10.30 AM: Rue Moffetard
12.00 PM: Catacombs of Paris, 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
01.30 PM: Fontaine Saint Michel, Boulevard Saint Michel and the Boulevard Saint Germain, try some authentic organic Lebanese fast food at Chez le Libanais
03.00 PM: Ile Saint Louis and have a delicious ice cream at Berthillon
03.30 PM: Visit the Notre-Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité between the two banks of the Seine. On the same island is Sainte Chapelle – a beautiful structure with several stained glass windows
05.00 PM: Pont Neuf – one of the city’s famous bridges. Here take a cruise on the Seine (photo below, at the day1 suggestions)
06.30 pm: Take the metro up to Bir Hakeim
07.30 pm: The Eiffel tower is best viewed by crossing the Seine and climbing the stairs at Trocadéro
08.30 pm: Eiffel tower
09.30 pm: stroll through the Champ de Mars
10:30 AM: Montmarte Hill, views of Sacré Coeur basilica.
11.30 AM: Place du Tertre. This square is filled with artists painting portraits, scenes ofParis in general andMontmartre in particular.
01.00 PM: Marais
02.00 PM: Centre Pompidou, the square in front of this bizarre structure is vibrant and alive with street artists, sometimes musicians and people sipping coffees, eating ice creams or just idly sitting around.
03.00 PM: Les Halles - an underground shopping centre
04.00 PM: shop on the Rue de Rivoli
05.00 PM: Jardin des Tuileries – the garden in front of the Louvre
06.00 PM: Place de la Concorde - Keep walking on Champs Elysees?
07.00 PM: Arc de Triomphe - climb up at sunset, the view of La Défense with the sun descending behind it is impressive
This again is indicative. You could skip things like the boat trip if you want to spend more time visiting other sites. I have not included a visit to the Louvre because it is HUGE and I strongly recommend spending your 2 days getting a feel of the city whilst visiting some of the smaller museums or more accessible sites. It takes time to get into the Louvre and then you are in a big maze that could take hours to visit. I have mentioned "Day one" and "Day two" but again, this is purely for the sake of splitting up different visits; you could choose the things that interest you and visit them in any order.
Day one - A good way to start a visit to Paris is at its historic centre – the islands. Visit the Notre-Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité between the two banks of the Seine. After admiring this beautiful gothic 12th century church from the outside, queue up and enter the building free of charge and this time admire the impressive rose windows made of stained glass. You could also climb the cathedral (though, you have to pay a fee for this) and get a stunning view of all of Paris. On the same island is Sainte Chapelle – a beautiful structure with several stained glass windows.
After visiting these monuments, go to the neighbouring island of Ile Saint Louis and have a delicious ice cream at Berthillon. The flavours are rare and exquisite but be ready to wait in another queue. Then walk to the Pont Neuf – one of the city’s famous bridges, and head down to the Seine by the stairs next to the equestrian statue of Henri IV. Here take a cruise on the Seine to get familiar with the city on one of its main lifelines. Buy tickets online to get a discounted rate:http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/. On the cruise you get to see the Eiffel tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Notre Dame itself and several other places that you could visit later.
After the cruise, go to the Musée d’Orsay which is worth a visit since it isn't too big and has a great collection of art. Then go to the left bank in the 5th arrondissement and wander around the Latin Quarter. The two main roads here are the Boulevard Saint Michel and the Boulevard Saint Germain. This was an area frequented by intellectuals and even today you will find lots of book shops here. You will also see the Fontaine Saint Michel where a lot of youngster gather and watch street artists and their histrionics. There are many restaurants offering every type of cuisine conceivable in the Saint Michel area but most of them are tourist traps and are best avoided. However, you could try some authentic organic Lebanese fast food at Chez le Libanais at 35, Rue Saint André.
Facing the Seine, turn left and walk along the river until you reach the Eiffel tower. If you are tired, take the metro up to Bir Hakeim. The Bir Hakeim Bridge has been immortalised in films like Inception. The Eiffel tower is best viewed by crossing the Seine and climbing the stairs at Trocadéro. In the evening it is lit up and it sparkles every hour for a few minutes. You could climb the tower on foot midway or take a lift all the way up for a view of the city. At night, from up here, you could see the City of Lights in all its luminous splendour. End your day with a stroll through the Champ de Mars, the park around the tower. You could speed it up by using the metro. There are stations every 100 to 200 metres.
Day two - Start your day in the Marais in the 3rd and 4th districts (metro Saint Paul or Hôtel de Ville on line 1). This lively area is one of the oldest parts of the city and has an eclectic mix of Jewish and homosexual residents. It is teeming with restaurants and delis and a stroll through the area is a must do in Paris. The Centre Pompidou or Beaubourg (metro Rambuteau on line 11) is a modern art museum in this part of Paris. The square in front of this bizarre structure is vibrant and alive with street artists, sometimes musicians and people sipping coffees, eating ice creams or just idly sitting around. Named after former president Georges Pompidou, this museum is built inside out with all its colourful pipes on the outside. Inside there are interesting modern installations, some temporary exhibitions and an exhilarating slide you can use to descend from one floor to another! The museum has a restaurant with a view in keeping with the style of the rest of the building. It also has a very impressive library. If you decide you want to spend more time outdoors, I recommend just walking around this museum and then visiting les Halles – an underground shopping centre – considered to be a technological marvel for it was not expected to stay up. Walking past the Église Saint Eustache – a church – you have the option of visiting the sumptuous Opéra Garnier. Otherwise, you could book an actual performance (schedule and reservations available on http://www.operadeparis.fr/en/L_Opera/Palais_Garnier/PalaisGarnier.php) and experience a concert in this beautiful monument in the evening. If you are interested in some shopping, the enormous Galeries Lafayette shopping centre is just around the corner.
In the afternoon, you can relax in the Jardin des Tuileries – the garden in front of the Louvre museum and later on you can shop on the Rue de Rivoli, a long street that runs along the garden and the Louvre. Walking away from the Louvre and through the Tuileries garden, you will arrive at the impressive Place de la Concorde with a tall Egyptian obelisk and a beautiful fountain. On your right is Le Crillon, one of Paris’ most luxurious hotels and on the left is the Assemblée Nationale or the National Assembly. This was the square where the king and queen of France were guillotined after the French Revolution. Cross the Place de la Concorde to arrive on the Champs-Élysées. Walking on this famous avenue, you will see the Grand Palais with its glass and metal roof on your left. Continuing further, you will see flagship shops of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton. There is also the Lido with its cabaret performances and at the end of this street you will arrive at Place de l’Étoile (meaning star) where 12 roads converge to meet at the Arc de Triomphe – like a star. You can pay and enter the building where there are exhibitions explaining the history of the place and on the roof you will be treated to views of the Eiffel tower, the Champs-Élysées and the business district of La Défense with its modern arch called the Grande Arche. If you climb up at sunset, the view of La Défense with the sun descending behind it is impressive. End your evening with a cabaret performance at the Lido on 116 bis Champs-Élysées, if your budget allows it. Reservations are possible on their website: http://www.lido.fr/us/. You cannot go in wearing shorts and they have a casual yet elegant dress code.
Another must do is the charming and village-like Montmartre (photo below) in the 18th arrondissement (metro Anvers on line 2). This hill can be climbed on foot or by using the funicular and at its summit you will find the bright white Sacré Coeur basilica. It seems this church is constructed with a stone that gets bleached in the rain keeping it as white as ever. There is another view of Paris from up here but you cannot see the Eiffel tower. Montmartre is the only wine producing part of Paris and the grapes grown on this hill produce around 700 to 1000 bottles a year, the proceeds of which are used for social work in the area. There are some beautiful houses on this hill and you will be surprised by its rather rural feel. Not far from the Sacré Coeur is the Place du Tertre. This square is filled with artists painting portraits, scenes of Paris in general and Montmartre in particular. Around the artists are numerous cafés and restaurants but most of them are tourist traps. If the ambiance appeals to you, pick a restaurant for dinner, but the slopes of this hill offer some less touristy bars and restaurants. You could spend a lot of time admiring the live art and exploring the quieter streets. If you are fan of French cinema and have watched the Oscar-winning film Amélie be sure to stop for a coffee at the Café les Deux Moulins on Rue Lepic where the film’s protagonist worked as a waitress.
In the evening, the foot of the hill comes to life and the star of this area called Pigalle is the Moulin Rouge, Paris’ most famous cabaret. Pigalle is the red light district of Paris. End your evening at the Moulin Rouge if you didn’t already go to the Lido or just relax in a restaurant before retiring for the night.
Paris has a lot of interesting place so if you don't want to see some of the museums or places mentioned above, you could visit the Jardin (garden) du Luxembourg and the Pantheon where you will find the tombs of many important French personalities. From here you could go to Rue Mouffetard, a lively street, full of cafés and restaurants. Nearby is Grande Mosquée, the big mosque with a nice café serving mint tea and Arab sweets. Another possibility is an evening along the many bars and cafés around the city's second water body, the charming Canal Saint Martin.
You obviously don’t have to do things exactly the way I have written them. It all depends on your interests. As far as food is concerned, the French are rather carnivorous but you get very good salads and baguette sandwiches or paninis with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. French pastry is also delicious and there are bakeries and pastry shops (look for signs saying boulangerie and pâtisserie) everywhere!
1. The Catacombs are passages filled with skeletons so if that interests you, then why not? I wouldn't consider it as a must do in the city but that's a personal choice! You could also think about Le Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, a cemetery with tombs of famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, etc.
2. In a two-day visit to Paris I would recommend getting a feel of the city rather and visiting all its monuments rather than going to museums. The Louvre is considered to be a must do museum but doing it justice requires a day! If you really want to visit a museum or feel like doing something indoors then think about the Musee d'Orsay, an old railway station converted into a museum which is easy to visit and has a good view from its terrace. This of course is only if the weather is bad or you feel like visiting the interiors of a building, considering you are not big art enthusiasts.
3. Chez le Libanais is a small takeaway like place but also has some seats. For vegetarian food, you could look for a creperie like Chez Imogenes on 25 rue JP Timbaud (metro Oberkampf) or other creperies that might have some vegetarian options. Otherwise, French food is usually non-vegetarian! This link has some interesting options:
4. The street artists don't really have timings and are not permanently there and keep changing but Centre Pompidou and Saint Michel are areas where many of them are around. They are not always interesting but sometimes you might stumble upon good musicians or martial artists. I once saw a capoiera performance in Saint Michel but it was just a one-time thing because I didn't see them again. I would say, look out for them if you're in these areas but don't count on anything and don't go out of your way to find these areas just for street performers.
5. There are classes and this one has good reviews on Tripadvisor:
6. The metro connects every part of Paris so it's a good way to get around apart from walking. You could also use cycles provided by the city which you can unlock using your credit card. They are called Velib and there are parking spots all over the city. Here's an idea of prices so that you can decide whether you need a pass: single ticket - 1.80 euros; 10 tickets - close to 15 euros; a two-day pass - 18.15 euros. You might want to buy a "carnet" of 10 tickets and use it up and get another set of 10 when you run out of the first set. It might be more economical than getting 4 passes.
I'm suggesting some markets based on what they are known for in order to help make your choice:
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Métro: Filles du calvaire, open on Sunday from 8:30 am to 2 pm
It is the oldest market in Paris (1615) and has products from all parts of France and from other countries as well (Moroccan, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, Lebanese)
Le Marché d’Aligre
3 Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris
Métro Ledru-Rollin, open everyday EXCEPT MONDAY from 7 am to 2 pm
Apart from French products you can also find African, Asian and Indian stands. There are little cafes where you could get a drink. Make sure you visit them early because they are not interesting after lunch time.
right in the centre (metro Chatelet Les Halles) is an underground covered market but it's now more of a mall than a market. This whole area has been renovated quite recently so I don't know what it looks like any more!
I forgot to mention something really interesting - June 21st is Fete de la Musique to celebrate the first day of summer. It is an amazing time to be anywhere in France, particularly in Paris. The entire city turns into a concert and you have live performances all over the place that go on all day and all night. Many metro and bus lines stay open all night exceptionally on this day every year to encourage people to be a part of this huge music festival. You are really lucky to be in Paris on this day!
For rock shows, the Place de la Republique is usually the place to be. Classical aficionados head to the Palais Royal for a day of symphonic bliss, while indie bands play at Denfert-Rochereau. La Fête de la Musique 2015 Paris organisers usually post an up-to-date program more than a month in advance, so be sure to check it out to see who is playing where.