48 hours in… Paris
From cute coffee shops and bakeries on every street corner to international fashion houses, museums and world-renowned landmarks, a Paris city break has something for everyone.
Thinking, or perhaps dreaming, of a holiday?
Have you not yet planned your trips for this year, or is there perhaps a little itch in your mind about just getting up and booking something last-minute? One of our top suggestions would be a Paris city break.
I was lucky to visit Paris for the first time in September last year and it was fantastic. I’m really not a good traveller; I don’t like trains, planes or airports, but this trip was easy to manage.
From Newcastle Airport, it’s only a one hour, 40 minute flight direct to Charles de Gaulle, (it can be cheaper to stop over in Amsterdam, but adds ages onto your journey). At the time of writing, you can get direct flights from around £248. Then it’s around an hour into Paris on the train.
We stayed at a self-catering flat in the 10th arrondissement near main stations Gare du Nord and Gare de L’Est for around £400. It was easy to get to the flat and, from there, to explore the city.
I’d not been to Paris before and, honestly, there really is something magical about it. All big cities have the same surprising mass of people, tall buildings, movement and noise, but for the large part this all suits Paris. Cafés with tables spilling out onto the pavement, chairs arranged to face outwards to people-watch, the smell of coffee and cigarettes. We were lucky with the weather, too; going in autumn, it was generally warm and allowed us to get out and about loads – though we were caught in a torrent of rain that seemed to come out of nowhere at one point.
I loved Paris and will definitely be going back, as it’s an easy and interesting city break that would suit anyone.
From my trip – and based on where we stayed – these would be some of my recommendations.
Where you stay in a city can change the entire trip.
Location is key, obviously, as is the type of accommodation. I always prefer an Air BnB or flat-rent type of stay: something self-catered which allows me the freedom of movement to explore the city at my own pace, and which makes me feel less of a tourist. However, plenty of my pals prefer to stay in hotels for their sheer ease and that holiday luxury feel.
Whatever your personal preference, Paris has plenty of options. I loved where we stayed; the 10tharrondissement feels up-and-coming, buzzing with locals and tourists alike, out of the main rush of central Paris, but less than a couple of miles from most of the major attractions in the city.
Getting around Paris was easy for us, too. As well as having trains on our doorstep, we became obsessed with getting around on the electric scooters that dotted the city – once you download the app it’s pay as you go, and on these nippy little scooters you can flow in with cyclists and avoid all the traffic as you explore the city.
One of my absolute top recommendations for Paris would be a tour in a 2CV – a vintage Citroën, one of their most iconic cars.
We had the roof open and were driven through Paris by our excellent tour guide, who showed us the main attractions and also pointed out some lesser-known secrets about the city. The tour can be either an hour or three, and the guides can collect you from and drop you off in most of central Paris.
We ended our tour at Gallerie Lafayette, which was a top suggestion from Zoe at La Chocolatrice back home. We headed right for the top floor and up the stairs to the roof for unbeatable panoramic views around Paris. It’s an excellent journey back down, winding your way through the amazing French department store, past the expensive fashion brands and macaron stands and under the domed glass ceiling.
Also, I’ll just put it out there: yes, you should go up the Eiffel Tower. I know it’s a little cliché, but it’s popular for a reason. And yes, climb it if you can – partly because the queues will be significantly shorter, but also because, as you reach the middle platform (which was as high as we could go that day), Paris opens up as you gain your breath and it really feels worth those steps.
This city is full of beautiful buildings, amazing people and so many things to discover. We ended up wandering into the passages couverts Parisiens – the city’s covered passages in the 2nd arrondissment, lined with tiny boutiques selling everything from old records and antique to modern art.
Alongside the wealth of shops jumbled together, the passage’s intricate tiled flooring and arched ceilings made these tunnel-like streets are spectacular.
Needless to say, Paris’ foodie offering is the crème de la crème.
Bursting with restaurants, cafés and bakeries (or boulangeries) at every turn, the city’s dedication to its culinary craft if exemplary.
First on anyone’s list (even my coeliac sister’s) are the boulangeries. Suggestions for these almost feel pointless, as they’re honestly everywhere and each is superb, so you really can just follow your nose. Grabbing a freshly-baked baguette and some cheese and ham from a local deli makes for a lunch picnic in your apartment that’s as easy as it is authentic.
If you’re looking for something a little more extravagant, we ended up accidentally visiting one of the locations filmed in hit Netflix rom-com series, Emily in Paris: La Favorite. It was hard to miss this café – with its pink-striped awning and abundant blossoms blooming around the entrance – though this does also mean you’ll be surrounded by people snapping pictures and selfies. The food was great though; 9/10 for my Caesar salad, and a perfect people-watching spot.
We had some excellent pizza and cocktails at Papelli, followed by cocktails at bars dotted around the city. For something a little fancier, I’d recommend dinner and cocktails at L’Amour Vache, by Porte Saint-Denis.
Every now and then on your wanders around the beautiful city of Paris, you might notice the glow of a local chocolate shop. If you somehow have the willpower not to enter these, I salute you. I neither have the willpower to avoid them nor the desire. I absolutely love chocolate shops and find it inconceivable not to visit at least one in Paris of all places.
So, inevitably, we popped into a few – but were particularly impressed with L’Atelier du Chocoat, and La Mere De Famille, full of goodies and treats.
As with boulangeries and patisseries, finding somewhere in Paris to sit and have coffee is far from difficult.
It feels as though every street corner and pavement has tables and chairs full of people chatting over their cuppas and watching the world go by.
If I was to go back to Paris for another 48-hour trip, I’d want to spend a large portion of my time just sat at a table with a book and coffee as the bustle goes on around me – hoping it doesn’t rain!
If I had to recommend just one drinks spot from the whole time we were in Paris, it would have to be Café A. The large, verdant terrace is an ideal bolthole in which to while away a sunny afternoon. And, once the sun sets, the old chapel inside really knows how to gets the party started, Paris-style.
Honestly, though, the streets around our flat and into the centre of Paris made finding somewhere for a cocktail easy. Friday in Paris and these cocktail bars start to fill up from noon, staying full into Saturday night and spilling light and music into the streets in the evenings.
You’re almost spoiled for choice. Almost.