How to Plan the Perfect 48 Hours in Paris When You’ve Already Been

by  Emily Zemler | Mar 30, 2023

Paris never gets old, no matter how many times you visit. But, once you’ve done the requisite visit to the Louvre and ascended the Eiffel Tower, there’s much more to discover throughout the French city. Instead of hanging around the usual tourist haunts, head to a more local neighborhood, like the Latin Quarter or the 11th arrondissement. In the warmer months, Paris comes alive with outdoor bistros, bustling parks, and secret rooftop bars, making it ideal for a quick weekend away. 

What makes the perfect 48 hours in Paris is open to interpretation, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you plan. Paris can be a great place to wander, especially in the narrow streets on the Left Bank, but it does require some planning. First, you’ll want to determine which part of the city to make your base, especially considering how walkable Paris is, and be sure to make your restaurant reservations as far in advance as possible. We also recommend buying timed museum tickets online at least a day before visiting to avoid unnecessary lines. However, no matter what you do, Paris is always a delight. 

Where to Stay in Paris

When booking a hotel in Paris, the biggest question is: Left Bank or Right Bank? Those who prefer the artsy cafes and boutique shops — and the central location — of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter will feel right at home at Hôtel Dame des Arts, a trendy hotel with an impressive rooftop bar and views of the Eiffel Tower. Opt for a room with a balcony, perfect for summer mornings, and enjoy a cocktail on the roof, which guests can access anytime. For something even more luxurious, book into Hôtel Lutetia, which will impress with its style and proximity to Le Bon Marché

On the other side of the river, many visitors flock to the Marais, which is filled with boutique hotels and apartment rentals. Jules & Jim is a fashionable-yet-casual pick with unique rooms and an intimate courtyard perfect for a glass of wine. Nearby, on the edge of Oberkampf, Le Petit Oberkampf Hotel & Spa is a new addition to the neighborhood with contemporary rooms and a location that gives you ideal access to the Marais and the 11th. Those looking for something more budget-friendly will appreciate the clean, youthful vibe of the Moxy Paris Bastille (ask for a room away from the noisy courtyard). The amenities may be sparse, but it has everything you need to enjoy the local offerings.  

What to See & Do in Paris

Return visits to Paris are the most fulfilling because they often lead to uncovering new neighborhoods, exploring smaller museums, and dining at local spots. Kick off your trip with a visit to the Pinault Collection at Bourse de Commerce. This recently opened contemporary art museum features rotating exhibitions, or the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is hosting the highly anticipated Basquiat and Warhol exhibit in April. Those who have been there, done that with Paris’ big museums should explore the smaller galleries in the Marais, including Galerie Perrotin, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, and Galerie Sobering. Other less-visited museums include Musée des Arts et Métiers, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, and Musée de la Vie Romantique

In the summer, Parisians flock to the parks and outdoor spaces, often sipping wine in the early evenings or having picnics on the weekends. Head to Canal Saint Martin, Jardin du Luxembourg, or Place des Vosges to soak up the sun. In the 12th, Promenade Plantée, also known as Coulée Verte René-Dumont, is Paris’ answer to the Highline. Built on a former railway, the 4.7-kilometer path makes for a relaxing afternoon stroll. Also recommended for return travelers: The famous Catacombs of Paris, which take you deep into the heart of the city. Be sure to book a timed ticket in advance. 

For shopping options away from the busy Champs Élysées, visit Clignancourt’s flea market, one of the world’s largest antique flea markets. Outside of town, La Vallée Village is a designer outlet mall filled with deals. Canal Saint Martin, Rue de Charonne, Rue des Abbesses, and Village Saint-Paul are other trendy spots to search for deals. 

Where to Eat and Drink in Paris

In the mornings, skip a sit-down breakfast in favor of a coffee and a pastry. The best croissant in town can be found at Du Pain et des Idées, although Brigat' is a close second. For an accompanying latte (and yes, Paris does now serve an oat latte), pick from any one of the city’s hip coffee shops: Fringe, Yellow Tucan, Back in Black, or Ten Belles. If a more substantial breakfast feels important, grab a table at Gramme, which has locations in the 3rd and the 11th.  

For lunch, you have a single directive: Reserve a table at Mokonuts at least a month before your trip. The charming spot, run by a husband and wife, is becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason. It’s genuinely one of the best meals in Paris. Other good daytime options include Huitrerie Régis, Le Servan, and Cafe Charlot, a beloved bistro for those in the know. 

In Paris, the most important meal of the day is dinner, which is usually eaten on the later side. Ask your hotel to book a table at Bistrot Paul Bert, known for its steak au poivre, or take your chances at Clamato, which doesn’t take reservations but is worth a wait. While it may seem odd to eat pasta in France, some of Paris’ best restaurants are Italian spots, including Daroco and Carboni’s. If you prefer a more traditional meal, head to the history-filled Brasserie Lipp or Au Pied de Cochon, which serves diners until 5 a.m. For a splurge, try your luck on a table at L’Arpège

In the evenings, pull up a stool at one of Paris’ intimate, beloved cocktail bars. In the Marais, Little Red Door is one of the best in town (arrive early), and in Bourse, Danico is a stylish spot to grab an original cocktail. Elsewhere, Le Syndicat, Lulu White, Dirty Dick, Bluebird, La Commune, and Le Calbar are great picks for a drink. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris should be your go-to.

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