My husband and I are spending two weeks in Italy in September and are finishing the trip up with a couple of nights in Paris. What must I see, do? What is your favorite hotel or restaurant?
My wife and I enjoyed staying at the Hotel de l'Empereur in the Rue Cler area. Most of the rooms have a view of Napoleon's tomb. I wouldn't pay the premium price for the room to guarantee the view. When you say "a couple of nights" I'm assuming you are flying in from Italy during the first day and then flying out early the morning after night two. That means you have 1 full day and 1 short day. That doesn't let you go to what we enjoyed the most which is Versailles without passing on so many other great sights. You can look at what else interests you and you may decide to spend a day there. Otherwise, the "biggies" are obvious -- Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and the Orsay. You can get any guidebook and see what these are like. We also liked the Cluny which Rick considers a two triangle sight. That's a very busy two days. Of course, you need to spend a little time at a cafe or two sipping wine or hot chocolate outside.
A few of my favorite things to do in Paris: Walk all around Ile St. Louis (little island east of Notre Dame), walk all around Ile de la Cite (island where Notre Dame is), then walk along the river to the Louvre, or farther to Place de la Concorde, then cross the river and walk back to Notre Dame. Walk through the Luxembourg Gardens (and sit a while - especially to watch locals playing petancque, aka, bocce ball, by the playground). Sit in a cafe (but not close to a big site like the ET, Notre Dame or the Arc de Triomphe - too expensive) in a good location to people watch and soak up Paris. My favorite is at the western tip of Ile St. Louis called La Flore en l'Ile. Rue Montorgueil is another good area. There's lots of good areas. If I could do nothing else in Paris, these 3 things would be heaven for me.
If you do the RS self guided walk around the Notre Dame, visit the Rue Cler neighborhood, Eifle tower, and the Arch de Triumphe, you will hit the highlights. Those are all pretty easy to get to in a day.
I am in the middle of planning our European trip, and we are also capping off our stay in Paris, but for 3 nights. I looked all over and because we have 4 people, hotels were really expensive if we all wanted in one room. So I did some research and found airbnb. It's apartments that locals own and rent out to tourists. They don't have the week minimum that so many on vrbo has, and you can find yourself in the middle of a nice quaint neighborhood that will give you a real Parisian feel for the 2 nights you are there. Just a suggestion!
If you have one short and one full day, as Ken surmised, then I would spend my days as Susan suggested. Don't get too caught up in the Big Sights, but take in Paris for what it is (unless you're an art nut, then obviously you have some world class options). Stroll! Spend hours in cafes! Drink some champagne on the Champs de Mars at night taking in the Eiffel Tower (but don't buy your champagne from the guys hawking it on the lawn.)! My favorite site in Paris is Versailles, and more specifically the Gardens/Domaine. However, with your short time in Paris, I wouldn't head there. I'd spend my time strolling through Paris, stopping at markets and cafes, entering churches and cathedrals as I encounter them, then stop at another cafe, etc. You'll have a great trip.
For a first time visit with limited time, I recommend using one of the Hop-on/Hop-off buses. You'll stay above ground (unlike using the Metro) and get to cover a lot of ground. It's convenient and will allow you to hit the major sights.