Last Updated on September 28, 2023
Few things are as satisfying as a walk around Paris…
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes
By Jim Ferri
Through all the years I’ve been traveling around Europe, one of my greatest joys continues to be walking about Paris. There are so many places to visit, I never tire of the city.
I know, however, that many travelers don’t have the luxury of spending a week or two in the French capital. Many of us, myself included, cram so much into a European trip that we wind up spending only 2 days in the city.
That’s not an altogether bad thing, however.
Two days in Paris are better than none, and you’ll likely return again and again. In fact, if you’re in London you can even take a day trip by train to the French capital.
On my many walks about Paris, I sometimes search for new places, while at other times I just enjoy the old haunts. And each of my itineraries has shown me fascinating facets of the city – even when I only had 2 days in Paris.
From my experience, I’ve culled a 2-day walking tour of the best places to visit in Paris. These are two full days, however, meaning you should spend three nights in Paris.
Remember also that in these health-conscious times, entries to many places are timed and at time you may need to show proof of vaccinations prior to entry. Both will certainly steal time from your itinerary.
A Note on Getting Around the City
This post includes a map of Paris, showing you the best routes to make good use of your time. In fact, there’s two maps of Paris, one for each day.
Although these are maps for walking tours, you may sometimes want to take the Metro or a taxi due to the distances involved, such as when going from Montmartre to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Another might be the half-hour walk (at minimum) from the Musée d’Orsay to the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens).
This is when an app such as Rome2Rio is invaluable. As have many other travelers, I’ve been using Rome2Rio for years. But most travelers, I suspect, use it primarily for longer-distance travel, say from Paris to Brussels. But it’s also a valuable resource in navigating your way around Paris or any other city.
You only need to type in any two places on the app on your phone and it will show you several different routes to reach your destination. In addition, it will also show you how long it will take to get there when walking, or by taking a taxi, bus or Metro.
And even better yet, especially for travelers on a budget, it also provides the approximate cost for each, noting which is recommended as well as as which is the cheapest and fastest.
I’ve found it also a great resource for planning a trip, potentially saving time and money.
Day 1 – A Walking Tour of Paris Map
This map depicts a walking tour of the places mentioned in this article. It can all be covered in two days in Paris. It is interactive; press +/- to enlarge it or make it smaller. It can also be viewed, and the route followed, on your smartphone.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, the First Stop on Your 2 Days in Paris
Distance: start of your two days in Paris tour
Note: Notre-Dame has not yet reopened after it’s catastrophic fire. Re-opening is expected in 2024.
A stop on all Paris itineraries, Notre-Dame de Paris is as beautiful as it is historic. Located on the Île de la Cité in the Seine, it’s now more than 850 years old and typically attracts 13 million visitors every year.
But, as you likely know, a devastating fire engulfed this world treasure in 2019 and it remains closed during its reconstruction. It is presently on track to reopen in 2024.
Meanwhile, you may want to instead visit Ile Saint-Louis, an old neighborhood tucked away behind Notre Dame and connected to la Cité by a pedestrian bridge.
Despite this catastrophe, you shouldn’t miss seeing the cathedral, which is as beautiful on the outside as inside. It’s a magnificent church, unlike any other.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Notre Dame after it reopens, and you have the stamina, climb the 387 steps to the roof of the north tower for a superb view of Paris and the cathedral’s famous gargoyles. And you’ll surely spend time walking about its magnificent interior.
It’s a church like no other, which I’ve visited many times. The last time I visited a boy’s choir was in rehearsal, and I listened to their incredible voices drifting throughout the great church as I walked about.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II
Notre Dame Website
Open: currently closed.
Distance from Notre Dame: a 6-minute walk
Follow your map to Sainte-Chapelle, which is missed on some short Paris itineraries. But take some time to see it, especially since it’s so close to Notre Dame. It was built in the 13th century by Louis IX as a repository for holy relics (later places in Notre Dame) that he had acquired from the Emperor of Constantinople.
It’s claim to fame, however, are its magnificent 1,113 stained-glass windows, the oldest in Paris. They are the reason it is one of the top 10 places in Paris, and are as extraordinary as they are magnificent, soaring glass walls that make the ceiling above appear to float in air.
It is an amazingly beautiful place, certainly the most stunning Gothic monument in all of Paris. It’s housed within the Palais de Justice, which requires visitors to transit a security area as they enter. Try to visit on a sunny day to get the full impact.
10, boulevard du Palais
Tel: 33 / (0)1 53 40 60 80
Open: April 1–30th September: 9am–7pm / October 1–March 31: 9am–5pm.
Admission: all adults: €11.50 / Under 18 years old, 18 to 25 years old who are EU or EEA nationals and assimilated-holders of a residence permit: free.
Note: when judicial proceedings are taking place in the Palais de Justice Monday-Friday, a timed reservation is required for entrance.
Don’t Miss the Musée du Louvre
Distance: a 15-minute walk
The third stop on your Parisian route is the Louvre, the pièce de résistance of the museum world. Without a doubt, it’s firmly entrenched as one of the must-see places to visit in Paris for most travelers who visit France. If you’re short on time you may want to skip the line and get a guide to show you about.
Although best known for the Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile, it’s an incredible repository of more than 75,000 pieces of art from almost every civilization on earth (it’s estimated it would take nine months just to glance at every piece).
Works are spread out over 675,000 square feet in three different wings, with their entrances located under I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the courtyard. It’s best to go online to buy your tickets and select the areas you’d like to see ahead of time.
Musée du Louvre
Rue de Rivoli
Tel: 33 (0)1 40 20 53 17
Musée du Louvre Website
Open: Monday–Sunday 9am–6pm / closed Tuesdays.
Admission: General Admission: €17 (online) / children under 18 years and residents of the European Economic Area: free.
A Choice of Paris Itineraries on Your Walking Tour
Depending on how much time you spent in the Louvre (or how tired you may be), at this point you now have a choice of two places to visit at the end of the first day of your 2 days in Paris.
Option #1 The Marais
Distance: The center of the Marais is just a few minutes from the Louvre (turn right on Rue de Rivoli as you exit the museum). See the attached Paris map.
You’ll now walk along the chic Rue de Rivoli into the beautiful Marais district north of Notre Dame. It’s a beautiful area filled with mansions and several small but notable museums, as well as many popular cafés and restaurants peppered along its little lanes. Encompassing the 13th-century Jewish Quarter, today it’s one of the liveliest nightspots in the city. By all means, take a stroll through it. You can also take one of the popular off-the-beaten-track guided bike tours of Parisian neighborhoods.
Option #2 Galleries Lafayette
Distance: a 20-minute stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries to Concorde; an addition 20 minutes to Galleries Lafayette.
When you exit the Louvre follow the map’s route and walk through the adjacent Tuileries Garden to the beautiful Place de la Concorde.
While you’re there, wander into the lobby of the incredible Hotel de Crillon, one of the most famous luxury hotels in the world. Room rates start around $1300 per night, and its Les Ambassadeurs bar offers more than 100 kinds of Champagne.
From here I suggest you take a 20-minute walk up to Galleries Lafayette (35 Boulevard Haussmann), a beautiful department store with fine fashion and fabulous food. Yes, food. It has restaurants, bars, and take-way. You’ll see plenty of French doing their food shopping here.
35, Boulevard Haussmann
Tel: +33 (0)188.8.131.52.67
Galleries Lafayette Website
Open: The Galeries Lafayette Gourmet Store is open Monday–Saturday 9.30am to 9pm , Sundays and public holidays 11am–8pm. The Main Store is open Monday–Saturday 10am–8pm and Sundays and public holidays 11am–8pm.
Day 2 – A Walking Tour of Paris Map
This map depicts a walking tour of the places mentioned in this article. It is interactive; press +/- to enlarge it or make it smaller. It can also be viewed, and the route followed, on your smartphone.
Visit Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre on Your 2-Days in Paris Tour
Distance: the start of the second day of your 2 days in Paris tour.
The Romano-Byzantine church of Sacré-Cœur, completed in 1914, isn’t as old as other Parisian churches but is better known due to being a Parisian landmark visible from many areas of the city.
It stands on top of the hill of Montmartre, an area of Paris that was once a village outside the city. For centuries it’s been the haunt of artists, something that continues today as scores of them showcase their paintings for tourists in the bustling Place du Tertre. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s fun and colorful and still retains the aura of pre-war Paris. You may also want to join a small-group walking tour to discover Montmartre and visit Sacré-Cœur.
You can reach it via Metro (depending on the line, the stop will be either Anvers, Abbesses, or Lamarck Caulaincourt). From the Metro there’s a walk of a few short blocks and then steps up the hill to reach Sacré-Cœur.
Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées
Distance: 30 minutes by Metro
During your 2 days in Paris, perhaps on your second day, you’ll want to visit the triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomphe. Built to celebrate Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, it’s firmly entrenched as one of the top 10 places in Paris.
Significantly, the customary starting point for parades up the Champs-Élysées, the arch stands in the center of the hub where 12 avenues converge, a nightmare for unsuspecting out-of-town drivers. The viewing platform on its roof provides one of the city’s best views, the only place to get a good view of both the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées.
Arc de Triomphe
Place de l’Étoile, Paris
Open: The viewing platform on the roof is open daily 10am–10:30pm / closed January 1, May 1, May 8 (morning), May 21 (morning), July 14 (morning), July 18, November 11 (morning) and December 25.
Admission: Adults €13 / under 18, 18-25 years nationals of European Union countries and non-European regular residents on French territory, and disabled visitors and their companion: free.
A Don’t Miss: Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower
Distance: a 20-minute walk to Jardins du Trocadéro; another 10 minutes to the Eiffel Tower.
When you leave the Arc de Triomphe, don’t head straight for the Eiffel Tower, the most popular must-see in Paris. Instead follow the map and walk over to the Trocadero Gardens, on the Seine directly across from the Tower.
This is one of the best places to take pictures of the Tower (view the nightly illumination).
Of course, you must then cross the river to visit the Eiffel Tower, one of the top places to visit in Paris. It stands proudly along the Seine on the Champ de Mars and remains the most enduring symbol of Paris.
Everyone has to see it, even if you only to stand below, although the sights from above are much better. There will be crowds queuing at the tower from opening to closing, so it’s well worth getting tickets online in advance. Even better, join a tour and go up the tower in the elevator with access to summit for beautiful views of Paris
If you’re hungry, you’ll find its Jules Verne Restaurant to be one of the best in Paris. Located on the second level of the tower, don’t even think about dining there if you’re on a budget.
Open: Trocadero: 24 hours daily
Open: opening times vary – see opening times here / Jules Verne Restaurant: 12pm–1:30pm and 7pm–9pm. Closed on July, 14 (Bastille Day) for dinner.
Admission: ticket prices vary based upon age, to which stage you will go, and whether you will take the lift or stairs. See the prices here.
Note: the top level of the tower is closed every year from January 3–February 4 for for renovation and maintenance work, although the restaurant remains open.
Distance: a 30-minute walk along the Seine
Now follow your route map to the Musée d’Orsay, which from a collector’s perspective takes over where the Louvre leaves off, exhibiting pieces from 1848 to 1914. It’s a superb museum born as a Belle Époque railway station in the 19th-century and was given a second life in 1986.
World renown for its collection of Impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings, it has works by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, and Cézanne. You can also skip the line at the d’Orsay and have a private tour of its famous Impressionist collection.
It’s a comfortable and easy-to-see museum with exhibits spread about three floors. You’ll spend much less time here than you did in the Louvre but it should be on your list of places to visit in Paris.
Esplanade Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
Musee d’Orsay Website
Open: daily except Monday 9:30am–6pm (until 9:45pm Thursday).
Admission: Adults €16; if you are accompanied by children under 18 years, adult admission is €13 / free entry for visitors under 18 years, EU citizens 18–25 years, and disabled people. The museum is free the first Sunday of the month.
Beautiful Luxembourg Gardens – A Great Place to Picnic
Distance: a 20-minute walk
Don’t miss following your map to beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, one of the top parks in the world. You don’t find it on many self-guided walking tours of Paris, but it’s a treat to visit these beautiful, quiet gardens that are surprisingly close to the hustle and bustle of St-Germain-des-Prés. With only 2 days in Paris you don’t want to spend a lot of time in parks, but it’s a great place on the Left Bank to have a picnic lunch.
This green oasis is the most popular park in all of Paris, a refuge filled with spacious lawns and paths beneath towering chestnut trees. In its center is the beautiful Luxembourg Palace with an octagonal pool where children sail their toy sailboats, which are for rent at the nearby kiosk. The beautiful 60-acre park has both French and English gardens with more than 100 statues spread throughout it.
Rue de Médicis – Rue de Vaugirard
Open: opening and closing times vary. Opening ranges from 7:30am–8:15am, and closing times from 4:30pm–9:30pm, according to the season.
Distance: an 8-minute walk
When you exit the gardens on Boulevard Saint-Michel, follow your route map since you’re only a few minutes walk from the Panthéon, which many travelers bypass if they just have 2 days in Paris. But you’re so close to it now it’s well worth seeing, even if for just a short time.
Modeled after its namesake in Rome, the neoclassic Panthéon originally was constructed as Sainte-Genevieve Church, in honor of the patron saint of Paris. Its life as a church was short-lived, however, since it was completed right before the French Revolution, and the revolutionary government converted it into a mausoleum.
The building’s 220-foot-high dome is so extraordinary that Foucault used it to test his famous pendulum, proving the Earth rotates on its axis.
It is a beautiful and stately building, whose “residents” are a “Who’s Who” of French history. They include such luminaries as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Louis Braille, and Marat. The ashes of Marie Curie were moved here in 1995, more than 60 years after her death.
Place du Panthéon
Tel: 33 / (0)1 44 32 18 00
Open: January 2–to March 31 and October 1–December 31 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. April 1–September 30 10:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Open every day except January 1, May 1 and December 25, and the morning of June 17.
Admission: €11.50 or €9 if with a child under 18 years / free for those under 26 years from countries within EU, disabled people, and primary and secondary teachers. Free for all the first Sunday of the month November 1 – March 31.
End Your 2 Days in Paris Tour In the Latin Quarter
Distance: a 15-minute walk
When you leave the Panthéon return to Boulevard Saint-Michel and follow your map back toward the Seine into the heart of the Latin Quarter, another of the must-sees in Paris.
It’s an easy 15-minute walk that you’ll find on most Paris itineraries, but it likely will take you longer as you enjoy the sights along the way.
Now you’ve reached the end of your second day in Paris. End your walk, put away your map, and stop in a café or restaurant for a drink and dinner.