On my second day in Paris, Mum and I made our way to Saint Michel on the metro line, stopping of a local creperie before wandering over to the islands.
Île de la Cité
Although we didn’t plan on joining the extremely long queue into the cathedral, we enjoyed examining the incredible exteriors of Notre Dame from afar and up close, before spotting the bronze star that represents the centre of Paris. As the bells rang 11am, the international service began inside.
Get up early for the length queue into Notre Dame. It’s fast moving but long! If you can’t face the queue, just enjoy the exteriors.
La Conciergerie and Saint Chapelle
Wandering on we came across the medieval La Conciergerie, known as the famous palace turned prison where Marie Antoinette spent her last days. Inside is a fascinating self-tour of the rooms and cells where the prisoners of the revolution spent their lives whilst the outside fought for their rights.
Leaving the grounds we walked a few yards down the street to Saint Chapelle. The Gothic church is one of the world’s most impressive but you won’t know why until later on. The first entrance brings you into a very pretty room however up the narrow spiralling staircase you must go, to reach a jaw dropping scene of 15 stained glass windows with over 1000 scenes depicted across them. The church filled with colour and light as people stood in awe of the beauty around them. Of course pictures will never do it justice, for it is only a sight to be seen in the flesh.
The exit then took us past the Palais du Justice, a wonder of architecture with an impressive golden gate.
Get a joint ticket for La Conciergerie and Saint Chapelle for 15 euros. Remember that those under 25 get in for free!
The Latin Quarter
After a morning of walking and working up an appetite, we headed to the south of the river to the Latin Quarter. Mooching along the riverside I picked a beautiful vintage print from the market sellers. Although normally packed with tacky tourist goods, I fell in love with a vintage Vogue print of a girl looking out over the Eiffel Tower.
As we mooched on towards our lunch reservation, we came across Square René Viviani, a beautiful small garden perfect for sipping a coffee or reading a novel in the sunshine.
Our lunch took place at Sourire Tapas, a local favourite for excellent small French dishes that are each so hard to resist. We picked the mixed charcuterie board that had a selection of each of the available meats and cheeses, alongside a side of French fries served with the ‘Sourire sauce’… so good we licked the bowl clean.
Walk along the River Siene before popping for French tapas at Sourire.
The Latin Quarter is packed with little boutique shops and patisseries so make sure to save time in the afternoon for a wander. I couldn’t help picking two giant meringues from Bertrand’s to take home to my meringue-loving man. Macarons were also a must, 7 for just 7 euros from Maison Georges Larnicol.
Our favourite find however was Pays de Poche, a tiny gift shop that sold a wonder of incredible homemade crafts.
Save time for shopping at head to Bertrand’s for meringue, Maison Georges Larnicol for macarons, Pays de Poche for unique gifts and Cybèle book shop or the Shakespeare & Company book café where you can enjoy a hot drink with a good read.
The Grand Finale
Although we actually did this on our first evening, it would also be the perfect end to 48 hours in Paris.
We hastily grabbed a taxi to drive us to the Eiffel Tower. Did you know Parisians are actually mental drivers? There is no right of way and everyone just pushes in – but somehow we made it to the river, flying past the Arc de Triomphe on route. I’d booked us a river cruise with Isango, one hour of floating down the Siene with a glass of Champagne in hand.
We began our sail at 8pm, catching a glimpse of the famous landmarks and many bridges of Paris as the sun set in the background. But apart from the sights, it was the people that caught my interest. The sides of the river were packed with groups sharing a bottle of wine, a picnic and even dancing.
The cruise ended just as we returned to the tower, lighting up for the dark sky in all its glitter. Now if there’s any building in the world that knows how to light up at night, it’s the Eiffel Tower.
As it sparkled in the distance we began our search for a dinner spot, having missed our first reservation. We ended up mooching along Avenue de la Bourdonnais which housed a few restaurants. Looking a little touristy, although nice, we turned down a side road and came across Firmin le Barbier which was offering a 3 course menu for 39 euros.
It was intimate and staffed by a lovely lady who helped us pick the most delicious meal. White asparagus with hollandaise before soft chicken drenched in jus with a surprise oxtail dish. Dessert presented a dark chocolate tart and passionfruit crème brûlée, a perfect finish to our meal and evening in Paris.
End with a river cruise at the Eiffel Tower in time for sunset as the tower begins to sparkle. Catch a bite to eat at Firmin le Barbier down the Avenue de la Bourdonnais.
For part 1 of my 48 hours in Paris guide, find out all about how to see Saint-Germain-Des-Pres and the Jardin des Tuileries here!