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Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Paris

Sep 16, 2011, 3:24 a.m.
An aerial view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Bastille Day July 14, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes in the neighborhood, but don't forget to enjoy a stroll through the Place des Vosges, Paris' oldest plaza, with its stunning brick and stone arched pavilions and luxury residences. Victor Hugo was a resident in the 19th century -- and Dominique Strauss-Kahn is one today.

3 p.m. A quick metro ride from St. Paul station will take you to the Palais Royal across from the Louvre, whose rectangular garden will revive the senses before you tackle France's largest museum and the world's most visited. When it comes to the Louvre, the best strategy is to pick a wing or two -- don't try to do it all. "Courage!," as the French say.

7 a.m. It's time to sit down and enjoy a show. Indeed it's a bit touristy these days, but still -- Le Moulin Rouge cabaret and its showgirls have been entertaining Paris since 1889. A revue and meal doesn't come cheap, but how often these days can you watch a can-can during dinner? Make your way to the base of Montmartre for the show and afterwards enjoy a stroll around the (quite safe) red-light district. Prefer men in wigs instead? Try Cabaret Michou for a drag show.

SUNDAY

9 a.m. It's time to see Paris' best-known landmark at first light. Whether you brave the queues and climb the tower -- by stairs or lift -- or just admire it from the ground, the Eiffel Tower cannot be missed. Across the Seine at Trocadero, an assortment of cafes provide first-rate views.

11 a.m. On the banks of the Seine, hop on a Bateau Mouche for a one-hour cruise along the river, passing such sights as Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried, the Grand and Petit Palais -- both constructed for the Universal Expo in 1900 -- and the Pont Neuf, Paris' oldest bridge.

1 p.m. Head north from Trocadero to reach the Arc de Triomphe, under whose famous arch have marched scores of victorious armies, including in 1944 when French and American troops were greeted by cheering Parisians. Pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then walk east down the Champs Elysees, a celebrated tree-lined boulevard dominated today by clothing chain stores and tourists. The approach to Place de la Concorde is worth the crowds however. Admire the Luxor Obelisk honoring Pharaoh Ramses II at the center of the plaza, and ignore the traffic as you try to imagine what the square was like at the height of the French Revolution, when the guillotine erected here chopped off hundreds of heads.

3 p.m. All that contemplation of mortality calls for a visit to Pere Lachaise, Paris' biggest and most famous cemetery on the eastern side of the city. Visit the graves of scores of poets, artists, politicians and more, from Moliere and Edith Piaf to Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and the Doors' Jim Morrison.

Bid adieu to your Paris weekend with a final verre at one of the many cafes around Place Gambetta and plan your next trip.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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