Disclaimer: In case it wasn’t obvious from the title, this 48 hours largely revolves around eating. I have peppered in non-food related activities based on convenience and proximity to the food and as such, you won’t see many of the typical tourist activities (i.e. visiting the Eiffel Tower or walking up the Champs Elysée). Moreover, it may seem like I have included an intimidating amount of food. Perhaps that’s true, but this isn’t amateur hour. It may be wise to train your stomach in advance if you don’t currently feel up to the challenge. There is no gain without pain.
Lastly, just a few notes about visiting Paris:
If you don’t want to be immediately identified as an American and consequently judged before you open your mouth, dress the part. The appropriate attire for women includes boots, dark jeans, large sweaters, enormous scarves, wool coats and tousled hair. The appropriate attire for men is….well, it’s actually exactly the same as for women. If you are wearing Uggs, you are doing it wrong. If you are wearing sweatpants, you are doing it wrong. If you are wearing any kind of gym attire at all (other than cool sneakers), YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.
Also, for the love of God, say Bonjour upon entering a store and Merci, bonne journée!, upon exiting.
Okay, here we go.
9am Breakfast at Maison Kayser, 14 rue Monge, 75005, $
Kayser basically has an empire now, but this was his first storefront and still makes some of the best bread in the world. Get a few croissants, some mini brioches, a baguette and some cafés au lait and split with your friends so you can have some of everything. They have seating so you can eat in.
10am Check out the Quartier Latin
Stroll up the Rue Mouffetard, one of the most well known streets in Paris, full of shops and the like. There are also a lot of bars around here, but it is 10am. Then, you can visit the Panthéon so you can feel good about seeing at least one landmark. In the words of Wikipedia, the Panthéon “contains the remains of distinguished French citizens,” such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie. After you’re done looking at tombs, walk down the Rue Soufflot and then go chill in the Jardin du Luxembourg, arguably one of the most beautiful places in Paris.
12:30pm Crêpes at Breizh Café, 109 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003, $$
These are the best crêpes in Paris. Seriously, they are crack. Order either a complète (ham, cheese, egg) or one of their specials, some hard cider, and share a dessert crêpe (any of the ones that contain their house-made salted butter caramel are a good choice).
2pm Explore the Marais
Get lost in the Jewish quarter the oldest neighborhood in Paris. Duck into hidden courtyards and wander into the impossibly chic boutiques. Check out the Rue des Francs Bourgeois, at the end of which is the Place des Vosges, where Victor Hugo lived. You can visit his house if you’d like.
3:30pm Ice cream at Berthillon, 31 rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile, 75004, $
After falling in love with the Place des Vosges, walk along the Seine to the Ile Saint-Louis, where you will find the most acclaimed ice cream shop in Paris, Berthillon. All the flavors are great, but the dark chocolate is especially awesome. Grab a cone and walk around, or eat in and opt for a sundae.
4:30pm Espresso at Café de Flore, 172, boulevard Saint Germain, $$$
Café de Flore is pricey and also touristy, but real Parisians do come here and also Hemingway and Sartre used to hang here. It’s super SABS-y, so Penn kids should feel right at home.
5:30pm Shopping in Saint Germain
Saint Germain is really fashionable and bougie, so of course there’s awesome shopping. Most of it is painfully expensive, so stick mostly to food you can bring home. Get macarons at Pierre Hermé, especially their Ispahan flavor (72 rue Bonaparte, 75006) a big bag of punition cookies (basically the best butter cookies you’ve ever had) at Poilâne (8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006), and then head to the Bon Marché and the Grande Epicerie (24 rue de Sèvres, 75007) to look at the pretty people and gawk at the prices. For gentler prices, go across the street to Zara (59 rue de Sèvres, 75006), which everyone knows is better and cheaper in Europe.
7pm Apéritif at L’Avant Comptoir, 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, $$
Grab a glass of wine before dinner and order a couple of nibbles from the pictures hanging from the ceiling and try not to stuff your face with their awesome bread and butter. I’d recommend the charcuterie plate and the seared foie gras. It gets very crowded and there aren’t any seats (you eat at bars) so prepare to get cozy with your neighbors.
9pm Dinner at Buvette, 28 rue Henry Monnier, 75009, $$
Awesome food, small plates, and really good cocktails. Get the Bee’s Knees cocktail, a bottle of wine, and a bunch of plates to share. The beets with horseradish crème fraiche and the coq au vin are excellent. For dessert, get the Tarte Tatin.
12am Party at La Machine du Moulin Rouge, 90 boulevard de Clichy, 75018
Check out Paris’ nightclub scene at this three-story club. The dancefloor used to be the Moulin Rouge’s boiler room and you can see the old pipes. It now has an Alice in Wonderland-type feel and really good music.
11am Brunch at Holybelly, 19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010, $$
If you did the previous night correctly, you are now hungover. Holybelly is the holygrail of hangover cures. The food is on point, the staff speaks English and the prices are reasonable. The eggs come with two sides of your choice (their hashbrowns are unreal), and they’re served with the famed Pain des Amis from Du Pain et des Idées.
12:30pm Walk along the Canal St. Martin
The Canal Saint-Martin, which runs from the Place de la République to the Place de la Bastille de Stalingrad, is gorgeous and tree-lined. It’s only open to bike and pedestrian traffic and on the weekend, Parisians like to lounge on the banks, or the quais, so this is a great place to people watch.
2pm Snack at Caractère de Cochon, 42 rue Charlot, 75003, $
This charcuterie shop has basically every kind of ham and sausage you could dream of. They also make a killer jambon-beurre baguette, so get one. You’re probably not hungry yet so sharing is permissible. Pro tip: ask for cornichons and put them on the sandwich yourself (they won’t do it for you), and definitely opt for salted butter over unsalted. Also, they have no seating so eat this as you walk.
2:30pm Visit the Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004
You can’t come to Paris and not see any art at all (you also need a break from eating). Go to the Centre Pompidou, which holds the largest collection of modern art in Europe, for a little culture. There’s a Jeff Koons exhibition there until late April, if you’re into that kind of thing.
5pm Tea at Jacques Genin, 133 rue de Turenne, 75003, $$
Yep, time to eat again. Jacques Genin’s relatively new tea salon is really beautiful and the pastries are excellent. Share a hot chocolate, a mille-feuille and the pastry of the day. Buy chocolate and the best salted-butter caramels in Paris to take home. Lounge here until it’s time for an apéritif, you deserve a break.
7pm Cocktails at Pas de Loup, 108 rue Amelot, 75011, $$
This bar has seriously good cocktails. Stop in to catch a buzz before dinner. Get a 23-year aged tequila, red Dolin vermouth and pear eau de vie cocktail. Don’t know what any of that means? Me neither, but it tastes damn good.
9pm Dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert, 18 rue Paul Bert, 75011, $$$
This is your quintessential bistro and it’s also fairly well-known, so make reservations ahead of time. Order steak frites, but beware that they only serve it rare (the only way steak should be eaten). If you really can’t do the rare-thing, pretty much everything else is good, too. Definitely get the Paris-Brest for dessert.
12am Drinks at Aux Deux Amis, 45 rue Oberkampf, 75011, $
This bar gets really crowded so watch like a hawk for seating. Get drunk on wine in the meantime, and when the drunchies inevitably hit, order chorizo and a slice of tortilla española. The Oberkampf area has a ton of bars so you can bar-hop if you’re tryna stay out late.