By no means am I an expert on Paris, but after a few quick trips and a few visits to some of the more famous and touristy attractions, I thought I’d compile a 4 day Paris itinerary for anyone who is going to Paris for the first time, with limited time and knowledge.
I’m one of those people who is always really interested in seeing where and what people do in places where I’ve been as well, so if you’ve been to Paris, I’d love to know what you did or would recommend.
Here are a few suggestions on what to do and what to see, based on what I’ve done during my past few trips. Unfortunately I can’t recommend any good places to stay as I have almost always stayed with a local, apart from the time I stayed close to the CDG airport between flights. While I’ve been a few times, every time has been a 5 days or under trip, so I’m used to trying to get as much done as possible. Pick and choose at your leisure:
Day One: Getting acquainted with the City of Love
Many of the times that I’ve been to Paris I’ve been lucky enough to have a local there to show me around. My second trip back to Paris in June 2014 was my friend Moana‘s first time, so for the first day we tried to get as much in as possible.
For your first day in Paris, why not put your walking shoes on and get a quick lie of the land.
- Start your morning off by visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, the centre of Paris and where Paris that we now see today began. If you’re lucky, there might be a choir performing, which always adds to the atmosphere. The lines can be long, so getting there as early as possible is always handy, but the wait is worth it! Read up on the history inside and see the beautiful architecture both inside the Cathedral and out.
- Next why not check out the Hotel de Ville (the Town Hall) before having a peek inside the stores along Rue de Rivoli. Then walk down one of the side roads to find a place for lunch, the furtherer from the main roads you go, the less expensive it gets (but it’s still delicious)!
- After lunch, head down to the Louvre Museum to have a quick look around before walking down through the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. The Louvre Museum is definitely a full-day activity, so it’s best to designate a whole day to that.
- You’ll find yourself at the Place de la Concorde, it is Paris’ largest square and it was here that King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed.
- Then make your way down Champs Elysees, where you will find an abundance of high end brands and luxury cafe’s and restaurants.
- We stopped into Ladurée for afternoon tea and a few take away macarons, which is always a treat!
- You can then make your way down to Place Charles de Gaulle to the Arc de Triomphe where you can choose to go up and see the wonderful views of Paris.
- Then make your way down towards the river and over to the Eiffel tower. Depending on the queues or whether you’ve booked tickets in advance (definitely the best idea, but you really do need to book them in advance, not just a couple of days beforehand), you might be lucky enough to see a sunset over Paris.
- Find a nice restaurant around the area for a nice French meal.
- And why not see the beautiful city by night and catch a ride on one of the river Seine cruises (after a long day of walking, you could always do this another night).
Below I’ve mapped out a suggested walking route if you’re interested. It might sound like it’s choc-a-block full of activities, but it’s definitely do-able and actually a really great way to get a feel for the city.
Day Two: Exploring like royalty
After a full day exploring the inner city, why not head out further to the beautiful Versailles and see how the royals lived at Chateau de Versailles.
Full Day: Tips
- The easiest way to get to the chateau is to catch the RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche station.
- Book your ticket for the chateau online in advance as it will mean you can skip the queue and go straight through.
- Grab a free audio guide. You will learn so much more about the palace and the people who lived there, audio guides are your best friend.
- The tree-lined streets of Versailles are just generally a lovely place to stroll and there are plenty of bakeries and cafes around the shopping area where you can stop for a bite to eat before or after you go to see the palace.
Day Three: Exploring through the ages
It is at the Louvre Museum that I could happily get lost in for days. It really is an absolutely incredible, fascinating and inspiring place. From the beautiful artwork of the Renaissance era to the amazing architecture of the Iranian sculptures and mysterious Egyptian mummies, you really do step through the ages of human civilisation. It is always a treat and an honour.
Full Day: Tips
- Don’t plan your trip to the Louvre for a Tuesday as the museum is closed.
- Come and queue early! The lines, particularly during the summer time are painfully long, so the earlier you come, the better. You can also book tickets online, but you will have to pick them up from a tourism office beforehand.
- Bring a snack and a drink of water for the wait, you won’t regret it! (You will need to chuck any leftover food out before you go into the museum though).
- Once again, audio guides. You are able to get incredibly informative audio guides on a Nintendo 3DS, which means you will also have a visual (3D) guide as well. You can also create your own tour by selecting specific works that you would like to see, or alternatively (and I really recommend this,) going on one of the ready-made tours. You will learn so much by getting one, and they are incredibly easy to use. The guides are €5 for adults and €3 for students and children. Alternatively, you can download the Louvre app with all the same audio features.
- Start off with the ‘Masterpieces Tour’ to see some of the most famous works and then have a go at making your own custom-made tour. Try sticking to similar categories for each of your custom tours, it’ll be easier to look around one area at a time, rather than heading from one wing to the next.
- Before or after the museum head over to the Pont des Arts, the bridge that is famous for being covered in ‘love’ locks and is a popular place to film romantic scenes in films that are set in Paris.
- If you’re not a fan of waiting in lines, the Musée d’Orsay is another great alternative. Especially if you’re more interested in the modern works of artists such as Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir.
- Depending on whether you already went up the Eiffel Tower on your first day and how long you stay at the Louvre, this could be a perfect time to go up the Eiffel Tower.
Day Four: Exploring the Revolution & Bohemia
Montmartre is one of my favourite places, there is just something about that place that makes me feel happy and carefree.
- In the early morning head over to the Place de la Bastille. The square is where the Bastille prison once stood. It was destroyed during the French Revolution between 1789 and 1790.
- Take a stroll around the area and the store, the place has become increasingly popular over the past few years, becoming a new ‘hip’ place to live.
- Next, hop on the metro for a ride to Montmartre.
Afternoon and Evening:
- There is an abundance of little cafes, restaurants and stalls with plenty of variety for whatever you might be feeling like for lunch. Take a seat and enjoy your meal while people-watching.
- Take the funicular or the ‘Petite Train‘ up to the hill to the Sacre Coeur and have a look around, inside the Basilica, also walk down the steps and admire the gorgeous view from the top of the hill.
- Walk through the alley ways behind the Basilica, there are plenty of little stalls and admire the artwork of the many street artists. Maybe even get your portrait taken by one of the local artists.
- Head down the steps in front of the Basilica when you’re feeling hungry again and head down and perhaps treat yourself to a dinner and a show at Moulin Rouge. I was on a budget, so I have never been, but there are plenty of restaurants in the area which are probably A LOT more cheaper.
- Enjoy the nightlife!
And there you have it! My suggested 4 day itinerary for Paris. Take and leave what you want! Obviously depending on how long you spend at places like Chateau de Versailles and Musée du Louvre there is always plenty of time to take detours or see something extra or an alternative. Pretty much all of these things have been tried and tested by me (I mentioned things I didn’t do, but have added in).
Paris is definitely one of those places where you can almost never say you’ve seen everything, so there’s always more to see. Nevertheless, I hope you found this useful and interesting! I would love to hear what things you recommend in Paris or would love to see next time you visit! I’m always looking for inspiration, so I’d love to know.
Merci et salut!