Ooo la la. So much to see in Paris! When you’re there you’ll feel like a Parisian, but Parisians are known for eating healthy and in moderation. You may not want to follow that advice when in Paris for only a few days. My advice: Try everything and stuff yourself silly, so you don’t miss a thing!
Things to do for a few days in Paris, France
Options to get to Paris and where to stay:
Fly right into Charles de Gaulle Airport. There is free, unlimited wifi at the airport, so you can easily find an Uber. I asked the driver to take us by any attractions that might be on the way. Turns out that was the Arc de Triomphe at Place de l’Étoile (the big arch) and through Champs-Élysées fancy-schmancy shopping district. Another option is to take a taxi, but ALWAYS ask for the fare approximation before you get inside. Another more economical option is to take the RER-B (blue line) train right from the airport. Your choice – depends on how much time you have (mine was super limited) and how much you love mass transportation (usually my favorite thing, but time was of the essence). I booked a VRBO.com apartment in the 6th arrondissement area which seemed to be fairly centrally located or Hotels.com has both hotels and apartments.
I strolled from the 6th Arrondissement through the Le Jardin du Luxembourg (green space/park) through lovely neighborhoods with iconic Parisian architecture. About a 15 minute walk (toward the Siene) stop for creme brûlée, tiramisu, sorbet, and wine at the Le Relais de L’Entrecôte, 29 Rue Saint-Benoît, 75006 Paris. Then cruise right over to the Seine River and stroll along it up toward Jardin de Tuileries (park/green space) to enjoy the blooms and activity. The Louvre is right here and is super cool and partially underground (entrance way) – it’s the world’s largest art museum and definitely worth the trip. Note that I was there in August and did not have tickets ahead of time. There was a long line, but it moved quickly and everyone entered. Also, Mona Lisa lives in the Louvre, and it’s usually a very long and slooow line to glimpse her from a distance. I did visit with her at the same time as hundreds of other friends but not so sure she was worth it. Don’t be afraid to get goofy with the statues – after all, the artist would have loved that. Maybe. After the museum, walk across the pavement to view the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (a smaller arc) built 1806-1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories the previous year. Stroll through the park and you will find the the Ferris Wheel at Place de la Corcorde where you can purchase a ticket to experience the fantastique Paris skyline from high above it.
A fun and quick way to get around the city (or just cruise a few blocks) is the electric bikes or electric scooters. They are on many city streets and require an app to use them. I had a blast on Jump bike (just use the Uber app) and Dott scooter (get the Dott app). Don’t forget that you can walk or take a taxi or ride share (e.g., Uber).
Bike Tour of Paris
Another adventure day includes a bike tour of the city! You get to be outdoors, have fun, experience an enthusiastic tour guide, and learn all about the history of Paris! Recommend: the 3 hour “Parisian Day Tour” by Bikeabouttours. Plus you’ll get to meet other tourists and learn what they’ve loved and what they think are skippable if you just have a quick trip. This is how I learned about Sainte Chappelle. Turns out it’s a “must-do” and was walkable after my bike tour.
Sainte Chappelle is a church that has more stained glass than you’ve ever seen in one place. The magnificence of it just blows you away when it stretches almost 50 feet high and depicts over 1,000 scenes of the Old and New Testament. Well worth the visit.
The Eiffel Tower
Very crazy that it was built in 1889 and was finished in just over 2 years! I’d recommend visiting at the pre-dusk time period. Beforehand, I visited a grocery store in the city (use your maps app to find one) and purchased wine, grapes, cheeses, and *baguettes*. Because, Paris. On the south side of the tower is the Champ de Mars which is basically a large field. Bring a blanket and all your food/drink as you wait for the sun to set and the Eiffel Tower to light up. It’s a magical experience! Yes, you do need to be aware of pickpocketers in this area, but just be smart about it and you’ll be fine. Smart includes wearing a fanny pack UNDER your clothing. Keeping money and credit cards in separate areas of your person (e.g., pockets, fanny packs). Never flash your money – just be discreet. And always be scanning the area. In other words, be alert and be obvious about it.
Food – as I said earlier – try everything. So many cute bakeries, cafés, restaurants with fresh French bread, pastries, buttery croissants, crêpes, Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stew), Coq au Vin (chicken stew), Jambon-Beurre sandwich (baguette with butter and ham), delicious sauces (jus), and everything in between.
Paris Recommended Activities:
- The Louvre. Very cool gigantic art museum located in a great part of town. There’s loads to do all in that same area – from photos of the glass pyramid of the museum, hanging out in the courtyard of the palace, to the gardens within a very short walking distance, as well as the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. It’s all right there.
- Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde. The views of the city of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, are just magnificent. Plus it’s so close to the Louvre that you can do it all in one day.
- Bike Tour of Paris. Bikeabouttours – Paris Monuments Tour. You’ll cruise by all the cool Paris landmarks in 3.5 hours and learn the history and interesting tid bits about the city. 39 Euros and very worth it. Meet at the centrally located Le Peloton Cafe, 17 Rue du Point Louis Philippe 75004 – make reservations.
- Sainte Chappelle. 1,113 stained glass windows from the 13th century- magnificent and breath taking.
- Eiffel Tower at dusk. First – use your maps app and find a grocery store in the city. Note the different foods and different way items are stored. Then grab some fancy cheeses, grapes, olives, prosciutto, bagettes, wine and chocolate. Borrow plates, utensils, and a blanket from your place of stay and find a spot for a picnic in the field right next to the tower (Champ du Mars) pre-dusk. Wait for the Eiffel Tower to literally sparkle – 20 minutes after sunset. The tower lights up every hour, on the hour, for 5 glorious minutes until 1:00 a.m.
- Notre Dame.(Won’t be rebuilt until 2024 though. Sad face.)
Things to do outside Paris:
Less than 18 miles to the west of Paris is the lovely village of Versailles. Mostly known for the Château de Versailles (huge palace/castle) from the 17th century and its immaculate gardens. If you are going to the palace, I *strongly* recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time. I was there in August and waited 3+ hours outdoors in winding lines to get in. Low on the fun meter. However, once inside the Hall of Mirrors, bedrooms and architecture were interesting and a sight to see. The gardens are grandiose (including fountains and sculptures) and its fun to imagine living there with such decadence.To get to Versailles, taking the RER train is the least expensive option and takes about an hour. It’s about 7 Euros round trip. Find the closest metro station and buy a ticket (machines/kiosks have an English option) to “Versailles Château Rive Gauche” station. You may need to take a combo of the métro (the sign is a blue “M” with a circle around it) and RER C line. When you arrive, it’s a quick 13 minute walk to the palace. I recommend getting to Versailles early or staying after your palace visit to explore this quaint town. There are outdoor restaurants with seating practically on the street, the Versailles cathedral, cobblestone streets and more.
Suggested quicktripadventure Itinerary:
|Day 1||Drive by or quickly stop at: |
Arc de Triomphe at Place de l’Étoile Take the 284-step stairway or the elevator to the observation deck. 13 Euros/person. Or walk on the outside for free.
High end shopping district. Drive by.
Visit the museum for 2-3 hours.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
A smaller arc across from Louvre.
Ferris Wheel at Place de la Corcorde.
Also right across from Louvre.
|Day 2||Bike Tour of Paris.|
bikeabouttours. 3.5 hour tour of Paris Monuments.
Visit the market to purchase provisions for sunset picnic at Eiffel Tower.
Eiffel Tower at sunset
Picnic at Champ du Mars to view sparkles/lighting of tower each hour, on the hour.
|Day 3||Versailles. |
Visit Palace, gardens, walk through the village, eat on the street.
(From Paris take a combo of the métro (the sign is a blue “M” with a circle around it) and RER C line to “Versailles Château Rive Gauche” station. Walk 13 minutes to palace from train station.)
Recommended lodging: VRBO.com in the Arrondissement where you can walk to all/most of the places that are of interest to you.