A few weeks ago, my husband and I got the chance to spend some time in Paris. We only had a few days, so I made it my mission to make sure we could see and experience as much as we could! Five full days in any European city is never enough – but its doable! With this Paris itinerary, there was plenty of site seeing along with time to relax and enjoy the scenery, history, food, and each other’s company.
Here’s all the sites we got to see in that short time frame:
Seine River Cruise
City Bike Tour
Arc de Triomphe
Place de la Concorde
Food & Wine Tour
Arrive in Paris:
Most flights from the US arrive very early in the morning in Europe. Although it can be exhausting taking an overnight flight, it leaves plenty of time to squeeze in a few activities on your first day. It’s about a 35 min train ride to downtown Paris from the airport. It’s worth doing a little research about the metro and trains before arriving since you will most likely be using them for a majority of your transportation. We used the metro a lot and thought it was super easy and convenient.
Check in and go exploring!
We arrived at our AirBnB, dropped our bags off, and quickly took off to go exploring! We walked down to the Seine River and admired the beautiful buildings and cafes. We also stopped by the famous “Love Lock Bridge” which is near Notre Dame. It was the perfect time for lunch, so we stopped at a little café to grab a bite to eat, have a glass of wine, and do some people watching. This is one of the best parts about Paris – you can pretty much stop at any little café that you stumble upon and find excellent food and drinks!
Eiffel Tower and Seine River Cruise
After lunch, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower via the metro. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for seeing the Eiffel Tower in person. It’s truly breathtaking!
Some sites might advise you to book tickets for the tower ahead of time. However, we walked up and bought our tickets when we arrived. There is a bit of a line, but it allows you the freedom to go whenever you want. Otherwise, you must arrive at the time printed on your pre-purchased tickets.
After taking in the views from the Eiffel Tower and walking around that area for a bit, we decided to hop on a Seine River cruise. At 15 Euro for 1 hour, it’s reasonable and a great way to see some highlights from the water. No need to purchase tickets ahead of time. There are tons of cruise boats lined up along the river – just pick one and enjoy!
Authentic French Dinner
We enjoyed dinner at an excellent authentic restaurant “Polidor” right across the street from our apartment. Scenes from “Midnight in Paris” were actually filmed there!
We called it an early night once jet lag set in!
We started off Day 2 with a bike tour called “Paris Secrets and Charms”. Whenever travelling, I try to book the city tours near the beginning of the trip. It’s an excellent way to get your bearings and see the major sites. Luckily, this particular bike tour is actually a motor-assisted bike so we weren’t too wiped out after the tour. The tour took all morning and some of the early afternoon. We saw so many historic sites and heard great stories from our guide. It really set the tone for the rest of the trip!
Luxembourg Gardens Picnic
Parisians eat lunch late, and dinner even later. We grabbed lunch at another café after the bike tour. Again, you cant go wrong picking anywhere to eat in Paris. All of the food there is divine. After lunch, we grabbed a few macaroons and a crème brulee to-go and walked to Luxembourg Gardens for a little picnic.
Luxembourg Gardens should not be missed on a visit to Paris! It’s a gorgeous green lung in the middle of the city that is perfect for relaxing and people watching it. Also, entrance is free which is nice!
Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees
After exploring the breathtaking gardens, we took the metro to the famous Arc de Triomphe via metro. Commissioned by Napolean in the 1800’s – its astonishing and larger than life. We climbed to the top of the arc for some more amazing views of Paris. Warning: There is no elevator to the top! The view from the Arc de Triomphe might rival that of the Eiffel Tower!
We had a few drinks at a café on Champs Elysees and watched all the people shopping at the high-end shops on this famous road. I’m too cheap to actually buy anything at the stores, but its still fun to do some window shopping!
Dinner with a View
We walked to a small restaurant called “Firmin le Barbier” for dinner. This was probably my favorite meal the entire trip! We had a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower and watching it light up was such a treat. We got pretty lucky because they squeezed us in – usually you need reservations for this small restaurant.
Our third day, we spent most of the day at the Louvre. I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time online! Also, pro tip: there are multiple entrances to the museum. I researched the best entrance to the museum because things can get chaotic there. Using the Carousel de Louvre entrance (underneath where all the shops are), we were astonished that there was basically no line! Meanwhile, the more well known pyramid entrance already had a huge line.
We made a game plan to visit the most famous pieces and left after about 4 hours at the museum. We also used the audio guides, which I highly recommend. Matt and I both agreed that we got so much more out of the museum because of the audio guides. You can use the guides as little, or as much, as you want.
After leaving, we grabbed lunch and took the metro to a cathedral called La Madeleine. My younger sister is named Madeleine so I had to do an honorary visit for her. Not to mention, it is absolutely gorgeous! Most cathedrals in Paris have free entry, this one included.
We discovered this really cool restaurant near La Madeleine called Buddha Bar. Its actually underground which was really cool and different. It has a giant stone Buddha, music, and great Asian food! The atmosphere was awesome and so were the drinks!
Place de la Concorde
It was still not too late so we took a quick side trip to the Place de la Concorde. This square is where the guillotine was placed during the French Revolution and its where Marie Antionette and Louis XVI were beheaded. Now, a giant obelislk stands in the center of the square. We jumped on the giant ferris wheel and admired the view. There are so many ways to get a great view of Paris and the Place de la Concorde ferris wheel is one of them!
On day 4 we visited the most famous church in Paris – Notre Dame. We gave ourselves plenty of time here because lines are long and the cathedral is HUGE! Apparently it can fit over 6,000 people for mass! Matt also had fun running through all the crowds of pigeons on the square. The line is deceiving because it looks really long – but it moves super fast. However, if you want to actually climb up the bell tower that is a different story. There is a separate line around the side of the church and it is usually a 2 hour wait.
Drinks at Les Deux Magots
We stopped at this famous café where people such as Julia Childs, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemmingway used to hang out. Definitely check this little gem out!
Food and Wine Tour
In the afternoon we took a food and wine tour called “Paris Original Tour”. It was so much fun and we got to try a lot of different things! We samples locally made olives oils, jams, bread, coffee, wines, and cheeses. I think this was my husband’s favorite part of the trip!
Jardins du Trocadero
We wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower again because why not? We went to a park across the street for some nice views called Jardins du Trocadero. This is an excellent place for some people watching and soaking in the Eiffel Tower view.
We took the metro to the St. Germain area and walked into the famous restaurant called “Brasserie Lipp”. The food there was mouthwatering – but just a warning there is no English on the menu! Luckily, the waiters were very helpful in translating a few things for us!
Versailles is an all-day affair. It’s a short train ride outside of the city and we got there as soon as it opened. A long line was already forming but we paid 7 extra euro for a private tour (sooo worth it!) and we got to skip the line. After the tour and exploring the chateau on our own, we moved out to the gardens.
We grabbed lunch at an excellent little restaurant in the gardens and made our way to some other royal residences within the gardens. It was kind of surreal visiting all these gorgeous homes where the French royalty lived!
We arrived back home in the evening and were totally exhausted! We walked across the street to “Au Pere Louis” where I had the best duck Ive ever had in my life! It was an excellent last meal in Paris!
After packing and getting ready for our morning flight, we both fell asleep totally satisfied with our amazing, whirlwind Paris getaway!
Do you plan on traveling to Paris soon? Have any must-see places that I didn’t make it to? Need help or advice while planning your trip? Let me know!