Paris is one of those dream destinations for many of us. From its delicious cuisine and high-fashion notoriety, to its rich history, expansive art scene, and breathtaking architecture it’s certainly a city you can spend a lot of time venturing around.
It’s not the lack of activities that make it difficult to plan a trip to the City of Lights;, but rather the sheer abundance of them! Don’t go anywhere, though, because we have you covered with our comprehensive Paris 5-day itinerary.
Day 1 – Champs-Élysées, Arc du Triomphe, Latin Quarter, + more
Paris is one of the most walkable cities in the world, with its cobblestone streets, plentiful green spaces, and charming neighborhoods. We highly recommend spending your first day mainly walking around, as it’s the best way to get acquainted with that authentic Paris feeling. Even better take a guided walking tour to get familiar with the city.
If you’d like a bit more direction, try one of the many top-notch walking tours through museums, food tours, and much more.
If you’d prefer to take things into your own hands, head to the main avenue, Champs-Élysées. Commonly known as “the world’s most beautiful avenue”, it runs from Place de la Concorde to the east and Place Charles de Gaulle to the west, where you’ll find the infamous Arc de Triomphe.
Place de la Concorde
Head through Place de la Concorde, where you’ll see the over 3,000-year-old Luxor Obelisk, which was stolen from the Egyptians. This square is also known where over 1,000 victims were guillotined, including Marie-Antoinette, revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre, and Louis XVI.
Jardin des Tuileries and Île de la Cité
Continue down the avenue through the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, full of beautiful plants, sculptures, and serenity. Sitting right next to the Louvre, you can catch Rue de Rivoli and into Île de la Cité, where Paris all began with the original Roman settlement of Lutetia.
Here, you’ll see stunning views of the oldest standing bridge across the Seine: Pont Neuf. Here, you’ll also find the gothic Sainte-Chapelle, built with the intention of housing precious relics including Jesus Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Its 12th-century stained glass is breathtaking!
We suggest heading to the underground museum full of ancient Roman remains, then checking out Notre Dame (at least, the façade as it’s currently under construction). Make your way south heading to the Latin Quarter, through the maze of alleyways and onto the Pantheon.
If you’re a Da Vinci Code fan, you’ll recognize our next point of interest: Saint Sulpice. Though even if you aren’t interested in deciphering symbols, you’ll surely appreciate its enormous 17th-century construction.
After all that trekking, you deserve a refreshment or two! There are plenty of cafes around where you can sit back and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine while people watching.
Wine Tasting/Pairing Class/Cooking Class
As you can probably imagine, there are tons of fantastic wine tasting experiences in Paris! We’ve found the best to perfectly balance education with fun, teaching in an authentic way so you can take your skills home with you. If you are a fan of French food and who isn’t, we recommend a cooking class while you are in Paris!
Day 2 – Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l”Orangerie, and More
Even if you’re a huge history or art buff, trust us when we say you don’t want to do your museum trips on the first day you get to Paris. You’re going to likely have jetlag and not be able to give these artifacts and artworks the attention they deserve.
While many people like splitting up the museums, fitting them into one day makes it easy to compare and contrast.
You’ll want to start out your day first-thing with the Louvre. If you wait until later in the day, you’re going to be rafting through swathes of people. It’s estimated to take 200 days to see all of the 35,000 pieces of art on display in the museum if you spent 30 seconds at each one. This is just one of the reasons why we recommend going on a guided tour of the Louvre Museum.
If you choose to go rogue, you can feasibly see just about everything you want in around 5 hours.
You’ll definitely want to see:
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (Denon Wing, Room 711) – No explanation needed for possibly the most famous painting in history.
Les Noces de Cana by Véronèse (Denon Wing, Room 711) – The largest painting in the museum, stretching from wall to ceiling.
Vénus de Milo (Sully Wing, Room 345) – Sculptured around 100 BC, this goddess was discovered on the Creek island of Milos in 1820.
Victoire de Samothrace/Winged Victory (Denon Wing, Room 703) – Sculpted around 190 BC, it was discovered on the island of Samothrace with absolutely incredible subtle details.
La Liberté Guidant le People (Denon Wing, Room 700) – This painting really portrays the bloodbath and contrasting light and beauty that was the French Revolution.
Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love/L’Amour et Psyché by Antonio Canova (Denon Wing, Room 403) – This beautiful piece full of emotion brings Cupid and Psyche almost to life.
Chevaux de Marly (Richelieu Wing, Cour Marly) – Commissioned by King Louis XIV and created between 1739 and 1745, this enormous marble sculpture is magnificent and represents the struggle between man and nature.
You must also see the foundations of the palace which was originally a medieval fortress made for King Philippe Auguste in 1190. Then, soak in the glitz and glamor of Napoleon’s apartments full of grandiose chandeliers, gilded everything, velvet furniture, and more.
There are plenty of fantastic places to grab lunch at the Louvre. Le Café Mollien has some of the best views of the Louvre, along with Café Richelieu/Angelina, Terrasse Colbert, and Café Marly.
If you’re a fan of impressionist and post-impressionist work, you have to spend some time here. Degas, Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh, among many others, have some of their best work featured at Musée d’Orsay. While entrance typically costs 12EUR, you can grab them for just 9EUR after 4:30PM every day except Thursday. If you end up going on the first Sunday of the month, it’s free of charge!
Musée de l’Orangerie
Any Monet fans? This is another must-see museum, then. Displaying 8 enormous water lilies, each represents a different time of day and season. The ground floor features plenty of other interesting works, as well. Not to mention, the building itself is quite beautiful.
Evening Cruise Along the Seine
With so much walking, you deserve to do some effortless sightseeing tonight. You’ll board a boat with a glass roof so you can take in all of the gorgeously-illuminated architecture (like the Eiffel Tower!) and walkways reflecting off of the water. Taking a Seine River cruise that includes dinner, or at least a glass of champagne is the perfect way to enjoy an evening.
Day 3 – The Palace of Versailles, Père Lachaise Cemetery, and More
The Palace of Versailles requires a journey of its own, as it does sit outside of Paris. As soon as it focuses into view, you’ll be mesmerized by this grandiose, gilded palace.
Originally made to be a hunting lodge, it later operated as the primary residence of the Kings of France until the Revolution. The lavishness is almost unbelievable, and the rooms are seemingly never-ending! The Hall of Mirrors, Gallery of Battles, and the Empire Rooms are phenomenal.
Step outside and also admire the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Place d’Armes, and of course the Gardens of Versailles! The Queen’s Hamlet is a bit contradictory to the opulence of the palace, especially when you learn that it was made for Marie Antoinette so she can learn what it was like to live in a peasant hamlet.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
That Versailles tour always takes a lot out of you, both mentally and physically. However, we recommend taking a train ride to the east of the city center to see Paris’ most famous graveyard, including the graves of Antonio de La Gandara, Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and many more.
Day 4 – Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Holocaust Museum, and More
Finally, the day is here! The day where you get to see the Eiffel Tower up close and personal! By now, you’ve surely caught sight of it, whether it be strolling around the Tuileries gardens or cruising down the Seine. However, seeing it up close is a different experience entirely.
Grab a typical French breakfast at a local café or market. There are plenty of light-yet-delicious pastries and coffee options, no matter where you are. While there are great breakfast options around, expect to pay around double the price due to its proximity to the massive tourist spot that is the Eiffel Tower.
Built in the 1880’s for the 1889 World Fair, it was originally supposed to be torn down. In fact, when it was first constructed, many people disliked it. Today is a much different story, with most locals taking pride in the wrought-iron symbol.
Standing over 1,000 feet tall, it offers some of the best views of the city and if you want to beat the crowds, we recommend you get here first-thing in the morning and take an Eiffel Tower guided tour to make the most of your visit.
It’s located right next to an enormous park perfect for having a delicious picnic or just sipping on some coffee while taking in the scenery.
Alternatively, you could browse around Rue Cler where you’ll find an array of different markets and stores that sell incredible French cheeses, veggies, bread, wine, and chocolates.
Les Invalides/The Tomb of Naponeon
This massive complex was commissioned by Louis XIV in the 1670s with the intention of being a hospital for wounded soldiers. Today, it has a much different purpose, serving as various museums and monuments, such as the Musée l’Armée (museum of the French Army). Not only that, but it holds Napoleon’s tomb.
If you’d like to learn about French military, it’s definitely the place to do so with a comprehensive journey that will leave you with expansive knowledge of French history, the French Revolution, and Napoleon.
Museum of the Shoah/The Holocaust Museum
There are various Holocaust museums throughout the world, but the Parisian one is interestingly one of the best. It’s not as busy as many other European ones yet is very detailed and intriguing. Admission is free, but keep in mind they are closed on Saturdays.
Berthillon’s Ice Cream
After all that walking and learning, you owe yourself a treat and what better treat than heading over to Berthillon’s Ice Cream located in the quite little neighborhood on Île Saint Louis? The iconic tea room is so quintessentially French, with friendly and efficient service, and luxury offerings.
Equally as photogenic as it is tasty, their ice cream flavors include unique selections like Pear, Wild Strawberry, Apricot and Raspberry, Passion Fruit, Black Currant, Chocolate-Orange, and many more. They also offer plenty of delicious sorbets and pastries.
Who says you can’t have dessert before dinner? There are plenty of world-class eateries located nearby in the Marais.
Restaurant H by Chef Hubert Duchenne – This 1 Michelin star restaurant is a nice way to try various dishes, with tasting menus consisting of 5 to 7 dishes.
L’Ambroisie by Chef Bernard Pacaud – This 3-start Michelin restaurant is the epitome of luxury and class.
Restaurant Benoit Paris by Chef Alain Ducasse – Opened in 1912, it’s one of the very few local bistros which also have earned a Michelin star.
Chez Mademoiselle – This one may not be Michelin-rated but it’s still wonderfully delicious. If you’re a kind of surf-and-turf person you’ll love this spot with a beautiful terrasse and friendly service.
Les Philosophes – Classic French food, excellent service, big portions make you feel like you’ve just gained a French mother and she’s welcoming you home.
Day 5 – Catacombs, Musée de Cluny, Rue Mouffetard, and More
Yes, it’s macabre, but it’s something we highly recommend seeing. We understand the Catacombs may not be at the top of your list, but almost everyone is glad they went.
We recommend choosing one of the many excellent guided tours of the catacomb underworld, as you’ll learn a lot and your expert guide will show you all the “hidden gems”. While you won’t likely get lost on your own, there’s just so much history to cover that it’s best if someone leads the way.
They’ll go through why the Catacombs came to be, the trials and tribulations involved in preparing the stone quarries, and even stories about people whose bones ended up in this resting place.
Lined with countless little cafes and shops, along with a popular outdoor market, it’s a fantastic way to get a glimpse into local Parisian life. We recommend learning just a bit of basic French, if not just out of courtesy as many sellers speak English.
Musée de Cluny
If you’re hunting medieval architecture around the city, you have to check this beauty out. Housing Gallo-Roman baths from the late 1st century, along with the well-known townhouse of the abbots of Cluny (15th-century), inside you’ll find some of the most significant artwork of all time here.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Even if you aren’t a bookworm, you’ll appreciate this grandiose library. Founded in the 1300s by Charles V. Stop, it’s crazy to think that there are people who just hang out here casually. The old rotunda is magnificent, along with the massive 20-foot globes!
You didn’t think we’d leave out this artistic haven, did you? The iconic structure of Sacré-Cœr also offers some of the best views of Paris, as it’s up on a hill or “mountain”. You may also catch that Instagrammable “sinking house”.
Watching the sunset here is incomparable, with live buskers to set the mood as the golden glow encapsulates the City of Lights. Grab some snacks or coffee and sit on the steps as you watch with a loved one or family.
As soon as sun sets it’s time to head over to the hustle-and-bustle of Moulin Rouge! What you probably know as the can-can was born here, along with top-notch cabaret performances.
There are so many areas to see that are a few hours or so by car. Two that we can recommend are a tour to the Champagne region of France to see the castles and do some Champagne tastings. Even if you are not a fan of Champagne the scenery alone is worth seeing.