Travelers visiting Paris for one to two days pre- or post-river cruise or as part of a combined trip with London or other areas of France or Europe can make the most of their stay by hitting the key highlights of the City of Light. More importantly for travel advisors, a short visit can spur repeat business when clients realize they must spend more time in the beautiful French capital.
The Eiffel Tower should be the first stop on any trip to Paris, even if it is just to take iconic photos in front of the city’s landmark. The queue up to the Eiffel Tower is traditionally a long one, so suggest clients instead book dinner at the new Madame Brasserie on the first floor 187 feet high. They will get to bypass the line and enjoy a lovely meal paired with an elevated view of Paris at sunset. You should reserve in advance for either the 6:30 or 9 p.m. seating. There is a choice of either a three- of four-course menu, both of which start the evening with a celebratory glass of champagne. The restaurant also offers lunch seating at noon and 1:30 pm. It is open for breakfast and snacks between the meals.
With limited time, a private walking tour is an ideal way to see and discover the most of the city. La Compagnie des Guides offers a range of private tours focusing on a select neighborhood, individual museum, or food theme. Private tours can be arranged for one to six people and last from two hours to full days. We opted for the “Emily in Paris” tour as it mixes in the fun of key sights from the Netflix series with historic and cultural attractions. It is a good choice for clients traveling with teens or young adult children or simply if they themselves are fans of the show itself. Since this is a private tour, the guide can customize it to individual interests as they walk along Paris’ streets. My husband did not watch the series, my daughter and I are fans; all three of us enjoyed the tour.
We met our tour guide in Place du Panthéon in the Latin Quarter and walked to Place de l’Estrapade, home to the exteriors of the apartment building and restaurant used for Emily’s home and Gabriel’s restaurant. One of our favorite parts of the tour was the beautiful 62-acre Luxembourg Gardens (where Emily jogs), located between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. Even if clients do not take the tour, recommend they stroll through it passing the French and English gardens, some of the more than 100 statues, the Medici fountain, and the lovely large pond. Another part of the walking tour took us passed the Louvre and into the courtyard of Palais Royal, which dates to 1633, before returning to the fictional world of Emily at the front door of Emily’s marketing agency.
At the end of the tour, clients may want to take the time to return to explore the Louvre on their own. The massive museum can be overwhelming but the visitors trails can help based on your clients’ interests. A good choice for first-time visitors is the 90-minute The Louvre’s Masterpieces trail which includes the iconic Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”.
After our walking tour, we spent some time in the historic Marais neighborhood, home to cobblestone streets lined with dining venues and stores that range from top retail names to vintage shops. Marais is also Paris’ Jewish Quarter. Rue des Rosiers is where visitors can find treats at Jewish bakeries and follow the lines to top-rated falafel. For those with more time and an interest in modern art, Pompidou Centre and the Picasso Museum are located in Marais.
Where to Stay
Because our visit was short, we wanted to stay in a boutique property that provided a Parisian aesthetic in a neighborhood where we could get a feel for life as locals. Maison Eugénie in the 17th Arrondissement in the Batignolles district offered a cozy, romantic respite from the busy city. The hotel is located a bit further in terms of location to major sights, so we took UBERs to make the most of our time. The color red dominated guest rooms that boast European-style large windows that made us feel as if we were in our own pied-à-terre. The pretty hotel restaurant Montijo served a lovely breakfast buffet, creating a wonderful start for full days of sightseeing.