The first time I was there I was a child. I did all the tourist things to do – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame de Paris, Place de la Concorde and others. This included waiting in lines or enjoying beautiful parks with hundreds of other tourists. Being on the beaten path in Paris and avoiding all the crowds could be hard. After all if you want to really visit top tourist attractions, you have to be prepared, filled with patience and give it a try.
After several years of living abroad in Germany a new desire emerged in my mind. I wanted to take the train to France and get lost in Paris for a weekend. Just wandering around the streets of the most romantic city, enjoying the architecture of the buildings, shopping at the local market and getting a taste of Paris like a person who has just moved there. I enjoy imagining living in different cities. Every new place is a new story, new life and unique character.
Fortunately, I couldn’t make it to Paris back then. That’s right – I am happy for not completing my dream some years ago. What I’ve learned is that there is a time for everything and we should not force what’s not yet supposed to fit into our life. So, there is a right time for everything and there was my right time to visit Paris.
The result were 48 amazing hours in Paris – some of them on the beaten path but experienced in off-beat way.
Here are some tips based on my “48 hours in Paris” experience:
I only knew that I am flying to Paris a day before the flight. Nowadays it is much easier to plan your trip at the very last moment. There are many low-cost companies that are offering flights at a reasonable price.
Plan according to your job
A weekend at a nice destination is not worth the troubles you may have at your job if not coming back in time. If you don’t want to take a day off, check carefully for convenient flights so you can squeeze your trip in 2 days.
Have a Parisian experience
Instead of booking a hotel or hostel, check airbnb and rent a place to stay from a local host. We had the chance to stay at a nice cozy apartment in a pretty central area with a stunning view, a nice balcony where we had our breakfast, and a quiet bedroom in the back of the building.
Don’t forget to be respectful to the place since it is a private place, it is literally someone’s home.
Move like a local
Metro: Taking the metro is a nice experience since it is very old. Travelling by the metro is a tourist attraction in itself.
Bicycle: Try the biggest bike-sharing in the world for just 1.80 EUR. With over 20,000 bikes covering the city in 1,800 bike stations located every 300 meters, Velib offers you to travel around Parisian streets in a unique way. The first 30 minutes on a velib bike is free. You can take a bike from one station to another, leaving the bike and enjoying Parisian streets, parks or the Seine river.
Scooter: Rent a Vespa. Enjoy the streets like a Parisian. Travelling by scooter lets you avoid traffic, skip the parking fees (since it is free to park your scooter), and quickly reach distant areas such as the peaceful Bois de Boulogne, or the striking Louis Vuitton Foundation building (you have just a weekend after all).
I recommend Freescoot – friendly people, great service. Totally worth it.
Enjoy local food
What is a French breakfast without a croissant? Get up early in the morning and go to the nearest patisserie in the neighborhood. There are varieties of sweet treats that are must-try. I am truly impressed by the eclairs. The best I have ever ever eaten!
Shop at the local markets for some fresh vegetables and fruits. If you are a cheese lover – France is your place. In every supermarket you can find a variety of French cheese. The sharper it is – the more tasty.
Restaurants: check TripAdvisor or Foursquare for the places with the highest ratings that best suit your taste and budget.
Don’t read too much about every street and corner of the city. Leave yourself to be surprised and impressed by new discoveries. Lie on the grass, listen to the city noise, and walk hand in hand through winding streets. Just wander around enjoying the present moment and the opportunity you have to be at that amazing place!