Paris for the first time: two days itinerary in the winter
I recently traveled to Paris with my mother who was there for the first time. So I wanted to show her the Paris must-dos and I had a lot of pleasure rediscovering them my self. Here is an example of Paris sightseeing for first timers.
I had the following requirements in mind when I planned this itinerary:
# Fit for winter time: I would have planned picnics and a lot of outdoors time if it wasn’t a harsh -2°c outside
# Short time: 2 days
# Minimum subway commute, maximum walking/ calorie burning
There are plenty guided tours that can make your life easier in a big city like Paris, especially when you are travelling with a parent. Hop on Hop offs buses are a good way to avoid subway stressful commute and still keep a minimum flexibility, I recommend the ones here:
Where I stayed:
I chose the 18th arrondissement of Montmartre to be in the heart of what I call the real Paris (le Vrai Paris). Montmartre is the old bohemian neighborhood, it’s full of cobbled backstreets, charming squares and is home to the iconic Sacré Cœur basilica. Here is the hotel we stayed in if you are interested, good value for money: Hotel Audran! The 9th arrondissement near Opéra is a wise option as well, closer to The Eiffel tower on foot.
Day 1: Morning
I really liked the day 1 circuit as you can see a lot of Paris must without taking any subway or commute whatsoever.
Metro: From Abbesses to Charles de Gaulles Etoile
Return: Hotel de ville to Blanche
#Arc de triomphe
# Place de la concorde,
#Roue de Paris
# Palais royal
# Rue de Rivoli
# Boulevard saint Honoré
# Place Vendôme
We started at Arc de triomphe. Metro station: Charles de Gaulle Etoile. L’arc de triomphe is the start of Champs-Élysées boulevard. So we walked down the boulevard and stopped to grab a cup of coffee at “Le Fouquet’s”, a historic restaurant who embodies the French spirit in my optinion. On the way, you pass by vintage boutiques and luxurious shops like Guerlain and Louis Vuitton, as much as high street brands. I am glad we did that in the morning, as the boulevard is really crowded starting the afternoon.
I love Guerlain perfumes and the fact that he is an authentic luxury parfumeur, who did nothing but perfumes since 1828 (and a beauty line). L‘instant de Guerlain is my go-to perfume for years now. And look at this boutique façade! (picture below)
Down the champs Elizés you can see the Grand Palais, there was a Mexican art expo that I would have loved to check out if we had time, with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera among others.
We walked till place de la concorde and la “roue de Paris”. Even if it’s winter time we have been lucky with a bright sunny sky, perfect for pictures. You can spot Madam Eiffel tower from there.
After place de la concorde you arrive in the famous Rue de Rivoli. We stopped at l’esplanade du musée du louvre and spent some time in jardin des tuileries.
Not far from Louvre museum you can also visit the “palais royal” and its famous “Colonnes de Buren”. There is a beautiful park there as well if you are not freezing at this point. This was the location of an outfit photoshoot if you remember ☺ here.
If you are up to some very high-end luxury shopping you can cross the street till Place Vendôme.
As for me, I love boulevard saint Honoré and I did a little stop by Colette concept store. The best place for unique gifts, rare magazines, bloggers books and trendy limited series fashion items. There is also a cool coffee shop downstairs. I am in love with Colette’s minimalist logo (the two blue dots).
We strolled down Rue de Rivoli to go to Bazar Hotel de Ville. Rue de Rivoli is on of the main retail shopping areas in Paris. I couldn’t bring my mom to Paris, without a gourmet break at Angelina bakery. Sure there are many better places now for french pastries and hot chocolate, but oldie is goldie and this place is History. I really love the posh charm bourgeois of this place, and the royal service you get. Totally worth the 8€ hot cocoa.
Arc de triomphe
Guerlain chic vintage boutique since 1828
Just a regular Abercrombie & Fitch store
La roue de Paris
Colette concept store at Boulevard Saint-Honoré
Palais royal esplanade
Day 1: Afternoon
# Musée du Louvre
# Parc des tuileries
# Bazar Hotel de Ville (BHV)
# Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg
I also stopped at Galignani library, to buy a hard copy and updated version of “The 4-Hour Work Week“. If you are looking for books in English in Paris, this is the place to go. The library team, was very helpful and their passion for books showed on their faces. They also gave me a lot of bookmarks and goodies. It’s odd how in Paris either you meet extremely lovely people or extremely disagreeable people. There is no in between. As Taha Hssin said when he lived in Paris: City of angels and demons, and I think that is exactly what he meant with that.
Our final destination of the day was Bazar Hotel de Ville. We had lunch upstairs and checked the winter sale. Shopping in Paris is part of the culture and a must-do :p
Around BHV, I showed my mom all my favourite thrift stores. The three Freep stars, Kilo shop and a bunch of trendy hipster stores. Then we headed to Centre Pompidou at Beaubourg.
Centre Pompidou is an iconic modern art museum. It hosts world-class collections of modern art and is well known for its edgy/ controversial architecture. The center also has a huge library. Due to the ridiculously small surfaces of Paris apartments, a lot of students take shelter in the library for their homework or research. Take the elevator to the roof and enjoy one of the most breathtaking views of the city. I love having lunch in Beaubourg stairs, right in front of Pompidou when the weather is warmer, there is a very bohemian-youth atmosphere floating with a lot of street art shows.
Frozen fountain at Parc des Tuileries
Musée du louvre
Centre Pompidou unique architecture
Panoramic view from centre Pompidou roof
Day 1 map
Metro from Montmartre to Eiffel tower: Blanche to Bir Hakim round trip
#Wall of love
# Moulin rouge
# Eiffel Tower
# Jardins du Trocadéro
We woke up early to visit the Sacré coeur, we went by foot as it is located near our hotel in Montmartre. I remember that it was one of the most crowded place I have ever been to in Paris. So I wanted to go there early to enjoy it before the crowd and also have the best morning light. Sacré coeur is one of my favourite monuments in the world, I love the architecture and the place is very romantic. We went there a lot when my husband studied in Paris, and Amélie Poulain has her fair share in making this place one the most romantic in the world. Prepare to walk a decent amount of stairs and burn down you morning croissant calories.
Few meters from Sacré coeur, get lost in the charming streets of Montmartre and grab a cup of (expensive) coffee in one of Place de Tertre Bistrots. This is the square where you find a lot of local artists who hustle to do your portrait and sell Paris themed paintings. You can also go to Montmartre museum, or my favourite eccentric, Espace Dali.
On our way back to the hotel, we looked for the wall of love (picture below).
By night, we walked to Boulevard de Clichy to take the metro at Blanche station. Boulevard de Clichy is located in Pigalle, the sulfurous area of adult entertainment and home to the famous Moulin rouge. We took a metro to Bir Hakim station aka Eiffel tower station. It’s not my favourite thing to do in Paris, it’s very touristy and the Eiffel tower is much prettier from afar. I love seeing it from a terrace or from place de la concorde. Here are two blog articles of places with beautiful Eiffel tower view like this one or this one if you want to do things differently.
Les jardins du Trocadéro is a nice garden, but more enjoyable in the day-time. Also, in the winter most of the plants are grey.
Wall of love at Montmartre
View from on Place du tertre while having coffee
View from Sacré-coeur
Madame Eiffel tower and jardins du Trocadéro by night
I hope you enjoy the guide, of course there are a ton of things to do in Paris. It’s such a great architectural and cultural gem. But, those are my picks for two days.
If you love Paris, let me know what are your favourite places in the comments <3