Boasting 105 square kilometers or 41 square miles of history, art, architecture, literature, haute couture, and our personal playground of gastronomical paradise and world-class wine, Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world, (14.98 million in 2015).
How does one tackle the dauntless task of experiencing France’s capital, Paris, with a mere two days at hand? Fret not, Primlani Kitchen to the rescue. We have the ideal itinerary to capture the essence of a perfect Paris in 48 hours.
If there is one place on earth we would gladly succumb, heck even bow to carbohydrates, guilt-free – it has to be France. From Baguettes to Brioche, Croissants to Caneles, Madeleines to Macarons, Paris is a temple of baked goods.
In interest of time, skip a traditional sit down breakfast for a sublime splurge of city’s boulangeries and patisseries. Fortunately for us, Gosselin, an award winning boulangerie (bakery) is walking distance from the Louvre. Our guilty pleasures included an assortment of viennoiseries – le croissant, Le Pain aux raisins, and for good measure La Brioche. Viennoiserie, the French word for breakfast pastries, is made from yeasted laminated dough, which is rich in butter (music to our ears).
Gosselin: 123 rue St Honoré Paris 1er 01 45 08 03 59
Tip: French are genuine people who abide by centuries of etiquette and grace ingrained in them. A simple hello or good morning will earn you major brownie points.
Memorize “bonjour” (good day), “merci” (thank you) and “au revoir” (farewell) and practice it religiously with each door you open and close.
A mecca of museums, Paris boasts a slew of mind-boggling collections spanning centuries – Centre Pompidou, Musée Carnavalet, Musée National du Moyen Age, Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Quai Branly, Picasso Museum, Centre Pompidou, Cinémathèque Française, and more. If we had to choose one, incontestably the honors go to Louvre. My entrance might get revoked but hey, sporting the first amendment cloak of armor as my shield – (protected right to speak and publish). Even with the mystery surrounding Da Vinci, I remain perplexed me how one single painting can command 780 million euros?
Point being, the Louvre houses one of the world’s greatest art collections; old master paintings (Picasso, Cézanne, van Gogh, Monet, Chagall, & more); renowned collections of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Etruscans, Greeks; tapestries and jewels, and more. Why focus your attention on only 1 piece?
Tip: Buy your timed ticket (15€) in advance online on www.louvre.fr and beat the lines by showing up at three entrances other than the I.M Pei Pyramid. Admission is waived the first Sunday of each month, from October to March.
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris – France. Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17. Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1& 7).
Designed in 1633, the Palais Royal served as the back drop for the movies – Da Vinci Code, Interview with the Vampire, and Audrey Hepburn’s Charade. You can literally sniff the roses, strolling through the Palais’s gorgeous gardens on the way to Willi’s Wine Bar, an Anglo-Saxon bistro renowned for its well curated wine list and celebrity sightings such as the queen bee of wine herself Ms. Janice Robinson, and Mr. Steven Spurrier (the man behind the judgement of Paris).
Tip: We highly recommend ordering from the prix-fixe menu. The price tag makes up for the limited menu offerings and more than likely your meal will include either an alcohol beverage or fresh juice, and coffee/tea at the end of the meal. Our delightful 3-course lunch comprised of a contemporary take on French Bistro food with sensational smoke salmon tartine, steak and frites, and chocolate dessert for only 26€ (roughly 27.5 US$).
The a la carte pricing – Entrées de 8€ à 14€, Plats 16€ à 24€, Desserts 8€ à 10€. You get the point. Willis Wine Bar: 13 Rue des Petits Champs, 75001 PARIS/ (33) 142610509. Metro: Palais Royale, Pyramides, Bourse.
Recharged and refueled, head over to the Eiffel Tower. Built March 31st 1889, at 300 m (984 feet), it held the title of World’s Tallest Building for forty years, till the rise of New York City’s Chrysler Building. Catching the setting sun gilding the grandiose of 42 miles of Paris’s rooftops is a surreal spectacle, etched in our memories for years to come.
Tip: Embrace your athletic soul and climb the iron lady’s 1,665 steps – you will easily slash at least 1 hour of waiting time, feel like Hercules (you can always hop on the elevator down), and you would have earned a well-deserved patisserie break. Both stairs and elevators require fees.
Métro: Bir-Hakeim Line No. 6; tel. 33 (0) 1 44 11 23 23.
Strung with fairy lights all year-round, skip or saunter onto the grand Champs-Élysées. At one end is the Arc de Triomphe, marking the cross roads of 12 streets. Also known as the “Place de l’Étoile”, it was commissioned by Napoleon in honor of his brave soldiers and their victories in 1806.
Whilst the other end of the 1.9 km (1.2 miles) long Ave Champs- Élysées connects to the Louvre, through the Tuilerie Gardens, and the Place Concord. A magnificent view indeed, with the Arch de Triomphe in the shadows, shimmering lights of the grand Champs Élysées ornate trees, Grand Palais, National Assembly, Obelisk of Luxor, and the Eiffel tower soaring above it all. The Place Concord, (formerly named Revolution Square and Place Louis XV) is also the location for King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette’s execution by guillotine in 1973.
Fortunately for Paris and its 14+ million annual visitors, Paris escaped the horrors of WW I & II battles, leaving much of the original architecture styles (Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical), relatively unscathed. Rumor is that a dummy Paris with a replica of Champs- Élysées was built at the end of the First World War to fool German bombers, which merits an entire exclusive for itself.
Grab a front row seat at the cafes lined up on Champs Élysées to partake in Parisian’s preferred past-time – sipping an aperitif. Or shop and sip your way through the Marches de Noel (Christmas market) with vin chaud (mulled wine), grog (hot lemon rum tea), and whisper thin crepes filled with the classic nutella and banana combination.
Big Bus Paris:
What better time to capture the romantic setting of the city of light than a panoramic night tour? Hop on the double decker Big Bus Red Route commencing at the Arche de Triomphe. Strategically stopping top of the hour for a picture perfect moment to catch the iron lady shimmering with 20,000 flashing lights. Drive through National Assembly, Petit Palais, Galarie Lafayette, Louvre, Notre Dame, and River Siene. Crossing over Seine River’s 40 wooden, metal, and stone bridges, from the 400-year-old Pont Neuf to the eye-shaped, steel Simone-de-Beauvoir. Two hours well spent on a crash course of Paris’s history, architecture, and politics.
Night tour: $23.40 https://www.bigbustours.com/en/paris/paris-night-tour-ticket
From three-star Michelin magnets, bohemian bistros, to avant-garde dining destinations, Paris offers something for every budget. Needless to say it would only seem fair that we dedicate at least one day to the world’s foremost culinary sanctuary.
Strap on your best sensible shoes and head over to Rue des Martyrs. Half a mile dedicated to nearly 200 local businesses revolving around all things glorious food and wine. The Rue de Martyrs with 60 other Paris streets enjoys local city zoning, protecting it from international chain stores. Eat local; be local!
Steeped in dark history, the first bishop of Paris (250 AD) Saint Denis’s beheading, and in more recent time’s persecution of Jews during WW II, might be a faint memory but never forgotten.
Grab a coveted patio seat at the charming La Petite Bretonne and order up the midi 3-course meal, comprising of a savory stuffed Sarasin (buckwheat) crepe, green salad, and sweet beurre sucre crepe, doused down with a glass of crisp apple cider for a meager 18€ or 19 US$.
Le Petite Bretonne: 53 Rue Des Martyrs 75009 PARIS 09 70 35 50 39
Little jars of meticulously displayed jams and marmalade beckons you at La Chambre aux Confitures showcasing fruit flavors such as quince, kumquat, elderberry, Christmas editions; savory spreads for cheeses – jura wine, strawberry and pink peppercorn to name a few, and chutneys and condiments – onions, truffles, & pomerol red wine, beer etc. Here’s your chance to fill up that empty suitcase which tagged along with you – no judgement.
Grab a baguette, levain, or fougasse from the award winning boulangeries and patisseries such as Arnaud Delmontel, Sebastian Gaudard, and Pain Pain. Pick up some soft or semi-soft sheep or goat cheese from Chataigner Yves or Parisiennes Fromageries Beillevaire SARL. In our world, no French meal is complete without foie and pate. Les Papilles Gourmandes is a specialty delicatessen offering a delightful assortment of saucisse, foie, pates, savory sides, and quiches, all designed to fit your picnic basket.
Permission granted to drool on the glass panes of Aux Saveurs d’Auvergne, a meat-centric haven, Première Pression, a Provencal olive boutique. The final touch to your picnic basket – be it a bottle of rose or sparkling champagne, Nicolas, and Repaire de Bacchus have a bottle or two to to fit all budgets.
We did warn you – it was a food-centric kind of day. Hope you wore your stretchy pants?
For a deeper immersion in to the gastronomical gems of Paris – book Ms. Wendy Lyn – Paris is my Kitchen, named one of the Top 10 Food Guides in the World by The Wall Street Journal, Top 6 Food City Tours in the World by the Sunday Times, and the “Ultimate Food Insider” and “On a First Name Basis With Every ‘it’ Chef” – you get the point.
Traveling with family? Uber was our preferred choice of transportation. Head over to Paris’s preeminent medieval gothic cathedral – Notre Dame de Paris. Perched on a narrow island of river Seine (Île de la Cité), the cathedral’s construction began in 1163 and took nearly 100 years to complete – 1272. For 10 euros you can catch Quasimodo’s view on top of Notre Dame while the Crypt tour is 8 euros.
Place du Parvis Notre Dame; Métro: St-Michel; tel. 33 (0) 1 42 34 56 10.
On the way to Jardin du Luxembourg, a pit stop is warranted for the Louis Vuitton’s of chocolatiers and patisseries – Pierre Hermes. Splurge on the flawless pièce de résistance Ispaphan – bursting with raspberries, roses, and litchi flavors.
Pierre Hermes: 72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris +33 (0)1 43 54 47 77
As the clock strikes 4:30, park yourself on the numerous 1923-designed green metal chairs and dig in your picnic basket to participate in the delicious ritual of French goûter (snack time) in the city’s magnificently manicured green space shimmering with autumn colored hues as your backdrop. Time permitting and even if you are not traveling with children, catch a show of marionettes or guignols (puppet show), a Parisian tradition.
Inspired by the Boboli Gardens of Florence, Luxembourg Gardens is a sprawling 25 ha, showcasing French and English garden styles, housing a geometric forest, pond, apple orchards, bee apiary, greenhouses with a collection of breathtaking orchids, and rose garden; 106 statues spread throughout the park, monumental Medici fountain, and Palais du Luxembourg – home to the president of the Senate since 1825.
Jardin du Luxembourg: 15 rue de Vaugirard – 75006 Paris. Metro: Odeon, Mabillon, Saint-Michel, Cluny.
For the brave hearts, walk 1.5 km with six million souls at the Catacombs for 12 €.
Catacombes de Paris: 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau) 75014 Paris Tél: 01 43 22 47 63
Shower & sporting a cocktail dress, it’s time to indulge in one of Paris’s favorite past time – cocktails and dinner. After a full day of walking (our smart phones were clocking 10+ miles), you have earned it.
The French have mastered the art of fine dining, reconnecting with friends and family, while effortlessly lingering over fine wine and food. A holistic ritual to sip and savor life around the pressures of living in a big city…
From avant-garde creations to corner cafés, most restaurants offer a 3-course prie-fixe menu aside from the la carte offerings. If you are budding or seasoned French linguist, have a go at the French on-line reservation system and commit to a reservation. Best would be to call the restaurant and most hotel staff are happy to oblige.
Our hotel manager rescued our final evening with reservations at a local bistro run by the most charming husband and wife duo – O Bourif. And we couldn’t be more delighted. Exemplifying the simplicity and sophistication of french cuisine – we noshed on rillette, baked oeufs, sublime scallops, and soul warming stew embellished with a single handsome hunk of bone marrow. One reason to dine at local chef-owned establishments aside from the guaranteed deliciousness, is the kindness and consideration that goes in making you feel like part of the family, which in itself merits five stars. Our hosts barely spoke any English, yet they went above and beyond to accommodate our lack of language skills with patience and grace. Bravo!
Tip: Like other big cities of the world – NY, SF, London, Milan, Madrid – Paris is not only fashionable, it’s the epicenter of haute couture – dress the part. Sneakers and shorts serve only as gym attire. Ladies, squeeze in one cocktail dress and men can easily wear a sports jacket on the plane.
The price of a meal in Paris includes service charges, so tips aren’t required—but attentive and thoughtful service can always be rewarded. Keep in mind, there is no dedicated space on the credit card bill for tips, carry petty change on hand.
O Bourpif: 9, rue Pergolèse – 75116 PARIS Telephone:01 45 00 49 54. Metro: Line 1, Argentine.
If you happen to arrive around the third Thursday of November each year, join in the citywide Beaujolais Nouveau festivities. Speaking of wine, Paris is hot with bars dedicated to Natural Wines—additive-free vinification, zero to minimal sulfur usage, and as little or no filtration, and at the most wallet-friendly prices.
Paris is like no other place. It’s luxurious insouciance and electric energy captivates you; unraveling its aristocracy and secrets only to those who come hungry with open arms. Every cobblestone, cozy café, bohemian bistro, or quaint quartier has a story to tell, steeped in deep-rooted history, patriotism, and culture.
Paris, the vixen, will seduce your soul and leave you irrepressibly alive and hungry for more. Au revoir Paris, we shall see you soon.