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How to spend 48 hours in Paris, France

Aug. 15, 2020
11 min read
Paris, Place de la Concorde
How to spend 48 hours in Paris, France
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

If you're considering a getaway to Paris and it's your first time, or if you just need some inspiration, then look no further. We've pieced together a few of our favorite things to do so you can enjoy them, too. But remember, it's just a guide -- one of the most fun parts of exploring a new place is not knowing what might happen next.

(Photo by barnyz/Flickr)
The Louvre, Paris. (Photo by barnyz/Flickr)

5 p.m. -- arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

How to get from the airport to the city:

  • Option 1: The RER B train is the quickest way to get into the center of Paris and takes about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on how often it stops. Tickets cost $13.50 each way.
  • Option 2: You can expect a ride in an Uber to start from around $40. The journey to the center of Paris will take around 40 minutes, depending on the time of day and the traffic.

Alternatively, arrive at Paris Gare du Nord train station

How to get to your accommodation from the station:

  • Option 1: The Paris Metro is a safe, easy and relatively fast way to get around the city. Single tickets cost $2.25. If you're planning on using the metro often, then it's best to get a "carnet" of 10 tickets for $17.65 to save money.
  • Option 2: Uber and Taxify are the easiest ways to get around Paris by car. It would cost around $37 to get from the Gare du Nord to the Eiffel Tower (4 miles).

7 p.m. -- explore your accommodations

You're of course going to need somewhere to rest after indulging in too much red wine and lots of cheese and bread. Here are some of TPG's top picks.

  • Option 1: Moxy Bastille -- In the heart of the Bastille area, this hotel is a great option if you just want somewhere to rest your head for the night. Moxy hotels are a modern, fresh take on old-school budget hotels and have a great vibe. At around $165 per night, it's a great value-for-money property with the added bonus of being able to either earn or burn your Marriott Bonvoy points. If will cost you 20,000 points for an off-peak night, 25,000 points for a standard night and 30,000 points for a peak night.
  • Option 2: The Prince de Galles -- If you're the kind of traveler who eats at Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower, then this hotel should be on your radar. The property is nestled among a variety of other five-star, high-end properties and less than half an hour's walk from popular spots like the Arc de Triomphe. Rooms start at about $650 per night. When booked through the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Program, guests can benefit from added extras such as room upgrades (if available), early check-in and late check out, free breakfast and a $100 food and beverage credit to use during your stay. Read our review here. It is also a Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property. And, since Marriott’s peak and off-peak pricing has now gone live, it will cost you 70,000 points for an off-peak night, 85,000 for a standard night and 100,000 for a peak night.
  • Option 3: Airbnb is also a good option. From a private studio for around $50 per night to luxurious apartments in le Marais district from $550 per night, there's something to suit all budgets.

Related reading: Paris hotels on points for families of 4

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
A room at the Prince de Gaulle. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

8 p.m. -- dinner

If you're going to do fine dining, then Paris is the place to do it. That said, you don't have to break the bank to still enjoy the best in French cuisine. Here are a couple of dinner options to get you started:

  • Option 1: Le Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. If it's typical French haute cuisine that you're looking for, this is the spot. At 400 feet above the streets of Paris, you're guaranteed to be equally wowed by the views and the triple-Michelin starred food. Booking is recommended in advance as weekend dinner bookings are usually hard to find less than four weeks in advance.
  • Option 2: Le 52 is on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis -- a popular spot for locals on weekday nights and weekends. The business of the area and the fact that the restaurant doesn't take reservations means you're best off getting a table midweek or on weekends either side of its main lunch and dinner. The menu changes often and is based on ingredients that are in season at the time.

11 p.m. -- nightcap

Too early to go to call it a night? Visit one of these spots for some late-night mischief.

  • Option 1: Le Syndicat is right across the street from Le 52. It's well known as Paris' best cocktail bar so definitely not one to miss.
  • Option 2: Le Perchoir has arguably one of the best roof terrace views in the city. In the heart of the Marais district full of bars and restaurants, a nightcap here could easily turn into a cheeky night out. Make sure to have a view of the Eiffel Tower on the hour, as that's when you'll see it light up as part of a mini light show.

Day 1

10 a.m. -- a proper French brunch

Brunch is a typically British affair, but there several places in Paris that have adapted to give it a French flair. Let's call it...frunch?

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  • Option 1: All Good Things is a fine example of a French brunch. The "formule," or set menu, is very filling and sure to set you up for a day of sightseeing. At $30, it's not cheap but it does include a hot drink, orange juice, starter, main course and dessert.
  • Option 2: Du Pain et des Idées is only open on weekdays, so bear that in mind when planning your trip. As well-being known for the use of organic and "healthier" ingredients, its claim to fame is the snail bread.

Related reading: Flying with Air France? All you need to know about the menu

Du Pain et Des Idées' famous snail bread. (Photo courtesy Du Pain de Des Idées)

11 a.m. -- some culture

Paris is bursting at the seams with culture. Fitting the big three main tourist spots into a jam-packed 48 hours might be a big ask, but picking at least one would definitely make your trip more authentically Parisien.

  • Option 1: One of the most iconic landmarks in the world, climbing the Eiffel Tower is a must -- especially if it's your first time in the city. Booking tickets in advance is advised and prices start from $40.
  • Option 2: If art is more your thing, then head to the Louvre to check out some world-famous pieces and get a selfie with Mona Lisa herself. To skip the queues, book ahead. Tickets start from $20.
  • Option 3: For less than half the price -- and less vertigo -- the Arc de Triomphe offers a different view and perspective on the city. You can get tickets for as little as $15.

2 p.m. -- lunch

It would be a crime to visit Paris without visiting a typical boulangerie (bakery). So, with such a packed day of activities, we'd advise you to pop into a boulangerie and grab a tasty sweet or savory snack to eat on the go and replenish your energy supplies.

Young man choosing sweets in Paris, France
The sweet and savory delights you can expect to temp you in one of Paris' thousands of boulangeries. (Photo by Nikada/Getty Images)

3 p.m. -- a spot of shopping on the Champs-Élysées

Dubbed by some as "the most beautiful street in France," Paris' Champs-Élysées is just a little more than a mile long and is lined with a variety of shops to everyone's taste. There are high street names like Banana Republic and Levi as well as designer favorites such as Gucci and Christian Dior, and smaller boutiques that are sure to burn a hole in your wallet or purse.

The beautiful tree-lined Champs-Élysées as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. (Photo by Daniel.Candal/Getty Images)

6 p.m. -- Saturday night out

In terms of theater, London has the West End, New York has Broadway and Paris has... the Moulin Rouge (among other shows). Expect cabaret, the cancan and a whole load of debauchery. If you want to make a whole night of it, the "dinner spectacle" includes supper and costs between $219 and $237 per person, depending on the night of the week and the time of year. Weather and time of the sunset permitting, why not pop up to the steps of the Sacré Coeur church to watch the sunset before the show? Très romantique.

If you can-can-can! (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
If you can-can-can! (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Day 2

11 a.m. -- Buttes-Chaumont Park

I recently visited Buttes-Chaumont park -- it's a green and leafy space with views of the rest of the city to die for. It's in the 19th Arrondissement, to the east of the city, and easily accessible by public transport. It's well worth spending an hour or two exploring or just chilling with a picnic -- or, in other words, more bread, cheese and wine.

Related reading: Beyond Paris: Choose from these 10 beautiful French islands for your next vacation

View of the Sacré Coeur church from Buttes-Chaumont park, Paris. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

3 p.m. -- final coffee/snack

Before you venture home, pop into La Fontaine de Belleville on your way to the station or airport. It's one of a chain of four coffee shops that prides itself on its coffee, style and croque monsieurs.

5 p.m. -- head to Gare du Nord or the airport

From there, head to the nearby Gare du Nord station where you can catch the Eurostar or the RER B train to Charles de Gaulle airport -- a journey which shouldn't take much longer than 10 minutes, traffic permitting of course. Au revoir!

Featured image by Getty Images