Planning a short visit of Paris? Is it you first time visiting the city? Follow our guide to get the most out of your time in the French capital. You will most certainly not have enough time to see everything, but rest assured we have chosen the best activities, museums, landmarks and places for you.
Day 1 in Paris
Begin your visit of Paris by paying a visit to the Eiffel Tower, of course! Get to this landmark via Trocadéro. On the promenade, you will have a magnificent view of this symbolic Paris landmark. Get to the tower by crossing the Léna bridge (pont Léna). If you would like to go to the top, be warned that the wait is a very long one.
To avoid standing in a queue at the bottom of the tower, book a ticket online.
Next, head to the Louvre Museum where you can admire the masterpieces of the romantic era and the Renaissance as well as world history (the middle ages, Egyptology, and ancient relics). Be sure to set aside 2 hours for this visit. If you are spending 4 days in Paris, you can quite easily spend them all at the Louvre. If you are staying for 5 days, you have no excuse!
It’s nearly lunchtime , and there is plenty of choice of places to satisfy your appetite in the neighboring quarters of Montorgueuil and Palais Royal.
In the afternoon, why not have a stroll around the picturesque Jardin des Tuileries? This is without doubt one of the most flowery gardens in the city. You will arrive at the spectacular Place de la Concorde. If you are at a loose end and enjoy museums, you can go to the Musée de l’Orangerie or Jeu de Paume (for photography). Once you arrive on the Place de la Concorde, you will be able to see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance.
Before arriving there, you will pass through the ‘most beautiful avenue in the world’, the Champs-Élysees. While you are in the area, you have a good opportunity to have a shopping spree – Paris is the Fashion Capital. You could even take a small detour through the rue Montaigne. Once you arrive at the Arc de Triomphe, you must go to the top to see the splendid view which is at its best at sunset.
Next, you can go to the banks of the Seine for a ride on the bateau-mouche (a tourist river boat). You will have the choice of a short tour of the Seine, offering a one-hour-long trip with beautiful views of Paris’ most spectacular landmarks – or a dinner cruise along the main stretch of the City of Light.
Day 2 in Paris
Spend your second morning on the ‘Ile de la Cité‘ (the city’s island) – the heart of Paris. First visit the square of Notre-Dame, and visit the splendid Cathedral. While you are there, go to the Sainte-Chapelle (its stained-glass windows are definitely worth the detour).
The picturesque square of Vert-Galant will not be too far away either. You can also easily reach the Latin quarter to visit the Musée Cluny, the Museum of the Middle Ages.
End your morning on the Ile Saint-Louis where you can sample the Berthillon ice cream – one of the best in Paris.
For your second afternoon, you can discover one of the best-known quarters of the capital: Montmartre. You will pass by the Place du Terte, before arriving at the top of the hill where the Sacré Coeur stands. The view over the rooftops of Paris from here is breathtaking. Enjoy your afternoon stroll in the neighborhood of Les Abbesses, where you can walk through the narrow streets and visit the museums (such as Espace Dali, Halle Saint-Pierre and Musée de Montmartre).
Among the fairytale places of the city are the Moulin de Galette and the Lapin Agile, two former cabarets popular with Paris’ famous artists, as well at the Bateau Lavoir (Picasso’s shop).
You can spend the evening in one of the quarter’s restaurants. Avoid the Place du Tertre – it’s far too busy with tourists – opt for a trendy Lamarck-Caulaincourt bistro which are popular with the locals.
This is also ideal for a post-dinner drink to end the evening.
> Read our guide to Guided visits and Fun Activities in Paris.
If you have decided to spend 4 days in Paris, you will now be halfway through your trip.
Day 3 in Paris
The third day will be very left-bank focussed. Begin the day with a visit of the Musée d’Orsay. This is one of the holy grails of impressionism and a must for art lovers. You can admire the masterpieces of Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir. The architecture of the building, a former train station, it in itself worth the visit.
Make sure you set aside at leat 2 hours for this museum, and be warned that the wait that can be very long. A pre-booked ticket for the Musée d’Orsay will be helpful if you want to make the most of your time. Once you have finished this visit, you can take a walk around Saint-Germain des Près. This district was the artistic soul of Paris in the mid 20th century. You can dive into the Musée Rodin if you would like to see even more art. The garden is one of the most romantic places in the French capital.
If it’s shopping you’re looking for, you will be spoiled for choice with all the shopping streets like rue de Rennes, rue de Sèvre and the boulevard Saint-Germain. the Bon Marché and the Grande Épicerie are worth the walk. if you are more interested in home design, the Conran Shop will surely be the place for you.
Need a break from the business of the city? The Jardin du Luxembourg is the ideal place for this. A beautiful park ornamented with spectacular fountains, Ernest Hemingway is known to have enjoyed a stroll here.
If you are staying in Paris for 5 days, you are now halfway through your visit.
Spend your afternoon in the mystical Latin quarter. There are plenty of attractions: begin your visit of the quarter at Saint-Michel and its fountain. This is a popular meeting point for the locals.
Neighboring Sorbonne is one of the world’s oldest universities, and namesake of the quarter: the students and professors spoke Latin in this area until the Revolution.
You can visit the Cluny thermal baths before heading to the Pantheon. This is the burial site of many great men and women in the country’s history. You are now at the top of the Saint-Geneviève des Bois hill.
Next, you can walk back down the hill and head toward the Jardin des Plantes. If you are visiting with your family, the menagerie will delight your children. The Arab World Insitute and its beautiful exhibitions are sure to please. You can also walk along the quays of the Seine.
In the late-afternoon, head in the direction of Place Monge and rue Mouffetard. This is one of the most lively areas in the city. Many students meet here for a drink. You can also have a meal at one of the good-value restaurants.
Day 4 in Paris
Your fourth day of Paris will be a ‘sporty’ one. You will start at the holy grail of Parisian shopping: the Haussman-Opéra quarter. It is here that you will find the huge stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps.
You will find many stores like Citadium (urban fashion) and the Apple Store. On Saturdays, it can become very crowded, so take your time and be patient. during the end-of-year celebrations, the window displays attract many curious shoppers.
You must not miss the Palais Garnier (Opéra Garnier) – a true masterpiece of architecture of the Belle Epoque.
Benefit from breezeways in bad weather: Passage des Panoramas, the Galerie Vivienne and the Passage Choiseul. Use these to reach Place de la Madeleine and Place Vendôme .
In the afternoon, for a change of mood visit the incredibly trendy Marais quarter.
If you are only visiting for 4 days, your vacation is coming to an end! Make the most of your last few hours in Paris.
You can begin day 4 with a museum: the Centre Pompidou for contemporary art, the Musée Carnavalet for the history of Paris, or the Picasso Museum.
Take a walk through the ancient narrow passages of the quarter – some of these date from the 13th century. Certain hotels are also very old. Don’t miss the beautiful Place des Vosges and the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the city’s oldest indoor market.
You can also do your shopping in Marais’ many trendy boutiques and designers’ shops. Stay in the quarter for your evening meal and a drink afterwards.
It’s worth knowing that a 4-day stay will allow you enough time for an excursion to the Palace of Versailles.
Day 5 In Paris
Would you like to spend your last day outside of the city walls? If you have chosen a 5-day stay, now is the time to visit the Palace of Versailles.
Dedicate half-a-day to this excursion. You can, of course, admire the Palace and the Galeries des Glaces but that’s not all. A good section of your visit should be spent in the gardens, the royal stables and the Grand Trianon.
You can have lunch in the center of Versailles which is very quaint and has lots of good-quality restaurants. Return to Paris for the afternoon. An alternative would be to visit the Château de Fontainebleau. It is a bit further away but is in a beautiful place. If you are spending 5 days in Paris, this favorite residence of Napoleon and François 1st is worth seeing.
For your last afternoon, start at the Place de République and make your way to the banks of the Saint-Martin Canal.
You can go up the canal to reach the lively Bassin de la Villette.
You can make this journey on foot, by bike, or by boat thanks to Canauxrama which offers one of the most beautiful boat trips in Paris with an impressive tunnel. This is the ideal way to end your 5-day visit of the French capital.
Once in la Villette, you can visit the Cité des Sciences (Science City) which will be enjoyable for both young and old. In Summer, you can end the evening at the Villette lakeside.
Of course, 4 or 5 days in Paris is not enough time to uncover all the secrets of the city, but it is a good amount to get to know the capital and see the sights.
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