Top tips for a visit to the City of Light
Day 1 – On arriving at the Gare du Nord, head for the Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre. You can either take the metro or walk (about 20 min.) It's a steep climb, but worth it! Reminders of Picasso and Utrillo's studios, the birth of cubism, cabarets, vines, buskers and painters in the Place du Tertre... Take a stroll around, pausing to admire the magnificent view of the city from the Sacré-Cœur.
Then head to the Arc de Triomphe (by metro this time). From here, make a short detour via the Champs-Elysées and then wander along Avenue Marceau down to the Eiffel Tower, passing the famous flame on the Pont de l’Alma. If you have time, the climb to the top of the tower is well worth it, for you are rewarded with a stunning view of the entire city!
What would Paris be without the Seine? Sail along the river to Notre-Dame and the Ile de la Cité (be sure to get a "Batobus" pass). This takes you right to the historic heart of Paris, jealously guarded by the waters of the Seine... Whether you're culture lovers, on a romantic break or addicted to ice cream, you just have to stop for lunch!
After enjoying a typical Parisian lunch (beef tartare or a ham baguette followed by something sweet), head for the Louvre which awaits you for a tour of its greatest masterpieces. Then pause to admire the sunset over the Passerelle des Arts, the Pont Neuf and the Institut de France.
Or, instead of visiting the Louvre, settle down to enjoy a snack in the Tuileries Gardens, take a stroll around the quartier of Les Halles and the Rues Montorgueil, Quincampoix and Tiquetonne, or visit the Pompidou Centre for a dose of contemporary art and culture.
PS: If you're feeling adventurous, follow the route in reverse and end your day with an exceptional view of the city and its illuminated monuments from the hill of Montmartre.
Day 2 – Head for the Canal Saint-Martin and wander past swing bridges, underground vaults and locks as you go with the flow to discover this unexpected part of Paris. Take a leisurely walk around and do some window-shopping among specialist bookshops, vintage stores and ethnic jewellers.
If you're in Paris on a Sunday, have brunch on a little terrace by the water before walking back up to the Bassin de la Villette. In summer, you can hire a small boat without a licence and sail around the calm waters of the lake.
Alternatively, if the weather is gloomy, visit the Cité des Sciences instead.
For lunch head to the Marais, a splendid district where history and modernity live side by side in perfect harmony. Wander through its winding cobbled lanes bursting with unusual shops, cafés, galleries, and so on, and admire its architecture.
Then carry on a bit towards the west of Paris, to Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin quarter. Begin your tour at the church. Its tower and nave are some of Paris' oldest vestiges of Romanesque architecture, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries – not to be missed! In the midst of the luxury boutiques and art galleries that enliven the area, take a seat on the terrace of one of the iconic cafés of the Quartier Saint-Germain (you only live once!): the Café de Flore, the Café des Deux Magots, or the brasserie Lipp – favoured haunts of artists and intellectuals since the early 20th century.