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2 days in Paris: The ultimate itinerary

Pushed for time in the city of light? Plan your perfect trip with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle’s ultimate 2 days in Paris itinerary.

With so many secret spots, striking buildings, and iconic tourist destinations, it would be easy to spend an eternity exploring Paris. Sadly, most of us don’t have this luxury, so it’s vital that any time you do get to spend in the city is used wisely.

As the drive to Paris from the UK takes around 4 and a half hours with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend mini break. If you are planning a trip to the incredible French capital, it’s well worth establishing where you want to go ahead of time. This way you’ll maximise the time you have in Paris, and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the wonderful things the city has to offer.

Depending on the season, and whether you’ve visited Paris before, your Parisian bucket list may vary. However, if it’s your first time visiting, or if you want to ensure you see as many of Paris’ most notable spots as possible, we’ve created the perfect 2 day Paris itinerary filled with top tips to ensure you have a magical visit.

Day 1: Eiffel Tower, Louvre & Arc de Triomphe

We all know that sightseeing is one of the most rewarding, but exhausting activities.  For this reason, we would advise visiting the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe on day 1 of your Paris adventure, while you still have fresh legs!  

Sunrise at the Eiffel Tower

Undoubtedly, the Jardins du Trocadéro across from the Eiffel Tower is one of the best places to see the sunrise in Paris. As the square is slightly elevated, you’ll be treated to incredible views of France’s beloved monument as the sunrise warms the sky to gorgeous pink and orange hues. This area can get very crowded during the day, so another benefit of getting there for sunrise (aside from the brilliant photo opportunities) is that you’ll get to avoid the worst of the crowds.

In the lead-up to your Paris trip, it’s worth checking what time sunrise is. This way you’ll avoid getting up unnecessarily early or missing the sunrise completely.

Top tip for the best Eiffel Tower sunrise experience:

  • Remember to allow yourself time to get to the Jardins du Trocadéro ahead of sunrise!

Eiffel Tower at sunrise

Shopping & a snack at Champ de Mars

After enjoying an uninterrupted view of the Eiffel Tower during sunrise, we would suggest heading to Champ de Mars in the 7th arrondissement.

In springtime, this park (known as the ‘field of mars’) is filled with magnolia and cherry blossoms making it another great spot for photo opportunities. In warmer months, why not pack a breakfast picnic to enjoy in the shadow of the Eiffel tower?

While you’re in the area, it’s also well worth stopping at the Galerie Du Champ De Mars. This shopping centre is filled with a combination of ready to wear brands, bookstores, interiors and accessories shops, so there’s plenty on offer if you want to treat yourself.

Stroll along the Seine to The Louvre

If you’d rather save your money for shopping, another bank balance friendly activity that allows you to see as much of the city as possible is the Seine river walk.

The walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre is around 3.5km and takes you past the Pont de l’Alma, and the esteemed Pont Alexandre III bridge. If you have a little extra time before heading to the Louvre, carry on walking along the Seine where you’ll see the Pont des Arts or famous ‘lock bridge’. If you’re travelling with a friend or loved one, adding a lock to the bridge is an inexpensive, but lovely way to mark your time in Paris.

Seine river path with a bridge in the background

Top tips for visiting The Louvre

As well as being the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre is also the largest. With only a day and a half to go in your Paris itinerary, it’s important to be strategic in your approach to exploring this gorgeous building. Top tips include:

  • Buy a ticket ahead of time to avoid queuing.
  • Speaking of queuing, the museum’s famous pyramid entrance generally has longer entry lines than the Carrousel du Louvre entrance which is also accessible from the metro.
  • Don’t try and see it all. There are 35,000 paintings in the Louvre including the Mona Lisa, so select a few pieces you want to see and then enjoy as many exhibits as possible as you walk to each one.
  • Don’t neglect the Richelieu wing! Typically, the Sully and Denon wings are the most popular, but in the Richelieu wing, you’ll see sculptures, Mesopotamian antiques, and the apartment where Napoleon III stayed during his reign as emperor.
  • Don’t be afraid to go later. On a Friday, The Louvre is open until 9:45pm and tends to be much quieter.

Pyramid entrance of the Louvre Museum

A late lunch at Bistrot Benoit

To complete your Louvre experience (and refuel after a busy morning), we recommend enjoying a late lunch in Bistrot Benoit, a chic eatery inside the museum.

Bistrot Benoit is known for being one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, and its traditional menu and authentic interior make it a really special dining experience. The menu is quite traditional, serving everything from snails to Millefeuille.

The Louvre to Arc de Triomphe

A walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe is an ideal way to aid the digestion of your profiteroles post lunch!

You’ll be heading back in the direction of the Eiffel Tower through the 8th arrondissement and along the Champs-Élysées. Frequently described as the ‘world’s most beautiful avenue’, this is another wonderful opportunity to see an iconic Parisian landmark while you walk.

When you reach the Arc de Triomphe, look out for the underground passage that will take you to the entrance. You can pre-book tickets online if you want to go to the top of the monument, which is a good way to save some time ahead of your visit.

Top tip: There are 284 stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, so make sure you’re prepared before you start to climb! Alternatively, there is a lift which can be used by visitors.

People standing and admiring the Arc de Triomphe

Dinner & drinks at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Étoile

If you do make the climb to the Arc de Triomphe (or even if you don’t), we recommend refuelling at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Étoile, which is a 3-minute walk away when you’re finished. This haute gastronomy restaurant is run by Joël Robuchon and gives diners the option to sit at the counter or at tables.

Located inside Paris’ iconic drugstore, diners sitting at the counter will be able to watch the chefs prepare their food which adds to the dining experience.

Day 2 – Explore the centre of Paris

After a busy first day, and hopefully a good night’s sleep, it’s time to take on the centre of Paris during day 2 of your trip.

Early morning metro to Louvre-Rivoli

The first stop on day 2 of your Paris adventure is the Louvre-Rivoli Metro station, Paris’ first cultural metro station.

Located on line 1 of the metro, the Louvre-Rivoli Metro station showcases several of the museum’s art collections. Having been originally decorated in 1989, the station was fully renovated in 2014, and is now indisputably the most elegant in the city! Along the sandstone walls, several glass cabinets exhibit reproductions of well-known statues, including the Venus de Milo, that greet passengers as they enter and exit the trains.

A fully functioning metro station, the Louvre-Rivoli is a brilliant way to see more of what the Louvre has to offer on your way across the city.

Breakfast at Cova Paris, Pont Neuf

The next stop of your Paris itinerary is Cova on Ponta Neuf for breakfast. With restaurants across the globe, Cova prides itself on being a ‘landmark for Milanese cosmopolitan society’. From the décor to the menu, the Paris restaurant and café offers one of the best breakfast experiences in the city. Whether you want to stick with traditional French patisseries or branch out and indulge in pancakes with berries, or a ham and cheese omelette, everything looks and tastes delicious.

Top tip: If you want to make your followers jealous, make sure to take a couple of pictures of your food before you dig in!

Full breakfast including orange juice, coffee, and pastries

Leisurely stroll to Sainte-Chapelle

Hunger sated, it’s time to head towards Sainte-Chapelle in the heart of the Île de la Cité. This cathedral is a testament to gothic architecture, and its rich history will delight budding historians. But even if you’re less interested in the building’s past, it’s well worth making time to stop and enjoy the cathedral’s magnificent stained-glass windows. Head up to the high chapel where you’ll be treated to a full view of the 15 stained-glass windows which depict the story of humanity in 1,113 scenes.

Top tip: Visit Sainte-Chapelle when it’s sunny, if possible, as the light that comes through the aforementioned stained-glass windows is exceptional.

Stained glass windows of Saint Chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral

No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to Notre Dame Cathedral. Located a 5-minute walk away from Sainte-Chapelle, there are several options for anyone wishing to explore.

Although it involves more stairs, we recommend climbing to the top of one of the towers to enjoy spectacular views across the city. Visitors can also explore the inside of the cathedral, or brave a tour around the Crypt. Like most popular tourist spots, Notre Dame can get very busy as the day progresses, so visiting in the morning is the best way to ensure you get as much uninterrupted time to take in this magnificent building as possible.

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, France

Lunch in the Latin Quarter or St.-Germain-des-Prés

When it comes to lunchtime on day 2 of your Paris tour, there are only two options for your dining location.

All book lovers must head to the Latin Quarter, which is home to the famous bookshop Shakespeare & Company. The Latin Quarter is the oldest district in Paris and is filled with different dining options depending on what suits your mood. If you’re struggling to choose, why not head to Les Crêpes de Louis-Marie? Located next to the open-air markets, Place Monge, and the Marché Mouffetard, this restaurant is vegetarian friendly and has the added benefit of outdoor seating if the weather is nice. Plus, you’ll be able to indulge in another element of the extensive French cuisine!

Nearby in the 6th arrondissement, St.-Germain-des-Prés is another area in Paris known for having an artistic and literary heritage. It’s also filled with cafés, brasseries and bars, including the famous Les Deux Magots, a traditional café that has been serving delicious dishes to diners since 1885.

Start the afternoon at Musée d’Orsay

Post-lunch it’s time to head to Musée d’Orsay, located on the left bank of the Seine. This museum mainly houses art dating from 1848 to 1914. For fans of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro, or Morisot, this is a must visit destination, as the museum has the largest number of paintings by these artists under one roof.

Like your visit to the Louvre on day 1, it’s a good idea to pick a few paintings you definitely want to see, and then enjoy as many others as possible while you find them. Standout paintings at Musée d’Orsay include Londres, Le Parlement by Monet, and La Nuit Étoilée by van Gogh.

Exterior of the musée d’orsay

Metro ride to Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre

Undoubtedly the best way to get from Musée d’Orsay to Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre is to take the line 12 train from Solférino to Abbesses.

Once you reach Montmartre, the first stop should be Sacre-Coeur, or ‘The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris’. Standing at the top of the Butte Montmartre, this church is one of the most iconic monuments in Montmartre.

It’s also one of the most peaceful spots in the city, so this is a great point in your Paris trip to stop and relax. As this is the second highest point in Paris (behind the Eiffel Tower), the views across the city are unparalleled. This is also a popular place for street artists and performers to gather, so don’t be surprised to be treated to an unexpected show.

Butte de Montmartre

Dinner at La Taverne de Montmartre

For your final dinner in Paris, you must try La Taverne de Montmartre. This authentic French restaurant offers a cosy atmosphere and delicious food (the chocolate mousse is unbelievable). If you’re yet to get a hit of some of France’s famous cheese, La Taverne de Montmartre is also known for serving incredible raclette and fondue options.

Parking in Paris

Unless you’re staying in a hotel or accommodation that offers parking as part of the room rate, parking in Paris can be tricky. While there is often street parking or underground parking available, the easiest option for parking in Paris is to make use of the Park and Ride spots that surround the city. Pick your destination, park your car, and then get ready to explore the city.

cheese fondue and bread

The best way to get around Paris

The metro system in Paris is world-famous, and definitely the fastest way to get around the city. The metro trains run daily from 6am, with the last train at around 12:45am (Sunday – Thursday) and 1:45am (Friday and Saturday).

Walking around Paris is another brilliant way to see as much of the city as possible. Although not as fast as the metro, this is the cheapest method of transport and a wonderful way to get a sense of the city’s atmosphere.

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