I’ve been a francophile since I first watched Madeline on VHS. The old house in Paris covered in vines really spoke to me and I wanted to be one of the little girls walking in two straight lines. Granted they were all British, and no one speaks French, but minor details!
I finally went to France on a high school trip, and somehow managed to fall even deeper in love with all things French, and most of all, Paris. Ignoring all the haters that say Paris is overrated, I went again this past August and loved it even more than the first time. And, it could be that I had better company, OR, it could be that Paris is magical. Either way, you should find out for yourself. Here is the perfect way to spend 4 days in Paris. And if you’re curious, here is how I went totally off schedule.
When you arrive and are ready to sightsee, make your first stop at the Arc de Triomphe. You will have to find the the stairway that takes you under the Champs-Élysées and right into the center where the Arc stands. You can pay to access the top of the arc and get a full view of l’etoile formed by the branching streets. The streets of the Champs-Élysées are full of basically every designer store you can imagine. Whether you pick up some souvenirs or just window shop, it’s a nice area to explore.
Next check out Trocadéro to get a view of the Eiffel Tower during the day. This area is especially pretty during the summer. You will see many children cooling down in the fountains and people having picnics in the lawn. And obviously, this is the place to get an iconic Eiffel Tower picture.
In the evening head to Montmartre, and like the metro will advise, beware of pick pockets! Check out the street performers and shops, and then climb the steps to Sarcre Couer, a beautiful Basilica, and also beautiful views of the city.
Explore all the restaurants and see the painters behind Sacre Couer. This is a great place to have dinner. I would recommend Le Poulbot. It was the cutest little restaurant, and the food was delicious. When you’re done, head back out to the lawn in front of Sacre Couer to watch the sunset over the city and drink some wine!
Go to Versaille! Start this day out early if you don’t want to have to wait in line forever, make it even easier by also buying your tickets online. And be prepared to do a lot of walking Versaille is immense and you’ll want to explore all of it.
In the evening, after you’ve had a little time to rest your feet, head over to the Eiffel Tower! The tower twinkles until midnight and has a totally different feel at night. You’ll also get to see the city all lit up from the top. You can also byob and hang out at Eiffel Tower lawn, with many others, to see the last light show at midnight.
Head to Notre Dame in the morning. And like everything else, if you don’t want to wait in line, make sure you get there early! This is one of the places that you really need to go to the top of. The views are obviously beautiful, but the gothic architecture is so neat to look at up close. And of course you also get to see the tower bells and get your inner Quasimodo on.
Grab some lunch, and have a picnic in Jardin des Tuileries. Stroll through the gardens, enjoy the ambiance, and end up at the Louvre located at the end of the gardens.
The Louvre is the most visited museum in world and for good reason. There is so much to see. Start with the Mona Lisa, because you can’t go to the Louvre and not see the Mona Lisa. And then make sure you also see the Egyptian Antiquities section. You could spend all day in the museum, and on Wednesdays and Fridays it is open until 10 p.m. The benefit to be being there late is that the museum is virtually empty, and building looks amazing all lit up at night! But keep in mind it is closed on Tuesdays.
If you’re not tired out from museums, check out Musée D’Orsay (except on a Monday because it’s closed). This is a converted railway station that is worth seeing just because of how cool the building is. But, Monet’s waterlilies are worth checking out as well! The museum is full of famous art pieces.
And finally, you can’t leave Paris without seeing the Catacombs (also closed Mondays). 6 million souls displaced. These underground ossuaries are both creepy and fascinating. And there is plenty of history and geology to learn as you make your way through the tunnels. Not recommended if your claustrophobic though, a lot tight spaces!
This is also a good night to go out to eat somewhere good, since you’ve already tried traditional french food at Le Poulbot, go eat Korean food at Hero. An equally cute restaurant I regret not taking pictures, but check it out here. The food and drinks are amazing.
If you’re looking for a place to go out, the Latin Quarter is full of night life. Right near many universities it is full of students having a good time.
While you’re in Paris make sure you eat crepes, donner kebabs, fresh baguettes and a croque madame (croque monsieur + an egg)! Because if not, you basically weren’t even in Paris.
Amuse toi bien! Find a video version of our trip here.