This is my two-day step-by-step route through Paris. You will see the best of the city and the famous Palace of Versailles
Yes. 48 hours in Paris can go a long way, a long way. Don’t you believe it? Well, in this article I’m going to show you. You only have to follow my instructions to be able to see the essential: the monuments and museums that cannot be absent in your visit to the capital of France. And also some “off-road” recommendations.
The first time I travelled to France was on a December holiday. A plan to go one day to Disney Park and use the rest of the weekend to see Paris. This is the two-day route I did through Paris. Now it’s time to share it with you. I’ve divided it by days to make it much easier to follow. At the end of each day you have the map so you can make the route as I did. It also tells you the distance and the time. You can do it walking, like me, or choose to do sections with public transport. I usually use the metro in Paris, but the same ticket is good for the bus and the RER. If you prefer you can also use the tourist bus of Paris and go up and down in the monuments that interest you most.
48 hour route in Paris: day 1
For this first day I recommend that you make a good breakfast, although if you have arrived by plane is possible to join the route at a different time. By the way, in my travels to Paris I have arrived at two of its airports. In this post I tell you how to get from Orly Paris airport to the centre and from Charles de Gaulle airport. We continue with the coffee well loaded, a glass of juice to overflowing, a croissant -or better two- and a good ration of fruit. Everything is going to be little. In this first part of the 48-hour route in Paris you are going to spend a lot of energy. Let’s begin!
The city of light is waiting for you.
48 hours in Paris to see the essentials
Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle
Subway: Cité-Línea 4
Their proximity is perfect for visiting them at the same time. Both are located on the Île de la Cité, just a few metres between them. This island is the origin of the city of Paris, when the Parisian tribe founded here the city of Lutetia in the 1st century B.C. Fracos and Capetos established here the first symbols of royal power.
Notre Dame de Paris, a universal history
The Sainte-Chapelle left me speechless, I admit it. A marvel of stained-glass windows in a Gothic building, but the true masterpiece of French Gothic architecture is the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I know the one in Reims and neither this one nor the others of this style like Chartres, Amiens or Saint-Étienne reach the level of the one in Paris. Like many of the cathedrals of this artistic period, it was built on top of an ancient temple. In this case from the Gallo-Roman period.
As is to be expected, it has undergone several restorations over time, among other reasons because it is not favoured by humidity because it is so close to the Seine. If the exterior is spectacular, both its main façade, its towers or the apse area. I recommend that you see everything around and do not stay alone with the front. In this post of the best free views of Paris I give you a few great ideas and locations to take the most beautiful views of the cathedral.
Once inside, which is free, what always surprises me the most is the size of the three naves: 130 meters long, 48 meters wide and 35 meters high. It has a capacity of up to six thousand people and many of the great events in the history of France took place inside. If you want to know many more details of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris contract this guided tour.
Another of the things for which this cathedral is world famous is the book of Our Lady of Paris by Victor Hugo. Disney made the gargoyles of this cathedral fashionable through the adaptation of this work in the film of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Since then it is a classic to climb the towers to contemplate the views of Paris.
Practical information to visit Notre Dame
Address: Parvis Notre-Dame. Place Jean-Paul II.
Directions: Metro: Cité, Line 4 (Purple). RER: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame (lines B and C). Bus: 21, 38, 47, 85, 96.
Prices: Free entrance to the cathedral. Entrance to the towers: Adults: €8.50. Children under 18 and EU citizens between 18 and 25: free entry.
Free admission with Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass.
Entrance to the crypt: Adults: €7. Young people between the ages of 14 and 26: €5. Children under 14: free admission. Free admission with Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass.
Entrance to the crypt: Adults: 7€. Young people between 14 and 26 years old: 5€. Children under 14: free admission. Free admission with Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass.
Timetables:1 April to 30 September: 10am-6.30pm. Evenings in July and August, Fridays and Saturdays: 10am-23pm. From 1 October to 31 March: 10 am to 5.30 pm. Closed: 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Buy your ticket online: Guided tour of Notre Dame. Guided visit of 1 hour and a half duration in Spanish to know the history of France through this monument.
La Sainte-Chapelle, the jewel of stained-glass windows
The Palais de la Cité was the residence and seat that symbolised royal power between the 10th and 14th centuries. Here is the Conciergerie and the Sainte-Chapelle. It was built by King Louis IX in 1242 to preserve the relics of the Passion of Christ that he had acquired. The most famous of them all: the Crown of Thorns, for which he paid a real fortune, more money than it cost to build the chapel. His goal was to turn Paris into a “New Jerusalem” and he succeeded.
The French revolution did not do Sainte-Chapelle any good and it suffered multiple damages. In the mid-nineteenth century began its restoration, which gave it the look it still has today.
In fact, the Sainte-Chapelle are two chapels, superimposed. At the bottom is the statue of the Virgin, patron saint of this sanctuary. In addition to the fleur de lis de France you will find a detail that will sound familiar: the towers of Castile located in the columns, are the weapons of the White Queen of Castile, mother of Louis IX.
In the upper chapel is the monumental reliquary and its 15 majestic and dazzling stained glass windows decorated with 1,113 scenes from the Bible – read from left to right and from bottom to top – a spectacle not to be missed on your visit to Paris. The western rose window depicts the Apocalypse, with Christ in the centre, ready to impart justice in the final judgment.
Prices and opening hours of Sainte-Chapelle
Hours: from 2 January to 31 March, daily, 9am-5pm; from 1 April to 30 September, daily, 9am-7pm; from 1 October to 31 December, daily, 9am-5pm.
Prices: 10 €. Children under 18 free of charge.
Remarks: I bought the ticket in advance to avoid queues. You’ll appreciate it because you’ll save a lot of time and only have 48 hours in Paris, which are flying by. Just go to the entrance and show your ticket. Keep in mind that, for security reasons, the maximum size allowed for suitcases is 40x40x20 cm. There is no locker in which to leave larger travel bags.
You can buy your tickets for the Sainte-Chapelle on the GetYourGuide website. I saved a lot of time because I didn’t have to wait in line to get in, so if you want to amortize your time in Paris I advise you to do the same.
Louvre, the most visited museum in the world
From Sainte-Chapelle we head towards the Louvre Museum. This is the first museum I visited in Paris and the one I was most looking forward to seeing, inside and out. The interior is to be repeated over and over again. Right now I’m telling you many of the works of art that you have to see, but the exterior is a marvel of a building. It is located in the Palais du Louvre, a 13th century building rebuilt in the 16th century. Since the French Revolution it has become a museum and since then you can visit and enjoy the more than 35 thousand works on display.
As I said before, in this museum there are many of the works of art that I saw on slides in my time as a student. So my list was endless, but to be practical I hired a guided tour of the Louvre in Spanish. It was a success, they showed me the 20 works I wanted to see one afternoon in this museum, I didn’t have to wait for the queues, the explanations were in Spanish and then I stayed another while to continue enjoying the museum on my own.
If you are going to prepare the visit on your own I recommend you the essential ones of classical art such as El escriba sentado or La Venus de Milo. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece or the great French classics such as Delacroix or Géricault. To see the complete list I recommend you to have a look at the post of what to see at the Louvre in two hours. I also advise you to buy the ticket without queues for the Louvre.