5 Days in Paris: The Perfect Paris Itinerary for Your First Visit

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Paris is a place that many people dream of one day visiting – which is probably why it's such a popular city in Europe. In fact, it's second only after London in terms of the most-visited cities in Europe.

Paris is romantic. It's historic. It's fashionable. It's stunning in so many ways. But Paris is also really big. It has a reputation for not always being friendly. And there's SO MUCH to see/do that planning a trip there can seem overwhelming.

How much time should you spend in Paris? What are the absolute must-do things? How do you get around, and where should you stay? I'll answer all of these questions and more in this 5-day Paris itinerary, which I think is perfect for a first visit to the City of Light.

Eiffel Tower view in Paris
Rooftop and Eiffel Tower views
Amanda at La Maison Rose in Montmartre
Exploring Montmartre

5 days in Paris itinerary you can steal

Seriously, please feel free to use this itinerary to help you plan your own Paris trip! It's written from personal experience after planning a few Paris trips of my own, and is designed for first-time visitors.

It's written with a late spring/early summer visit in mind, though of course can be used throughout the summer and fall, too, without many tweaks.

This itinerary includes:

  • Visiting/seeing famous sights like the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and more
  • Cruising on the Seine
  • Strolling through gardens like the Jardin des Tuileries
  • Visiting museums like the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and Musée de l'Orangerie
  • Going on a food tour
  • Taking a day trip somewhere like Versailles
  • And much more!

And now for my perfect Paris itinerary!

At the Louvre

Day 1: Famous Paris sights

Highlights of Day 1 include: Arrival to Paris, Arc de Triomphe, the Seine river, and the Eiffel Tower

1. Arrival to Paris

Today is arrival day in Paris, France. Most likely you'll be on an overnight flight arriving in to Charles de Gaulle Airport in the morning, but you could also be arriving via train (like on the Eurostar) if you're combining your trip to Paris with time in another city like London or Amsterdam. (I highly recommend this! Check out my 10-day London and Paris itinerary.)

If you arrive to Paris via air, you have a few different choices to get to the city center. You *could* take a suburban train (the RER B line runs from Charles de Gaulle) into the center and then use the Metro or grab a taxi from there. This is the cheapest option, but it can be daunting if it's your first trip (and doubly so when you have luggage in tow).

It's probably easier to get a taxi or to pre-book an airport transfer like this one for your arrival in Paris. These options are more expensive, yes, but much less stressful!

Paris street scene
You can enjoy Paris street scenes like this.

If you do opt to take a taxi or book a transfer, it will likely take you anywhere from 35-60 minutes to get downtown, depending on traffic.

NOTE: Taxi rides from CDG airport into central Paris have FIXED FARES. The fare is 56 euros between Charles de Gaulle and the Right Bank (Rive Droite) of the Seine (anywhere north of the Seine), and 65 euros from the airport to the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) of the Seine (anywhere south of the river). DO NOT let a taxi driver turn the meter on or charge you more.

You probably won't be able to check into your hotel yet if you arrive in the morning, but you can drop your luggage off and get exploring! (And I'll give you lots of hotel suggestions at the end of this post.)

A note on getting around in Paris

While you can certainly rely on taxis or Uber to get around in Paris, I'm going to recommend using the Metro most of the time. Paris' underground metro system will get you just about everywhere you'd want to go in Paris, and is much more affordable than using a taxi or Uber for every trip.

The Metro lines in Paris are numbered and color-coded, and you can find stations marked with the letter M, or the words Métro or Métropolitain.

Paris Metro sign
Paris Metro sign

For ease of travel, I'd recommend purchasing a plastic Navigo card, which you can load up with money/tickets and tap it like you would a credit card when you enter the Metro. You can get these from many Metro ticket machines now (or any staffed service desk), and once you have one you can add tickets using the Bonjour RATP app on your phone.

Note: The Paris Metro has NOT gone completely paperless or contactless just yet. Some machines are still selling paper tickets, and some stations are still accepting them. However, Paris is moving towards Navigo cards only at certain stations, so I don't recommend purchasing paper Metro tickets anymore.

For help navigating, the Citymapper apps is what most local people use in Paris, and you can do route searches and save them to use even when you're offline. (You can also save a Paris map on Google Maps to help with offline navigation.)

Read these tips for your first time in Paris!

2. Arc de Triomphe

After you check in to (or at least drop your luggage off at) your hotel, I recommend hopping on the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe. This iconic triumphal arch isn't really close to any other major attractions, so you may as well start here!

Roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe

The closest Metro stop is Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, which is on the 1, 2, and 6 Metro lines. When you get there and exit to the street, DO NOT try to cross the 8-lane roundabout that encircles the Arc. Look for signs directing you to the pedestrian underpass.

Once you come up beneath the Arc, you can either simply walk around it to take some photos, or you can get a ticket to climb the 284 steps to the top. From the top, you'll have incredible views (some of the best in Paris!) out over Paris, the Champs-Élysées, and towards the Eiffel Tower on Montmartre. (Purchase skip-the-line tickets for the Arc de Triomphe here.)

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe
View from the Arc de Triomphe

There are lots of cafes and brasseries near the Arc and along the Champs-Élysées, so I recommend grabbing lunch around here.

3. Jardins du Trocadéro

Next you can make your way to the Trocadero, which offers up some of the most famous views of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine. You can either walk here from the Arc de Triomphe (20 minutes), or hop on the 6 Metro line to Trocadero station.

This is where you'll find the famous concrete steps with excellent views of the Eiffel Tower (I promise you've seen them on Instagram!).

Amanda at Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Me at Trocadero on a rainy day

Once you've had your fill of photos, make the short walk across the Seine via the Pont d'Iéna to the base of the Eiffel Tower.

Pro tip: The area in front of the Eiffel Tower is ALWAYS busy with people. This is one of many touristy spots in Paris where petty theft like pickpocketing is common, so be aware of your surroundings and don't keep your wallet or valuables in a back pocket or open purse. I recommend traveling in big cities with a theft-proof cross-body bag, backpack, or sling bag.

4. Seine cruise

Taking a cruise on the Seine in Paris is something I personally think you shouldn't skip. Paris is a beautiful city, and the banks of the Seine are iconically romantic.

Cruising the Seine in summer
Cruising the Seine in summer

I recommend doing a cruise before dinner. The two main companies that offer Seine sightseeing cruises operate on the Left Bank of the Seine, right in front of the Eiffel Tower.

If you plan to visit both the Arc de Triomphe and do a Seine cruise today, you can actually buy this combo ticket, which lets you do both activities at your leisure. (The cruise will be with Bateaux Parisiens, and includes an audioguide onboard for your 1-hour cruise.) Otherwise, you can book a 1-hour cruise separately.

(You could also opt to get dinner first and go on a sunset Seine cruise, which is also a gorgeous option!)

Sunset over the Seine
Sunset over the Seine

5. Dinner

There are LOTS of restaurants in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower. Many are pretty touristy and serve up just-okay food, but there are plenty of good ones, too. (My tip? The smaller the restaurant, the better in many cases!)

A few spots that we either tried or had recommended to us in this general area that serve up French food (because of course you'll want French food your first night in Paris!) include:

  • L'Abreuvoir
  • De la Tour
  • Les Cocottes
  • La Fontaine de Mars
  • Le Café de Mars
  • Les Ombres

Pro tip: You'll want to make reservations for most restaurants in Paris, especially for dinner and especially near any popular tourist spots. In Paris, many restaurants use an app called TheFork for reservations; this is what I used most of the time, and you can sometimes find great discounts through the app!

Eiffel Tower view at dusk
You might even luck out with an Eiffel Tower view along with dinner!

You could also opt to combine your Seine cruise with dinner by going on a 2.5-hour dinner cruise (like this one). These dinner cruises are actually pretty highly rated in Paris!

One last option for tonight is to visit a supermarket to pick up bread, meats, cheeses, and wine and have a picnic dinner on the Champ de Mars within view of the Eiffel Tower. This is VERY popular in the summer months, though, so just be aware if you go this route that you'll be picnicking with hundreds of other people.

6. Eiffel Tower

You've been in view of the Eiffel Tower most of the day today – so let's finally talk about visiting it, and seeing it lit up at night!

If you want my honest opinion, I really DON'T think it's worth it to go up the Eiffel Tower. Even if you buy a skip-the-line ticket in advance (highly recommended), you'll still have to queue up to board the elevator. And once you're up on the tower, you obviously can't SEE the Eiffel Tower in the Paris skyline (and really, what's the point of seeing the Paris skyline without the Eiffel Tower in it??).

View from the Eiffel Tower's second level
View from the Eiffel Tower's second level

My husband Elliot and I went up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower, and while the views are nice, I think there are better views of Paris. (Plus, tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower are pricey!)

Instead, I would suggest that you enjoy your dinner like a Parisian (which means slowly and probably with multiple glasses of wine), and wait for darkness to fall before you head over to the Tower.

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated after dark, and “sparkles” for 5 minutes on the hour every hour from sunset to 1 a.m. This “show” is free to watch. (Just note that in the summer, it doesn't get dark until nearly 10 p.m. in Paris!)

Eiffel Tower illuminated after dark
Eiffel Tower after dark

Day 2: The best of central Paris

Highlights of Day 2 include: Île de la Cité, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Jardin des Tuileries, Musée de l'Orangerie, The Louvre, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés

1. Ile de la Cite

Today's going to be a big one, so get an early start and have a hearty breakfast! (I would book a hotel with an included breakfast if you can!)

We're going to start the morning in the place where Paris itself began: on the Île de la Cité, one of the islands in the middle of the Seine. It was here that Paris was originally founded more than 2,000 years ago.

(You can take the Metro line 4 right to the Cité station, or you can travel to the Châtelet, Pont Neuf, or Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station and make the short walk over to the island.)

On the Île de la Cité, you can stroll through the beautiful Place Dauphine on one end, and see the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris on the other. (Notre Dame is still undergoing restoration work after the 2019 fire, and is not currently open to the public.)

Place Dauphine in Paris
Place Dauphine
Outside Notre Dame Cathedral
Outside Notre Dame

Since Notre Dame is closed, the next-most-popular church to visit in this part of Paris is also on the island. It's called Sainte-Chapelle, and it's a small Gothic-style chapel within what used to be the royal residence of the kings of France. (Today, the former palace houses the Palais de Justice, one of the main judicial centers in Paris.)

Sainte-Chapelle is a marvel. It was built in the 1200s for King Louis IX to hold his collection of Passion relics, including the alleged Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus. The chapel features stunning 50-foot-tall stained glass windows that depict different scenes from the Bible, most of which are original from the 13th century.

Sainte Chapelle stained glass up close
Sainte Chapelle stained glass up close
The stained glass inside Sainte Chapelle
The stained glass inside Sainte Chapelle is stunning!

Visiting Sainte-Chapelle won't take you long, but I promise you won't regret seeing this masterpiece. (But do book your ticket in advance, as morning lines here can get long.)

2. Jardin des Tuileries and Musée de l'Orangerie

From the Île de la Cité, it's either a 25-minute walk along the Right Bank of the Seine, or you can get on the 1 Line at Châtelet and ride the few stops to Tuileries.

If you walk, you can shop from the Bouquinistes, or book sellers, along the Seine that have been here for hundreds of years (the tradition is actually protected by UNESCO!).

Book stands along the Seine
Bouquinistes along the Seine

You'll walk past the Louvre (don't worry, we'll visit later!) and make for the beautiful Tuileries Gardens (Jardin des Tuileries), which date back to the 17th century.

These formal gardens are large, with multiple fountains and walking paths through rows of manicured trees. On nice days in Paris, the Tuileries is always teeming with people going for strolls or lounging around the large fountain pools.

Amanda in a row of trees at Jardin des Tuileries
Love these rows of manicured trees at the Jardin des Tuileries!

At the far southwestern corner of the gardens, you'll find the Musée de l'Orangerie, which is a small art museum famous for housing 8 of Monet's giant Water Lilies murals.

This was the first art museum Elliot and I visited in Paris, and it's a great intro museum. There's a small collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings here, and then the rooms that were specially designed by Monet to display some of his Water Lilies panels.

Admiring Monet's Water Lilies
Admiring Monet's Water Lilies

The Monet pieces are stunning (and SO much bigger than you probably realize), and I like that this museum is smaller; you really probably only need an hour here. (Though booking tickets in advance is recommended; note that it's closed on Tuesdays.)

3. Lunch + photo ops

It will be time for a late lunch now. There are literally thousands of cafes and brasseries in Paris, but if you want a few recommended that are close to your next stop, try Café Le Nemours or Baguett's Café. Juveniles is also an option, though they are only open for lunch from noon-1:30 p.m.

These are all close to the Jardin du Palais-Royal, another pretty garden, and the famous Colonnes de Buren/Les Deux Plateaux, which is a permanent outdoor art installation of striped columns that's always good for a few Instagram photos.

Amanda at the Colonnes de Buren in Paris
These columns are always fun for photos!

4. Louvre tour

You'll notice that everything today has been skirting the massive complex of former royal palace buildings that today house The Louvre, the most famous and most-visited art museum in the world.

The Louvre is also the largest art museum in the world, displaying 35,000+ pieces of artwork (out of a collection that totals more than 500,000 pieces!) in hundreds of rooms. And while you can certainly tackle The Louvre on your own if you want, this is the one museum in Paris where I really recommend you explore with a guide.

Inside The Louvre
The Louvre is massive!

The tour I recommend here is a special one; it's called Closing Time at the Louvre: Mona Lisa at Her Most Peaceful, and it takes you to The Louvre in the late afternoon near closing time, allowing you to experience the museum with less people.

The group for this tour will be small (15 people max), and you'll be with a guide who's an expert in art history. You'll see all the famous pieces inside the Louvre like the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, and also other works that you've probably never heard of.

Venus de Milo
Venus de Milo
Winged Victory of Samothrace
Winged Victory of Samothrace

I really can't recommend a tour like this enough! (You can book this exact one here; note that it does not run on Tuesdays when The Louvre is closed.)

Amanda Mona Lisa selfie
My Mona Lisa selfie

Note: The Louvre closing time tour runs at different times depending on the month and day of the week. It's a later tour on summer Wednesdays and Fridays, when the museum is open later. If you book for one of those days, you may want to eat before your tour!

5. Evening in Saint-Germain

The Louvre tour runs from 3-6 p.m., so after you're done I recommend taking your Louvre Pyramid photos and then heading across the Seine once more – to the Left Bank this time, and perhaps via the Pont des Arts – and into Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement.

Saint-Germain is a hip, artsy neighborhood that everyone usually loves, making it a great area to explore for the rest of the evening. This is one of the neighborhoods romanticized in movies like Midnight in Paris, where artists, writers, and other intellectuals lived, worked, and gathered in the late 19th and early 20th century.

If you want to channel your inner Hemingway or Fitzgerald, consider sitting down for a drink at either Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore (they are basically across the street from one another). The terrace tables at both these spots are cramped and the cocktails are overpriced, but it's something to check off your touristy bucket list. (If you're staying in Saint-Germain, both spots are perhaps better for an early breakfast.)

Drinks at Les Deux Magots
The ancient hot chocolate at Les Deux Magots is pretty good.

The streets here are always nice to stroll, and the very pretty Jardin du Luxembourg is also not far away.

For dinner tonight, I got SO many restaurant suggestions in this neighborhood, so here are a few to look into in the 6th:

  • L'Avant Comptoir du Marché (popular wine bar serving small plates)
  • Le Procope
  • Avant Comptoir de la Terre
  • Le Colvert (we ate here and loved it)
  • La Jacobine
  • Le Relais de L’Entrecôte (only one thing on the menu here: steak frites)
  • Castor Club (for cocktails)

Pro tip: Most restaurants don't even open for dinner until 7 or 7:30 p.m. in Paris, so be prepared to eat a bit late! If you haven't had time to make dinner reservations, however, a good bet is to get to a restaurant right when it opens – your chances of getting a table are much higher before 8 p.m. (in my experience, at least).

Day 3: Montmartre and the 9th

Highlights of Day 3 include: Montmartre, Sacré-Coeur, Palais Garnier, Galeries Lafayette, and a famous bar

1. Morning in Montmartre

Paris' 18th arrondissement – part of which is also known as Montmartre – is many peoples' favorite part of Paris. It was at one time a separate city to the north of Paris, and was where many starving artists with names like Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec lived and worked.

Sacré-Coeur Basilica
Sacré-Coeur Basilica

Montmartre is a very popular neighborhood at night, with hundreds if not thousands of people gathering on the steps in front of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica to drink and watch the sunset each evening. But if you want to experience Montmartre during its quieter, less-crowded hours, you want to go in the morning. (Start at Anvers Metro stop, on the 2 line.)

This neighborhood is one that begs to be explored on foot. You can go inside the Sacré-Coeur Basilica for free (and be sure to see the view of it from the Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet), watch artists working and selling their wares in the charming Place du Tertre, and just wander the narrow streets.

La Maison Rose in Montmartre
La Maison Rose in Montmartre
Place du Tertre in Montmartre
Place du Tertre

If you want to take a neighborhood walking tour, Montmartre would be the neighborhood I would suggest. (And this 2-hour morning walking tour is a great option, focusing on some off-the-beaten-track sights that you might otherwise miss.)

2. Galeries Lafayette

From Montmartre, head south into the 9th arrondissement. This area of Paris is filled with hotels, restaurants, and shopping, and is definitely worth a visit.

Head to the Galeries Lafayette shopping mall, whether you want to shop or not. (Closest Metro stations are Chaussée d'Antin-La Fayette and Opera.)

Not only does this mall have an incredible domed interior, but it also has a free rooftop observation deck you can visit for some very cool views out over the nearby Opera Garnier and all the way to the Eiffel Tower. (No purchase necessary to visit this rooftop!)

Inside Galeries Lafayette
Inside Galeries Lafayette

There are also tons of cafes and restaurants in this area for lunch if you didn't already eat in Montmartre. If you want something very French, head to a little hole-in-the-wall spot called Crêperie Traditionnelle (2 Rue de Hanovre) for fresh crepes.

3. Palais Garnier

Another must-do in this neighborhood is to visit the Palais Garnier, or Opera Garnier. This opulent, Italian-style building was built in the late 1800s at the request of Emperor Napoleon III to house the Paris Opera. It was designed by architect Charles Garnier (hence the name), and still operates as a performance venue today, now mostly showing ballets.

During the day, you can visit the Palais Garnier and wander through all its splendid rooms and lobbies. I'll admit: the interior of this place absolutely blew me away!

Grand Foyer of the Palais Garnier
Grand Foyer of the Palais Garnier
Amanda in the Palais Garnier Grand Foyer
Literally obsessed with this room!

You'll see the impressive marble staircase, the gold-coated Grand Foyer, and even the box that “belongs” to the Phantom of the Opera. On most days, you can also peek into the luxurious 1,979-seat auditorium with its famous painted ceiling.

Palais Garnier staircase
Palais Garnier staircase

You can book your self-guided tour tickets in advance, and then I highly recommend upgrading to the audio guide when you get there. It has a cool visual element to it that you'll use as you walk around.

4. Drinks at Harry's Bar

From the Opera Garnier, it's a short walk to a spot called Harry's New York Bar. This cozy wood-paneled bar dates back to 1911, and literally came from New York City (they dismantled an entire bar in Manhattan, and had it shipped to Paris!).

Harry's Bar in Paris was a popular haunt for the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, and many others, and is said to have invented some of the world's most famous cocktails including the Bloody Mary, SideCar, French 75, and more.

Inside Harry's New York Bar
Inside Harry's Bar

The bar can make hundreds of cocktails, and also has an extensive whisky collection. They have live music starting at 10 p.m. every night in their piano bar, but if you go for a pre-dinner drink, there's a chance it won't be that busy.

5. Dinner

The 9th is filled with all sorts of restaurants. Some options to consider tonight include:

  • Le Minet Galant
  • Le Petit Vendôme
  • Chez Delphine
  • Restaurant Kozo
  • Kintaro
  • Juveniles

Day 4: Versailles day trip

It's day trip time today! And while there are several great Paris day trip options to choose from (for example, you could take a day trip to Champagne country, or go to Monet's home in Giverny), I think a first trip to Paris calls for a visit to Versailles.

Gardens of Versailles
Gardens of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles began as a small country hunting lodge used by King Louis XIII. It was transformed by his son and successor, King Louis XIV (the Sun King), in the mid-1600s, being expanded into a sprawling, gold-coated palace with more than 2000 rooms. The palace was the official royal residence of the kings of France from 1682 until the French Revolution.

You absolutely can go to Versailles on your own by taking an RER train from Paris and pre-booking a Versailles entrance ticket. But this is another one of those outings that I really, truly feel is best done with a guide.

Elliot and I opted to book a full-day bike-based tour to Versailles that ended up being one of our favorite experiences of our entire trip! (Read all about it in detail here.)

Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles
Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles
Picnicking by the Grand Canal at Versailles
Picnicking by the Grand Canal

We booked this tour with Boutique Bike Tours, which includes a quick train ride to Versailles, a guided tour of the palace as soon as it opens to beat the crowds, a guided walk around the gardens and fountains, time to shop for lunch at a local market, and a picnic alongside the Grand Canal at Versailles.

Because we were traveling by bike, we also had time to visit the Petit Trianon and Queen's Hamlet, which was originally built as a vacation home for King Louis XV's favorite mistress, but was more famously embraced by King Louis XVI's bride, Marie Antoinette.

Queen's Hamlet at the Petit Trianon at Versailles
Queen's Hamlet at the Petit Trianon

Bike riding in Versailles is not strenuous, and I'd highly recommend this tour if you're able to do it! (Book this exact tour here.)

(If, however, a bike tour sounds awful to you but you'd still like to do a guided tour, another option would be this afternoon tour of Versailles with transport from Paris, or this skip-the-line palace tour that requires you to get yourself to Versailles.)

Pro tip: Whether you book a bike tour or walking tour today, wear good shoes – Versailles is HUGE and requires lots of walking to see it all.

RELATED: 14 of the Best Day Trips from Paris

Day 5: Le Marais and everything else

Highlights of Day 5 include Le Marais, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the Catacombs, Montparnasse Tower, and whatever else is on your to-do list!

1. Le Marais food tour

Hotel de Ville, AKA Paris City Hall
Hotel de Ville, AKA Paris City Hall is in the 4th, or Le Marais.

It's your last day in Paris, and you may as well go out on a high! Start your morning with a food tour around Paris' charming and trendy Le Marais neighborhood (I recommend this one with one of my favorite food tour companies). You'll visit the Marche des Enfants Rouges (the the oldest covered market in Paris), and stop at several different places to sample everything from pastries to cheese to wine.

Food tours are a great way to get to know a neighborhood, and this area of Paris is one of the main ones you haven't spent much time in yet! (Book a food tour here.)

After the food tour (if you go on the 10 a.m. tour, you'll be done around 1:30 p.m.), you have a couple different options depending on your interests.

2a. Get to know the dead

All the way out in the 20th arrondissement lies Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris (and also perhaps the most-visited cemetery in the world). As someone who loves visiting cemeteries when I travel, Pere Lachaise was a must-visit for me!

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
Père Lachaise Cemetery

Some famous people who are buried here include Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, and Marcel Proust.

The main entrance to the cemetery is on Boulevard de Ménilmontant, with the nearest Metro stop being Philippe-Auguste on Line 2.

To continue this vein, you could next head to the Paris Catacombs (near Denfert-Rochereau station on Line 6), which are underground tunnels filled with the bones of the dead. You can either book a ticket with an audio guide, or go on a guided tour here (this one runs on some days at 5 p.m., which would be perfect timing).

Just note that the Paris Catacombs are generally dark and damp – I don't personally think this one is a must-do in Paris, but many people love it, and the history IS super interesting.

Arranged bones inside the Paris Catacombs
Arranged bones inside the Paris Catacombs

2b. Another museum visit

If cemeteries and catacombs don't appeal to you, then you could use this afternoon to visit another museum that I haven't yet mentioned.

The other two most-popular museums in Paris that you haven't visited yet are the Musée d'Orsay (an art museum housed in a former train station) and the Musée Rodin (which comprises both an indoor museum and outdoor sculpture garden).

Both of these museums are smaller and more manageable than The Louvre; you can see the highlights in 1-2 hours at each. (Book skip-the-line Musée d'Orsay tickets here, and Musée Rodin tickets here.)

I like the Musee d'Orsay for its Impressionist collections and overall architecture, but you really can't go wrong!

Monet poppies painting at Musee d'Orsay
Monet poppies painting
Famous clock photo at Musee d'Orsay
Famous clock photo

3. Dinner, possibly at Le Train Bleu

If you're looking for an over-the-top dinner tonight, lots of people recommend dining at Le Train Bleu. This restaurant is located inside the Gare de Lyon train station in the 12th arrondissement. It serves up classic French dishes, and is known for its opulent decor, frescoes, and chandeliers.

You'll definitely want to book this one in advance!

If Le Train Bleu doesn't appeal to you (or if you can't get a table), then I suggest finding dinner somewhere either in Le Marais (4th arrondissement) or the Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement). Some suggested spots include:

  • Pain Vin fromages (for fondue!)
  • L'As du Fallafel (for takeaway; expect a line)
  • Le Mary Celeste
  • Chez Janou
  • Jaja
  • Chez Mademoiselle
  • Aux Anysetiers Du Roy (on Île Saint-Louis)

4. Montparnasse Tower

Regardless of where you have dinner, take the Metro to Edgar Quinet (Line 6) afterwards and walk to the Tour Montparnasse, or Montparnasse Tower. This tall black tower is generally considered to be an eyesore in the Paris skyline by most locals, but it offers up arguably one of the best views in the entire city.

The view from Montparnasse Tower in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower
The view from the Montparnasse Tower

From the observation deck on the 56th floor, you get 360-degree views of Paris. From here you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur, Notre-Dame, The Louvre, and everything else. The tower is open until 11:30 p.m., too, meaning you can either go up before sunset, or wait until after dark.

(As with everything else in Paris, booking your ticket in advance is highly recommended!)

This is the perfect spot to soak up the views and make one more core memory on your last night in Paris.

Where to stay in Paris

Now let's talk about where to stay on your first trip to Paris!

Narrowing down where to stay in Paris is hard – partly because there are more than 1,500 hotels in Paris to choose from! I'm not going to inundate you with hundreds of suggestions, though. Instead, here are a couple dozen hotel options, roughly organized by where in Paris they're located.

Amanda on a cute balcony in Paris
Amanda on a cute balcony in Paris

Keep in mind that Paris' neighborhoods are called arrondissements, and are numbered in a spiraling pattern starting in the center of the city. There are 20 arrondissements in total.

I personally have stayed in the 1st, 4th, 9th, 16th, and 18th arrondissements, and have enjoyed them all! The most popular neighborhoods to stay in for tourists are usually the 4th, 5th, and 6th. (The hotels with * by them below are ones I've personally stayed in!)

Room at Hotel Cambon in Paris
Hotel Cambon room

Some things to consider when booking a Paris hotel include:

  • location (i.e. which arrondissement and how close it is to a Metro station)
  • whether the hotel allows smoking in the rooms (yes, lots of people still smoke in France)
  • whether the hotel has things like air conditioning and an elevator (not all do; A/C is not standard in hotels in France)
  • what's included in the nightly rate (like wifi or breakfast)
  • size of the room (but be aware that the average hotel room in Paris is quite small!)


How much does a trip to Paris cost?

If you did every single activity and tour suggested in the above itinerary, the activities would cost roughly $800 per person. I would budget at least $200 per night for a hotel (or more if you're going slightly more luxury), and about $30-$40 per person at nicer sit-down meals.

Is 5 days in Paris too long?

Sunset at The Louvre pyramid
Sunset at The Louvre pyramid

I can hear some people asking if you really need 5 days in Paris. My answer is that, if it's your first trip, 5 days probably won't feel like enough time! But with 5 days you can see most of Paris' highlights without having to rush *too* much.

Could you technically squeeze the Paris highlights into 3-4 days? Sure! But I honestly think 5 days is the perfect amount of time for a comprehensive Paris visit, with time for one day trip.

The best time to visit Paris

There is not right or wrong time to visit Paris – just the time that's most convenient to you!

But this itinerary is definitely written with a late spring, summer, or early fall trip in mind. The months that I personally think are best in Paris are May-June, and September. These months are on either side of high season, and generally have mild temperatures.

Roses in bloom in Paris in mid-May
Roses in bloom in Paris in mid-May

July-August are some of the busiest months in Paris with lots of international visitors, but they also tend to be the hottest (and not all buildings/hotel rooms in Paris have air conditioning!). Also keep in mind that many Europeans themselves go on vacation in August, so it's not uncommon to find smaller shops or cafes closed during that month.

There you have it! My idea of a perfect 5 days in Paris. Who wants to plan a trip now?

5 days in Paris itinerary

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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4 Comments on “5 Days in Paris: The Perfect Paris Itinerary for Your First Visit

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  1. I went on an exciting trip to Paris a few months back and loved it. Le Train Bleu was just perfect! The Only thing I was disappointed with the Trip was the Eiffel Tower, maybe my hopes were too high but It wasn’t for me at all. Maybe it’s just me. Enjoyed the Trip though, it was two weeks for me!

      I can see how the Eiffel Tower might be a letdown for some people. It happens sometimes when an attraction is so famous!

    Thanks for sharing this info. Your insights are very valuable and I appreciate you sharing them with me.

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