36 Hours in... Paris

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by Natasha Edwards, The Daily Telegraph, August 11, 2016

A guide to the best things to do in Paris, including visiting the Musee d'Orsay and the Pantheon, as well as the best luxury hotels and cheap hotels, and traditional cafés.

Why go now?

It’s an ideal time to visit Paris; the days are long and warm enough to make the most of the city’s innumerable café terraces and the cultural season is in full swing, with a hit list of current exhibitions including Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Centre Pompidou, Robert Mapplethorpe and Bill Viola at the Grand Palais, Impressionists at Musée Marmottan, and Van Gogh at Musée d’Orsay. This itinerary covers many of the classic sights (saving a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées and the Louvre for another time), threading through the Left and Right Banks either side of the River Seine, with tempting shopping, galleries and cafés along the way. Most of it can be done on foot – the best way to absorb the atmosphere.

Getting there

Easiest by Eurostar (08705 186186;  eurostar.com ). You can book connecting tickets from stations all over the UK. For the best flight options, read my online guide at  telegraph.co.uk/paris .

Where to stay

Special treat

Relais Christine is more like a dignified country house rather than a hotel, down a discreet side street in St-Germain-des-Prés. Doubles from £271.

Read a  full hotel review of the Relais Christine

Mid range

Close to the Pompidou, the Jules et Jim is an arty boutique hotel, named after the Truffaut film, with 23 rooms divided over series of small buildings. Doubles from £170.

Read a  full hotel review of the Jules et Jim

On a budget

One of Paris’s best-value hotels, Michelet Odéon is also in one of the city’s most beautiful locations, overlooking the lovely 18th-century Théâtre de l’Odéon. From £96.

On arrival


Dine at Lazare (Gare St-Lazare; 0033 1 44 90 80 80), the new train station brasserie reborn in the hands of Eric Frechon, three-star Michelin chef at Le Bristol. It provides hearty cuisine with Normandy touches - and great people-watching in a huge space stacked high with glasses and white plates.


Begin your morning tasting the Parisian café lifestyle over coffee and a croissant at Le Petit Suisse (16 rue de Vaugirard), a tiny ancient café with a view over the Jardin du Luxembourg (and if you’re really keen, join the early morning joggers for a tour of the park first). If you don’t want an espresso, ordering a café-crème (white coffee) is quite acceptable at breakfast time (but not later in the day).

The Louvre is mind-boggling in its scale and sheer wealth of treasures


Walk past the beautiful neoclassical Odéon theatre down rue de l’Odéon, turning left onto Boulevard St-Germain, famed for fashion shops, cinemas and literary cafés. Then turn right down rue de Seine, where food shops soon give way to art and design galleries. You emerge at the Seine near the illustrious Institut de France, with a view of the Louvre across the river. Follow the quays westwards along quai Voltaire, nicknamed quai des Antiquaires, prime territory for window-shopping the antiques galleries.


Bordering the Seine on quai Anatole-France, the grandiose converted train station Musée d’Orsay (1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur;  musee-orsay.fr ; Tue-Sun 9.30am-6pm, admission €11) is home to a greatest hits of Impressionist painting, the most Parisian of art movements. Pop into the “Van Gogh/Artaud” exhibition (until July 6), which has a superb gathering of Van Gogh’s portraits, still lifes and turbulent landscapes.


Return along the quays, or take the 63 bus along boulevard St-Germain if you’re footsore, for the good-value lunch menu at Ze Kitchen Galerie (4 rue des Grands-Augustins; 0033 1 44 32 00 32, lunch menu €39.60) to sample chef William Ledeuil’s exciting modern Franco-Asian cuisine.


Take the 76 or 86 bus from Odéon over to the Right Bank, to Place de la Bastille, souvenir of multiple revolutions. Then head westwards along rue St-Antoine to explore the Marais, where most of the 17th-century architecture remains intact in an inimitable mix of fine mansions, laid-back cafés and tempting boutiques.

The Musée d'Orsay had a wonderful rehangCredit: Alamy

Head through the two courtyards of the Hôtel de Sully at No. 62, which brings you into the beautiful arcaded Place des Vosges. Its numerous famous former residents include Victor Hugo, whose apartment can be visited at No. 6 (Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; admission free).

Stroll along rue des Francs-Bourgeois with detours up rue Vieille-du-Temple and rue de Sévigné. If you’re still in the mood for museums, pop into Musée Carnavalet (23 rue de Sévigné; carnavalet.paris.fr ; Tue-Sun 10am-6pm; free) for a snapshot of Paris history, with its memorabilia of the French Revolution.

Peer into L’Eclaireur (40 rue de Sévigné), which resembles an art installation as much as fashion boutique.


Relax over an aperitif at laid-back Marais café Le Progrès (1 rue de Bretagne), a classic corner café-tabac drawing an arty Marais crowd, or sample a modern mezcal cocktail in the trendy Candelaria (52 rue de Saintonge; 0033 1 42 74 41 28)


Head to the 11th for the classic French bistro experience at vintage Astier (11) (44 rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud; 0033 1 43 57 16 35, menu €35, metro Oberkampf or Parmentier) or to the Latin Quarter for the satisfying casseroles at Bistroy ... Les Papilles (30 rue Gay-Lussac, 0033 1 43 25 20 79; menu €31; RER Luxembourg), both with convivial atmosphere and superb wine lists.

This domed neo-classical edifice was begun in 1764 as a church dedicated to Saint GenevièveCredit: Alamy

The next day

Spend the morning in the Latin Quarter, where the place du Panthéon is one of Paris’s grand architectural set pieces. The dome of Le Panthéon (0033 1 44 32 18 00, daily 10am-6.30pm, admission €7.50) is currently under scaffolding but you can still go inside to admire this vast mausoleum, where France’s great men repose in the crypt.

On a corner of the square, The lovely Gothic-Renaissance church of St-Etienne du Mont (admission free) contains the shrine of the city’s patron saint, Saint Geneviève. Depending on the day, go to one of the district’s great food markets — Monge (Wed, Fri, Sun mornings, Maubert (Tue, Thur, Sat mornings) or rue Mouffetard (Tue-Sun) — always an excuse to take home some fabulous cheese.

This itinerary is part of the Telegraph Travel app, available free from the  App Store

You can access the app offline, and because it relies on GPS to track your movements, there is no risk of expensive roaming charges. There are easy-to-use interactive maps and clear and simple categories to help you make your choices.

In short, it is your passport to a better trip and, best of all, it’s completely free. To download the app, simply go to  telegraph.co.uk/travelapp

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This article was written by Natasha Edwards from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.