Ah, Paris. Guidebooks say it’s the best place for romance, but what they don’t clarify is that it’s the city itself with which you’ll fall in love.
And with its impressive culinary skills, massive art collection and classic good looks, there couldn’t be a better suitor. If you’re worried that three days isn’t enough, fear not. When it comes to Paris, it’s love at first sight.
Here’s our suggested itinerary for your long weekend in the French capital.
DAY 1 — You had me at bonjour
Once you’ve shuffled off the plane, collected your luggage and made the journey into the city centre, it’s time to check into your temporary home for the weekend. Whether it’s the grand Mandarin Oriental, a trendy design hotel like Hotel le Petit Paris or a wallet-friendly Airbnb apartment, there are plenty of charming places to stay in or near the city centre.
Once you’re checked in, relax and get your bearings. Grab your map and navigate your way through the narrow rues to the base of the Eiffel Tower. There’s no bigger, bolder or more symbolic way to introduce yourself to the city.
Feel free to take the scenic route, either by foot or via the Paris Métro (Line 6 to Bir-Hakeim station). If you’re feeling peckish, stop off at any café or brasserie that catches your eye. Brasserie Flo, with its impressive Art Nouveau decor, is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. Or, for something quick and delicious, you can’t go wrong with the famous falafel sandwiches from L’As du Fallafel in the city’s enchanting Jewish quarter.
Wherever the evening takes you, be sure to end it with a moonlit walk along the Seine. See? You’re falling in love already.
DAY 2 — Be still my art
You don’t have to be a keen connoisseur of art to enjoy the iconic pieces that call Paris home. With so many museums packed into one city, you’ll have no trouble filling your Day Two itinerary with the historic and cultural delights of France’s inspiring capital.
The art scene in Paris is as large and varied as the city itself. On such a short visit, it’s best to narrow it down to the big three: Musee d’Orsay (home to Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone Arles), The Louvre (home of the Mona Lisa) and Musee Rodin (home of The Thinker). Space out your museum tours with breakfast, lunch and plenty of coffee breaks to keep you going.
Another not-to-miss landmark is Gothic masterpiece, Notre-Dame Cathedral. If you aren’t too tired from your day of sightseeing, you can even climb the building’s towers.
DAY 3 — Head over (Louboutin) heels
On your last day in Paris, why not let the city spoil you? Your final 24 hours are perfect for shopping, eating, strolling and eating some more. Now’s your chance to indulge in the best of local life.
Grab a coffee at cafe and roastery La Caféothèque (“The coffee library”) and continue your literary tour with a look around the city’s famous bookshops, including Shakespeare and Company (famous hangout of the ‘Lost Generation’ authors) and Librairie Galignani (the oldest English language bookshop in Europe).
If you have room in your suitcase for a bit of Parisian fashion, Champs Elysées is arguably Paris’ most iconic shopping street. Christian Louboutin’s original boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is also a must-visit, for window shopping if nothing else. However, designer boutiques aren’t the only game in town. Paris is also known for its high-quality thrift shops, where you can always bag a fantastic bargain.
As a final hurrah, treat yourself to a delicious Parisian meal before you jet off. If you’re happy to push the boat out, book a table at La Fontaine de Mars, considered one of the best restaurants in the city (even before the Obamas dined there). If that’s a bit too rich for your blood, Sacrée fleur is less expensive, but equally charming.
That’s it! As your weekend comes to an end, rest assured that you’ve found a lifelong love. You may have to admire it from a distance, but remember: Paris is always only a plane ride away!