A dear friend from high school emailed me a few days ago:
We're arriving in Paris Friday for a very short visit before our bike trip in Normandy starts.
Should we do the boat on the Seine at night??
Any other “must do’s” you can think of or restaurant we should go to?
Only have 3 nights and 2 days really!
And when a question like that comes in over the transom, and I don't have lots of time to think or research, I know that my speedy answer is coming straight from the heart. Here is what my fingers replied hastily:
So exciting!! It's apparently really hot in Paris right now, so a boat ride on the Bateaux Mouches might be nice, if you can be on the upper deck and it's open.
Two days? All I can recommend is walking walking walking around everywhere. Go from Place Vendome (that's where you're staying, right?) to the Opera to the Madeleine to the place de la Concorde, then (if you can bear it) up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.
Then -- perhaps the next day, go to the Trocadero for an unforgettable view of the Eiffel Tower, then go down to the Seine and go "left" along the quais, admiring the houseboats etc., then cross the Pont Alexandre III. Okay, actually stop here and go to the restaurant at le Grand Palais called Le Minipalais. Then cross over the Seine, head toward the Invalides, wander through there and then go to the Musee Rodin. Great shady garden to cool off in.
If you only have a few days, do NOT try to actually go into places like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. You'll spend too much time in line.
If the weather were cold, I'd recommend Angelina on rue de Rivoli for a hot chocolate!
If you want something fun, try a car ride in a classic Deux Chevaux through Paris through Quatres Roues sous un parapluie.
The Palais Royal is another of my favorite spots. And Cafe Marly next to the Louvre is a great spot to stop for lunch or dinner.
Of course, the classic Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Magots in the 6e are great even just to stop by for a coffee or glass of wine. Great people watching, which is what Paris is all about.
Have fun and send photos!!!
ps. Avoid Montmartre Place du Tertre, avoid Chatelet les Halles, and do not pay any attention to beggars or to anyone who asks "Do you speak English?" They are gypsies and/or pickpockets.
pps: In all establishments, stores, restaurants, boutiques, buses, taxis, whatever, always begin with "Bonjour, Monsieur," or "Bonjour, Madame." Then move to English if necessary. But you'll always get better service. And "Merci, monsieur/madame, au revoir," at the end. It will make a world of difference in your visit!!!
I'm sure there are favorites that I have forgotten. I neglected shopping spots and the Hotel de Ville. What have I left out? What do you think? What would YOU have suggested? How would you recommend condensing Paris into 2 days?
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