48 hours in Paris: two travel experts share their tips
One city, two experts. Ryan Levitt and Pascale Barget get off the beaten tourist track and offer their personal Must-do's in Paris.
By Ryan Levitt and Pascale Barget on 04 December 2012 in Travel Articles
Paris is an exquisite city. It has been described as 'the city of lights', 'the city of romance', 'the city of love' – every cliché has been used. As the world's most visited city, the French capital offers something for everyone.
The difficulty is often in knowing what to restrict yourself to seeing. 48-hours lets you take a bite-sized chunk out of this delectable destination. Just remember, if you find yourself overwhelmed, plop down at a café, order a tipple and watch the world go by for a bit before diving into whatever else the city has in store for you.
For a more sleek option consider Hotel Costes (rooms from €400). The latter also becomes a hub of activity during the evenings thanks to the myriad of themed seating area near the bar.
For a quintessentially authentic and charming experience take a look at the Hotel Saint Paul Rive Gauche in Odeon, offers rooms from €150 per night. The building dates back to 17th century and was opened by the great grandfather of its current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins. It has stone walls and rustic wood beams are draped in rich colours and fabrics. They even have quadruple rooms for families.
Ryan: Paris offers plenty of places to rest your head, but quality can vary wildly. For every former palace there is a hovel and everything else in between. The most glittering new arrival to the hotel scene was the Shangri-La Paris which was opened in 2010. Once owned by a member of the Bonaparte family, the hotel particulier is situated in a very chic part of the 16th Arrondissement just across the river from the Tour Eiffel.
For something more affordable consider renting a private residence. HouseTrip offers over 3,000 private residences for rent from studios from €19 per night to six-bedroom homes. Some have private swimming pools and jacuzzis.
Many tourists think dining in Paris is expensive. Yes it can be but it doesn't have to. Paris Hanoi has two places on in the 10th and 11th arrondissments that serve unbelievable Vietnamese food at around €10 a main. Reservation is essential.
Bouillon Chartier, an infamous restaurant over 100 years old situated in an ex-railway station serves traditional and very basic French dishes diners come here for the atmosphere. To avoid long queues in the evenings arriving early is a good tip. Chez Janou, a charming and bustling French bistro, is well-known for its delicious chocolate moose.
Ryan: Paris is synonymous with the Michelin star, and there is no better place to enjoy haute cuisine than in the French capital. But you will have to pay for the privilege. In the 2012 guide, there were 10 restaurants in Paris offering three-star cuisine, including Pierre Gagnaire, one of the leaders of the fusion cuisine movement.
For something a little more affordable, go where the hipsters go and head over to Paris' answer to Shoreditch; the Canal St. Martin. Chez Prune is the place to see and be seen. Bistro fare including tasty quiches and salads is standard. It won't win any awards for quality but it is definitely the place to go if you want to live like a bright young thing.
Ryan: If you only have time for one place, head to either Les Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, the famous French department stores. While they lack the charm of smaller family-owned purveyors and the sophistication of the famous haute couture ateliers such as Chanel and Dior, they do provide a convenient 'one-stop shop' opportunity for the best that France has to offer. Not only that but Printemps boasts one of the largest selections of perfume in the world. Both shops are located next-door to each other on the Boulevard Haussmann.
Café A and Le Comptoir Général are nearby one another in the 10th arrondissment and are another good place for sociable drinking. Beware, queuing gets underway if you don't arrive early but at least it's free.
Pascale: Paris is the place for art fanatics. In one trip it's possible to tour art through the centuries. In chronological order one starts from the Louvre's prehistoric era, followed by the impressionists at Musée d'Orsay and more recent work at Centre Pompidou.
Other favourites include Palais de Tokyo and Le Musée d'Art Moderne situated right next to each other and joined by a wonderful terrace with unbelievable views over the city. Another, Jeu de Paume, in Jardin de Tuileries is another good bet for those into modern art.
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