Short Breaks to Paris
Paris is one of the most suitable destinations for a short break in Europe – even for those that have visited before – with a weekend in Paris guaranteed to instil the desire to return as soon as possible.
While it is often referred to as The City of Love, it’s not only couples that take short breaks to Paris, with the city offering suitable attractions for all types of visitor.
As with any major European city, food and accommodation options exist to cater to all budgets: the “on a shoestring” backpacker or somebody looking to eat at gourmet Michelin star restaurants. Many visitors may complain about the “snooty” French waiters, but it’s hard to argue against Paris being one of the greatest culinary destinations on the planet.
One of the most famous cities in the world, Paris is full of instantly recognisable landmarks – not just the Eiffel Tower! If all of the sightseeing gets too much though you can visit one of Paris’ magnificent public parks or take a relaxing boat cruise down the River Seine.
Paris is also home to some of the finest works of art ever created, which encourages even those with a less than passing interest in art to explore the art galleries to see what all the fuss is about. A short weekend break in Paris will quench any thirst and leave you recharged, looking forward to return again someday.
Things to Do and See
Arc de Triomphe (Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile)
The Arc de Triomphe, located at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, is a French monument dedicated to French soldiers of various wars, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Twelve prominent Parisian avenues start here extending outwards, forming a roundabout famed for its crazy driving conditions.
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Amongst the most instantly recognisable manmade structures in the world, Paris’ Eiffel tower is a French icon. Going up to the top of tower tends to be the number one thing to do in Paris on most peoples’ lists. With a restaurant on both the first and second levels you can make the most of this elevated viewpoint over Paris. Book your tickets online or find out more details by visiting http://www.eiffel-twer.com.
Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre)
The Louvre is the most popular and frequently visited museum of art in the entire world; situated within the Louvre Palace it forms one of Paris’ most significant landmarks. In addition to works by artists including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, it exhibits sections dedicated to Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and others. Visit http://www.louvre.fr/en to find details about opening hours, guided tours, admission fees and any special exhibitions that may be on temporary display.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is without a doubt the most famous portrait of all time and was painted over 500 years ago. On permanent display in the Louvre museum, millions of people view the painting every year, so the surrounding vicinity of the painting can get a little crowded during peak times.
Home of the can-can dance and famous for its extravagant shows, the Moulin Rouge was initially focussed on exotic dance entertainment, which led to the rise in popularity of the modern-day cabarets that swept across Europe. Nowadays visitors can enjoy the musical dance entertainment shows by reserving their tickets at the official Moulin Rouge website: http://www.moulinrouge.fr/index_gb.php
While not as well known internationally as the Louvre, Paris’ Musée d’Orsay displays a number of significant works from such acclaimed artists as Money, Manet, Renoir and Van Gogh. The museum itself is a converted railway station and faces out over the banks of the River Seine. Please visit http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/visit/welcome.html for details about opening hours and entrance fees.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Notre Dame de Paris)
The setting for Victor Hugo’s famous novel: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Note Dame Cathedral is regarded as one of the prime examples of French Gothic architecture in all of Europe. Entry is free and open every day of the year between 8:00 and 18:45 (later on weekends) – please visit http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/spip.php?article314 for further details including organised tour schedules.
Paris Beaches (Paris-Plages)
During the peak French summer months of July and August, sections of the Seine are transformed into a series of artificial beaches designed to help city residents and visitors alike make the most of the scorching summer temperatures. There’s even a floating swimming pool to help cool off (swimming is not permitted in the River Seine).
Paris isn’t all about famous landmarks and art galleries, it also boasts a huge number of parks dispersed throughout the various city regions. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the largest, featuring an island, lake, waterfalls, cliffs, a 63 meter suspension bridge and even a grotto with a 20-meter waterfall.
Seine River (La Seine)
The Seine River and its surrounding attractions can be explored by foot or boat. River cruise trips depart frequently all year round and are a popular way to take in Paris and her sites in a relaxing manner. Most cruises last for about an hour but bespoke options are available from selected tour operators.
Where to Go
Being one of the most visited cities in the world, any short break to Paris can be a trade-off between weather and over crowdedness. Coming in summer or winter can also lead to a totally different experience: lying down under the sun in the park with a book, or sat indoors a cosy café enjoying a glass of wine.
The peak summer months of July and August see the yearly reintroduction of the Paris Beaches which adds a fun dimension to the city for enjoying the summer, but this time of year also leads to increased visitors, which can mean more congestion around the main tourist attractions.
As with most of Europe’s more Northerly destinations during winter, Paris’ weather can reach levels below the tolerance of those from sunnier climates. For others it can turn out to be an excellent time of year to visit with less people about and the opportunity to see the city from a fresh perspective.
- Experience gourmet French cuisine
- Cruise down the River Seine
- View the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower
- Admire the 1,000s of works of art in the Louvre Museum
- Take in a show at the Moulin Rouge
- Relax in one of Paris’ many beautiful public parks
Hotels in Paris
If you are interested in other French cities then see our Nice city break guide.