DAY 1:

09:00  Beat the crowds with an early trip to the Musée du Louvre (admission £8). Here, you’ll find masterpieces including Aphrodite, Liberty Leading The People and, of course, the Mona Lisa. Don’t forget to take a few minutes to lounge around the Louvre Palace courtyard and its iconic pyramid.

11:00  While we’re on a roll, head across the river to browse the collection at Musee d’Orsay (admission £8) on the banks of the Seine. You’ll see Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings from the likes of Monet, Renoir, Seurat and Van Gogh.

12:30  Continue down the Seine to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (admission to the towers £6), the Gothic cathedral where Victor Hugo based his legendary novel about Quasimodo. Check out the cathedral treasury and then climb the 380 steps to the towers for a sweeping view of the city and the great Emmanuel bell.

14:00  Intimate family-kitchen-style restaurant Chez Germaine (30 Rue Pierre Leroux, 7th Arrondissement)  offers classic French dishes such as gratin dauphinois, terrines and herring with potatoes in the posh seventh district. A set menu includes starter, main course and dessert for £12.

16:00  Next, you’ll want to check out one of the world’s most famous underground cemeteries, the Catacombs of Paris (1, Avenue of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy; admission £7). Stroll through a winding tunnel network containing the remains of about six million people. The practice of burying those who could not afford a church burial in mass graves beneath the city began in about the 12th century.

18:00  Head across the Seine to the Arc de Triomphe (admission to the top £8), honouring those who died fighting the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Stick around for 30 minutes and you’ll see the Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier rekindled in a ceremony by former combatants.

19:00  Lucky for you, you’re already at the tip of the Champs-Élysées, the most famous street in Paris. You’ll want to do some luxury shopping – or at least some browsing – on what has been called the ‘most beautiful avenue in the world’. Grab some of the world-famous macarons at lavish cake shop Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées), known for inventing the double-decker macaron.

20:00  Le Bistrot d’Andre  is known as one of the city’s best spots for French cuisine at a modest price. Specialties include dishes typical of southern France, such as duck confit and cassoulet, for about £20.

22:00  No trip to Paris would be complete without venturing over to the Eiffel Tower (£12 to the top; tours until 11pm). After sunset, catch the tower sparkling every hour, on the hour.

23:00  Stroll across the Seine to Café du Trocadéro (8 Place Trocadéro) for a nightcap and one last view of the illuminated Eiffel Tower. It’s been a punishing day of sightseeing, so get some rest at Le Regent Montmartre (, a well-located hostel, from £20pn for a shared dorm.

Click on for day two in Paris…

DAY 2:

11:00  For a stirring panorama, head to the Basilique de Sacré-Cœur. Positioned at the top of the Montmartre hill, it’s the highest point in Paris, and offers amazing views. You’ll also want to check out the vendors lining the cobblestone streets surrounding the cathedral.

13:30  Head just up the street to grab lunch at the Café des Deux Moulins (15 rue Lepic), where Amélie waited tables in the 2001 film. Sip on a café au lait and enjoy the small shrine to the movie inside.

14:00  Hop on the Metro for a short ride over to the Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest in Paris. You’ll find the gravesites of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Marcel Proust.

18:00  Head back to Montmartre for an affordable but tasty dinner at the charming Restaurant Chartier, a listed historic monument. With mains starting at just £7, it’s got all the classic brasserie-style options without any of the pretentions.

20:30  You’re just one street over from the red-light district, Pigalle. Stroll down the notorious Boulevard de Clichy, which is home to the Moulin Rouge and numerous sex shops. The area also has its roots in art, as Picasso, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec all made their homes here at some point. Then reward the weekend’s efforts with live music or a club night at converted theatre Le Divan du Monde. You’ve earned yourself a wild time, alright!