Paris – the city of lights , is one of the most magical cities in the world and oozes charm like nowhere else. Home to a number of treasures – be it historical buildings, iconic modern structures, museums,beautiful parks, street cafes, palaces, art deco Metro stations – Paris really does have something for everyone. To pack it all in while creating a travel itinerary is no doubt a daunting task. In this blog-post , I will try to list neighborhood-vise, things to see. For each day , you can then just pick a neighborhood and explore it to its entirety. I am glad to know that you have decided to spend at-least 5 days in Paris, but in case you have less time , you can just pick the neighborhoods from my itinerary that have the most that you would love to see and roll with it – easy peasy. So shall we get started – Paris in 5 days – Create your own itinerary.
When to visit Paris :
Of-course temperature vise , people prefer to visit Paris in summer ( June- Aug) but it is undoubtedly the busiest and the most crowded time in Paris. The accommodations are more expensive and you would end up spending hours in line of your most favorite attractions. I would suggest to visit Paris in either Spring (April-May) or fall ( Mid sept – Mid Nov) when the days are mildly warm and nights are a bit nippy. There is enough sunlight with little chill in the air, which makes walking around Paris even more enjoyable. Grab a hot wine or a crepe , and the experience would be unforgettable.
Money saving tips :
1) Invest in Paris Pass. Depending on your duration of stay , you can buy 24 hr, 48 hr, 72hr or so option of Paris Pass. You can buy your pass online here but keep in mind you will have to go physically to one of the centers to collect your actual pass. Paris Pass not only gives you express entry to all your favorite attractions but also is valid for unlimited use on metros, buses, trams and ReRs. All in all a great saving of money and time.
2) Make arrangements of your accommodation well in advance. Paris is always flooded with tourists all around the year. Planning the trip way in advance can fetch one great deals.
3) If you are travelling with family , booking an AirBnb will be more cost effective than staying in a hotel.
4) Paris is a compact city. Staying at a central place and using metro to run around the city can save a lot of money.
5) If Paris Pass is too expensive for you , keep an eye on the deals of famous tourist attractions and the free attractions. e.g. Museums operated by the city like the Musée d’Art Moderne, Maison de Balzac, and Maison de Victor Hugo etc are free to visit. Most churches and parks like the Jardin du Luxembourg have free entry always. Some famous tourist attractions offer cheap/free deals on certain days/timings. I will advice to search well on all deals on the attractions you plan to visit and may be take advantage of the free days if that fits in your schedule.
Visa for France :
Indians on Indian passport do need a shengen visa to visit France. However if you already have a valid shengen visa for any other EU country , you can travel to France on the same visa. If you are travelling to France as your very first country in EU , you will have to apply for a short stay visa ( tourist visa), well in advance.
Things to see :
So you have reached Paris , and you are all set to see the city of lights . I hope your trip from Charles de Gaule to your hotel was a pleasant experience and not like mine where I got lost twice and took me more than 3 hours to reach my hotel. Wear your comfortable shoes and lets start with my favorite neighborhood :
The 8th Arrondissement Paris – The Champs-Elysées and much more :
Champs-Elysées : Champs-Elysées is arguably the most famous street in the world. Here you will find the most high end stores ( yes if you are looking for Louis Vuitton flagship store – look no further), some amazing cafe’s and most of all jam-packed sidewalks. The street is 70 mts wide and run from the place de la Concorde to the place Charles de Gaulle. To get the first taste of Paris , this is the place to be.
Note : The first Sunday of every month is car free along the Champs-Elysées, so really perfect time to enjoy this street.
Arc de Tromphe : If you have ever seen a photo with a person standing in the middle of a street with a big arc like structure on the backdrop , well that is Arc de Tromphe. There is a narrow section in the middle of the road , where people line up to get their photo with the Arc , so if you are in to that kind of shot – you will have to be patient. The views are equally splendid from the top
of the Arc de Tromphe and I will highly suggest to climb up those 285 stairs to enjoy the view of 8th, 16th, and 17th Arrondissements streets meeting beneath the Arc De Tromphe.
For photographers , please try to reach really early in the morning to avoid traffic in your shot. This place is perfect to get a sunset shot over Champs-Elysées.
Note : Paris pass provides express entry to Arc De tromphe which means you do not have to wait in line.
Parc Monceau: Parc Monceau is English style garden on the northern border of 8th Arrondissement . It is an elegant and pleasing park famous for semi-circular colonnade by the basin that is considered part of an unfinished mausoleum of Henry II . It has quirky architectural elements like a pagoda, a pyramid, a Roman temple etc which provide great photo ops.
Place De la Concorde : Place de la Concorde is situated at the end of the Champs-Elysées. If you decide to take a Hop -on Hop off bus , you will pass through Place de la Concorde quite a lot of times. It is famous for the Luxor Obelisk (a 3,300 year old Egyptian obelisk erected on the square in October 1836), the surrounding prestigious hotels, and the two monumental fountains (Fontaine des Mers and Fontaine des Fleuves).
The 1st and 2nd Arrondissement Paris :
These districts are the oldest and famed to be the districts of great kings of France. Here is what you need to see in these districts :
Louvre Museum : You cannot visit Paris without visiting Lourvre – Duhhhh… so yes you will need atleast half a day to enjoy the most splendid art work known to human kind and if you want to see Mona Lisa , well that will take a bit more time. Express entry to Louvre is covered in Paris Pass, trust me a great investment to save a lot of time.
Jardin de Tuileries : The Tuileries Garden is the biggest Park in Paris (23 Hectares) and it is also the oldest. It is located in the first Arrondissement of Paris, between the Louvre Palace and Place de la Concorde, and it is delimited by the Seine River and Rue de Rivoli. Its main highlights are splendid French-style gardens, and two great museums (the Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume). The gardens are famous among the locals and you will often find Parisians enjoying their little picnic in the garden with a baguette and French wine.There is no entry fee for the gardens , it is free for the public.
Jardin du Palais Royal : The Garden of the Royal Palace, le Jardin du Palais Royal, has a long royal history. Enclosed as it is by the Palais Royal, a courtyard and arcades, it is not an obvious garden, not a garden one notices from a distance. The garden is very popular among the bloggers and definitely is worth a visit.
Les Halles : Located in the center of 1st district , Les Halles, was one of the true wonders of working class Paris. Made famous by Emile Zola’s famous novel of the same name, it was nicknamed “the stomach” of Paris for obvious reasons, as well as the scale of it’s labyrinthine underground alleys selling fish, meat and vegetables. Les halles was once used to be a fresh food market but now is turned into a shopping mall. Almost all metro lines pass through Les Halles and you will find local Parisians shopping in here.
Sainte-Chapelle : One of the great architectural and beautiful monuments in this district is Sainte- Chappele. IT is a Gothic church that contains some of the most awe-inspiring stained glass windows you’re likely to see anywhere in France, if not the world.
Note : Free admission on on the first Sunday of the month from November to March and its free for under 18s. The entry to church is included in Paris Pass.
Musée de l’Orangerie : AS you would already know, Paris is the cultural hub showcasing some of the finest art pieces , one such place that has an excuisite collection of art is Musée de l’Orangerie. It has an impressive collection of art from the 1930s to the 1950s with the most famous being Monet’s Water Lilies oil paintings . It is said artist gave precise instructions on how the paintings had to be hung, giving the impression that these enormous murals come alive when you walk into the oval halls. L’Orangerie also contains works by renowned artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau and Matisse.
Note : Free admission on 1st Sunday of each month and its free for under 18s. The entry to church is included in Paris Pass.
The 7th Arrondissement Paris :
The Eiffel Tower : Well the very reason you have come to Paris is – Eiffel Tower. I wont go in depth of view and how amazing this one of a kind wonder is – just few things :
1) You will want to go here in day time and night time.
2) I personally felt Trocadero to be too busy to enjoy the Eiffel Tower. So walk around and find your peaceful spot.
3) The best way to enjoy Eiffel tower is with hot coffee in one hand and chocolate crepe in the other .
Champs de Mars :Literally translated as Field of Mars , this is a great place to stroll around and enjoy the view of Eiffel Tower stretching in the middle. I have seen the photos of this place in fall , and it looks amazing.Champs de Mars used to be a military parade ground used by the military school that abuts it. But in the more modern era it’s been a place of celebration, public gatherings, and international expositions
Musée d’Orsay : Musée d’Orsay ties with the Louvre for the title of top museum in Paris, and perosnally I liked it more than Louvre. I think may be coz it was not overwhelming. Once a magnificent turn-of-the-twentieth-century train station, it was transformed in 1986 into a museum. The d’Orsay’s collection starts where the Louvre ends and includes the impressionists like Manet, Monet, van Gogh, Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, Berthe Morisot… the list boggles the mind.
The 4th and 5th Arrondissement Paris :
4th and 5th Arrondissements together make great for an evening stroll. Here are few must sees –
Place Saint Michel – Famous for a beautiful fountain known as Fontaine Saint-Michel designed by architect Gabriel Davioud. It depicts the Archangel Saint Michael and the devil, flanked by two dragons spouting water.
Pantheon – Right in the middle of Latin quarter you will see Pantheon and suddenly you will feel as if you are in Rome. The architecture is very Roman style , a mausoleum holding the remains of distinguished French citizens.
Saint-Etienne- du- Mont Church – Next to Pantheon is a 15th century church SAINT-ÉTIENNE-DU-MONT CHURCH which contains the shrine of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Thinking what else makes it popular.. well..the church was featured in the film Midnight in Paris.
Jardin du Luxembourg– LIke any other garden , Jardin du Luxembourg is beautiful , airy and have plenty of sitting spots to enjoy an evening. You will see locals enjoying picnic and bloggers flocking this park for iconic shots. Nonetheless, it is a sprawling park that is one of the most romantic in all of Paris.
Jardin Des Plantes – One of the best botanical gardens of Paris.
Notre Dame – The place does not need any introduction , it is the landmark that brings people to Paris. A UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts 14 million tourists a year , is a Catholic treasure built in the Middle Ages, more than 850 years old. The 12th-century church has long been home to relics, stained glass and other works of art of incalculable value. It attracts 14 million tourists a year and is widely regarded as one of the finest monuments of Gothic French architecture. Sadly , the fire accident in 2019 has caused quite a lot of damage to the Cathedral and is under restoration. You can only enjoy it from a distance for now.
The 18th arrondissement aka Montmartre:
Sacre Couer: The core of Montrmartre is Basilique du Sacré Cœur so needless to say it is one of the things you absolutely need to see. Not to mention the view of Paris from the stairs of Basilique is breathtaking – better than top of the Eiffel Tower.
Place du Tertre : Right next to Sacre Couer , is this great little square where locals showcase their art in form of paintings and illustrations. The square remains busy , has lot of shops around and is a great place to hangout and see the locals in action.
Moulin ROuge : The famous Moulin Rouge cabaret is not to be missed. The tickets for the show must be booked in advance as it is difficult to obtain at the door.
Le Mur des Je t’aime : Well the literal translation is – The wall of “I love yous” . It is a fun quirky place to take some photos as it has “I love you” written in more than 300 different languages.
So thats a wrap. 5 days in Paris to see so many things , will literally make your time fly by. There are great day trips from Paris too , but I left them for my next visit to Paris. For this time I just wanted to enjoy Paris to the core. I will love to hear from you about your favorite finds in Paris. What was dis-appointing for you? If you need any help in planning your trip to Paris , leave me a message below. Thank you so much for stopping by.