You don’t have to wear yourself out when visiting a bustling big city, such as Paris. Plan your weekend in advance and you can minimise stress in the big city while still packing plenty into your itinerary. A hire car will help you get round the sights more quickly.
No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting Le Louvre
. Skip the queues by buying your tickets online in advance and make sure you set out early. You can easily lose track of time strolling round the former palace if you’re not careful. Leave via boulevard du Palais to see the stunning Gothic Sainte-Chapelle nearby.
A stroll across the Seine will take you to Ile St-Louis where Mon Vieil Ami
is a relaxing brassiere for a informal French lunch. There are plenty of excellent vegetarian options on the traditionally themed menu.
Afternoon and evening
Few places are more relaxing than an aquarium. Soothe your mind at the Tropical Aquarium of Porte Dorée
, located at the entrance of Bois de Vincennes in the east of the city. There’s also a fascinating museum in the same building detailing the story of immigration in France throughout the years.
Later, if you’re in the mood to rest your legs, Place Dauphine is a good spot to sit and watch the locals play pétanque. You’ll find numerous restaurants and art galleries around the square.
For your evening’s entertainment, why not book tickets in advance for the Paris Opera
? The website has full listings.
After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be more than able for a gentle stroll through the Rue Chanoinesse in the Île de la Cité, with its medieval streets and buildings. The chaotic tourist destination of Notre Dame might be just a few streets away, but here in Rue Chanoinesse, tranquillity still reigns.
On rue de la Rochefoucauld, the Musée Gustave Moreau
makes a quieter alternative to some of the bigger museums, but it isn’t any less interesting. The museum was designed by the eccentric Symbolist painter and is an intriguing place to spend some time.
Ribouldingue Restaurant on rue Saint Julien Le Pauvre isn’t a place for vegetarians, given that the menu focuses mostly on offal, but it’s here that you can sample traditional French fare that have long since disappeared from other menus across the city (brawn salad or lamb’s brains anyone?).
Afternoon and evening
A riverside stroll is an ideal way to walk off lunch and get some beautiful views of the city. For a truly relaxing way to see the city’s sights, however, you can’t beat a boat trip from Pont-Neuf
All that fresh river air will have put you in the mood for a final great meal on your last evening in Paris, so have a quick browse around the Musée de l’Orangerie, before popping into nearby Hotel Meurice, one of the grandest hotels in town, for a truly memorable meal. Yannick Alléno is the chef here, creating brilliant cuisine, such as the famous four course Dodin-Bouffant pot-au-fer.
If you’re in the mood for some entertainment, there are several gypsy jazz bars scattered around Paris. Fans of Django Reinhardt will love La Chope des Puces in Saint-Ouen. Incidentally, if you have time before your flight the following morning, it’s worth coming back to Marché aux Puces for the flea and antique market held there on Sundays.