Paris is one of my favourite cities, the one that made me fall in love with travelling. Paris is romantic, cultured and sophisticated, with so much to see and do.
It’s hard to do Paris justice in just four days. I’ve visited twice now and there are still entire sections of the city I’ve yet to explore.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tempted to rush around, trying to see and do it all. On the other hand, you’ll want to do as the locals do- slow down and relax in a beautiful park or café.
To truly appreciate Paris’ charms, I think a balanced approach is best- seeing some of Paris’ top sites while leaving some free time to absorb all that is Paris.
How to Spend 4 Days in Paris
Here’s a look at what we managed to see and do with four days in Paris. You might notice that a lot of Paris’ museums (except for one) are missing from our itinerary, but that’s just because we’re not art people! This itinerary is just a suggestion and should be altered based on your personal interests.
Note: All links will open in a new window for your convenience.
Day 1: Visit the Eiffel Tower & Les Invalides
After settling into your hotel, head to Paris’ most iconic landmark- the Eiffel Tower. Take the stairs up the tower, instead of the elevator, so that you can spend more time enjoying the marvelous views of the city and less time waiting in line!
After coming down from the tower, walk through Parc du Champ de Mars. This is a popular place for people to lounge on the grass, drink wine and have a picnic in the shade of the Eiffel Tower.
Before leaving the park, make a visit to the Wall for Peace, opposite the École Militaire.
Next, walk over to the nearby Les Invalides. If time permits, go inside to see Napoleon’s tomb and the Army Museum (we didn’t get to do this because it was almost closing time when we got there). Instead we wandered around the esplanade and admired the golden dome of the Hôtel des Invalides.
Next, head to Pont Alexandre III to watch the sunset over the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Once darkness settles in, cross the river to Place de la Concorde to see the obelisk and fountain illuminated at night.
Lastly, treat yourself to a nice French dinner on your first night in Paris!
Day 2: Explore Paris’ Historic Neighbourhoods & Visit the Louvre
Start your day off by exploring Paris’ Latin Quarter. This neighbourhood is intellectual, arty and has been the heart of Parisian café culture since the 1920’s. It’s nice to simply wander around this area and casually visit some open-air markets and cafes.
Some notable sights in the Latin Quarter are La Sorbonne (France’s most famous university) and the Panthéon.
There’s also an interesting little church near the Pantheon called Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which has the golden tomb of Sainte-Geneviève, the patroness of Paris. If you’ve seen the movie Midnight in Paris, you’ll recognize the church steps Owen Wilson’s character sat on before going back in time.
Continue walking west to Saint-Germain de Prés. This neighbourhood was the place to be in the 1920s, a popular hangout for both Hemingway and Fitzgerald. The bookshops that once lined the streets have been since been replaced with designer boutiques.
Be sure to spend some time at the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and don’t miss Eglise St-Sulpice. This church is home to one of the world’s largest organs and was featured in the novel The Da Vinci Code.
End your morning by indulging in a tasty treat at a patisserie, a must do when in Paris!
Catch the metro and head across the river to Montmartre. This neighbourhood was a rural village separate from Paris until 1860. In the 1880’s, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec helped shape Montmartre into a hub for artists, a legacy that continues today.
Montmartre’s most famous sites are Sacré-Coeur Basilica, Place du Tertre (where the artists set up to sell their masterpieces) and Moulin Rouge. Half the fun of Montmartre though, is getting lost in the maze of steep streets and tilting houses.
We highly recommend you save enough time after Montmartre to visit Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opera. In my opinion, it’s one of Paris’ most stunning buildings!
In the evening visit the Louvre, which many consider to be the world’s greatest art museum. Try and visit on a Wednesday or a Friday night when the museum is open late- until 9:45 pm. Trust us, your visit will be far more pleasant without the crowds!
Day 3: Visit Île de la Cité (Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie)
The Île de la Cité is where Paris was founded and to this day remains the heart of the city. It’s an interesting, historical part of town and it’s worth spending a good portion of your day here.
Bright and early, head to Notre-Dame Cathedral. Try and get there just after it opens around 8:00 am to avoid the line-ups and crowds. After visiting the inside of the cathedral, head around to the side to queue for a visit to the bell towers, which open at 10:00 am. It’s worth going up to see the famous gargoyles up close, plus you get a nice view of the city.
Next, walk over to Sainte-Chapelle. This tiny chapel is made almost entirely out of stained glass windows! It’s tucked away among the law courts and Conciergerie and would be easily missed if it weren’t for the long lineup of people waiting to get in.
After visiting Sainte-Chapelle, pop over next door to the Conciergerie. This intimidating looking building used to be a royal palace, but was converted to a prison during the revolution. It held some famous prisoners and makes for an interesting visit if you love learning about history.
End your afternoon with a short walk to Paris’ other island- the tiny, quieter Île St-Louis. There aren’t any real tourist attractions here, it’s just a nice place to wander and enjoy an ice cream cone!
Day 4: Day Trip to the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is well worth a trip out of Paris for the day. This decadent palace was home to French royalty who lived so lavishly it started a revolution!
There is more to see here though than just the main chateau. The gardens are expansive and you could spend an entire day exploring them (we sure did!) There are also two smaller palaces, the Grand and Petit Trianons, plus the adorable Queen’s Hamlet (our favourite spot at Versailles).
After you return to Paris, make your way back to the Eiffel Tower to see its lights twinkle at night. For a classic view, head across the Seine to Esplanade Trocadero. Seeing the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night is the perfect way to end to a wonderful 4 days in Paris!
Tips for Visiting Paris
- Consider purchasing the Paris Museum Pass. We used it at many of the attractions we mentioned here to skip lines and get free access. We wrote a complete guide to buying and using the Paris Museum Pass, including our review.
- We found Paris to be more expensive than other European cities we visited, especially when it came to accommodations. Also, don’t be surprised if your hotel room is much smaller than North American standards.
- Take advantage of Paris’ bike share program. Vélib’ is a self-service bike system that is available 24 hours a day. For just €1.70 you can take a bike from any stand (there are over 1,800 stations and 20,000 bikes), use it, replace it and take a new one over a 24 hour period. The first 30 minutes are always free, so if you return your bike every 30 minutes, you never pay more than €1.70. If you forget to return your bike every 30 minutes (like we did), you will be charged a usage fee.
- If riding a bike isn’t your thing, don’t worry- Paris has en excellent metro service that is easy to use.
Buy Digital Tickets to Paris Attractions & Skip the Line
For quick and convenient access to Paris’ attractions, here are some trusted links where you can buy advance, mobile tickets to the sites mentioned in this post (or click here to shop all Paris attractions tickets). Digital ticket delivery is instant and you can show your phone (in most cases) at the ticket holders entrance- no need to print your tickets.
Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie (Priority Entrance)
Louvre Museum (Skip the Line, requires ticket pickup adjacent to the museum)
Opéra Garnier (Self Guided Tour)
Les Invalides (Priority Entrance)
Palace of Versailles (Skip the Line)
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Accommodations in Paris
For your convenience, here is a list of hotels in Paris. Please consider booking your Paris accommodations through the included link. It costs you nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!