Paris is renowned for its rich history and culture with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées merely touching the surface when it comes to discovering this famous city. A single trip is not enough to properly visit Paris, however if one weekend is all you have and this is your first visit, here is our recommended itinerary.
The Arc de Triomphe in La Place de l’Etoile is a definite first point of call. This national monument was built during the reign of Napoleon I with the aim of documenting the victories of the French army. It is also home to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War.
For your next stop, indulge yourself on the world famous Champs-Élysées. This attractive avenue, extends some 1910 metres and is home to numerous luxury establishments including that of Louis Vuitton,Cartier and Guerlain. This is the ideal location for taking photos or for enjoying a classy shopping spree. Place de la Concorde lies at the far end of the avenue and is the largest square in Paris. Brimming with history, this was the meeting place of large gatherings during the French Revolution. Today, the square features the 23 metre high Luxor Obelisk, given to France by Egypt as an acknowledgement of Champollion, who was among the first to translate the hieroglyphics.
The entrance of the Jardin des Tuilieries is also situated in Place de la Concorde. A magnificent and historical French garden, this is a UNESCO world heritage site. You can also make the most of your time in the area by stopping by the reputable and indulging tea room, Café Angelina, situated at 226 rue de Rivoli.
Next on our itinerary is to walk from rue de Castiglione up to the luxury Place Vendôme. Here you will find various high level hotels such as the Ritz. In the centre of the square sits the Vendome column. This monument was built in 1810 before being destroyed by the communards then subsequently reconstructed. Continue along rue de la Paix until you reach the large Opera Garnier. Walk around the back of the building and you will find yourself in another of Paris’ hotspots: the Haussmann Boulevard. Here you will find numerous department stores like the Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, specializing in fashion, table art, decorations and beauty. Don’t forget to pick out some Paris souvenirs while you're here!
In the evening we suggest a relaxing cruise on the Bateaux Mouches, departing from Pont de l’Alma. With a choice of two menus on offer over a period of 2 hours 15 minutes, you can sit back, watch the river Seine go by and enjoy entertainment from professional musicians. You will be comfortably seated at a table in a bay window giving you the chance to admire Paris’ beautiful landmarks and its city lights.
Finally, to end the evening in an original way, you can stop by the must-see Dame de Fer which is situated on the other side of the Seine and is a 10 minute walk away. The Eiffel Tower will also draw you in with its magical lighting that can be seen radiating across Paris at first night fall.
To start your second day in the French capital, a visit to the Louvre Museum is an absolute must. Home to millions of exhibits across a floor span of more than 60 000 m², there is something for everyone; from oriental and Egyptian art, to that of the Greeks, Romans and Middle Ages. In the heart of the museum, the iconic glass pyramid is not to be missed.
After the Louvre, make your way to the Ile de la Cité. Known as the antique cradle of Paris, this is an island situated on the river Seine. Start by a visit to the elegant Sainte-Chapelle. Built at the request of Saint Louis, this is home to the Couronne d’Epines, which is a section of the Real Cross. The chapel also contains other relics from the Passion of Christ. On the other side of the island you will find the famous Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral.
Next on the list is to explore the streets of the Latin Quarter where you will find the historical Sorbonne University. The nearby Pantheon pays tribute to well known personalities in French history. Its architecture, inscription, symbolism and decoration reflect the framework of France as a nation.
One hundred metres from the Pantheon is the entrance to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Open to the public, this is a private garden dependent on the Senate and is home to more than a hundred statues, fountains and sculptures. The garden also plays host to many photography exhibitions and sporting events.
The last district we recommend is that of Montmartre. Once at the top of the hill, take your time meandering across the place du Tertre, home not only to the great painters but also to the Basilique du Sacré–Coeur, a major Parisian religious site attracting millions of pilgrims every year. If you have time, you should also visit Espace Dalí dedicated to the famous Spanish artist.
To finish your stay in France's capital, why not spend your last evening at Moulin Rouge? You will be entranced by the venue’s belle époque decor and its dancers with their French cancan dance. Whether you want to dine, watch the show or both, the choice is yours.