Paris, France

The Ultimate Paris Guide | 5-Day Itinerary


You would be hard pressed to find a city that invokes feelings of romance and love better than Paris. It's one of our favorite cities and we've been enough times that we've created a 5-day itinerary that we have been sharing with friends and family. Now, we want to share it with you! You don't have to necessarily follow this list by day order, but these are our recommended grouping of things to do day to day. Let us know what city you would like us to cover next!

Full Day 1

Notre Dame
On our first day in Paris, we beeline it to the iconic Notre Dame, a stunning cathedral in Central Paris and probably one of the best-known landmarks in the city. Because it’s so well known, it can be really hard to get into without a long wait. Getting into the cathedral to have a quick look is pretty easy; there’s no fast track or travel hack for that, but the line moves quickly (even though it looks intimidating!). As for climbing the cathedral towers, that requires a bit of a longer wait. That’s why we’re cluing you into a trick we learned: before your trip, download the app Duck the Line. At 7:30am on the day you want to climb, set an alarm, log into the app, select your preferred 10-minute window of time for your climb and GO BACK TO SLEEP (!!!). Waiting in line is painful, especially when you're traveling on limited time, which is why we’re making sure you don’t have to. Fast forward, after you’ve had a big breakfast and a lot of coffee, arrive at Notre Dame for your 10-minute window of time and find the check-in window on the left side of the building. Check-in, pay for your ticket(s), and enjoy the stunning Cathedral views! If you’re hungry when you leave, cute cafes nearby are Esmerelda and Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole.
View from the Top of Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks Couple overlooking the view from the Top of Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks
Couple at the Top of Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks View from the Top of Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks
Couple in front of the Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks Couple at cafe nearby Notre Dame | Tips and Tricks

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
Shakespeare and Company, historic bookstore and an old haunt of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, is a great same-day stop if you’re hitting Notre Dame! It’s a personal favorite. Something I love to always do is buy a book to have them stamp with their seal as a souvenir.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris - Why It is a Must Visit Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris - Why It is a Must Visit

Jardin du Luxembourg
Depending on the time of year you visit, le Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the best spots in Paris for experiencing the magic of the seasons. Best times to go are probably Spring and Fall, but any time of year it’s a lovely place to stroll and take a breather from the crowded sections of the city.
Alicia Mara at Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris

Café de Flore
It’s a bit on the pricey side, but a rite of passage for visiting Paris and one of Picasso’s favorites. The sidewalk tables are perfect for people watching if you don’t mind that Parisian cigarette smoke smell as part of the experience! We ordered coffees (you knew I was going to say that) and a Quiche Lorraine… and then another…

Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at Café de Flore in Paris Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at Café de Flore in Paris
Café de Flore in Paris Quiche Lorraine Alicia Mara at Café de Flore in Paris

Musee d'Orsay
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist museum. We haven't been yet, which is terrible I know, so I'm not sure about the ticket situation, but it is nearby Café de Flore and would be a perfect addition to the day.

Full Day 2

Versailles & Gardens
- **When planning your itinerary, note Versailles is closed on Mondays**
- If you’ve never been to Paris, Versailles is just outside of the city of Paris and requires a full day to properly enjoy, but is totally worth it. If you’re interested in getting the ticket that includes the gardens, wait to buy until closer to your visit so you know what the weather will be like before making your decision.
- The “Passport with Timed Entry” ticket avoids you the hour-long wait line that most people stand in, so try to get that if you can. The first time we went, we got a general ticket and waited for SO LONG. We're talking over an hour and a half. Don’t be like us.
- Most importantly here, make sure you eat a big breakfast in Paris before boarding the train to Versailles. Also, stop by a Parisian market to grab some snacks to take with you because it’s expensive (and not the worth it kind of expensive) to eat in that area. For travel, the easiest way to get to Versailles is to take the subway to the RER (commuter train) Line C to “Gare de Versailles Château Rive Gauche (the last station)”, then follow the signs to the entrance. Depending on where in Paris you’re staying, the trip is usually about an hour total (45-minute train ride, 10-minute walk).
- Tour the palace first. If you’re a fan of audio guides, you can either get the free guide provided by the palace OR the free downloadable (ahead of time to listen offline) Rick Steve audio guide on your phone for some corny humor and enjoyable info.
- If you didn’t properly snack up, there’s a cafeteria just to the left of the fast pass entrance. Enjoy at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you the food is expensive. Make sure you're fed before you head into the Garden of Versaille. You'll need the energy, but it's nice to stroll the gardens leisurely after spending all your energy exploring the palace.
- The Garden of Versaille has many pathways made up of little stones. Wear comfortable walking shoes!
Leo Chan Outfit at Palace of Versailles Paris Leo Chan Outfit at Palace of Versailles Paris
Alicia Mara Outfit at Palace of Versailles Paris Alicia Mara Outfit at Palace of Versailles Paris
The Mirror Room at Palace of Versailles Paris
Fountain at the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles Paris Leo Chan at the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles Paris

Full Day 3

On day three, visit the famous home of the Mona Lisa, the Louvre. The Louvre is cool to see from the outside, for the unique architecture, and even cooler to browse on the inside. You might be tempted to visit without planning which art you want to see and playing it by ear, but that’s a mistake. Research ahead of time to figure out what you want to see, because it’s very (VERY) easy to get lost/distracted and realized you saw almost nothing. As for tickets, you can get them when you arrive to the museum and it’s not as important as some other attractions to time your visit. Not sure what you want to see? We liked these suggestions by the New York Times.

After the museum, head down Champs Elysees for a late lunch. You can think of Champs Elysees as the 5th avenue of NYC, but in Paris.

Leo Chan outside of the Louvre Museum in Paris Leo Chan outside of the Louvre Museum in Paris wearing Comme des Garcons
Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at the Louvre Museum in Paris | AMWF Couple
Alicia Mara inside the Louvre Museum in Paris Alicia Mara inside of the Louvre Museum in Paris

Laduree has locations all over the world and they’re *technically* all the same macarons, but there’s something really special about going to Laduree in Paris, its birthplace. You’ll likely have to wait for a table inside, but it’s worth it. Wifi and atmosphere, only available inside, are game changers for your time spent here.

Laudree in Paris Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at Laudree in Paris

Arc du Triomphe
A 10-minute walk from Laduree, the Arc du Triomphe (or, the larger Washington Square Park arch, if you’re a New Yorker) is a must see in the afternoon/evening. If you arrive at the right time, you can see it in full light, watch the sunset over Paris, and then see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at the top of each hour after nightfall. As for tickets, there’s no need to buy in advance. The line has never taken more than 20 minutes for us. Pro tip: This is one of the most romantic spots in the city (if you’re into that.)
Leo Chan at the Arc du Triomphe Alicia Mara at the Arc du Triomphe
Sunset view from the top of Arc du Triomphe

Full Day 4

Eiffel Tower
In an ideal world, we could all buy an Easy Pass ticket to the Eiffel Tower and be guaranteed that iconic climb to the top, obligatory selfie, and potentially fancy meal with wine before heading back down. Because Eiffel Tower access is weather-dependent, this is not an ideal world. If you purchase an Easy Pass ticket and for whatever reason, the tower shuts down due to weather or overcapacity (which happens more than you’d think), you won’t be able to use your ticket and you can’t get your money back. Womp womp. Take something (or someone) with you to occupy you for the 45 minutes you’ll wait in line for a regular ticket, and bask in the glory that you lost no money in the process. Also, if you don’t mind walking up the first two parts of the tower, you can get a cheaper ticket from a shorter line.

Going up the Eiffel Tower is a must, but so is actually taking a photo with the tower itself. Our favorite photo spot is at the Trocadéro Gardens. We much prefer this area to the busier Champ de Mars side. When you're finished, stop by Pont de Bir-Hakeim to see this famous arch bridge (it has an appearance in Inception).

Alicia Mara and Leo Chan kissing at the Eiffel TowerView of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at the Eiffel Tower
Alicia Mara and Leo Chan at the Eiffel Tower
Leo Chan at Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Full Day 5

Montmartre feels like old Paris. As you walk the narrow, windy (and hilly) cobblestone streets, it’s not uncommon to hear the accordion music everyone thinks of when they think Paris. You’ll also see street artists, shops for knick-knacks, and the cafe that inspired the quirky French movie, Amelie. Up there with the Arc du Triomphe, Montmartre is one of the more romantic spots in Paris. If you haven’t already been Eiffel Towered out by now, the views from here are 360. Finally, while we didn’t love Moulin Rouge as much as we would, it’s a short walk from here and is another rite of passage while in Paris.

Sacre Coeur at Monmarte Leo Chan outside of Moulin Rouge
Alicia Mara and Leo Chan in Monmarte

Other Tips

French people have the reputation of being rude, but really it’s just that they don’t share the American cultural niceties. For instance, in the US we regularly greet people (even people we don’t know!) with “Hi, how are you?” In France, you’ll get a sideways look as a response to that question. They’re not rude, they’re just not culturally overly friendly. Embrace them for who they are and maybe even find it refreshing that all of their interactions are genuine.

Use Duolingo (or any other free language learning app or site) to learn some basic French words and phrases (think, “Hello… table for 2… a coffee with milk please… do you have an English menu… where is the bathroom”) before you go. Quick way to see a French person smile? Make an effort to speak their language. Highly likely they’ll hear your accent and speak to you in English anyway, but they’ll appreciate your effort.

In looking for a place to stay - if you're close to a good subway line, it's a good location. We've stayed in the 3rd and 11th and really enjoyed the areas. They tend to have cheaper accommodation because they're further out, but have a local feel and amazing food and treasures to discover.


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