A panorama of Paris and the Eiffel Tower with an orange sky
Ian Packham

The perfect weekend in Paris

A popular way to visit Paris is over a weekend short break. This is not because Paris is limited in its sights. On the contrary, its long list of landmarks and attractions makes the French capital one of the most recognizable cities in the world.

So why opt for a weekend in Paris? For all its heritage and architectural prowess, Paris is a city that is constantly evolving. Never the same twice, a short city break gives you the option to return again and again, revisiting favorite haunts and discovering what has changed in the intervening months or years.

At the same time, a two or three day trip to Paris will give you the perfect dose of the city’s magic and romance, from its museum collections to its nightlife.

How to plan for your weekend in Paris

To get the most out of your weekend of wonder, don’t forget the following helpful tips:

  • Most museums in Paris are closed on Mondays, making it a good day for heading home. It’s best to plan long weekends in Paris to last from Friday to Sunday.
  • The weather can be fickle – the five-day forecast is going to be your best friend.
  • Use Go City and save big on attraction admission costs.

Day 1

Morning

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Having checked into your hotel – and it’s well worth booking somewhere central with just a couple of days to play with – shake off the jet lag with a cruise along the River Seine with Bateaux Parisiens.

A fantastic way to acquaint yourself with the French capital, the landmark attractions come thick and fast. You’ll glide beneath a myriad of ancient bridges, taking in the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral along the way.

Swap the river’s gentle flow for the city streets to continue your tour with a Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus, using your flexible ticket to stop for crepe or French pastries along the way.

Disembark again at the Arc de Triomphe, mounting its 330 steps to reveal 360° views across the city’s central districts, including the grand tree-lined avenue of the Champs-Élysées. Running in a perfectly-straight line for almost two kilometers, it’s one of Europe’s best spots for a touch of window shopping.

Afternoon

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Having ticked off many of the main attractions on your first morning, you can spend the afternoon experiencing the city like a local. We’d suggest heading to the much-loved tow paths of Canal Saint-Martin.

Zigzagging its way north from the Seine, its Quai de Valmy stretch has a wonderful authenticité. It’s brought to life by its rough-around-the-edges elegance and tranquil ambience. They are married with oh-so Parisian wrought-iron pedestrian bridges, which lead towards a plethora of places to rest your feet with a cup of the finest coffee.

Evening

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A few metro stops to the west, South Pigalle is the latest name in cool, although its pedigree goes back quite some way. Seen as an under-the-radar alternative to Montmartre by some, ‘SoPi’ is the home of the Moulin Rouge cabaret club, whose shows have been wowing visitors on and off since it first opened in 1889.

Stylish restaurants and bars ripple out from rue des Martyrs, with Buvette and Victor just two places where you’ll count yourself lucky if you manage to bag a table. Follow up your meal by checking out a concert at Bus Palladium or propping up the cocktail bar in the atmospheric interior of Dirty Dick, hidden behind an unprepossessing exterior.

Day 2

Morning

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If you’re up for an early morning start on day 2 of your weekend in Paris and have a keen eye for a bargain, look no further than the outdoors stalls of the Beauvau Market. They’re ready to do their first deals of the day from 7:30AM.

Also known as the Marché d’Aligre, inside three magisterial halls you’ll find an expansive array of foodstuffs, whilst out on the street the grocers and coffee grinders give way to tables piled high with vintage objects and antiques.

For those of us keen to linger a little in our hotel rooms, there’s the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen north of Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur. A flea market (swap meet) with an impressive 1700 individual stallholders, there’s everything from rare vinyl records to original Louis XV furniture. It also has a respectable start time of 10AM, although it can be visited right through to the early evening.

Afternoon

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It’s mid-afternoon which is the best time to explore the unrivalled collection of treasures at the Louvre, since the crowds around the Mona Lisa and Liberty Leading the People start to diminish from around 3PM. However, there’s still plenty of time before the museum closes its doors to absorb its wealth of historic objects and artworks.

Then cross the Seine at the Pont Neuf, or ‘New Bridge’, ironically now the oldest bridge connecting Paris’s left and right banks. It first opened to traffic in 1607. Continue on the road south for just a few hundred meters to the gates of the Jardin du Luxembourg, which were planned only five years after the construction of the Pont Neuf, and play a significant part in the plot of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

Edged by mature trees, the center point for the gardens is a series of formally-planted flower beds and a pond called the Grand Bassin, populated by a small fleet of remote-controlled sailing boats. Amongst the beds there’s over 100 statues copied from antiquity, though the star of the show is the magnificent Medici fountain.

Evening

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A circuit of the Jardin du Luxembourg leaves you perfectly positioned to spend the evening in the jumble of side streets which make up the Latin Quarter. Rue de la Huchette contains one of the largest number of restaurants in the city, making it the go-to street for reasonably-priced eats.

Mere steps away are bars with an eclectic clientele of students, travelers, and intellectuals sure to leave you with positive memories of all things Parisian whatever time you stumble back to your hotel.

Save on your weekend in Paris

Travel, hotel and attraction costs can soon add up, even on a weekend in Paris. You can help limit – and even reduce – the strain on your wallet by exploring with Go City. Providing visitors with savings on admission to many of the top attractions in the city, our passes are the perfect addition to any short break to Paris!

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