Start your day at the Louvre.
Day 1: Right Bank and Marais
Day one will be focused on the main sights of the central Right Bank, including the Louvre, Notre Dame and Marais. Get ready to walk!
Morning at the Louvre
With two days in Paris, it might be good to see at least one piece of art. Consider getting to the Louvre nice and early to check out the masterpieces (see our guide to tips for visiting the Louvre).
After an hour or two, start wrapping things up and look for the exit. Make sure you have a map with you!
Jardin de Tuileries and Palais Royal
Once out, do be sure to take a quick stroll down through the Tuileries Gardens in front of the Louvre, and consider grabbing a coffee or tea and having a seat for a few moments. (You probably need a little break after racing through the Louvre in two hours!).
Next, cross the rue de Rivoli and head for the gardens of the Palais Royal. Head through the gardens to the north end of the palace and investigate the covered passageways ("Vivienne" and "Colbert") before walking east towards Place de la Victoire. Walk around the statue of Louis XIV and head down rue Etienne Marcel towards the rue Montorgueil.
Lunch around rue Montorgueil
The rue Montorgueil and surrounding streets are the old food market neighborhood, and there are plenty of cute and affordable cafés and bakeries that are perfect for lunch. Have a bite wherever you’d like!
Afterwards, walk down rue Montorgueil and turn left at the bottom, past the (rather uninspired) underground mall called Les Halles, and meander towards the Pompidou Center.
Heading into the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.
A walk to Notre Dame and the Marais
Turn right on rue Renard (or rue Beaubourg depending on where you reach it). Head towards Paris' city hall, the glorious Hôtel de Ville. If its winter time, you'll see ice skaters swishing around in front of the Beaux Arts beauty. Take the bridge (Pont d'Arcole) across the river to the Ile de la Cité, towards Notre Dame.
After a quick (free) visit to Notre Dame, take the pedestrian-only bridge (Pont Saint-Louis) behind the church to the Ile Saint-Louis, the smaller of the city's two central islands. Enjoy some live outdoor performances on the bridge, before strolling the island's central, narrow street (Rue Saint-Louis-en-Ile).
The Place des Vosges in the Marais.
Halfway down the island, take the Pont Marie north and back to the Right Bank. You're now once again in the Marais, and these twisting streets are among the city's oldest. Get lost, and then try to make your way to the free Musée Carnavalet (23, Rue de Sévigné) and to the stunningly beautiful Place des Vosges, designed to be the royal palace under Henry IV.
Cheapo dinner: Falafel
Grab a falafel at night on rue des Rosiers, followed by ice cream for dessert at Amorino or Pozetto. (Read our post on a cheapo day in the Marais for tips on the best falafel.)
At night, it’s a toss-up. If you want to hike up the Eiffel Tower, take the Metro and prepare for some lovely nighttime views of Paris (see our list of tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower).
For a low-key evening, hop on the river cruise at the Pont Neuf and soak up the City of Light from the water.
The Place de la Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter.
Day 2: Left Bank and Montmartre
On the second day, you’ll split your time between the Left Bank and Montmartre, two must-see neighborhoods.
Latin Quarter morning
Start at Place St-Michel and the fountain of the archangel slaying Lucifer. Take in the bustle of the entire quarter from this square, lined with cafes, bookstores, and hotels.
Walk south along the Boulevard St-Michel to the Luxembourg Gardens. After a stroll through the gardens, head up rue Soufflot towards the domed Panthéon, final resting place of many of France's great men (and a few women). You're also surrounded by the academic buildings and libraries of the Sorbonne, part of the University of Paris.
The jewel-box church, St-Etienne du Mont, just behind Panthéon, is worth a quick visit.
Lunch along the rue Mouffetard
After all that history, head over to the nearby rue Mouffetard for several cheapo lunch options. Consider a takeaway crepe with ham and cheese (a classic!).
After lunch, digest while strolling west along the tony Boulevard St-Germain or along the Seine. (If you're not up for the walk, you could take a quick trip on the Metro line 10).
The Église St-Germain-des-Prés.
St-Germain des Prés
Back at Place St-Michel, take rue Saint-André des Arts and explore the boutiques, shops and restaurants in this well-traveled part of St-Germain. The streets are narrow and can feel packed with tourists, but it's always interesting.
Head up rue de Seine towards the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church and splurge on macarons on rue Bonaparte (Pierre Hermé at #72 or farther north at Ladurée at #21). Regardless of which macarons you try, visit the church, as it's one of the city’s oldest.
Finish your day at the Sacré Coeur Basilica in Montmartre.
Metro to Montmartre
Afterwards, take the Metro line 12 at nearby rue du Bac to the "Abbesses" station or walk north to Montmartre for the evening. After strolling the village-like streets, keep fighting gravity and head up to the Sacré Coeur basilica. Visit the church, if you're able.
If the timing works out, soak up the sunset over the city from the steps in front of the basilica. Otherwise, just gaze away. You made it!
Dinner in Montmartre
After a visit of the church, consider dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants, like the Relais de Gascogne. Afterward, descend to your hotel, or carry on for some drinks in the neighborhood.
Also in our guide
About the author: Bryan Pirolli is the Paris-based correspondent for EuroCheapo.com. All photos by EuroCheapo.