Last month, we traveled to Paris with close friends for a work obligation for my husband. Since Paris is an easy city to mark as a starting point for a big European adventure (as was the case with us since we continued on to London and Iceland) or to pass through, sometimes you only have 48 hours to enjoy the city before you are on to your next adventure.
This happened to us the first time we visited Paris in 2014, since we were passing through from Denmark on our way to Monaco. So, if you only have 48 hours in Paris what is there to do? Well, plenty of course! But if you’re crunched for time, here are a few of my favorite activities, restaurants, and Instagram spots throughout the city.
Where To Stay
On this past Parisian adventure, we all stayed at Pavillon de la Reine (a charming luxury hotel in Le Marais quarter of Paris). I highly recommend this hotel (and their hot oil massage at their spa!), especially for two nights. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s completely worth it! The hotel feels like a mini palace with its own courtyard and Parisian parlor.
We’ve only got 48 hours, so let’s get started! Start your morning with breakfast at Cafe de Flore. It’s the oldest coffeehouse in Paris, and you’ve probably seen a lot of breakfast posts on Instagram from this spot. Order a cup of chocolat chaud or coffee, a croissant with some jam, and watch Parisians frolic through the city as Paris starts her day.
Next, walk to the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg and stroll through the park, orchards, and rose garden. After your garden stroll, walk north towards the Pont de l’Archevêché. This bridge is behind Notre Dame, and thus it’s a very popular Instagram spot. That’s because underneath the bridge are stairs to a cobblestone pathway along the Seine, giving you a breathtaking backdrop of the famed Parisian cathedral. Next, head inside the Notre Dame cathedral and prepare to have your mind blown by the incredible architecture. (closed since April 2019 – expected to reopen in April 2024)
Now that you’ve seen Notre Dame, it’s time to explore my personal favorite neighborhood of Paris – Le Marais! I had never been to this quarter of Paris prior to our last trip, but Tor’s work commitments placed us in the area around Place de Vosages which is also a must see since it also happens to be the oldest square in Paris. But it’s time for lunch, so dip into Café-Restaurant Louis Philippe to satisfy your hungry tummy.
Le Marais is famous for its shopping. This is the perfect opportunity to do a little late morning/early afternoon retail therapy. I personally ducked into Diptyque(and I STOCKED up!) and Papier Plus, where I purchased my latest personal journal.
Next, hop on the Metro (much faster and cheaper than an Uber or taxi in Paris – it’s the only thing Tor and I took to get around!) and head towards the Louvre. You can’t come to Paris and not visit the Louvre! I’d purchase your tickets in advance to avoid the long line you’ll inevitably come across at any time of day to get in. After viewing the famous Mona Lisa, head into L’Ecluse Saint-Honoré for a wine break.
Stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries at sunset before it’s time to get ready for dinner. I highly recommend Le 39V near the Champs-Élysées. It’s a bit pricey, but the food is out-of-this-world incredible as is their wine. They also have a patio that gives you a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It’s the perfect ending to the perfect day.
Breakfast should most definitely be had at Angelina’s. Indulge in the Angelina Breakfast option with hot chocolate (their eggs are my favorite!). Then, hop on the Metro and head up towards Tor’s favorite quarter – Montmartre. Get off at Lamarck/Caulaincourt station and head towards one of the most iconic Instagram spots in all of Paris – La Maison Rose. Next, head to the stunning and towering Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and overlook the sprawling city down below.
After taking in the sights of the city, head down the famous steps at Square Louise Michel and walk towards Le mur des je t’aime. This is also another highly popular Instagram spot. Next, head to my favorite crêperie in the whole city – Crêperie Brocéliande. They have savory and sweet crêpes, but I literally had a meltdown when I had their homemade caramel and chantilly cream crêpe. If you only have 48 hours in Paris, this is the stop to make if you want some delicious homemade crêpes!
After a quick snack, hop back on the metro and get off at Trocadéro station at the Palais de Chaillot, which is located directly across the river from the Eiffel Tower. This is yet another super popular spot you’ll find on Instagram. After posing for Insta, cross the Jardins du Trocadéro and Pont d’Iéna to head towards the most famous landmark in all of Paris – the Eiffel Tower. Save a chunk load of time and buy your tickets online in advance. Enjoy the birds-eye view of Paris from both viewing levels. Try taking the stairs down – it really is a trip!
Next, head on over back towards the Louvre for lunch at a place called Le Soufflé. After lunch, do some retail therapy at Galeries Lafayette. If you do some damage there and you’re not a resident of the EU, be sure to ask for a tax free/VAT refund receipt. You can either fill that at Galeries Lafayette or at the airport.
After shopping, have dinner at L’Absinthe (if they still have the vegetable risotto, GET IT!). Then, if it’s a Thursday night, head towards the Musée d’Orsay for a late night museum visit. The museum is open until 9:45 pm on Thursdays, so I highly recommend taking advantage of that! Again, buy your tickets online.
For your final night in Paris, head back to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the twinkling lights which occur for the first 10 minutes of each hour. It’s the perfect way to end a quick 48 hours but otherwise incredible trip to Paris.
Be sure to check out my Paris travel guide for more suggestions and tips on your next Parisian adventure!
This is honestly my favorite post of all time. I went to Paris when I was in high school, but again, it was for a school trip so we weren’t really allowed to explore on our own. I’d love to go back someday and take my time with the city. It’s so beautiful. <3
Thank you so much Maggie! I hope you get to return soon!
Been to Paris twice but with a tour guide as I don’t speak the language. I think I’ll walk around with Waze and Google a lot if I do go backpacking there one day. Could you also do a travel guide to New York? If all goes well, I’ll be going there end of this year 🙂
I highly recommend going back! I don’t speak any French and was able to navigate and communicate just fine. Also I will gladly do a 48 hour guide to New York! In the meantime, check out my NYC travel guide on my Travel Guides page!
I’m going to Paris next weekend and totally loved these tips! Super excited to have my first real french crepe. What’s your favorite flavor to get?
That’s so exciting, Kenzie! My favorite crêpe is caramel and whipped cream 🙂