Paris: the best ideas for a great long weekend trip. Who hasn’t dreamt about visiting Paris one day? The city of love and the city of art, an ideal weekend gateway and travel destination, often places itself very high on people’s travel bucket lists. Paris is full of history, world-famous architecture, and beautiful emotions. It is majestic with its French lifestyle and language.
Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle, when are you visiting Paris next? I traveled to the French capital last month. I prepared a quick travel guide for you. From sightseeing to tasting and finally experiencing. Bienvenue à Paris!
A walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.Thomas Jefferson
MY TRIPS TO PARIS
It has been a long story, the one between Paris and me! I have visited it for the first time 28 years ago, which was my first travel alone as a child with an organized group. We were on the way to the UK and stopped in Paris for half a day tour. That memory of an illuminated Eiffel Tower is with me forever, like a beautiful dream.
Then across the years, I have returned four more times. My last two travels were the most special ones!
There should be a name for the syndrome that occurs when you’re in Paris and you already miss it.www.araioflight.com
During the pre-last travel, I went to Paris with my Better Half and our Bigger Angel. One of our key attractions was two days in Disneyland! We had so much fun! And during the last trip, with our Little One and my parents. My dad was supposed to travel to Paris 53 years ago when he was 16 years old. When he had his luggage out for packing, his travel got canceled. So it was a great feeling to take him there.
Both of my last two trips to Paris were extended weekend trips. I love to travel like this to gather some new energy, discover new places, and fall in love with them. And that was my inner reason to travel to Paris in October. It was the month of our marriage anniversary. Although it was a virtual celebration, I wanted to go to the City of Love. And I made it. It took me five travels… I fell in love with this city. And you know what? These days, our Little One, asks me “Mama, can we go to the tower place again?”. 🙂 She must be missing it too!
THE BEST IDEAS FOR A GREAT LONG WEEKEND TRIP
WHAT TO SEE
Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre
It is my favorite place in Paris. I used to admire it as a child on one of the postcards from France from the 1960s, which I got from my grandma’s sister. I love Sacre-Coeur and the entire Montmartre area. For me, this is the essence of Paris. Its beauty, architecture, many small streets full of restaurants, bistros, and cafes. Not to forget Place du Tertre, and nearby Moulin Rouge, Place Pigalle.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur) is the second-most visited monument in Paris. Yet, for me, it is the most stunning place. The white Basilica of Sacre Coeur is located at the summit of the Montmartre hill, surrounded by the greenery of its gardens. It is one of the most spectacular views of Paris, an ideal place to sit down, admire the view and people gathering there. Its construction started in 1875 and was finalized in 1914.
222 steps lead to the Basilica. Instead, you can take the Montmartre Funicular and reach it in a few minutes. If you have a metro day pass for Paris, the funicular is part of your day-ticket!
An iconic Eiffel Tower, for many people, is a reason to visit Paris. The Eiffel Tower is the number one attraction among tourists in Paris. It is also the most-visited paid monument in the world.
The construction of the Eiffel Tower started on 26th January 1887. It was finalized after two years, two months, and five days: on 31st March 1889. Back then, it was perceived as “a veritable technical and architectural achievement”. Since the 1980s, the tower has been constantly renovated and adapted for a continuously growing public. Every year, 7 million visitors admire the Eiffel Tower from its decks. It is 324 meters (1063 feet) high.
The tickets prices for adults vary between 10.5 and 26.10 Euro. Youth’s rate (12-24 years) is at 50% price, while children’s (4-11 years) and disabled people at 25%. Children below the age of 4 can enter for free but need to possess the free entry ticket.
Book the tickets online to avoid the massive queue. Additionally, do it quickly as the online tickets finish very quickly ahead of time. When I traveled to Paris in October this year, there were no tickets for the following ten days. Luckily, I managed to book our trip two weeks in advance!
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is the most famous cathedral church not only in Paris but also in the world! You can find it at the eastern end of the small island called the Île de la Cité, in the center of Paris. Interestingly, it was built on the ruins of two churches. The first foundation stone was laid in 1163, and this architectural jewel was completed in 1345.
In April 2019, a fire broke out below the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris, severely damaging the cathedral. Two years later, its reconstruction has started. There is a five-year restoration deadline in place, in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Currently, you can admire the cathedral through the construction fence.
“Established in 2017, Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris began to support efforts to restore Notre-Dame Cathedral. Pollution, rain, and time weakened the cathedral’s basic structure, and an ambitious $135 million campaign was planned to save Notre-Dame de Paris.” Click here to find out 9 ways how you can donate the money and help.
Arch of Triumph and Champs Elysées
The Arc de Triomphe remembers those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. You can find it at the western end of the notable Champs-Élysées. Each year, the famous Tour de France cycles race has a finish line near the Arch. While on the 14th of July, French National Day, the annual military parade starts its event by the Arch.
During my last travel to Paris, I have visited the Arc of Triumph twice. The first time just from outside. During the second visit, we decided to reach its top. That was the first time that I have visited the roof of the Arch of Triumph. When is the best moment to visit it? Try to arrive at the top of the monument after the sunset, before the full hour. After sunset, the Eiffel Tower lights turn on. And at every full hour, for five minutes, the sparking show starts! An incredible view!
There are about 280 stairs up to the roof of the Arch of Triumph. But there is always an option for plan B! There is an elevator that is less ‘promoted’ or even visible to the visitors. Simply, when showing your entry ticket, mention that you need an elevator ride. Super helpful!
The story of the museum, especially its building, is quite unusual. The museum was established in the center of Paris next to the Seine river in the prior Orsay railway station. The building itself became the first “work of art” in the Musée d’Orsay, as part of the Universal Exhibition in 1900. Currently, the museum displays collections of art from 1848 to 1914. It is open daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm (with late-night openings on Thursdays till 9:45 pm). The museum remains closed on Mondays.
Some of the most famous artwork in the museum:
- Edouard Manet: Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe and Olympia
- Claude Monet: Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe and Londres, Le Parlement
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Bal du Moulin de la Galette and Etude: Torse, Effet de Soleil
- Vincent Van Gogh: La Nuit Étoilée and Portrait de l’Artiste
- Paul Gauguin: Et l’Or de Leur Corps
Similarly, to most of the key monuments (e.g., Eiffel Tower, Arch of Triumph), to enter the Musée d’Orsay, you will need to present a Covid Health pass. “Each visitor from 12 years and 2 months of age will have to provide a QR code or an official document proving they are fully vaccinated, or a negative PCR or antigen test made less than 72 hours before, or proof that they have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.”
Paris is the city of art and museums. In the French capital, you can admire the art in 130 museums! Next to the d’Orsay one, the one that can’t be missed is the Louvre Museum. This fabulous museum used to be a palace. Nowadays, it is the world’s most-visited museum. ~38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited in the Louvre.
Some of the most famous artwork in the museum:
- Leonardo da Vinci: The Mona Lisa
- Théodore Géricault: The Raft of the Medusa
- Paolo Veronese: The Wedding at Cana
- Jacques-Louis David: The Coronation of Napoleon
- Eugene Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People
- The Venus de Milo
- The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Louvre Museum is one of the key attractions in the city. The best time to visit the museum is on Wednesday and Friday evening. That’s when the Louvre is open until 9:45 pm. Fewer people and less noise will make your experience even more unique.
Who hasn’t heard about Moulin Rouge (Red Mill)? It is a cabaret in Paris, in the district of Pigalle, close to Montmartre. It is famous as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance, presented during the shows. Nowadays, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction. It offers musical entertainment for visitors from around the world. I hope that one day I will experience one of its shows! Maybe that’s a special event during my sixth visit to Paris?
Do you feel like spending one of the Christmas season evenings or the New Year’s night in a unique way? Book a dinner or a show at Moulin Rouge! What an unforgettable event!
WHAT TO EAT
When traveling, I always ‘pack with me’ TasteAtlas. It is an amazing source of local cuisines and delicacies around the world. Inseparable source of best recommendations during my journeys! Also, during the last one in Paris, I referred to it and found excellent ideas for our culinary journey in Paris! 100 Dishes in Paris published by the TasteAtlas, compressed to the list of my top recommendations!
“These small, round, sweet meringue-based cookie sandwiches with filling in the middle are light and crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Food historians credit Pierre Desfontaines as the inventor of the macaron. He was the first to fill the cookies with a creamy ganache and stick them together, turning the humble almond cookie into the versatile treat we know today. “
Try macarons from Pierre Hermé, a French pastry chef and chocolatier, in Paris. Are you worried that you won’t find macarons from this great chef? On the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, you can find a small shop with macarons from Pierre Hermé. Don’t miss it!
Onion soup (non-veg, optional veg)
“Even though it originated as a humble peasant dish, French onion soup is nowadays regarded as one of the most prized dishes of French cuisine. The broth is simple, made merely with caramelized onions and meat stock. However, the soup is distinguished by croûtes–pieces of crispy baked bread that are placed on top of the soup and are then generously covered with cheese.”
Traditionally, the soup is made with beef stock. It might be prepared with chicken one or a mix of both stocks. In fact, the French onion soup is a non-vegetarian dish. But don’t worry! There are many restaurants in Paris that prepare also a vegetarian version of the soup. You can dine in La Jacobine or in Le Potager du Marais to enjoy the vegetarian taste of the famous soupe à l’oignon, onion soup!
“Probably the most iconic image of France, this long, light, airy bread with its characteristically crispy crust dates back to the 19th century, when wheat and white breads were no longer a privilege of the rich. Baguettes were made even before the invention of their name. Baguettes were first baked as long, wide loaves of bread, but a 1920 law prevented workers from beginning work before 4AM, making it impossible for bakers to finish baking the bread in time for breakfast.”
Wake up early, and instead of grabbing your breakfast at the hotel, go outside to buy some fresh French products for a “homemade” breakfast! Must have: a fresh baguette from a local bakery that bakes them in their shop. How to recognize which bakery is good? Easy one! The longer the queue, the better!
“These flaky, golden-colored, crescent-shaped pastries are best made with pure butter and a slightly sweet yeast dough. If made properly, the yellow-white interior should be just the slightest bit elastic when pulled from the center, ready to be covered with a pad of butter or some fresh jam.”
Do you want to try some of the best croissants in Paris? Try the places below:
Crepes: Galette de Bretagne (veg or non-veg)
“Galettes de Bretagne are basically thin crépes from the Brittany region in northwestern France. These pancakes are made from buckwheat flour, then filled with various ingredients such as eggs, ham, mushrooms, and bacon. In Brittany, créperies are so popular that they outnumber cafés, and people regularly use them to consume their galettes with bits of salted butter.”
Do you want to travel to France directly from your kitchen? 🙂 Try to replicate Galette de Bretagne at home! Click here for a great recipe by MasalaHerb. If challenging, you can make a simpler version, using wheat flour as the pancake base.
French toast: Croque Monsieur & Croque Madame (non-veg, optional veg)
“According to Larousse, this classic French hot sandwich consists of a thin slice of ham and melted cheese tucked between two pieces of sliced bread. The original first appeared on Parisian menus in 1910, and some claim it was invented by accident, when French workers left their lunch near a hot radiator, only to come back later and discover that the cheese in their sandwiches had melted.”
If you are a vegetarian, you can ask for the veg version of the French toast, just with cheese. And there is one more option for it! Instead of Monsieur (Sir), you can ask for Madame (Lady). What is the difference? It will also include a fried egg! What is the secret of both sandwiches? A béchamel sauce that’s been upgraded with melted Gruyère cheese! A must-try during your Parisian visit!
quiche (veg and non-veg)
“This popular French pie consists of a pastry crust filled with eggs, cream, and anything from bacon, cheese, and leek to mushrooms and seafood. Quiche is usually very filling and high in calories, making it a frequent choice for parties and buffet tables.”
Do you want to try one of the most popular quiches during your visit to Paris? Try one of these four recommendations:
- Lorraine Quiche: filled with bacon, eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
- Florentine Quiche: filled with eggs, milk, cheese, spinach, rosemary, and thyme
- Provençale Quiche: filled with zucchini, tomatoes, onions, cheese, eggs, and Provence herbs
- Quiche au Fromage: filled with eggs, Gruyere / Emmentale / Camembert or Roquefort cheese, crème fraîche, milk, and nutmeg
French delicacy: snails and frog legs (non-veg)
“Escargot, or cooked snails, are a beloved French delicacy that is usually served as an appetizer. Before preparation, the snails must be purged, removed from their shells, and cooked, usually with garlic butter, chicken stock, or wine. Their tender texture and clean, woody flavors pair especially nicely with herb-infused butter – garlic, thyme, and parsley are the most common choices.”
Do you feel that trying snails is kind of “too much” for you? But still, you are ready for some local delicacies? Then try frog legs! Their taste is more delicate. It is more similar to small and soft chicken pieces. Many restaurants in the Montmartre area serve both snails and frog legs. I made our Little One try both. Later on, she said: frogs are better! A recommendation by an honest food critic!
WHAT TO EXPERIENCe
Admire Paris from the top views
Experience number one in Paris: admire the city from its heights! With its amazing monuments and unique streets plan, it is beautiful to look at Paris from the top. Luckily, there are many great viewpoints, including free ones, where you can enjoy the Parisian perspective.
Some of the best viewpoints in Paris:
- The roof of the Arch of Triumph
- The top of Sacre Coeur (free)
- The top of the Eiffel Tower
- Trocadero (free)
- The rooftop of the Galeries de Lafayette (free)
- The rooftop bar and restaurant in the Pompidou Centre
Enjoy the cruise
If you want to admire Paris from a different perspective, then book a river cruise. The most popular ones are the Seine river cruises. Is there any other alternative? Yes! You can also enjoy the cruise in the Canal Saint-Martin. Cruises on the canal are less crowded than on the Seine. You will be able to see a more laid-back side of Paris, including the Musée du Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, and the Notre Dame! Napoleon built the canal around 150 years ago.
If you don’t know which cruise to select, go for the 2 in 1 option! The best of two worlds, from the Canal Saint-Martin to the Seine will give you an opportunity to experience both rides. And it is just a 2-hour cruise! It is 20 euro per person, an affordable price. The cruise includes passage of 2 locks, 1 swing bridge, and under the Bastille’s underground vault. The part on the Seine river includes the unmissable Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and many other marvels!
Simply: wander around
During my last travel to Paris, I managed to connect with the city and create a lot of positive feelings towards this capital. What has changed? I had three occasions to be alone. Just me and Paris. Twice when going outside and once at the hotel. I opened the window, prepared a drink, and admired its streets and people.
Paris is made for it! Just emerge in it, with your travel companions or alone. Parisian streets are full of charm, simply so French!
I love the streets of Montmartre and Pigalle. Wake up earlier and enjoy a morning walk. When Paris is half asleep, it is so beautiful! Later on, during the day (especially when it is sunny), you can enjoy its vibrant life. When walking around in the Pigalle area, visit Pink Mamma trattoria. It is called to be one of the most instagramable places in Paris!
wine & champagne
You can not leave Paris or France without a glass (or rather an empty bottle) of champagne or French wine! Champagne is named after the French region where it is grown, fermented, and bottled: Champagne. This region is close to Paris, on its northeast side. According to European Law, only the labels bottled within 100 miles of this region can be legally named “Champagne”.
How about a wine tasting tour during your trip to Paris?
- Guided Visit and Wine Tasting in a Royal Wine Cellar in Paris (1 hour)
- French Wine and Champagne Tasting in Paris (2 hours)
- Montmartre Hill Sweet & Savory French Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting Tour (3-3.5 hours)
- Champagne Area Small-Group Day Trip with 8 Tastings & Lunch from Paris (11 hours)
Have fun in Disneyland – no matter the age
Are you planning the trip to Paris with your children? Disneyland is your answer! Are you traveling without children? Disneyland is your answer too! 🙂 Who doesn’t love the fun and feeling like a child again?
Disneyland in Paris offers great attractions to all people, no matter the age. If you are afraid of rollercoasters, don’t worry. There are so many attractions, that you will enjoy for sure. Disneyland in Paris has two parks: Parc Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. Great news: the Disney illuminations night-time spectacular returns from 21 December 2021!
For more than one day’s visit to Disneyland, consider staying in one of the nearby hotels. It is very comfortable, and the prices are affordable. Most of the hotels in the area are connected by bus that takes you directly to Disney!
Explore WORLD’s largest antiques market
Not enough? Paris’ attractions and things seem to be never-ending! How about going to the world’s largest antique market that is located in Paris? This flea market is the one at Porte de Clignancourt. Its official name is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is enough to ask for Les Puces (The Fleas). The market covers seven hectares, 120,000-180,000 people visit it each weekend.
When can you visit the market? On Saturdays, it is open from 9 AM till 6 PM, on Sunday from 10 AM till 6 PM, while on Mondays from 11 AM till 5 PM (many stalls close for the lunch break).
Have you been to Paris? If yes, what did you love the most? Which advice would you give to the travelers planning to visit Paris city for an extended weekend? And if you haven’t been to the City of Love yet, is it on your bucket list? Share in the comments. Sharing is caring.
Moments that matter, no matter where in Paris.