we are there. We didn’t go the famous Notre Dame, didn’t ‘climb’ the Eiffel Tower, we put down the map and just explored. We had a ball in Montmartre and will stay there again. Thanks for sharing your 48hrs, great read.

Your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

Have the world delivered to your inbox
Well, maybe not the whole world, but some of it. Either way, subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I'll include my latest articles from around the Web, travel announcements, and maybe even a few Paris insider tips.