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I'm Gabriella Wisdom, welcome to the Postcards from Hawaii travel blog, an online vacay for the well-organised traveller

Paris, France itinerary - long weekend city break

Paris, France itinerary - long weekend city break

For those of you who don’t know, Paris is my favourite city in the world. Michael, my partner of over eight years, and I sparked our flame in Paris on a school trip, we celebrated our first anniversary by taking our first trip away together to Paris, we lived there for a year shortly after graduating from uni and we have been back every year since moving back to England. In holds a very special place in my heart and all things considered I know Paris better than my closest city at home. 

For that reason I decided to make an itinerary for you that covers all of the popular sights over a long weekend. A trip that any first timer to the city of love can make to experience everything they’ve seen in the movies, one that a budding Instagrammer can do to shoot all the best locations for their feed, a historian or artist can take to enrich their cultural admiration of the city, or a long time lover of gay Paris can make just to enjoy the art of being a flaneur (the French name given to person who saunters around observing society).

Day 1

Watch the sunrise from Trocadéro

Eiffel Tower

Walk along Avenue de New York

Avenue Montaigne 

Champs Élysées

Arc de Triomphe

Ladurée 

Place de la Concorde

Jardin Tuileries

Pyramide du Louvre (Le Café Marly)

Le Louvre

Day 2

Opéra

Galleries Lafayette

Jardin du Palais Royal

Rue de Rivoli (shopping)

Notre-Dame

Walk along the Seine (Rive Gauche)

Eat in the Latin Quarter

Day 3

Montmartre

Sacré Coeur 

Place du Tertre 

La Maison Rose

Moulin Rouge

Day 4

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Catacombs

Montparnasse Tower

Rodin Museum

Les Invalides

Napoléon’s tomb

Pont Alexandre III

Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) 

The Iron Lady is undoubtedly one of the most iconic structures in the world. After two years of construction, she was built to commemorate the French Revolution but was only meant to last 20 years, after which she would be pulled down. Luckily the addition of a wireless telegraph transmitter is what saved her and now she’s welcomed over 250 million paying visitors (figures given in 2017), making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world.

PFH Eiffel Tower Paris Sunrise

You can buy your tickets for the Eiffel Tower here and they cost as follows

Ticket with lift access to second floor:

Adult: €16.30

Youth (12yrs - 24yrs): €8.10

Child (4yrs - 11yrs) and for people with a disability: €4.10

Children under the age of 4yrs go free.

Ticket with lift access to the top:

Adult: €25.50

Youth (12yrs - 24yrs): €12.70

Child (4yrs - 11yrs) and for people with a disability: €6.40

Children under the age of 4yrs go free.

Ticket with stair access to second floor:

Adult: €10.20

Youth (12yrs - 24yrs): €5.10

Child (4yrs - 11yrs) and for people with a disability: €2.50

Children under the age of 4yrs go free.

Ticket with stair access to second floor and lift access to the top:

Adult: €19.40

Youth (12yrs - 24yrs): €9.70

Child (4yrs - 11yrs) and for people with a disability: €4.90

Children under the age of 4yrs go free.

Opening times

14th June - 31st August by lift: 9am - 12.45am

14th June - 31st August by stairs: 9am - 12.45am

1st September - 13th June by lift: 9.30am - 11.45pm

1st September - 13th June by stairs: 9.30pm - 6.30pm

The Eiffel Tower is lit up from sunset until 1am in winter and 2am in summer. She will sparkle for 5mins every hour on the hour. 

Of the nine years I have been going to and from Paris, my absolute favourite time to see the Eiffel Tower is at sunrise from Trocadéro. For more information on how to get here, see PFH’s 10 best Instagrammable places in Paris.

Avenue de New York

For a gentle stroll and charming views of the Eiffel Tower from across the river, take a walk along the Seine down Avenue de New York.

Avenue Montaigne

Take Avenue Montaigne to the Champs Élysées from Avenue de New York and drool at all of the haute couture shops because you’ll pass each and every one you can imagine, including the very famous facades of Plaza Athénée and the House of Dior. Both are featured in the final few episodes of Sex and the City, when Carrie moves to Paris. The avenue is particularly breathtaking with its Christmas lights lit up at dark.

PFH Plaza Athénée Paris France

Champs Élysées

It’s the most famous street in Paris and it will take you all the way from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre. 

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is a monument that was erected in the 1800s to commemorate the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. It also serves as one of the craziest roundabouts as it connects to 12 roads. For this reason, if you want to take photos of the whole thing it’s easier to take them from afar and not from the roundabout because you won’t be able to step back far enough.

It is possible to buy tickets to go up to the top for the view but honestly you’re better off just taking photos and getting on with your day.

Ladurée

Though I am yet to try all of the macarons in Paris, out of the ones I have, Ladurée’s are the very best, which is why they have popped up all across the world in places such as London, Los Angeles and Dubai. The service at Ladurée is exquisite but the seasonal flavours of the macrons is better yet. Take them to go, buy them as gifts in delicate display boxes or sit in and maybe even try something a little more elaborate. You won’t be disappointed. 

Jardin Tuileries

I spent so many sunny days in this park when I was living in Paris. It’s perfect in all four seasons to stroll through, sit by the water features or have a picnic. It will take you all the way up to the Louvre.

Last year the Christmas market was relocated from the Champs Elysées to Jardin Tuileries. It also hosts the annual summer funfair.

Pyramid du Louvre (Le Café Marly)

Pei’s Pyramids serve as a functional work of art as they are also one of the entrances to the Louvre. For more information about them take a look at PFH’s 10 best Instagrammable places in Paris.

Don’t forget to take your classic tourist snap of yourself pinching the tip of the pyramids or be a bit more creative by lining them up behind each other. 

PFH Pyramids Café Marly Paris France

Le Louvre

The Musée de Louvre is the world’s biggest art museum and is home to some of the world’s most recognised pieces of art such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Delacroix’s Liberty leading the people and of course, Pei’s pyramids. There is so much to see in the Louvre that each of the three wings, Sully, Denon and Richelieu, require at least a day to explore so if you are strapped for time I suggest you plan ahead.

Ticket costs

€17 if purchased online in advance (you get to skip the general admission ticket queue)

€15 if purchased at the museum

Children under the age of 18 go free

Europeans aged 18yrs - 25yrs go free with proof of ID

Opening times

Monday: 9am - 6pm

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 9am - 9.45am

Thursday: 9am - 6pm

Friday: 9am - 9.45pm

Saturdays and Sundays: 9am - 6pm

The first Saturday of each month is free and open 9am - 9.45pm

For a more extensive list of museums in Paris read 7 free museums in Paris for Europeans aged 18-25 regardless of your age, I list the best museums in Paris.

PFH Top Tip: To avoid the queues at the Pyramid entrance, try using the one in the shopping centre, Carrousel du Louvre.

Opéra and Galleries Lafayette

The opera house of Paris is a very grand building and is very close to Galleries Lafayette, the most beautiful department store in Paris with its ornate dome. Galleries Lafayette is particularly worth a visit at Christmas when the giant tree is suspended from the dome.

Jardin du Palais Royal

Tucked away a few streets behind Rue du Rivoli are the beautiful grounds of Jardin du Palais Royal. The neoclassical palace built in 1633 is now home to the French Council of State. However, the gardens and surrounding shopping arcade are open to the public, and a lovely way to spend a lazy afternoon. It’s also home to the black and white striped platforms better know as Les Deux Plateaux but also known as Colonnes de Buren. 

Opening times

October - March: 8am - 8.30pm

April - September: 8am - 10.30pm

PFH Jardin de Palais Royal Paris

Notre-Dame

Who else ran around the house with a doll wrapped in a blanket, banging on the door yelling “sanctuary” as a child after seeing Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Just me? Ok. Thanks to that film, every time I see the real thing, it brings a tear to my eye. To think that this magnificent cathedral took 100 years to build and is still functioning at 856 years old is MIND BLOWING!

I spent many days seeking sanctuary in Notre Dame when I was living in Paris. Remember when I referenced Carrie Bradshaw’s days in Paris earlier? Well a lot of mine were like hers in the beginning; Michael worked all hours, I hadn’t made any friends yet, my French was minimal and at that time Paris just wasn’t as romantic and whimsical as I had first thought. So I spent many rainy days sitting in Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur because they were peaceful and although no one approached me, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Poor sad little me (don’t worry it did get better for me once I got a job), anyway, my point is it’s a wonderful place and worth a visit no matter what your reason is. 

Ticket costs

To enter is free but if you wish to walk up the steps to the belfry the tickets cost:

Adult: €10

€8 for Europeans aged 18yrs - 25yrs with proof of ID

Children under the age of 18yrs go free

Heads up there are 387 stairs up which you also have to take down, and as amazing as the view was, my legs were jelly climbing them so, I really only recommend you do this if you have good health.

Opening times

Open everyday from 7.45am - 6.45pm (7.15pm on weekends)

PFH Notre Dame Paris France

Montmartre 

Montmartre was formerly the artists’ village that was home to multiple windmills, vineyards and the likes of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. The winding streets never lost their artistic charm and there is so much to see up the hill that Sacré Coeur sits on top of. I’ve listed a few of the things worth seeing in Montmartre below.

PFH Top Tip: Montmartre has the highest concentration of souvenir shops, all of which are competing with each other’s prices. Save your souvenir shopping for when you get here.

Sacré Coeur

The Basilica of Sacré Coeur stands proud at the summit of Montmartre, and as it’s the highest point in Paris, its steps offer sweeping views of the city of Paris. It took 61 years to construct opening in 1919, and is now one of the most visited monuments in Paris. 

Entrance to Sacré Coeur is free.

Open Times

Daily 6am - 10.30pm

PFH Top Tip: Watch out for men who are carrying coloured strings in their hands at the base of the steps up to Sacré Coeur. They are trying to catch tourists so you get stuck as they make you a bracelet and force you to pay them money for it. They are aggressive and I’ve seen a lot of people get trapped by them. Just pretend like you cant hear or see them and keep walking fast until you reach the steps.

PFH Sacré Coeur Paris France

Place du Tertre 

Place du Tertre is the artist square located at the back of Sacré Coeur. The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants all with terraces that look out to the artists who have gathered to sell their paintings. It’s a nice place to stop for a coffee.

La Maison Rose

This picture perfect restaurant has been documented all the way through the evolution of capturing an image. It was first made famous in Maurice Utrillo’s paintings and now it can be seen all over Instagram! 

Before realising it was such an Instaworthy spot, it’s one of the many places I spent summer evenings dining with friends, out on their terrace. Bittersweet memories mind you; as a young Brit I ordered my steak medium and it came out with more blood than a Tarantino movie.

Stop for a coffee, a meal, or just for a cute photo op, but know that they don’t appreciate loitering photographers. The streets around this restaurant are particularly photogenic though.

Moulin Rouge

Another landmark in Paris that gets me all emosh after yet another fictional film is the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge has had a rich history as it has transformed into a cabaret, theatre, dance club, cinema and music hall. 

In my 7th year of returning to Paris I finally got to go to a Feerie show at the Moulin Rouge. It’s an interesting experience to say the least! Firstly I dressed UP and was very disappointed to see many people wearing hoodies and jeans, the show itself featuring the girls dancing the cancan is incredible though! The music, costumes and routines are dazzling, but then the, I guess I can only describe it as the half-time show as they didn’t break like a matinee, was filled with some very bizarre acts. How so? Well, one of them featured a man repeatedly spitting out ping pong balls which he then juggled… Yes, not my cup of tea. Despite that, I am very grateful to have finally seen the girls of the Moulin Rouge throw their legs up to the clouds in perfect unison in very glamorous costumes! 

PFH Pyramids Café Marly Paris France

Ticket costs vary depending on date and time so check here in advance to your trip.

Of course if you don’t fancy it or can’t go to a show, you can just pay the windmill a visit from the street. It’s better to visit in the daytime for photos but it’s particularly wonderful at night when it’s all lit up.

The gift shop, should you wish to go, is located around the corner up Rue Lepic.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Cimetière Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and is the final resting place of many famous people such as Frédéric Chopin, Molière, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde.

Opening times

Daily 8am - 6pm.

Catacombs

The catacombs is the underground network of ossuaries. I have been trying to go to the catacombs for years and for some reason the universe has put something in the way of it every dang time! Last year it was the yellow jacket riots that closed down central Paris for many weekends. Although I can’t give my personal account on a trip down into the catacombs, I am still eager to go one day, so I definitely recommend a visit if you can go.

Ticket costs

Adult with audio guide: €29

Adult without audio guide: €13

Child aged 4yrs - 17yrs: €4

Children under the age of 4yrs go free

Opening times

Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 8.30pm

Closed on Mondays and certain holidays (but they’re never posted on the website so check in advance to the date you are planning to visit).

Montparnasse Tower

The best views of the city are from Tour Montparnasse - you know how everyone says the view of NYC is better from the Rockefeller Centre because then you can see the Empire State Building? Well it’s the same with Tour Montparnasse because you can see the Eiffel Tower.

Ticket costs

Adult: €18

Student: €15

Child aged 4yrs - 11yrs: €9.50

Family (2 adults and 2 children aged 12yrs - 17yrs): €64

Family (2 adults and 2 children aged 12yrs - 17yrs): €80

People with a disability: €8.50

Children under the age of 4yrs go free

Opening times

Sunday - Thursday: 9.30am - 10.30pm

Friday - Saturday: 9.30am - 11pm

Rodin Museum

In 1908 Rodin donated his entire life’s work to the French State for it to be displayed within the grounds of Hôtel Biron, his former studio, which was to be known as “Musée Rodin”. It has since been listed a historical monument and is home to some of the world’s most critically acclaimed pieces such as The Kiss, The Thinker and The Gates of Hell

Ticket costs

€12 for entrance to the museum and sculpture garden

Europeans aged 18yrs - 25yrs go free with proof of ID

Opening times

Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 6.30pm

Closed on Mondays, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December

Les Invalides and Napoléon’s tomb

The Hôtel des Ivalides was built in 1670 to provide a home and hospital care to wounded soldiers. In 1840 the dome at the end was commissioned to house Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb which can still be visited today.

These days, Les Invalides is now home to one of the biggest military museums in the world, Musée de l’Armée. 

Ticket costs

Adult: €12

Children under the age of 18yrs go free

Europeans aged 18yrs - 25yrs go free with proof of ID

Opening times

1st April - 31st October: 10am - 6pm

1st November - 31st March: 10am - 5pm

Closed 1st Jan, 1st May and 25th December

Pont Alexandre III

As you’re strolling back to wherever you want to end your day, take a walk across Pont Alexandre III bridge. It’s very pretty when it’s lit up in the evening and it offers views of the Eiffel Tower.

This itinerary contains a lot more things to do than the average person would whilst visiting Paris, but I’ve suggested them all so you can pick and choose what you want to do based on your interest in visiting Paris, whether it is romantic, educational, artistic etc.

For more on Paris take a look at the following blog posts:

Winter packing guide - Paris, France

PFH’s 10 best Instagrammable places in Paris 

7 free museums in Paris for Europeans aged 18-25

Packing Guide: Au Pair’s bag

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Aloha, Gabriella 

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