Let’s say you and your partner have one of those special occasions coming up, one of those occasions when you could end up sleeping on the couch for a month or two if you happen to miss it, you know what I mean, right?
Let’s also say you want to surprise her/him in style and make it romantically unforgettable (maybe to get some extra points for when you actually miss, say, your next anniversary -ouch! Good luck there buddy).
Then, what can I do?
Shall I take her/him out for dinner and movie to the local theatre? Not special, romantic and unforgettable enough.
Let me tell you something. In these occasions, you need to think bigger.
If you want to make an unforgettable impression on her/him, you go to Paris. If you want to be remembered as the most romantic partner ever, you go to Paris, and if you want to propose with a guaranteed yes (yeah, you got it!), you go to Paris.
But Paris is a huge city and we have only a weekend!
Yes indeed, Paris is a huge city and a couple of days are not going to be enough for you to indulge in all of the endless wonders of the City of Love and Light. Just take any travel book and you will surely get overwhelmed with all the available possibilities!
If you’re fortunate enough to have more time for your visit, this post is a great starting point for your planning. But fear not if you don’t! 48 hours will take you a long way if you know the hows, wheres, whens and whats. Here is where we come in handy, Michelle and I we recently enjoyed an awesome weekend in Paris (which I planned myself for our anniversary, +10 points!) and are going to share it day-by-day with you so that you get some hows, wheres, whens and whats for your own…
Unforgettable weekend in Paris
Are you ready for this!? Let’s go to Paris!
Day 1 – Friday night
On Friday night, we landed in Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) late at night with just a couple of carry-on suitcases and ready to head to the train that would take us to the city center. Good thing is there was a private chauffeur holding a sign with our names on it right at the exit of the baggage claim area and already waiting to take us to our hotel. That was a great surprise for Michelle and we both felt like VIPs. I have to say the guys at Blacklane arranged the pickup very neatly and exactly as I had requested a few days before.
Some 50 minutes later we were already at the entrance of what would be our city center hotel for a couple of nights. As it was a very special occasion, I had decided to go and book a room at the Hôtel Le Burgundy Paris , a 5-star hotel just a couple of blocks away from the iconic Place Vendôme, and oh boy, did we felt like VIPs again with the high-end French hospitality. A couple of hours after landing in Paris we were all checked-in to our little luxurious room (yes, little, in Paris you get what you pay for and getting all excited for the days ahead.
What is your preferred accommodation in Paris. Share it with us in the comments!
Day 2 – Saturday
After a luscious gourmet buffet breakfast with impeccable service at our hotel, it was time for us to do as the French do on a Saturday morning. That’s one thing I can recommend to you guys, wherever you go try and mingle with the locals in their everyday life.
One typical stop at that time of the week for every Frenchman in Paris is the street market at the corner. The one along the Rue Mouffetard (Metro Place Monge or Censier-Daubenton) is very recommendable and holds a special significance for me as it was the first one I visited in Paris the first time I came to the city. As we walked down from Place de la Contrescarpe, we could see the cafés just getting ready to serve their regular patrons while fresh bread, cheese, pastry, fresh fish and all sorts of vegetables and fruits were being set on stalls and in shop windows for display.
After stopping at every single shop of the street to admire the fare for as long as the eyes of the owners would allow us (we are serious foodies, couldn’t help it), we headed to the promenade along the Seine for a romantic stroll. On the way, we got lost and happily came across the farmers market at Place Maubert (Seine’s left bank, 5th arrondissement, Metro Maubert Mutualite). I couldn’t resist practicing my French to buy some cheese, foie gras and wine from a couple of vendors that seemed to know their produce very well.
Are you a foodie like us and have a favourite market in Paris? Don’t forget sharing your tips with us in the comments!
Pont de l’Archevêché
Finally at the promenade along the Seine, now yes, we started our romantic stroll towards the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame (Île de la Cité, Metro Cité or RER Saint-Michel Notre-Dame) past little side stalls selling old (and not so old) books and street artists offering minute caricatures. Just before the gardens of the Cathedral, the fences of the Pont de l’Archevêché (Archbishop’s Bridge) were looking specially colourful with the many padlocks attached there by lovers in hope. By the way, if you ever decide to add one more padlock to it, you should know that it will not be there forever, for this bridge is periodically cleaned and relieved of all the additional weight.
As we were in the area, a quick excursion into the Quartier Latin (the Latin Quarter) gave us plenty of options for a café au lait and some milfeulle pastries. And of course, we felt compelled to buy some confited fruit macaroons at Georges Larnicol (19 Rue de la Harpe) which were wonderful. To all of you macaroon-lovers out there, this is a venue not to be missed, as is Grégory Renard (120 Rue Saint-Dominique), where these little pastry delicacies are born every day in every imaginable colour and flavour. At Grégory Renard you shouldn’t miss the salted butter caramel or the cinnamon apple ones, mmmmmm delicieux! And if you feel adventurous enough, go for the foigrass and fig variety!
Wandering around the Quartier Latin, feeling proud owners of of tiny box of macaroons, we were surprised to see a lot of pixelated video game and cartoon-like street art on almost every public surface you can imagine. It was not after we came back home that we learned what we saw was part of an underground worldwide street art project called Space Invaders. So, don’t forget to raise your eyes and look for these little pieces of art when in the Latin Quarter!
Cathedral of Notre Dame and into La Marai
Back on our feet and nicely warmed up we saw that the front square of the cathedral of Notre-Dame (Place Jean-Paul II) was crowded with Parisians and visitors lining up to enter the cathedral and we decided to cross the Île de la Cité to the north, over the Pont d’Arcole, passed Hôtel de Ville (the Paris city hall) and into Place des Vosges (the oldest square in Paris surrounded by arched buildings and connected to the mundane world through four gates) crossing the fashionable district of La Marai to the East. La Marai, once the favourite place of residence for the clasic French nobility is today a trendy area full of art galeries and happens to be one of the main centers of the Parisian lesbian and gay culture, which makes it more lively.
After a while at Place des Vosges I realized, again, how important is to slow down and take some time off to see life passing by when traveling. How else would you see that old couple holding hands and stopping here and there for one more kiss, or that business man walking with a briefcase in one hand and a baggette for dinner in the other, or those school boys playfully mucking around when their teacher is away,… All of them precious moments don’t you think? And definitely worth a minute or two of your life!
Once at the south gate of the Place, Michelle noticed a little shop with cute dresses on display and it took me a while to drag her away but not before she bought one for herself. Dammit! I’m too slow. I’m sure all the guys out there can relate to that hahaha.
The Sacré-Coeur and the “string men”
It is said that the views of Paris from the top of Montmartre are the second best you can get after the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower itself. I already knew that but I wanted Michelle to see for herself. From Place des Vosges, a short walk took us to the nearest Metro station (Metro Saint-Paul) and off we went! The ride to the base of the Basilica of Sacré Coeur did not take more than 50 minutes, including the climb of more than 300 steps onto the Butte Montmartre (mount Montmartre). Yes, we could have chosen the easier and less calory-burning funicular option but we felt up for one more challenge that day (sarcasm, of course).
Do you know of any other scam to be aware of in Paris or anywhere else? Just drop us a line, we would like to know!
Once at the top, the views over the city were of course spectacular, definitely worth all the effort.
Now, a word of caution if you plan to visit the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur. You’ll find many men (con artists, I would say) in the area “offering” handmade string bracelets for “free”, also known as “string men”. This is the way it works: string man finds a naïve tourist, string man quickly encircles wrist of naïve tourist with handmade colourful string bracelet before naïve tourist can react, string man demands the bracelet to be paid for, naïve tourist pays to avoid confrontation with string man and his colleagues (many of them), finally naïve tourist walks away, shamefully vowing not to fall for this trick ever again. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the Sacré-Coeur, au contraire! Just keep your hands in your pockets and say no when offered home-made bracelets and you’ll do just fine, easy right?
Wall of Love
On the way down from mount Montmartre, a short rest was in order and we stopped to admire the Wall of Love (Jehan Rictus Square, Montmartre, Metro Abbesses) just before its closure time. The Wall of love or Le mur des je t’aime in French is a monument to love and features the declaration “I love you” 311 times in 250 languages, among scattered pieces of a broken red heart. Could you ask for a more romantic and peaceful place?
Heads up! That one might be the best location for a proposal in all of Paris, just in case you need one.
Dinner in Little Tokyo
After so much touring around, it was finally time for a well deserved dinner. Now, Paris, and all of France for what is worth, is famous for its haute cuisine, very delicate and… somehow pricy. But in Paris you can also tour around the world hopping from one specialty restaurant to the next. As one of our favourite areas in Paris for dining is the Japanese quarter (Little Tokyo, 1er et 2e arrondissements, around Rue Sainte-Anne, Metro Pyramides), a tempura and udon noodle dinner was in order. Udon Jubey (39, Rue Sainte-Anne) never disappoints! It is worth to queue for their udon and tempura dishes, trust me!
To end the day with, we took a relaxed stroll from there to the Carrousel du Louvre for a couple of night pictures of the Louvre Pyramid and then back to our little luxurious room, exhausted but feeling positively infused with the genuine Parisian way of life.
Day 3 – Sunday
Our last day in Paris (for now!) was packed with a couple of activities before leaving to the airport and back home. One of them was a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower and surrounding areas, and then a brunch at Le Restaurant de la Gare, a very special restaurant recommended by Núria, a Spanish friend of mine relocated to Paris who knows her ways around this wonderful city as well as the Parisians do.
On top of Paris and the Trocadero
Some time ago I booked a visit to the Eiffel Tower online (Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole, Metro Bir-Hakeim or Trocadero) for first thing in the morning on that day and there we went after breakfast! At the base of the tower, a long line of waiting visitors stretched already several hundred meters, good thing our pre-booked tickets gave us the right to a priority entrance, far less crowded and in no time we were on the observation deck of the second floor enjoying the view over Paris, including the Trocadero, our next stop, on a sunny Sunday morning.
A short walk northwest from the base of the Eiffel tower over the Pont d’Iéna took us to the Trocadero Gardens (Place du Trocadéro et du 11 November, Metro Trocadéro) for further views of the Tower. The Palais de Chaillot in the Trocadero gardens houses two museums, the Musée de l’Homme (museum of ethnology) and the Musée National de la Marine (the naval museum), worth a visit if you have time.
A Parisian brunch
Sadly we didn’t have time for more sightseeing. Being already time for brunch, we headed to Le Restaurant de la Gare (19 chaussée de la Muette, Metro La Muette) to meet my friend Nuria. This restaurant offers brunch on Sundays only, in a high-ceiling hall that was once the old train station of Passy-La-Muette, a very special setup for quite a popular Sunday morning activity in Paris. Just book in advance as Nuria did for us to avoid surprises!
See you soon, Paris!
And that was it! After brunch we took the RossyBus to the Charles de Gaulle Airport at Ópera (no more private chauffeur for us this time) and flew back home with a sweet taste in our mouths. That was not the first time Michelle and I had visited Paris (we had been there some 6 times altogether before we met) but even like this we had seen, done and experienced new and genuine things in the City of Love and Light
Do you want more tips?
Now, that’s our story and admittedly visiting Paris in a weekend is like reading a book by going through every other page and skipping every other word. However, for whatever reason you come to Paris, you can have lots of fun in a couple of days, this post is our particular proof of it!
Of course, we missed seeing and doing A LOT this time. Here you have some more recommendations that are still in our bucket list for the next time we go back to Paris. They might come in handy if you plan to have your own Unforgettable Weekend in Paris.
- We would like to stay in a private apartment in La Marai or close to the Eiffel Tower. Airbnb or similar sites offer great options for that.
- In Spring, we would love to enjoy some of the green areas of Paris. For a green escapade, the multitude of parks, gardens and woodlands in Paris offer an opportunity to escape the reality of the city in a relaxed environment. The Jardin du Luxembourg (6th arrondissement), the Jardin des Tuileries (1st arrondissement), the Bois de Boulogne (16th arrondissement), the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (19th arrondissement),… And over 400 more!
- The dinning options in Paris are endless. Why not treat ourselves to a special night with dinner and show at Moulin Rouge, or a glass of champaign before dinner at the top of the Eiffel tower, or even a cruise and dinner along the Seine?.
- And for those days when we feel more alternative and underground, we might want to visit the Catacombs of Paris, take a tour around the Paris Sewers (yep, that’s it!), or venture ourselves into any other underground activity here. Or what about a Street art walking tour?
- Finally, as I’ve been deliberately avoiding to talk about the myriad of museums in Paris, I would like to get lost (again and on purpose) in the Louvre Museum or let the Impressionist Masters guide us in the Musée d’Orsay.
- Everything else
Some final pieces of advice
To wrap up, let me just give you some quite obvious advice
- Always book as much as you can in advance (transport, accommodation, restaurants, access to attractions). Paris is one of the busiest and most popular cities in Europe and chances are you will have to stand in the line or face higher prices if you don’t do it.
- Public transport is the fastest and most cost-effective way to visit Paris. Go ahead and rely on the Metro, bus and RER network of the city to experience as much as you can in your limited time. You can even book your tickets online with the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau and have them delivered at home or pick them up in Paris upon arrival.
- If you plan to visit multiple attractions during your visit or use bus, metro or RER as much as we did, probably the Paris City Pass or the Paris Museum Pass are the best choices for you. Just check them out here and see which one suits you the best.
- As in every big city, usual precautions need to be taken and common sense exercised. Do not make it easy for pick pockets and con men to spoil you holidays!
Did I miss anything?
Are you planning an escapade to Paris? Have you already been in the City of Love and Light and want to share your favourite spots and tips with us? Drop us a line in the comments, we would love to know!
Our plan in a nutshell
|How we got there:
|By plane landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport. All airports that serve Paris offer international flights to and from basically everywhere in the world. We used Blacklane to reach the city from the Charles de Gaulle Airport and RossyBus to go back.
|Where we stayed:
|For a treat, we stayed at Hôtel Le Burgundy Paris (6-8 Rue Duphot, 75001 Paris)
|How long we stayed:
|What we did:
Our trip to Paris was privately funded by us. All opinions are our own, as always.
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