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After living in Paris, I have been asked quite a few times for my Paris itinerary recommendations. I’ve put a lot of thought into what do to do in Paris and how long to spend in Paris, so I’ve assembled this itinerary for four days in Paris (with an additional day trip to Versailles) for how long I think is just right.
This itinerary is a mix of the top things to do in Paris that everyone will tell you that you must do and lesser-known things in Paris that may not be on your radar yet. I also include my favorite restaurants in Paris. Keep reading for my perfect Paris itinerary for four days in Paris.
I’ve broken this itinerary into four days to show you the different sides to Paris, including the side that not everyone sees. Obviously, not everyday may be what you want to do in Paris, however I hope that it serves as inspiration for your Paris itinerary. If you follow this itinerary, please let me know what you think!
Day 1: Classic Paris
- Notre Dame
- Île de la Cité
- Shakespeare and Co.
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Museum D’Orsay
Day 2: Secret Paris
- Sacre Coeur
- Butte Bergeyre
- Hipster Paris/ 10e arrondissement
- Paris Craft Beer
- Galeries Lafayette
Day 3: Culture and architecture of Paris
- Covered passages of Paris
- Le Marais
- The Louvre without the crowds
Day 4: Quintessential Paris
- Eiffel Tower without the crowds
- Napoleon’s Tomb
- Pont Alexandre III
- Paris Catacombs
Optional: Day 5: Day trip to Versailles
Where to stay in Paris
For those on a budget, my friend stayed at Hotel Rivoli, which is in the heart of Le Marais in a historic townhouse with atmosphere. For something with charm, consider staying at Hotel Des Saints Peres – Esprit de France, a boutique hotel in Saint-Germain with character and a private garden.
For something more affordable, look at one of Paris’ many hostels, including Les Piaules in Belleville.
How to get around Paris
By metro. The Paris metro is cheap, efficient, and takes you almost everywhere that you need to go. I recommend getting a ten pack of tickets, so you can share with friends/family.
Beyond that, walk. If you’re not really one for public transportation, I’m not a fan of Uber, but Uber is one of the best ways to get around Paris as you don’t need to worry about getting ripped off by taxi drivers and you know the rate ahead.
Day 1: Classic Paris
I’ve started off this day of itinerary to show you the best of Paris in one day. Let’s start off your morning with a croissant at your local neighborhood bakery.
(Remember to greet in French first with a Bonjour otherwise your service may not be so great.) Alternatively, head to Le Caféothèque du Paris for a nice cup of coffee.
Half the battle of seeing the main Paris attractions is getting up early to enjoy them without the crowds. If you’re up early, consider going to Notre Dame, which opens at 7:45am most days.
It doesn’t take that long to see this iconic Paris icon although you’ll need extra time to climb to the top. Beware of pickpockets in this area (I warned you.) It’s free to visit Notre Dame if you only enter without climbing up the stairs.
Île de la Cité
Afterwards, explore the quiet island of Île de la Cité. An insider tip: consider stepping into Hôtel Dieu, the oldest hospital in Paris for the best secret views of Notre Dame for free. It’s still in use, however not all parts are used today. Click for Messy Nessy’s guide to visiting Hôtel Dieu. (I promised some secrets.)
I just enjoy walking around quieter streets of Île de la Cité, away from Notre Dame. I ended up finding the cutest crêperie with delicious tea: Crêpe en l’Isle.
Shakespeare and Co.
Afterwards, head over to Shakespeare and Co. for your requisite English bookstore browsing at the world’s most famous independent bookstore. Although the original shop, frequented by Hemingway and Joyce, was closed, this stunning bookstore still allows aspiring writers to sleep here.
The interior is absolutely beautiful and you might be charmed by the bookstore cat (like I was). It’s hard not to buy a book and it’s nice to be here without the insane crowds that come later in the day.
Delicious lunch with a view
For lunch, trust me on this one. There’s a lot of overpriced food in this area, so you’ll want to watch your wallet. One of my favorite Paris rituals is getting Lebanese food to go at Chez Le Libanais, a drink of your choice, and heading to the Seine west of Pont St. Michel with views of the passing canals. (Thank you Megan, a friend who introduced me to this magical place.) You can pay for a view, or make your own views.
Sorbonne, macarons, and Luxembourg Gardens
Afterwards, walk by the Sorbonne to admire Paris’ stunning university’s building. Afterwards, continue walking towards the Luxembourg Gardens, one of my favorite places to sit outside in Paris.
Half of Paris is slowing down, so find your favorite French cafe, sit down with a view of the street, and enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your luck at Cour de Rohan, one of Paris’ stunning secret streets. Maybe also get a macaron at Ladurée. (It tastes better in Paris.)
Afterwards, step into Museum d’Orsay, one of Paris’ best museums. I know that it’s not the Louvre, but you can head there instead if you’re willing to wait in line. This perfectly sized Parisian museum has a number of famous Impressionists’ artwork, including work from Degas, Monet, Monet…et al..
The lines here aren’t as insane as the Louvre, so be prepared to spend the rest of your afternoon here. The Paris Pass includes skip the line tickets. admission to Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre.
Once you’re done, head to Kodawari Ramen early for the best ramen in Paris. (They open at 6:30pm, so be sure to get there around 6pm.) Their cocktails are also delicious. You’ll find plenty more options for food in Saint-Germain as well.
After dinner, consider walking along the Seine or picking up one of the canal cruises to enjoy Paris’ sparkling lights at night. I personally like sitting at a one of the many cozy cafes in Saint-Germain at a table facing the sidewalk. One of my favorite bars is Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde, a board game bar with nice cocktails across the river.
Day 2: Secret Paris: Montmartre and the 10th arrondissement
You’ve been in Paris one day. You probably dealt with a lot of crowds, so let’s spend a day away from the crowds. For a glimpse into another side of Paris, I ask you to come to Montmartre to explore this formerly separate village that was a favorite of artists. (Note: wear good comfortable shoes!)
I recommend wandering the streets of Montmartre, peeking down the secret alleyways that make Montmartre truly special, and getting the secret view of the Sacre Coeur that will make your photos different.
I’ve created a complete Secret Montmartre self-guided walking tour to show you the best of Montmartre. It should take about 2-3 hours to complete this walking tour.
You’ll find some food in Montmartre, but it’s often overpriced. Instead, head to El Nopal Taqueria for the best Mexican food in Paris or one of the many more reasonable options in Pigalle, one of Paris’ upcoming neighborhoods at the moment.
Secret Paris: the 10th arrondissement and 19th arrondissement
Afterwards, take the 2 Metro from Abscesses towards Jaurès (direction Porte Dauphine / Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny). From here, make your way to Butte Bergeyre, a stunning park with epic views of Paris and beautiful houses from the 1920s. It feels like a different world away from the crowds here.
Afterwards, take the staircase down towards Buttes Chaumont, one of Paris’ most beautiful parks that’s relatively secret. It has an island in the middle with a temple and a romantic grotto.
Afterwards, follow Amelie to get a beer at Paname Brewing Company, one of Paris’ best craft breweries. There’s lots of great restaurants in the area if you want to spend the evening out in one of Paris’ coolest neighborhoods like a local.
The best free sunset view in Paris…
If you’re feeling like doing something different in Paris, take the 7 from Riquet back towards your hotel to enjoy the afternoon/night elsewhere. I’d recommend trying to catch the sunset at Galeries Lafayette.
This free lookout located on the roof of one of Paris’ most beautiful department stores will make all your friends on Instagram jealous. (If you wait long enough, you can see the Eiffel Tower glittering at night.)
Day 3: Culture and architecture of Paris
This day of the Paris itinerary is all about the stunning architecture in Paris. In this day, you’ll be able to admire the stunning covered passages in Paris, explore the diverse Marais quarter, and take advantage of late hours at the Louvre (Wednesdays and Fridays).
One of my favorite things to do in Paris is to explore the covered passages of Paris. These shopping arcades dating back to the 1800s are some of the most charming places in Paris to take a walk through, especially on a rainy day.
My favorite is Passage Jouffroy, however you can judge it for yourself with my free self-guided walking tour of the covered passages in Paris. It should take about 2-3 hours to complete the walking tour, which will bring you through some secret places in Paris that most tourists don’t know about…
Explore Le Marais, one of my favorite parts of Paris. Be sure to stop off at L’as du Fallafel for their famous falafel (bring cash). I recommend the spicy sauce if you can take it. Carry it towards Rosiers-Joseph Migneret Garden, a hidden park with a stunning views of buildings.
Alternatively, get a French crepe at BREIZH Café Le Marais, which has gluten-free options.I also love Square Marie Trintignant (below) Don’t miss the stunning city hall (Hôtel De Nice).
For a hint of the quirky side of Paris that I love, stop into LA GALCANTE, a newspaper shop where you can buy historic archives of newspapers from any date or topic. It’s truly a collector’s paradise and this is why I love Paris (sometimes): you can find a shop for everything.
Can you visit Paris without visiting the Louvre? Yes, but I really think that the Louvre is one of the best things to do in Paris and I recommend including it within your Paris itinerary. If you only have a four days in Paris, it’s a bit tricky to get here as the lines can be an issue…but I have a solution for you.
First of all, I recommend having a clear plan before you visit. The best time to visit the Louvre is late nights on Wednesdays and Fridays when the Louvre is open until 10pm and most tourists are elsewhere. Take advantage of this time as most other people think that the Louvre closes at 6pm.
If your trip doesn’t fall on either of these days or you’d prefer to skip the line at the Louvre, I recommend inverting this itinerary to ensure that you’re there prior to the Louvre opening at 9am and/or buy your tickets to the Louvre with a timed admission ticket to help you skip the line.
Late dinner at a Paris institution
For a late dinner, I recommend Boullion Chartier, one of Paris’ most affordable restaurants with authentic French food. Parisians and tourists alike come here to feast and they’re open late (until midnight) if you come after you visit the Louvre. (You can take the metro if you’re tired of walking!) The lines can be long.
Day 4: Quintessential Paris
Wake up bright and early to catch the Eiffel Tower at sunrise at Trocadero. There’s absolutely nothing more magical that seeing the colors across the horizon and to enjoy the Eiffel Tower without the crowds.
I recommend Cafe du Trocadero for stunning views of the Eiffel Tower (and a coffee). Be sure to walk down to Pont d’Iena for stunning views from the Seine.
Pont Alexandre III
Then, make your way along the Seine until you reach Pont Alexandre III before it fills up with people. If you’re interested in history, consider walking past Napleon’s Tomb. Afterwards, hop onto the metro at Invalides.
From here, make your way to one of my favorite markets in Paris for lunch: Rue Daguerre, which has numerous dining options and stalls to get lunch at. People love to talk about the Parisian markets and Rue Daguerre is one of the best ones, with minimal tourists. After lunch, head to the Paris Catacombs.
The Paris Catacombs were historically mines used to excavate stone to create the iconic Parisian buildings. However, due to sanitary issues related to running out of room in the cemeteries, a decision was made to move the bodies underground to an ossuary.
So began the Paris Catacombs. It’s truly worth visiting this dark attraction although I strongly recommend getting tickets to skip the line at the Paris Catacombs. It was more expensive, but I enjoyed the quieter experience away from the crowds.
Afterwards, consider walking around the scenic and beautiful secret streets of the 14th arrondissement, taking in epic views over Paris at Montparnasse Tower, or heading down to Butte-aux-Cailles to enjoy Paris’ best graffiti.
I’d recommend enjoying this quieter part of Paris prior to enjoy a picnic with your goodies from Rue Daguerre under the Eiffel Tower or along the Seine around sunset.
Optional Day 5: Day trip to Versailles
Although this itinerary is for only four days in Paris, I’d recommend staying one extra day to take a day trip to Versailles. I skipped Versailles on my first trip to Paris thinking that it was too expensive and too difficult to get to.
However, getting to Versailles is very easy and it’s surprisingly affordable, especially if you bring your own lunch with you. Click for tips on visiting Versailles.
Have you been to Paris? Let me know what you thought of this Paris itinerary for four days in Paris!
I have more posts about Paris for you to peruse to help you plan your trip to Paris….
- Secret Montmartre
- Self-guided Covered passages walking tour
- Off the beaten path Paris
- Insider’s guide to the 14th arrondissement
- Paris scams to watch out for
- Day trip to Versailles
- Day trip to Provins
- France on a budget
- Staying at a French chateau
- Normandy weekend trip
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