- Ultimate Guide: 5 Days in Paris
- Day 1: Tour The Seine and Norte Dame
- Day Two: Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower
- Day 3: Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Tour Montparnasse
- Day 4: Versailles
- Day 5: Musée d’Orsay
- 5 Days in Paris Final Thoughts
Ultimate Guide: 5 Days in Paris
Updated: 1/02/2020 – It has been a long-lived dream of going to Paris. I mean what girl doesn’t dream of Paris, am I right? The lights, the art, history, romance and of course food! We caught our 6 AM flight from Iceland to Paris. In this guide, I will cover the best things to see and do in with 5 Days in Paris!
I found that 5 days in Paris is the perfect amount to see all the major attractions, but if you can spear 1-2 days more, you can tour Paris at a more leisurely pace and add a couple of must-see attractions in Paris. If you don’t have 5 days, here is how to spend 36 hours in Paris.
Disclaimer: Please note this post contains affiliate links which I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Day 1: Tour The Seine and Norte Dame
With 5 days in Paris, we were ready to hit the ground with our feet running. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport where we followed the signs to the Tram. This was the first place we knew we might experience a language barrier since we do not speak French.
I downloaded Google translate which was pretty helpful in learning the basics (highly recommended in any country) We took the B RER headed towards Saint-Michel Notre Dame where our Airbnb was located. I found the app CityMapper, which my Airbnb host shared with me, to be very helpful navigating the train system.
Insider tip: When you put your ticket into the machine, make sure you wait for it to come out since you will need it to exit! We may or may not have gotten stuck in the subway, but hey, you live and you learn!
The second we arrived at street level, the air-filled with sweet scents of crepes and other goodies making us, literally, salivating from our mouths. The streets were lively with cute cafes at every turn and in the backdrop, the famous Notre- Dame!
UPDATE: We were so sad to hear Notre Dame was on fire. Our heart breaks for this stunning building and piece of history.
During our visit, it was too late to go inside so we lapped around the building taking in all the incredible sculptures engraved into the building.
Currently, they are not letting anyone inside as the work on the reconstruction, however, you can still walk around the building which I believe is still worth it!
Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Cruising the Seine
One thing that many of our friends and family urged was to take a tour down the Seine at night and now I am passing it on to you! From our boat, we watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle and it was truly magical! This tour was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
Tip: I have been told the dinner cruise is not worth it.
Our guide spoke in both French and then English giving an authentic vibe and provided insightful information as we went down the Seine. Some takeaways were that Paris has 37 bridges, their smallest bridge has collapsed several times (although he seemed like he might have been joking) and the rail bridge was a gift for Versailles.
Day Two: Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower
( See alternate thing to do below) Since we missed touring the inside of Notre Dame on our first day, we wanted to head back. Notre-Dame is known to be one of the finest examples of Gothic French architecture. It was completed in 1345, has 10 bells and the tower height stands 226 feet tall.
You can’t help but feel humble as you walk through the massive doors with detailed sculptures engraved through the walkway. The sun shined through the delicate stained glass, with art and sculptures lining each side of the cathedral. We hope it will once again be restored to its former glory.
Since Norte Dame is temporarily closed, I would recommend heading to one of the 3 below alternatives. If you find you have more than 5 days in Paris or want to swap out Versailles, I would definitely recommend paying a visit to the Montmartre neighborhood!
- Sacré-Cœur Basilica: An absolutely stunning church in the heart of Paris! It is located in the eighteenth arrondissement and is a must-see (that we, unfortunately, missed during our trip). While visiting, the Montmartre neighborhood has a ton to offer including cute cafes and tons of instagramable places! Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
- Moulin Rouge: Also located close to Montmartre is the famous Moulin Rouge! Pass by to see the iconic windmill or even reserve a table and have dinner and a show! Address: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
- Catacombs of Paris: If you are interested in something a little more morbid (but extremely popular) check out the Catacombs which hold the remains of more than six million people! Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
My first thought of the Louvre was those iconic glass Pyramids I’ve seen splatted all over Instagram. Let’s be honest, they are very photogenic, I get it. I could imagine many tourists just go to see the pyramids and don’t even step foot inside the actual museum.
Personally, I think it’s worth the admission ticket to go inside. There are so many famous pieces of work you will only see here and it’s actually the largest museum in the world! If you do plan to go inside, I would recommend getting a priority ticket (especially during summer months!) when the line can be very long.
You can get lost in the Louvre for over a month trying to see every piece of art, it’s just that massive. A statistic my Seine boat tour told us was that it would take almost 3 months to look at each piece for 60 seconds!
With that said, before you visit, go in with a plan on what you would like to see. The Code of Hammurabi, The Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Dying Slave were some of our top spots. We still wandered around, as there are so many beautiful pieces to see.
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
The Tuileries Garden
Exiting the Louvre, we were surprised to walk right into the Tuileries Garden. It was the perfect spot to give our legs and feet a break as we sat by a fountain and watched the ducks and their chicks swim around. The Gardens are massive with sculptures, fountains and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrouse, not to be confused with famous Arc de Triomphe at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. If you’re interested in history, these gardens hold heaps going back to King Henry III in the 1500’s! They are also the perfect spot to just relax or have lunch.
Address: Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris, France
Place de la Concorde
After resting our feet, we made our way to Place de la Concorde. Place de la Concorde measures as the largest square (21.3 acres) in Paris and famous for many public executions. While in this square, we viewed the Luxor Obelisk, the Fontaines de la Concorde and Roue de Paris.
We first learned about Luxor Obelisk on our Boat trip down the Seine and wanted to get a better look in the daylight. The Luxor Obelisk stands 75 ft high, weighs 230 tons and is over 3,000 years old. It was originally housed outside the Luxor Temple in Egypt and was gifted to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ruler of the Ottoman Egypt! You can find the Luxor Obelisk at the center of the Place de la Concorde.
Fontaines de la Concorde
Right next to Luxor Obelisk are two fountains on either side that boast intricate details and beauty. Originally 4 fountains were planned for this space but were then decided the water supply would be not sufficient enough. Finished in 1840, the North fountain commemorates navigation and commerce on the rivers of France and the South fountain commemorates the maritime commerce and industry.
Address: 75008 Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe
After fueling up with delicious macaroons along the way, we started our hike to Arc de Triomphe. The best part for us when walking is getting to really appreciate where we are. By walking we get to take in the local scent, hear the hustle and bustle and find streets that we may have never walked down.
Google maps led us down Avenue des Champs-Élysées which boasts of luxury stores and cafes. If you are ready to shop til you drop, this is the place!
Finally arriving at the huge roundabout (with crazy drivers, I should add) sits Arc de Triomphe. This impressive Arc was built to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
You can actually go to the top and view the city, although when we went, a ceremony was taking place, so we only got to view from across the street. Watching the cars drive and look as if they are going to crash each time is an attraction in itself.
Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Saving the best for last, (just kidding as all of Paris is amazing) we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve dreamed of wanting to stand under this tower as a little girl, so getting to see it up close and personal was a dream come true. The closer we got, the more excited I was and wow, it is just massive.
We came from the backside of the tower, indulged on a baguette and cheese, sat on the lawn and enjoyed the warm spring weather of April. Our feet and our bellies thanked us. Something I found interesting was that the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 and took 2 years 2 months and 5 days to complete!
Day 3: Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Tour Montparnasse
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
On day 3 of our 5 days in Paris, we headed to Parc des Buttes Chaumont, known to be a hidden gem of Paris.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont reminded me of Central Park, but much cleaner. The park also has free wifi if you can find a good spot, I might add =). We walked across the suspended bridge and up some steps to a wonderful lookout spot.
Look for a dome building, as in the picture below, and get ready to see beautiful Northern views of Paris. It’s free and peaceful. The park consists of a charming pond and lush cliffs, birds, ducks, and turtles. With less than 5 days in Paris, this might not make it to your itinerary, but we really enjoyed this park.
Address: 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris, France
As if one lookout wasn’t enough, we decided to head out for a second overlook viewpoint. A wise Instagram friend once told me, if you want to see Paris like a real Parisian, go to the top of Montparnasse to see all of Paris.
We took the train to Gare Montparnasse but had a little bit of a difficult time finding the entrance to the top. Just ask a couple of times and eventually, you will make it to the entrance. We had to walk around the building to another side and pay 18 euros each, but let me tell you, these views are incredible!
First, you are brought to the 56th floor where there are telescopes, food, and a gift shop. Next, you can take the stairs and walk to the open-air terrace with incredible 360-degree views of Paris and a champagne bar! Yep, that’s right, they have champagne! This ended our night for day 3 in the city of love and art.
Address: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris, France
Day 4: Versailles
Every guide you ever look at for Paris will include a day trip to Versailles and with good reason. This Palace will have you in awe as you walk through history. For scope, around 37,000 acres of land was cleared for tree-lined terraces, walkways, and gardens holding thousands of plants and trees. To think we could cover the grounds open to the public in one day would be near to impossible as there is so much to see.
Did you know Versailles was originally a hunting lodge used by King Louis XIII? It was King Louis XIV who built Versailles into the huge palace you see today, and boy did Marie Antoinette and King Louie have taste!
Getting To Versailles
Just Southwest of Paris, you can take the train for about 30 minutes depending on where you are. From the train, it was about a 10-minute walk to the large golden gates. We paid to have access to the Castle and Trianon Estate, but unless you are there super early, I am not sure if it’s worth it since the gardens are free!
Insider tip: I also believe it is better to buy your tickets online ahead of time, or even a skip the line since it’s very popular! We waited a very long time on line (lesson learned)
Gardens in Versailles
Being a nature lover, my favorite part was the gardens. The weather was absolutely beautiful as swans swam around fountains. As you walk down to the garden, in the distance you can canoe around the pond. By the canoes, you can also rent bikes which were a lifesaver if you want to make good timing around the Palace. You pay by the hour and they come with a lock. This helped us see a lot of the property and give us a nice breeze on a rather hot day.
We stayed until closing time and learned that the nearest train was closed for the day, meaning we had a hike to a much further train. Lesson learned – check the train schedule! There has also been a strike that affected our train travels, so always best to double-check!
Day 5: Musée d’Orsay
5 days in Paris went by so quickly! On our final day in Paris, we decided to spend our time walking up and down random allies and by the Seine until we made it to Musée d’Orsay. Did you know the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station?
The tickets were $13.50 euros each and the line was short which is always a plus! The museum displays time periods from 1848 – 1914. It’s much smaller than the Louvre but has some great pieces. Our favorite areas were the Van Gogh exhibition with some of his most famous pieces. Some even say they like Musée d’Orsay over the Louvre! We really enjoyed both so if you are museum buffs, be sure to check them out!
5 Days in Paris Final Thoughts
Paris has really stolen our hearts and I know we will definitely be back!. After 5 days in Paris, we couldn’t believe it was already over! Not going to lie, we started plotting out how our lives could be if we stay in Paris, but I’m sure that’s a common feeling, right? Or we are just weird… but that’s ok!
There is still so much we want to do and see in Paris, so this will be one of those destinations we’ll have to go back to. If you enjoyed our 5 Days in Paris guide, find more Paris insights below!
Ready to book your flights? check the airfare on Skyscanner for the best pricing here! For accommodations we found Airbnb to be a more affordable way to see Paris, but if you are looking for hotels, Booking.com is our go-to!