The Best Things To Do In Paris, France
Even though I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in the city of lights, I found that the typical Paris goer usually only plans to spend four days, at most, exploring the city. With that being said, I’ve conveniently compiled my 10 days worth of knowledge and condensed it in to the most perfect four days you could ask for in the beautiful city of Paris, France.
Before I start, I’d like to mention that location is everything. Where you stay in the city is going to have a huge impact on your experience. For that reason, I recommend staying in the 4th arrondissement (district). Even though this is considered the historic area, the La Marais part of this district is very hip. There are tons of great bars, restaurants and night clubs all within walking distance from some of the major tourist attractions.
Since it is the most central area, it’s going to be a bit pricey to stay in. So if it’s not in your budget then you should stay in the 5th arrondissement. Specifically, the latin district. It’s a little bit farther from the main attractions, but there are still a lot of side streets with breathtaking galleries, boutique shops and great restaurants.
Enough about location, let’s get to the good stuff – the four perfect days.
Day 1 – The Eiffel Tower and Champ Élysées
An obvious first day must-see. If you’re not concerned with going up in to the eiffel tower, I suggest going later in the day so you have the opportunity to see the tower’s transition from day to night. Also if you’re going during the time of the year where the weather permits, plan to sit in the grass at Champ de Mars to fully enjoy this spectacular monument.
To get a view from both sides of the river, take a walk over to Trocadero Gardens and head to the top of the stairs for a classic panoramic. Once you’ve had your fill of this area, take a walk down the Seine and cross the Pont Alexandre III towards Champs Élysées. On your way you’ll pass both the Grand and Petit Palais to end up in the heart of the largest shopping district in the city. This area is always flooded with people, so be prepared for large crowds and tourist prices!
*Insider food tip: Eat lunch, or dinner, at Su Misura (22, Avenue Rap). If you’re looking to get away from all the touristy restaurants in the Eiffel Tower/Champ Élysées area, then this local Italian restaurant is a must. Reasonable prices, amazing food and the architecture in this neighborhood will blow you away. It’s only about a 10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
Day 2 – The Musée D’Orsay and Notre Dame
After a full day of exploring, I hope you’re ready to see some more of the infamous Paris. Start your day by waking up early and heading over to the Musee D’Orsay to see the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in one place. This museum was originally a train station, so the architecture of the building is equally as amazing as the art it now houses.
Once you’ve had your fill of art, take a walk over to visit Quasimodo at the Notre Dame. Entrance to the Cathedral is free, and definitely worth the short wait to go inside. If you take a walk behind the Cathedral and back towards the Seine, you’ll find the Pont L’Archeveché. Since the preservation of the Pont de Arts (aka the love locks bridge) has started, this bridge has started to take its place as the hub for love locks. You can rest assured that your lock, along with hundreds of thousands of others will have a safe home and the same luck as any other. But if you care to do things the more traditional way, then you will find that the Pont de Arts is not too far from Notre Dame and if you’re crafty enough you’ll find a way to add your lock despite the city’s attempt at preventing it.
*Insider food tip: Dinner at Les Philosphes (28, Rue Vielle du Temple). This is a famous French restaurant owned by a world renowned chef. All the food is traditional French cuisine prepared with organic ingredients and made fresh in-house everyday. If you want to try one of the dishes of the day, I suggest going for an early dinner or they’ll run out.
Day 3 – The Pompidou and Montmartre
If you’re staying in La Marais, then the Centre Pompidou is a short walk from your location. This five story centre is home to an eclectic collection of contemporary art, the largest in Europe to be exact. Not only that, but you’ll have a great view of the city from the top. The eccentric art paired with the amazing views makes this a definite must see in my book.
After the Pompidou, you should walk over to the Forum des Halles before heading up to Montmartre for the afternoon. Montmartre is a large hill situated in the 18th arrondissement and is home to the type of Paris you see in the movies. The area is filled with quaint cafés with hand painted store fronts, street musicians performing on the corners, artists painting portraits and landscapes of the city and unique street art around every corner. The area has a very whimsical vibe that sweeps you up and takes you back to a different time.
*Insider food tip: If you’re looking for a fun night out then I suggest having tapas or dinner at Le Tib and drinks at The Lizard Lounge. Both are walking distance from one another in La Marais. The Lizard Lounge is a bit of an expat bar so be ready to encounter people from all over the world.
Day 4 – The Louvre and Latin Quarter
You know what they say, save the best for last. Today’s the day you’ll finally get to see the infamous Mona Lisa (from a distance of course). To avoid lines at the Louvre, I suggest getting there before it opens at 9 a.m. If you’re more interested in the surrounding buildings, then timing doesn’t really matter but my favorite time to go was at night when no one else was there. After spending some time with Mona and the other renaissance art the Louvre has to offer, take a walk through the Tuileries gardens before heading over to the Latin quarter.
This area was by far my favorite, it has a much different energy from any other parts of the city and had a more local vibe. The two must see attractions in this area are the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens, but if you’re trying to do something different then you should definitely wander throughout the small side streets in this part of the city. Walking around without any specific destination is where I found some of the best boutique shops and local art galleries. It’s definitely a relaxing way to end your last day in the city.
*Insider food tip: Eat lunch or dinner at Le Petit Zinc (11, Rue Saint-Benoît) in the Latin quarter. It’s a little on the expensive side, but I ate the best meal of my life here and so I have to highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what exactly brings you to Paris. Whether it’s the Eiffel Tower or your love for art, you’re going to find that the beauty and romanticism of the city lives in everything. Even after 10 days, I still found myself in absolute awe and wonderment from the moment I left my flat to the moment I arrived home. But what really made my trip different from any other one was the fact that I took every opportunity to see what the city’s like from a local’s point of view. My advice to you: if you end up going, take every chance you have to stray away from the mainstream tourist attractions and find out what this amazing city is really all about. There’s much more to this beauty than meets the eye.