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5 Days in Paris: A Guide for First and Second Time Visitors

by ElenaSergeeva

Why 5 days? Is it enough to spend 5 days in Paris and see everything that there is to see? Paris…the city with a rich history, the city of haute couture and luxury fashion, the city of freedom-fighters…The City of Light. Of course, five days are not enough to explore it properly. But in five days you can see the essential sights and get many impressions and valuable and vivid memories that will accompany you for the rest of your life. As Audrey Hepburn put it: ‘Paris is always a good idea,’ which means that this beautiful city should be visited numerous times. But we will start with just five days. That will surely be enough to develop a serious Paris-addiction!

But before we start getting into the five-day Paris itinerary, let’s first look at different ways you can get from the airport to the city center and why you should consider getting a Paris Pass.

5 Days in Paris: A Guide for First and Second Time Visitors

How to Get from Paris Airport to Paris City Center 

If you’re arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG), there are several ways that you can get to the city center: 

  • Train. Taking a regional RER B train is the cheapest option. It has station stops at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, so in case you arrive at Terminal 1, you will need to get a free shuttle bus to one of these terminals. The train runs between 5 AM and 11:56 PM. You can buy the ticket from the blue ticket machines. Ticket price us about 10€, and it will take you around 50 minutes to reach the city. Make sure that you take the RER B that’s heading in the direction of Robinson, Antony, or St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. 
  • Bus. The bus is another cheap way to get to the city center. In contrast with the train, the bus stops at all three terminals and runs every 15 minutes from 6 AM to 11 PM every day. You can buy the tickets on the bus. The ticket price is about 12€, and it will take you about 70-80 minutes to get to Paris. 
  • Taxi. If you want to enjoy comfort, or if you’re arriving at night, then taking a taxi is a way to go. A taxi from Charles de Gaulle to Paris will cost you 60€. 
  • Welcome Pickup. Book your Paris Airport Transfer. It’s similar to the taxi, but the main difference is that you will be met by a driver holding a sign with your name on it. The driver is informed about unexpected schedule changes, so you don’t need to worry if your flight is delayed. If you choose this option, it will take only about 40 minutes to get to your Paris destination.

Official Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass

If you’re coming to Paris for more than several days, then getting the Paris Museum Pass or the Official Paris Pass will be a great idea. And here’s why. 

Paris Museum Pass. This pass will grant you free admission to over 60 monuments and museums! It’s definitely more than you can (and want!) to attend in Paris, but it will save you money and, what’s more important, time, because you’ll get the skip-the-line access anywhere you go. You can get the pass for 2, 4, or 6 days. The pick-up point where you can get the pass is located in a 10-minute walk from the Louvre. It is also possible to buy a museum pass that includes a river cruise. 

Paris Pass Lib. Compared to the Paris Museum Pass, Paris Pass Lib gives you some additional bonuses like free travel on Paris Metro and trams, the ability to hop on and off the Big Bus sightseeing tour for free, and a cruise down the Seine River aboard an iconic Bateaux-Parisiens. You can get the Paris Pass for two, three, four, or five days.

Whatever option you choose, we can guarantee that it will make your exploration of the City of Lights more pleasant and hassle-free. 

And now let’s open our splendid 5-day Pars itinerary! 

5 days in Paris itinerary: Day 1

1. National Museum of Natural History

We know that thinking about Paris, you want to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Notre Dame first, but we offer you to take a slightly different approach and start with the National Museum of Natural History. Of course, if you’re a museum person or are interested in seeing the biggest Natural History Museum in France and one of the biggest Natural History museums in the world. You can expect to go through a fantastic journey through time. To tell the truth, it can take a lot of time to explore all the museum. If we were to choose only one exhibition that we’d recommend you to see, it would be the Great Gallery of Evolution. Here you’ll find out about the diversity of the living world and the evolution of species.

2. Jardin des Plantes Botanical Gardens

The Jardin des Plantes is divided into several sections, and some of them are especially recommended for visiting: 

  • Labyrinth: you have seen this kind of tree labyrinths consisting of a mesh of hedges in the movies, but now you will get a chance to explore one yourself!
  • Ménagerie: this is a zoo. It was opened in 1794, and it’s one of the oldest in the world.
  • Rose garden: it has a remarkable collection of over 170 types of European roses.
  • Alpine garden: this garden has more than 2,000 plants from the Alps, Himalaya, Pureness, and North America. 
  • Historic trees: some of the trees in the park date back to the 18th century. 

And of course, this vast park will be a great place to be for all nature lovers. Just walk through it and enjoy nature. An alternative would be the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is also a spectacular place to enjoy nature. But not stay at Jardin des Plantes for too long because there’s much more to see on this day!  

3. Panthéon

Located not far from Jardin des Plantes, Panthéon is a masterpiece of the architect Soufflot. His ambition was to outdo the St. Peter Church in Rome, and you can actually guess that from the architectural style. The paintings and canvas of the church show the inceptions of both the French monarchy and Christianity. There’s also a crypt in Panthéon with a permanent exhibition that showcases the work of notable people like Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas, Marie Curie, and Rousseau, who shaped France’s identity.

4. Sorbonne University

We’re sure that you’ve heard about Sorbonne University, but hearing is one thing and experiencing it is totally different. One thing that you should pay attention to is the remarkable architectural richness of this place. Another thing you can do is to drink coffee in one of the student-filled cafes and indulge in people-watching before continuing your Paris exploration. In case you’re interested in seeing the Sorbonne University from the inside, you need to take a guided tour. But please note that since it’s a functioning educational institution, you will need to find an appropriate guided tour in advance. ‘Why should I opt for the tour like this,’ you may ask? The answer is simple. You don’t often get a chance to explore the mysterious interiors of one of the oldest medieval universities in Europe. Unfortunately, all Sorbonne University guided tours are still offered only in French.

5. Shakespeare & Company

Our next stop is the most famous independent bookstore in the world – Shakespeare and Company. If you’re a fan of printed books and like the smell of paper, tactile sensations, and everything else that comes with them, then this is one of the best places you can visit. Shakespeare and Company don’t just sell books. They also have a free reading library, and it houses aspiring artists and writers in exchange for their help in the bookstore. In fact, since the shop’s opening in 1951, more than 30,000 people have slept in beds between the bookshelves. How cool is that?!

6. Notre Dame

Photo taken prior to the fire

And finally, Notre Dame de Paris. This cathedral was consecrated to the Virgin Mary, and its name means ‘Our Lady of Paris’. The things that make this cathedral standout are the immense church bells, an abundance of sculptural decoration, and large historic organ. Even though the cathedral is closed after the fire in 2019, it’s still worth seeing. Being the most visited monument in Paris, it’s easy to understand why the whole world mourned while the fire was eating the roof of this legendary building. The government of France hopes to finish the reconstruction by Spring 2024, in time for the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. After the fire, there were proposals to modernize the cathedral’s design, but the French National Assembly concluded that restoration must preserve the cathedral’s ‘historic, artistic and architectural interest’. We’re all looking forward to that! And while it’s being reconstructed, you can get a decent view of Notre Dame from Pont des Coeurs.

Recommended tour: Notre-Dame, Île de la Cité & St. Severin Church Guided Tour.  

7. Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois

The last recommended sight for the first day is Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. Located not far from the Louvre Museum, it’s a very beautiful church that has a rich history. It was rebuilt many times over the centuries. The building that you see today was mostly erected in the 15th century in Romanesque, Renaissance, and Gothic styles. The church’s feature that you need to pay special attention to is the porch, with a rose window and a balustrade above. Following the Notre-Dame fire, the Cathedral’s services were temporarily transferred to Saint-Germain.

If you explore everything really fast, then the chances are that you will still be able to end your first day in Paris with a Louvre visit. But we recommend postponing it to the next day, because having a clear head while seeing the world’s greatest art museum is rather important! And it’s 675,000 square feet, so you’ll also need a lot of energy to explore it.  

5 days in Paris itinerary: Day 2

1. Louvre and the Museum

Start your second day in Paris with the world’s greatest art museum – Louvre! This museum is so big and outstanding that you will need at least several hours to see it. Exploring it in detail will take days 300 days, to be precise. The amount of art in this place is just staggering. Depending on what your ‘art-limit’ is you will probably spend from one to five hours there. Plan your day accordingly. The absolutely unmissable things are the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory, I.M. Pei’s Pyramid, The Lamassu, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, and of course the Mona Lisa. After you see these, you can focus on the parts of the museum that interest you the most.

Important info:

  • The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.
  • Paris Pass holders must pre-book a time slot for their visit to the Louvre. You can book your slot on the official Louvre website after receiving the pass (you will need the Paris Museum pass number). 
  • Not having a backpack will save you time that you will otherwise spend at the security bag check. 

Recommended tour: Louvre Museum Guided Tour with Optional Ticket

 

2. Tuileries Garden

The chances are that after spending time at the Louvre you will need some time to reflect and relax and eat some ice-cream. And the Tuileries is a perfect place to do just that! The garden was intended for the exclusive use of the royal family but during the French Revolution, it became accessible to all. If you’re a Monet fan, we advise you to make a short visit to Musée de l’Orangerie to see his famous water lily paintings.

3. Place de la Concorde

This is the second-largest square in France that has quite a turbulent past. In 1792 it was renamed to ‘Revolution Square’. During the French Revolution, it was the location where 1,200 public beheadings (including Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI) took place. Today you can find Luxor Obelisk and fountains there, and nothing reminds us of the bloody events of the past that took place here.

4. Colonne Vendôme

A little ‘column-tour’ is continued by the Colonne Vendome. First, it was called the Column of Austerlitz, and it had the statue of Napoleon as Caesar on the top. In 1814 it was replaced with a statue of Henri IV by the allied troops. But then again in 1871, the column was topped by the replica of the original statue of Napoleon as Caesar.

5. Hotel Ritz

Time for launch! And since you’re in Paris, why not to do it in style? Dining at Hotel Ritz will surely give you special, memorable moments. You can attend the Bar Vendôme or a legendary private English club, the Bar Hemingway. They say that at the Ritz anything is possible. Why not to try? And if you’re into shopping, it’s recommended to visit some boutiques in the area. You can find Chanel, Boucheron, Lavinia, Arlaux Champagnes and many more near the Ritz Hotel.

6. Pont Alexandre III

Without a doubt, Pont Alexandre III (Alexandre III Bridge) is one of the most elegant bridges in the world, and you’ll have a wonderful chance to see it on your way to the Eiffel Tower. It’s a deck arch bridge that connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with the Eiffel Tower area. The bridge was inaugurated in 1900 for World’s Fair, and since 1975 it has been classified as a French historical monument. In fact, there are a lot of beautiful bridges in Paris and covering them all will require a separate article. So, we’ll just leave a short-list of Paris bridges worth visiting: Pont D’Iéna, Passerelle Simone De Beauvoir, Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor, Pont Des Arts, Pont De L’Archevêché, Pont Neuf.

7. Eiffel Tower

Did you know that this world-famous monument was finished in record time, namely 2 years, 2 months and 5 days? It happened in 1889 and became a real veritable technical feat. And this feat still remains a glorious one, even after 130 years.

You can sit in one of the cafes with a cup of French coffee and a French croissant and enjoy the beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. Or you can walk around the Eiffel Tower or even climb it. The opportunities to get personal with the tower are plenty and there’s no right or wrong one. Choose whichever you like most! During the daytime, the area around the Eiffel Tower gets very crowded, so in case you fall in love with the tower, you can get up early in the morning and come to the Eiffel Tower by 7 am. You’ll get a completely different experience. We promise.  

Recommended Tour: Eiffel Tower Summit or Second Floor Direct Access

8. Place du Trocadero

Go to the Place du Trocadero and get a stunning viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower. This will be an especially unforgettable image during the sunset, and it will surely become one of the cherished moments in the treasury of your memories.

9.  Shopping at Galerie Lafayette

What’s the best way to unwind after an unforgettable day full of impressions? Either to go shopping or to have a nice dinner.

You can do both at Galerie Lafayette. Altogether, the Galeries Lafayette (three buildings) offer more than 750,000 square feet of shopping and dining. There’s one Galeries Lafayette near the Eiffel Tower with many shops of famous brands such as Armani, Balenciaga, Bourjois, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, and many more.

5 days in Paris itinerary: Day 3

1. Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is the largest triumphal arch in the world. It was commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate the high point of the Grande Armée’s conquest of Europe.

But as it was constructed it became much more than that. You can see the names of 128 battles fought during Napoleon’s Empire and the First French Republic and the names of 558 generals inscribed on the walls of the vaults. In addition to that, the remains of the unnamed soldier who died in World War I were laid to rest at the arch base on January 28, 1921. You can climb 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and an absolutely stunning view will reward your efforts.

Recommended Tour: Skip-the-Line Arc de Triomphe Entry with Seine Cruise

2. Champs Elysee

After climbing the Arc de Triomphe, you can continue exploring Paris by going down the Champs Elysee. Champs Elysee means “Elysian Fields”. It’s considered one of the most beautiful and expensive streets in the world and this street is really a must-see. Enjoy the French-style prestige and visit many of the luxury boutiques present on the street. From start to finish, this street offers the best in haute couture and luxury fashion.

Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Guerlain, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Kenzo, Hugo Boss, Chanel are the names of the shops that you can expect to see there. Just don’t get too excited, because there’s much more to see on the third day!

3. Lunch at Four Seasons George V

After the shopping, you can enjoy a tasty launch at Four Seasons George V restaurant. Led by a three Michelin stars chef Christian Le Squer this restaurant will surprise you with an explosion of taste, which will make your time in Paris even more exuberant.

 

4. Bateaux Mouches Seine Cruise

Whenever you have a chance to explore the city from the river or sea, it’s best to use it. Seeing Paris from the boat is a great opportunity to look at it from a different angle.

Many companies organize such trips, but Bateaux Mouches company has a great reputation in organizing Seine cruises, which is why we are recommending to try their services. You can book a brunch, or lunch or a romantic diner on the water, or just opt for a guided tour. Maybe that’s exactly what you’ll want to do after lunch at Four Seasons.

5. Walk Through Montmartre

Adventures don’t end here, and we invite you to see the magnificent Montmartre district in Paris. It can be simply called an authentic village in the heart of Paris, but words can’t describe the charm that this area has.

Perched on the top of a small hill, this famous district is a melting pot of art and inspiration for the cinema. There are many beautiful corners, great places to eat, museums, and monuments, but above all, it’s the overall spirit and the sense of pleasantness and ease for which you need to stroll around this famous district. Here’s a short-list of top things to see in Montmartre:

  • Moulin Rouge, a temple of the French cancan.
  • Sacré-Cœur, dedicated to the heart of Christ. It’s a magnificent, entirely white castle-style basilica of striking beauty.
  • The cafe where Amélie (from the famous movie) worked. 
  • The Square Louise (below Sacré-Cœur) with its old merry-go-round.
  • Chamarré, a gourmet restaurant with delicious food and a splendid terrace. 
  • The little train of Montmartre, a 40-minute tour on a train that will take you around spectacular places of the district.  

Recommended Tours: 

6. Moulin Rouge

You may consider paying a visit to the world-famous cabaret that has been exciting people from all around the world since 1900. Moulin Rouge literally means ‘The Red Mill’ because the building has the red windmill on its roof. It is best known as the place from which the modern form of the can-can dance originated.

The appearance of this dance led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Modern Moulin Rouge shows are quite expensive, but most people who have seen them say that they’re worth the money. It’s important to know that there are 2 shows every night: at 9 pm and 11 pm, so it’s best to book in advance (tickets sell very fast) and plan your day accordingly. If a Moulin Rouge show is not something you want to see, then you can consider taking a Dinner Cruise in the evening instead of the Seine Cruise after lunch. The choice is yours.

Recommended Tour: Moulin Rouge Show with Champagne

5 days in Paris itinerary: Day 4 – DisneyLand Paris 

There’s no map for the fourth day because we recommend dedicating the whole day to taking a trip to Disney Land Paris. It’s one of the most popular theme parks in Europe and the most visited theme park in France.  I have been to Disneyland Paris three times, once as a child in the summer of 1994, as an adult in 2007 where I spent a couple of nights living at Disney Hotel  and this time in 2018, on a day trip from Paris. 

Disneyland Paris consists of Walt Disney Studios Park, Disneyland Park, Disney Village, and a shopping district. Disneyland Park is what everybody heard about and what everyone will expect to see. It consists of five different areas with different attractions and entertainment zones. As for the Walt Disney Studios Park, it’s for those who want to know how Disney films were shot. You will get into all the cinema’s intricacies and secrets and see how they actually make these incredible movies.  

When it comes to the tickets, you can choose one of the two options: 

  • Entry for 1 park: you can enter Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park. 
  • Entry to 2 parks: you can enter both.  

Please mind that the ticket is valid for one day only. Since it’s a very popular place, we recommend booking your tickets way in advance. 

To make your Disney Land Paris experience even more enjoyable, we also recommend using a Disneyland Paris Express shuttle bus. The package includes transportation and tickets to both parks. You can find more details about this package here. 

5 days in Paris itinerary: Day 5

1. Versailles

The fifth day will be no less exciting than the previous three, and it starts at The Palace of Versailles. This magnificent place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace has 2,300 rooms, which are now being used to present the collections of sculptures, paintings, and other forms of art.

As Denmark-based writer Louise Boisen rightly mentioned: “To the public imagination, Versailles is the epitome of opulence”. It’s architectural grandeur, magnificent gardens, and unbelievable chic still attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. And for that, you need to experience it too.

Recommended Tour: Versailles Palace & Gardens: Ticket, Audio Guide & Transfer

2. Musée National Picasso-Paris

There’s no other person like Picasso, and his art is the best proof of that statement. Musée National Picasso-Paris has the world’s most extensive public collection of his works. There are over 300 paintings, and aside from that, you can also look at lesser-known sculptures from Picasso’s personal studio. All-in-all the collection has more than 5,000 works and 200,000 archival items. If you consider yourself a Picasso fan or an art lover, then you can’t miss this place.  

Recommended Tour: Picasso Museum Full-Day Priority Access 

3. Visit the Opera (The Opera Garnier or The Opéra Bastille)

5 days in Paris

Visiting the Opera can be an excellent conclusion to your 5 days in Paris. Many have heard about the Opera Garnier, but we want to recommend you the less popular, but no less impressive Opera Bastille.

Many people have lamented over the lack of modern theater in the city, and Opera Bastille became an answer to this demand. It was opened in 1989, and both by its exterior and program, we can confidently say that it’s an outstanding contemporary theatre. Unlike many theaters, the auditorium designs in Opera Bastille are made in such a way that every seat guarantees an excellent view of the stage without any obstacles. This venue is an ode to modernity.

Recommended Tour: Mysteries of the Opera Garnier After Hours Tour

Top 5 Places to Eat in Paris

  1. Kong: this restaurant was opened in 2003, but it has gained popularity both among locals and tourists because of its stellar location and of course, tasty food. KONG is located on the 5th floor of a Haussmann building, and you can get a different view of Paris (all of them equally awesome) from every window. The dining room is located upstairs, and the cozy bar is at the lower level. Just choose the view you like more, order some tasty food and enjoy your time. 
  2. Le Gorge at Four Seasons George V: if you’re looking for luxury, than this is a place to be. We already recommended you to have lunch in this magnificent restaurant on the third day of your stay in Paris, but it’s totally worth mentioning it again. Michelin-starred Chef Simone Zanon will make sure that you have an unforgettable culinary experience and that what’s on your plate is as exquisite as your surroundings. 
  3. Buddha Bar Paris: if you like Buddha Bars around the world, then you will surely like it in Paris also. Exotic cuisine from all around the world and a special atmosphere are guaranteed.
  4. Epicure: this is a true temple of gastronomy for those who want to have the best French dish in their lives. What do you think about macaroni stuffed with black truffle? And what about gratinée with aged Parmesan? Eric Frechon, who holds four Michelin stars, will make you remember the day you spent at Epicure. Know that gentlemen are required to wear a suit jacket, and pets are not allowed in this restaurant.
  5. Le Chalet Savoyard: being in Paris and not trying fondue is a crime! For this reason, you should visit Le Chalet Savoyard. This is a true cheese heaven! Their fondue selection is stunning, and you will definitely find something that suits your taste the most. We recommend you trying a 4-cheese fondue. Be ready that this place will change your ideas of how much cheese you can eat.

Top 5 Places to Stay in Paris 

  1. Hôtel Plaza Athénée: this extraordinary hotel very well fits the extraordinary city in which it’s situated. Located on the tree-lined boulevard of French fashion Hôtel Plaza Athénée offers the very best of Paris. They have 5 restaurants, a Dior Institute spa, a seasonal ice-skating rink, a cocktail bar, and of course, elegant accommodation with marble bathrooms. Some rooms have views of the Eiffel Tower, so you can try to book that special room by writing them way in advance. Their restaurant is curated by the Michelin Star chef Alain Ducasse, so your gastronomical feeling will also be considered. 
  2. Ritz Paris:  want to be a resident of the hotel that Coco Chanel occupied for years? She was not the only famous person who spent time in this hotel as it invited many stars, intellectuals, and politicians throughout the years. This hotel is more than a legend. It’s a part of the world heritage. Of course, it has excellent restaurants, bars spa facilities, a garden, and impressive accommodation. But more than anything else, you will enjoy the legendary spirit of this place.  
  3. Hotel Minerve: if you prefer something less chic but still elegant and sophisticated, consider staying at the Minerve Hotel. In addition to its 3-star character, it has a great location (close to Sorbonne and Notre Dame) and it was decorated using natural materials which gives it quite an outstanding look. Some rooms have stone walls and exposed beams. Staying at Minerve Hotel you can also expect a nice buffet breakfast.  
  4. Four Seasons George V: we already spoke about the Four Seasons George V restaurant, but we haven’t said anything about the hotel itself, which is quite unfair because this art-deco landmark is a great place to stay at. Located in the Golden Triangle of Paris, its suites (some of them) offer the Eiffel Tower views and three restaurants, one of which has five Michelin stars. So you can both stay in a great place and enjoy some of the best French food. They also offer Penthouse accommodation which can take your Paris stay to a whole new level. Staying there, your morning will begin with breakfasts on the terrace with Eifel Tower views. You will also have access to a private observatory, and your day will end with a glass of Champagne on the bedroom’s balcony. That’s an idyll!
  5. Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg: the last option in our recommended hotels to stay in Paris is Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg. This designer hotel located in Paris’s heart will give you a vivid vision of the Parisian style, inspired by Haute Couture. The hotel is set in two private mansions that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Staying here, you will be able to enjoy a secret garden with fountains and palm trees, a warm library, sunny terraces, and an excellent spa area.

Ernest Hemingway said: “There are only two places in the world where we can live happy – at home and in Paris.” Would you agree with him after 5 days the City of Light? 

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