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View of the Eiffel Tower from a Parisian balcony at sunset
Karen Mandau | Adobe Stock

SmarterStay: Spend a Long Weekend in Paris, France

Whether you’re making a stop on a jet setting European tour or can only get away for a couple of days, here’s how to make the most of a long weekend in Paris.  

Table of Contents

Where to Stay
What to Do
What to Eat & Drink
Why Stay in Paris?
Your Weekend Itinerary for Paris, France

Where to Stay

For Convenient Luxury: The Kimpton St. Honoré Paris

The Kimpton St Honoré Paris, built inside a former luxury department store, is centrally located between the 2nd and 9th districts in the city’s Opera neighborhood. Enjoy stunning 20th century architecture, including the building’s original staircases and iron elevators, combined with modern conveniences such as room service, flat screen televisions, and Bluetooth speakers in every room. 

For the Literary Crowd: Hotel D’Aubusson

Built inside a 17th century townhouse, the Hotel D’Aubusson offers fifty rooms and suites. It is also home to Café Laurent, a venue famous in the literary and arts scene for hosting several influential figures, from Voltaire to Miles Davis. Monday through Saturday, guests can sip on a signature cocktail as they enjoy live jazz performances, an homage to the café’s time as a 1940s jazz club. 

For Budget-Savvy Travelers: Novotel Paris Centre Tour Eiffel

Stay walking distance from the Eiffel Tower for under $100 per night. Nightly rates at Novotel Suites Centre Eiffel start at just $66. With 764 rooms, views of the Seine, an in-house Japanese restaurant, and on-site parking, you won’t find a better deal for your money. 

Find a Hotel in Paris, France

Want to explore more options? Check out SmarterTravel Hotels to find your perfect stay. 

What to Do

Visit A Museum

TICO | Adobe Stock

You’ll never want for arts and culture in Paris. 

The Louvre

Perhaps the most famous museum in the city, the Louvre is a can’t miss stop. The Louvre houses 35,000 pieces of art across its four floors and is the permanent home of famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. A visit to the Louvre can be an all day affair, so plan accordingly. For those overwhelmed by the extensive collection, check out one of the museum’s curated tours

The Bourse de Commerce

From its start as a 16th century royal residence to its time as a 20th century Chamber of Commerce, The Bourse de Commerce has lived many lives. Its most recent iteration was brought to fruition by Japanese architect Tandao Ando, who transformed the building into a museum of contemporary art after completing renovations in 2021. This avante-garde space puts dynamic multimedia artwork in conversation with the building’s historic architecture across its ten exhibition areas. Exhibits currently on display can be found on the museum’s website.

Musée d’Orsay

Take a trip through the dreamy world of the impressionists at the Musée d’Orsay, which houses the largest collection of impressionist work in the world, including Van Gogh’s famous self portrait and Claude Monet’s Poppy Field

Palais Galliera 

Fashion-lovers shouldn’t miss the Palais Galliera, a museum dedicated to both modern and historical fashion. Now through March 5th, guests can experience the Friday Kahlo: Beyond Appearances exhibition, complete with several of the artist’s most famous outfits including her iconic Tehuana dresses.

Do Some Shopping

Shopping in Paris is an experience unto itself, whether or not you end up swiping your card. 

La Samaritaine

Splurge on some haute couture at La Samaritaine, a historic luxury department store that has been serving shoppers since the 1870s. The exterior, a playful blend of art deco and art nouveau that was once scoffed at by Parisians for its gaudy color and design, sets the tone for a day of shopping where you’re sure to have your Emily in Paris moment (In fact, see the famed shopping center featured in season two of the show!). 

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

For even more scenic shopping, head to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in the Opera district. Famous for its ornate architecture and hundred year old glass dome ceiling, you can easily spend hours admiring the scenery without making a purchase. 

Le Bon Marché

While not as grand as the other two, I’d be remiss not to mention Le Bon Marché, the oldest and longest-running department store in the world. Starting out as nothing more than a corner store in 1852, Le Bon Marché has grown into a sprawling establishment spanning the entire block—truly the “cathedral of modern commerce” as envisioned by its founders.

Visit the Landmarks

scaliger | Adobe Stock

Eiffel Tower

There are few landmarks as internationally iconic as the Eiffel Tower. Whether you choose to stick to a photo op on the ground or venture up to the observation deck on the top floor, it will surely be a highlight of your trip.

Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées translates to “Elysian Fields”, drawing a comparison between the roughly 1.2 mile street and the mythological Greek paradise. And for shoppers, foodies, and those seeking a quintessential Parisian experience, paradise may not be far off. The Arc de Triomphe, the second largest arch in the world at 150 feet wide, looms large over this famous stretch. Travelers can take the pedestrian tunnel beneath the street to visit the Arc up close.

Notre Dame

While Notre Dame and its abutting courtyard remain closed to the public following the 2019 fires, it’s still a worthwhile stop. Enjoy the visible architecture from the outside as you explore the area or schedule your trip for 2024 when the church is set to reopen to the public. 

Moulin Rouge

Fans of the musical will not want to miss this landmark. Take in a real life cabaret show beneath the famous windmill, with shows running at 7pm, 9pm, and 11pm. Be aware that there is a loose dress code.

Roman Ruins

You don’t have to plan a trip to Italy to explore Roman ruins. With a little digging (pun intended), you’ll uncover several of these ancient sites throughout Paris, remnants of its time as part of the Roman Empire.

Enjoy the Seine

There are many ways to explore this central river running through the city. Get out on the water with river cruise company Vedettes de Paris, literally meaning “stars of Paris”, a company that truly lives up to its name as its boats ferry guests past all the iconic sites lining the riverbanks. Enjoy refreshments onboard or stop in for dinner at their riverside restaurant before embarking.

If you prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of areas to explore along the river or to sit and picnic like a local. Make sure to take a stroll across Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, for an excellent view of the river and city.

Take a Day Trip

BRIAN_KINNEY | Adobe Stock

There’s more than enough to keep you entertained in the city, but if you can tear yourself away, Paris is an excellent homebase for a day trip. 

Tour Versailles

About an hour outside the city you’ll find the sprawling grounds of Versailles. Built by King Louis XIV, the palace has 2,300 rooms, six floors, and a 2,000 acre garden complete with an entire village retreat built for the famously controversial Marie Antionette. Tickets run from €12 to €45 ($13 to $48) for varying levels of access to exhibitions and different areas of the property. 

House of Claude Monet

Also just an hour outside of the city lies Giverny, home of famous impressionist painter Claude Monet. Guests are invited to tour his home’s colorful pastel interior, resplendent in blues, pinks, and yellows, and explore the gardens that inspired his famous water lily paintings. 

Sample the Champagne

The only true champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, and luckily for travelers it is just under two hours from Paris. Several tour operators run day trips to the region, from private tours to small groups.

Where to Eat & Drink

There is no end to the dining options in a city known for its cuisine, but here are a few we recommend. 

Breakfast & Brunch

Espresso, jams, oranges and orange juice, and pastries laid out on a wooden table
Nitr | Adobe Stock

Light Pastries at a Bakery

Breakfast in France is not the grand affair that it can be in the States. When in Paris, swap your French toast for pastries or croissants with some light fruit. Luckily, the city has no shortage of cafes you can duck into for a morning treat. 

For the morning caffeine addicts who haven’t acquired a taste for plain espresso, ask for a noisetteessentially the French equivalent of a macchiato. 

Lunch

Selection of dishes from Montecito
Selection of dishes from Montecito | Carol McPhersonCarol McPherson

Montecito

For an elevated taste of home, don’t miss a meal at Montecito, Kimpton’s St Honoré’s Californian-inspired bistro located just behind the main lobby. This restaurant is open to hotel guests and the public. 

Voyage

Split up your day of shopping with lunch at Voyage, opened on the top floor of La Samaritaine in 2021. The menu offers a variety of decadent meals and desserts, and diners can admire the vibrant art nouveau murals that adorn the top floor, illuminated by an expansive glass ceiling.

Dinner

Exterior and Interior shots of Restaurant Amour in Paris, France
Carol McPherson & Hotel Amour

Monsieur Bleu

Located inside the Palais de Tokyo, Monsieur Bleu is an upscale spot just a ten minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. This is the perfect place to pause your midday sightseeing and enjoy a warm cup of pumpkin soup or plate of black truffle tagliatelle before heading out again.

Restaurant Amour

This dreamy eatery inside Hotel Amour is tucked away in the city’s Pigalle District, illuminated by its warm neon signage. The intimate atmosphere is rich with pinks and blues, complimented by an abundance of plants and low lighting. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.

Drinks

Sequoia rooftop at Kimpton St Honoré Paris bar overlooking Paris skyline
Rooftop patio at Sequoia |Kimpton St Honoré ParisKimpton St. Honoré Paris

Sequoia

Open in the spring and summer and located on the rooftop of the Kimpton St Honoré Paris, Sequoia offers panoramic views of the city underscored by live DJ sets and accompanied by delicious food and drink. 

Bistrot Champs de Mars 

Another spot just minutes from the Eiffel Tower, Bistrot Champs de Mars offers food and drink with a charming vintage atmosphere. Perfect for anything from a quick cocktail to a full meal, Champs de Mars offers its menus in six languages including English and French.

Why Stay in Paris?

Paris has long had a reputation as a city of romance, art, and culture. Beyond checking off a few famous landmarks from the bucket list, however, many travelers wonder if Paris is worth all the hype.  

The answer lies in the true magic of Paris: a rich and layered history that remains intimately tied with everyday city life. You can stand at the center of a Roman theater and see Napoleonic-era apartment buildings and skyscrapers in the same skyline. You can have lunch in the spot where 20th century fashionistas did their shopping. You can take the same selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower that thousands of travelers have before you and be briefly part of the unfolding story of the City of Light.

Your Long Weekend Itinerary for Paris, France

If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable way to get yourself to Paris, consider flying low-cost carrier French bee, which operates flights to Paris Orly from San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami airports. Read our full review of their Premium Economy class here.

Thursday Evening

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Explore the shops at La Samaritaine
  • Check out of Kimpton St Honoré Paris (Checkout: Before 12pm)
  • Depart from Paris Orly (ORY)

Click here to download a copy of this itinerary and take it with you!

Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

Editor’s Note: The author was hosted by French bee and A Tout France.

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