While the romantic city of Paris is best explored at a leisurely pace, it is possible to see many of its most iconic landmarks such as the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and of course – the Eiffel Tower, within a short weekend visit. Read on for your need-to-know guide to a whistle-stop tour of the city of love…
Morning: Eiffel Tower and stroll along the Seine
Get your trip off to a stratospheric start with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. As one of Paris' most-visited tourist attractions it's best to get here early to beat the queues. Entry is available from 9am during the summer and 9:30am the rest of the year, with tickets available to book in advance at toureiffel.paris. Once you're back on solid ground take a stroll along the Seine, passing popular museums like Musée d'Orsay, stopping to take photos of the beautiful architecture you pass along the way.
Afternoon: Enjoy a picnic at Jardin de Luxembourg and see Notre Dame
If you're visiting in the summer, head to Jardin du Luxembourg for an al fresco picnic on the perfectly manicured lawns, with the beautiful sight of the Luxembourg Palace in the background. Notre-Dame Cathedral is just a 15-minute walk away, and worth a visit to marvel at the French Gothic architecture.
Alternatively: Head further east to Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical garden in France that features some 24 hectares of land dedicated to growing rare botanicals, with its very own zoo and museums at the centre.
Evening: See the city from a new perspective at Tour Montparnasse
As exciting as it is to see the views from the Eiffel Tower, there's nothing quite like seeing the iconic landmark from up high, and the best place to do so is at Tour Montparnasse. This 59-storey building is located south of the Seine in Montparnasse, and has panoramic views across the city. Head up in the evening to see the Eiffel Tower's glittering light display on the hour, every hour from sunset until 1 or 2am. Entry costs €17 (around £15) for an advance online ticket.
Morning: Tour the Louvre and shop on the Champs-Élysées
Art lovers can't visit Paris without touring the Louvre. As well as being home to the Mona Lisa, other highlights include the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, so it's no wonder it gets very busy. Book your tickets in advance for guaranteed entry within 30 minutes to save time queuing. After your visit, wander through the Tuileries and along to the Champs-Élysées, stopping to shop as you make your way up to the Arc de Triomphe.
Afternoon: Head to Montmartre and Sacré Coeur
Hop on the Metro and venture north to Montmartre, the Parisian neighbourhood you'll recognise from countless movies and home to the Moulin Rouge and Sacré Coeur. You'll be rewarded with stunning views across the city from just below the basilica, or if you're feeling up to it, climb the 300 stairs to reach the dome.
Alternatively: Indulge in some of Paris' most famous treats. Ordering macarons from Ladurée is a rite of passage, and there are a number of branches throughout the city. The store and restaurant on 16 rue Royale – close to Place de la Concorde – which dates back to 1862 and still has the authentic spirit of a 19th century tearoom.
You could also head to Angelina, known and loved for its legendary hot chocolate. More like a dessert than a drink, the "African" hot chocolate is thick, creamy and served in a small jug with a side of fresh whipped cream. The perfect Parisian treat.
Evening: Explore Paris' culinary scene
Sample some fine French cuisine at one of Paris' renowned restaurants. Alain Ducasse is France's best-known chefs and has two restaurants in the capital – Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse and Alain Ducasse au Plaze Athénée – both of which have been awarded Michelin stars. Alternatively, tourists on a budget can still enjoy a delicious meal at restaurants like A la Biche au Bois, which serves traditional Parisian food at affordable prices.
Where to stay in Paris:
Le Meurice: Maximise your time in the city by booking a hotel that is centrally located and within walking distance of some of Paris' most iconic destinations. Le Meurice is the ideal choice for a true taste of Parisian luxury, just metres away from the Tuileries gardens, the Louvre museum and the river Seine. This five-star hotel dates back to 1835 and is part of the Dorchester Collection, which is synonymous with luxury and elegance, and it certainly lives up to its name; stars like Beyoncé and Jay Z, Justin Bieber have all been known to all stay there during their trips to the French capital.
YOOMA Urban Lodge: You can still get a great central base and clean, modern room within easy rich of Paris' landmarks when you're on a budget. YOOMA Urban Lodge is one such example, located just down the road from Eiffel Tower and with an eye-catching exterior designed by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren.
With 106 rooms, including larger rooms to sleep up to six guests, it is the ideal place for a stay with friends, and also has a rooftop garden, a fitness centre and sauna. Rooms are available from £80 per night.
How to get to Paris:
One of the easiest ways to get to Paris is via Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. The journey takes only 2hr 16 mins and drops you into the heart of the city, with seats from £29 each way. Alternatively, you could fly into either Charles De Gaulle or Orly airports, which are both around 45 minutes from the centre of Paris. Flights take around 1hr 15 minutes and are available from airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Vueling.