Writing about Paris is simple… said no one ever.
How does one fit everything the city has into a 4 day Paris itinerary? I tried.
Fun fact: Paris was my first trip outside the continent. Why did I pick the most visited city on Earth as my first major travel destination? I honestly don’t remember. It just sounded cool.
I spent five days with the most vague itinerary. I booked a Paris Pass and one activity. I walked into restaurants that looked good without checking reviews. Current me is astonished at my lack of structure, especially since I thrive on it. Paris just overwhelmed me to the point where researching or planning anything made me shut down.
Point being, if the idea of an itinerary-free trip doesn’t freak you out, give Paris a go. Some cities are built for the wandering tourist, and Paris is one of them.
This guide was a little weird to write, because while I didn’t go to the major restaurants or cafes, I did go to just about every major sight and stop. For what it’s worth, Ina Garten has a list of her favorite Paris dining spots if you’re curious. But if you’re looking for lesser known gems, I’m your gal.
When all is said and done, Paris is the most visited city on earth for a reason. Some may say it’s overhyped, but I adored it. The food, the art, the architecture and history all rolled into one unforgettable trip. I’m itching to go back, with a planned itinerary of course.
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Table of Contents
Official Language(s): French
Emergency phone number: 112
When to Go to Paris
September – October
I visited in August, and while it wasn’t super crowded (many Parisians prefer to vacation during this time) it was pretty hot by my standards. Admittedly, I am more heat sensitive than most. Still, I’d recommend September – October as ideal months, with cooler weather and smaller crowds. If you don’t mind chilly weather, Paris at Christmas is stunning.
Plan to Stay
It can take a few trips to see all of Paris, but we’re gonna do the most with this 4 day Paris itinerary
Where to Stay in Paris
I recommend Hotel Diana, not because I actually stayed there, but because they were kind enough to assist me when I need some help. I had a travel-related issue, and even though I wasn’t a guest, they were so nice in helping me out. So, when I return to Paris, they’ve got my business. The pretty rooms and location within walking distance of Notre Dame are just a bonus.
73 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris
How to Get Around in Paris
Paris has an incredible transportation system, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to use it once. There’s just so much to see and walking around is how I saw what I did. I also Ubered to and from the airport, but do you.
There’s an option to purchase a Paris Pass that will include a certain number of attractions and transportation. Having purchased this myself, I think it can be hit or miss, and here’s why.
The 2-day pass has a list of attractions that are just impossible to see in just 2 days. You’ll see some, but not all. If you book the 3-day, it gets expensive. Oftentimes, it’s pricier than booking directly with each attraction.
Of course, part of the appeal of the Paris Pass is the convenience. That may be exactly what you’re after. No keeping track of tickets, just skipping the line and walking straight into each attraction. If that’s you, then go for it.
If not, buy the individual tickets in advance. Oh, and pay extra for a skip the line pass at the Louvre. Trust me.
Where to Eat in Paris
A friend of mine recommended Gérard Mulot and told me it’s best to grab some pastries to go, and eat at the Luxembourg Gardens. Can confirm, that’s the way to do it. Gérard Mulot has a wide variety of deliciously sweet and savory pastries. I definitely left with more than one.
93 Rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris
Café Panis was so nice and in such a charming location (walking distance from Notre Dame). I swear I had the best cappucino of my life, and repeatedly returned for breakfast as a result.
21 Quai de Montebello, 75005 Paris
La Fourmi Ailée
La Fourmi Ailée is an absolutely delightful spot to grab an afternoon tea or coffee. The atmosphere is whimsical and relaxed. You can grab a book off of their shelves, or bring your own, and just sip, read and chill in this cute little cafe.
8 Rue du Fouarre, 75005 Paris
La Solita Taverna
La Solita Taverna was my final dinner in Paris and it was a wonderful send off. I feel weird recommending Italian food while in Paris (but, if you need a good pizza, La Sirena is the answer to your prayers) but it really was spectacular. The wine and food paired wonderfully, and I loved the design of the restaurant. I felt pretty fancy.
10 Rue du Fouarre, 75005 Paris, France
Day 1 of 4 Days in Paris
Start your day off at the Louvre Museum, right when it opens.
Fun fact: It’ll take you about 4 months to see every single item in this gigantic palace.
While you can’t necessarily expect to see all 35,000 works (I’d be impressed if you did), the museum has compiled a Masterpiece Trail, detailing what to see and how to see it. It takes roughly 90 minutes, at which point I’d wander around for bit then grab lunch at the cafe.
Their food is seriously good stuff and comes with an amazing view.
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, closed Tuesday
I loved taking a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens. They’re beautiful. Grab a dessert to go if you can and have a mini picnic on a bench and people watch. It’s way fun.
Notre-Dame de Paris, more colloquially known as Notre Dame looks good from every angle.
I’d highly recommend attending a mass service there, if possible. Something about seeing the stunning interior combined with the organ music and church services makes it all come alive.
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris
Open 7:45 a.m. – 6:45 p.m. Monday – Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 7:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Day 2 of 4 Days in Paris
Church of Saint-Séverin
Church of Saint-Séverin will be on your way to Musée d’Orsay, and it’s so pretty and seldom-visited, I think it deserves a quick pass through. I particularly loved the windows.
2 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris
Musée d’Orsay was hands down my favorite of all the museums I saw while in Paris. It’s much smaller than the Louvre and easier to navigate.
If you’re like me, and love nothing more than a fabulous Impressionist wing, you’re in the right place.
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
Open 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. Thursday, closed Monday
Champs-Élysées roughly translates to “Elysian Fields” or heavenly fields, for us heathens. It’s the most recognized street in the world, and fun just to take a walk down and admire everything that’s going on. There are so many shops and restaurants, it’s a great way to spend an evening.
Not to mention the Arc de Triomphe smack dab in the middle of it all. It’s really cool to see up close, but be very careful crossing the streets to get there. It’s a hectic area of Paris, and cars wait for no tourist.
Day 3 of 4 Days in Paris
Day Trip to Giverny and Versailles
If you’ve got good weather for a day, I’d say it’s time to get outside Paris and explore two fabulous places: Claude Monet’s Giverny and the Palace of Versailles.
You’ll find several tours that operate going to both in a day, and… they’re expensive. But, I was lazy and the thought of organizing my own transportation didn’t appeal. So, I booked the tour linked below. I had a great time, and everything was completely handled.
But here’s the thing.
You’ll save a lot if you choose to DIY this trip. So lemme show you how.
The tour I booked took me to Giverny, followed by lunch, and then ended at Versailles. You’ll save time by grabbing lunch at Giverny, and heading straight to the Palace from there.
Getting to Giverny from Paris by train take two hours. Yikes. And Uber will be crazy expensive. So book via BlaBla Car, a rideshare service instead.
In roughly an hour and a half, you’ll arrive at Giverny.
Claude Monet’s Giverny
Claude Monet’s garden is every bit as breathtaking as you’d expect. It’s meticulously arranged and well kept. I must’ve spent over an hour just walking around and taking it all in.
Words fail me, it was so, so beautiful.
Claude Monet’s Home
Following a walk through the gardens, you’ll have a chance to tour inside his home. It’s well-preserved and gives you a good idea of where his inspiration came from.
If I had to pick, I’d say I enjoyed touring the gardens over the home. But it’s a close call.
86 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny
Open daily 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Palace of Versailles
To get from Giverny to the Palace of Versailles, use that same rideshare service from earlier. It’ll take about an hour.
Then… you’ll arrive at opulence in its finest form.
Walking through King Louis XIV royal residence really gives you an idea of how the Sun King viewed himself. And let’s not forget the Gardens, where during the his reign, it used more water than all of Paris. Not even kidding. The man was extra as hell.
To return to Paris, you can take RER C to Champs-Élysées for ten stops (roughly 30 minutes).
Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles
Open Tuesday – Sunday 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.
The tour I booked ended in the evening, and the Palace closes at 5:30 p.m., which would give you the chance to take in the Montmartre district for a few hours. Most people come here for the iconic Sacré-Cœur, which is admittedly very cool.
But have a look around if you have the time. It’s an artist district, meaning there’s plenty of cool cafe’s and markets to check out.
(Oh, and there’s a funicular in case you don’t want to walk all the way up to Sacré-Cœur. I completely understand.)
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris
Open 6 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. daily
Day 4 of 4 Days in Paris
Of all the churches I saw in Europe (so… about 15,000), the Sainte-Chapelle was my favorite.
If you can, plan your visit during sunrise or sunset. The second story glass windows are meant to be seen that way (probably). The view is breaktaking. I haven’t seen anything like it since.
8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris
Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
A lesser visited but very cool stop is the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette spent her final days. The building architecture is every bit as creepy and ghoulish as it’s history.
It walks you through the entirety of the French Revolution and the struggle to establish a democracy.
2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris
Open 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Is going up the Eiffel Tower a giant tourist cliche? Duh. But I fully endorse it.
Paris is meant to be seen from above. It’s truly something special. Go in the evening or at night, fewer people and prettier views.
Also, the tower sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour at night. It’s a beautiful send off.
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
Open 9:30 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.
One Last Thing
Whenever you enter a building, say “Bonjour!” Also, round the check up if you’d like to leave a tip. I was ignorant of this when I first got to Paris, until a shop owner explained them to me. So… don’t be like Past Maggie. Do your homework when you go to a new place.