2 days in Paris
Whether your first, your fifth, or your twenty-fifth trip, there are certain things you can reasonably expect from a trip to Paris: flaky croissants, a moment that will take your breath away, and a chance to bring back a very Parisian souvenir or gift. This 48-hour itinerary will give you all that and more. Feel free to follow it line by line or just cherry pick the parts that speak to you. Either way, I hope you find magic in the streets of Paris, again and again and again, just like I have since my first visit at the age of 17. Bon voyage!
Our Parisian Footprint: 5th, 6th and 2nd Arrondissement (eme)
Ideal Hotel/Airbnb Location for this Itinerary: Saint Germain, 5eme
Noon-ish: We start with a 15 minute stroll from St. Germain to our destination: Eggs & Co (Il rue Bernard Palsy) for déjeuner. It’s a tiny little shop located on a side street not far from Boulevard St. Germain, so you’ll be able to stroll the streets after you indulge in the fluffiest omelet of your life. Most of the seating is upstairs, but the shop is tiny, so come during off peak hours for the shortest wait. I went late on a Tuesday afternoon and had the upstairs all to myself. My order: basil omelette with potatoes and a side salad, bread with fresh herb butter, and a rich espresso. It was the perfect start to my trip.
Afternoon: After being properly stuffed, make your way to Le Bon Marché (24 Rue de Sèvres) for a peek at a department store that could have come straight out of a Wes Anderson film. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, just wonder the streets of the 6th arrondissement, or head over to Musée d’Orsay (1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur), one of my favorite museums in Paris. It’s in a former railway station, so make your way up to the top for an epic portal view out the window. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, so think Van Gough, Monet, Renoir and Degas. Wander in and out of each room, and don’t fret if you don’t see it all. Rather appreciate what you do see.
Dinner: After you’ve had your fill of art and shopping and strolling, we land at Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain), one of the oldest and most celebrated cafés in Paris. Picasso, Hemingway, Capote … they all watched the world go by at Café de Flore. Sit outside if a table is available, or cozy up in one of the outdoor side booths. Order champagne or an espresso or their famous hot chocolate. You’ll overpay for all of it, but who cares, this is an institution! Imagine who sat in this chair before you! When you’re hungry, splurge on some cheese and charcuterie and make a meal of it.
Save money on dessert and on the walk home, pick up a Nutella crepe from a roadside stand. Get a good night’s sleep because we’re starting early tomorrow.
Early Morning: Find out what time the sun starts rising, the beginning of the magic hour. Set your alarm so that you can be out the door just before the sun rises. It’s a 10-minute walk to Notre-Dame (6 Parvis Notre-Dame), and we are starting there. Skip the coffee, it’s your reward on the other side. Take Rue de la Cité to cross onto the island so you start on the west side of the building. Stand in the glory of this magnificent building before the city wakes up, long before the crowds arrive. Then wander through the park and make your way to the east side of the building for one more view. After you’ve snapped some photos and soaked in the view, make your way down Pont Saint-Louis to Ile-Saint Louis.
Mid-Morning: Your time with Notre-Dame isn’t over just yet. Le Flore En L’Ise (42 Quai d'Orleans) is waiting for you. Order le breakfast express: a croissant or pain au chocolate, jus d’orange, and an espresso. Grab a table by the window or if the weather is nice, a table outside. You’ll have a spectacular view of Notre-Dame as you sip and savor your way into the morning, and the bustle will be starting to pick up across the Seine.
Now the real adventure begins. We’re making our way to the 2nd arrondissement for a shopping extravaganza. Vintage mixed with new, cult followings mixed with tiny little up and comers. Let’s get started. It’s a 25-minute walk to Rue Tiquetonne, but we’ll pass it up by one street so that you can hang a left off Rue St. Denis and make your way through the Passage du Grand Cerf. It’s a very Woody Allen vibe and worth the extra walk around the block. Now that we are back on Tiquetonne, wander as you may, but don’t miss Kiliwatch, my favorite of all the vintage havens. Their silk scarf collection is dazzling and makes for a very affordable souvenir. Then turn the corner onto rue Montmartre, and you’ll find some modern French staples: & Other Stories, COS, and more. When you’re ready, head west, toward rue Montorgeuil, and you’ll find yourself walking along one of the oldest market streets of Paris. It can be crowded, so move along if you’re not feeling it, or meander with the crowd. This may also be a good time to stop for a bite and an email check in. There are plenty of bistros and cafés along this journey.
Keep walking north, until you start to notice windows filled with bolts of fabric. This is the city’s historic garment district. You’ll also find in this neighborhood one of my favorite French chocolates, Rrraw (8 Rue de Mulhouse). Raw, vegan, organic, and divine. I highly recommend you grab a bar or three. Back on course, follow rue des Jeuners to our cult-following destination, the brick and mortar showroom: Appartement Sézane (1 Rue Saint-Fiacre). There may be a queue, so if you don’t have the desire to wait, you can make your way to the little gift shop, one more door down, where you can shop and take home as you please. But an appointment in the showroom allows you to touch and try on the entire collection under the guidance of a trés elegant Parisian, and they deliver to you within 48 hours (or ship if your time in Paris ends before then.) It’s like the French version of Anthropologie, only chicer, because it’s French!
With that shopping whirlwind under our belt, the rest of the afternoon is reserved for the sights of Paris. Start making your way southwest, toward the Palais-Royal (8 Rue de Montpensier). Take some photos in the striped columns courtyard, you only regret the ones you don’t take. Your window shopping doesn’t have to be over yet. If you’re a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, head down to the time-capsule boutiques: La Petite Robe Noir is a vintage store dedicated entirely to the little black dress Audrey wore so well in the opening scene.
Late afternoon: A refresher is in order, so we’ll start making our way back to the hotel to change clothes and log some time on the computer. Stroll past the Louvre since it’s nearby, and stop for just a few more photos, then we’ll cross the Seine, admiring the Eiffel Tower making an appearance in the distance. If you’re not tired and you’ve wandered up an appetite, you can go straight to our destination, it’s not far away. Otherwise, head to your hotel, freshen up, change your shoes, check your e-mails, and we’ll meet back up for dinner.
Evening: Assuming you’re staying in Saint Germain, this is the perfect time to leisurely stroll through the charming yet crowded streets of Saint Germain. We won’t be here long, we have a perfect French bistro dinner waiting. Pop into The Abbey Bookshop if you want an off-the-beaten path and charming bookstore experience to wet your appetite. Otherwise look down the side streets for pop up shops and unique little boutiques, and window displays galore to make your eyes dazzle with delight.
As we get closer to Bistrot Ernest (21 Rue de Seine), you’ll notice some art galleries. Stop and admire a few paintings. Our chosen place for dinner was once described by someone as “extremely delicious and unpretentious,” and I couldn’t agree more. I’ll add that they have a wide variety of vegetarian options - rare for a French bistro! I hope you have the same waiter as I did. Polite, charming, and he let me speak in French despite knowing - I’m sure he knew - that I was American. Have a glass of wine and dessert. This is our last stop of the evening, and we’ve earned it. It’s never the end, but only the beginning.
A bientot, Paris!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, Parisian experiences! Share with me below or on Instagram: @tiffanynapper. Bisous!