I love Paris. I could keep coming back to the French capital over and over, and I have. I’ve been to Paris a million times—I even worked here for a summer—and I fall for it more on each visit. If you want to have your own love affair with the French capital, today I bring you my guide to spending an incredible 36 waking hours in Paris.
36 Hours in Paris
One of the best things about Paris is that every trip is different. Whether it’s exploring a new neighborhood or experiencing snow in Paris for the first time, I love how the French capital always surprises and delights.
On this particular visit I’m here with a friend for a girls’ getaway and we’ve decided to spend our 3 days in Paris seeing the sights and eating all the good food.
36 Hours in Paris: Day 1
We arrive in the French capital at noon and head to St Germain. The Latin Quarter is one of my favorite places in Paris because beyond the touristy parts there are some great restaurants, shops, and cafes to discover.
One of them is Creperie des Pecheurs, a crepe restaurant where we tuck into galettes stuffed with mushrooms and eggs. It’s the perfect way to start our 36 hours in Paris, and fuels us for what comes next.
And what comes next is an afternoon of walking through Paris. We start at the Notre Dame, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, and work our way along the Ile de la Cite and over the bridge to the Ile Saint-Louis. These islands in the Seine are at the heart of the city, and their streets are full of historic buildings and river views.
Leaving the Ile Saint-Louis behind, we make our way to the Marais. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris, and it’s always lively on Sundays. We walk down Rue des Rosiers and Rue des Francs Bourgeois, shopping as we go. Eventually we make our way to the Place des Vosges, a beautiful square where Victor Hugo once lived.
We sit for a while, then head to a nearby cafe called Camille for tea and hot chocolate. It feels oh-so-Parisian with its buzzing atmosphere and bistro-style tables.
In the evening we walk back to St Germain and stumble upon a chic wine bar called Chez Nous. The servers ask what we like and come back with wines suited to our preferences. It’s a great pre-dinner treat, and we can hardly tear ourselves away.
But we do in order to have dinner at a Belgian restaurant called Leon de Bruxelles. My friend’s parents lived in Brussels for a while and this chain was one of their favorite places for moules frites. As we tuck into steaming pots of mussels and cones of golden fries, we understand why they like this place so much.
36 Hours in Paris: Day 2
We continue our 36 hours in Paris the following day with breakfast at a boulangerie in the 6th arrondissement called Eric Kayser. The artisan bakery’s croissants and pains au chocolate are as buttery and flaky as we could wish for (although the coffee is less impressive).
Fueled, we beat a path to the Centre Pompidou. This museum has some of the world’s best modern and contemporary art, not to mention stunning views of Paris from its upper levels. We see a Cubist art exhibition, explore the permanent collection, and duck outside to photograph the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur in between.
Lunch is back in the Marais, and we tuck into a delicious cheese board at Au Rendez-Vous des Amis. The salads that follow are less impressive, so we head over to Les Halles and have tea and hot chocolate at a sweet cafe and shop called Sept Cinq.
Our feet rested, our 36 hours in Paris continue with a walk back to St Germain. En route we’re treated to a spectacular sunset on the Seine. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down behind the Eiffel Tower, and we feel lucky we’ve arrived just in time to see it.
Our luck continues at dinner. We head to Josephine Chez Dumonet in the 6th arrondissement. The interior is classic Parisian, the clientele an eclectic mix of locals and visitors, and the food excellent.
While the wine list is pricey and the service slow, we agree that the meal is the best either of us has ever had in Paris. My cod is cooked to perfection, my friend’s beef bourguignon melts in the mouth, and we savor every last forkful of the enormous mille-feuille when dessert comes.
36 Hours in Paris: Day 3
The last of our 3 days in Paris begins with a surprise: snow. It’s falling thick and fast, and by the time we get outside, Paris is a winter wonderland. I’ve been to Paris many times in winter, but this is the first time I’ve experienced snow here. It’s every bit as magical as I imagined.
We slip along the sidewalks for coffee and pastries at Malongo Cafe in the 6th. This place takes its coffee seriously, and in addition to serving espresso it sells beans from all over the world.
Caffeinated, we head out to photograph Paris in snow. First we go to the Notre Dame, which looks like a white queen. Across the street, the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop is also pretty in powder.
From the bookstore we hop on the RER train to go to the Eiffel Tower. It’s amazing to see it at any time of year, but gazing up at the Eiffel Tower in snow is incredible. We walk under and around it as the flakes swirl, awed by this winter miracle. Snow in Paris is rare, and snow that sticks even more so.
From the Eiffel Tower we walk to Rue Cler, a market street with lots of food shops and restaurants. We duck into Le Petit Cler, a traditional restaurant where we tuck into open-face tartine sandwiches and decadent Berthillon ice cream.
Afterwards, we shop for things to bring home. Wine, cheese, and macarons all figure into our purchases. By the time we’re done, we’re loaded down and excited for all the good food that will extend our trip after we get home.
We walk back to the 6th, taking in a snow-capped Invalides on the way. We part ways so my friend can catch her train, and I head over to the Jardin du Luxembourg for more snowy sightseeing. The garden looks beautiful under a blanket of powder, and I can’t help photographing it from every angle.
When I’m finished, I walk over to Rue Mouffetard. This foodie street is full of crepe vendors, fishmongers, and all kinds of things to tempt the taste buds. I walk all up and down it, taking in the colors and scents, and picking up some avocado honey along the way.
By the time I’m done, the snow has melted and my feet need a rest. I head over to my favorite cafe in Paris, Les Editeurs, for tea. It’s the perfect way to end my 36 hours in Paris, and a great pre-departure treat.
Tea finished, I head back to London. It’s hard to believe how much Paris has shown me in 3 days, including my new favorite restaurant and my first snowfall. I can only hope my next visit will be as unique. Knowing Paris, I’m sure it will.
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