Paris is the city that is or has been on the top of many lists – the most beautiful, the most romantic, the most extravagant, the most cultural. Based on that, Paris really is a city you should visit.
Here, in this post, I will describe our four (more three and a half) day itinerary which will cover all the major sights in Paris. We are not very fond of museums so we have not visited many of them and consequently this plan is oriented more on the architecture, parks, squares and churches.
First morning, we went outside of Paris, to Versailles palace. I would recommend you took a train there and back to the city, as this is the cheapest and rather convenient option. If you don’t have so much time or you want to concentrate more on the city itself, feel free to leave Versailles out. Versailles is France’s most famous, impressive palace. During the season there are usually long waiting lines. Entrance is free for children and EU citizens under the age of 25. Interior is really magnificent, but the huge gardens outside exceeds the interior. Take a long walk in the gardens and admire flower arrangements and neatly organized trees.
When you return to the city, start with Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral is located on one of the islands on river Seine. You can get there either via one of the three bridges or using metro (station Cite). This is surely the most visited and most famous sight in Paris that requires no entrance fee. Consequently there are usually enormously long waiting lines. Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the most famous feature are definitely beautiful rose windows that make church truly special. For additional pay you can climb the tower – somewhere 400 stairs- to get to the top. It is quite an exercise but award on the top is the most amazing view over the whole city. Take also a look at two imposing buildings standing close one to another – Conciergerie and Palais de Justice. Conciergerie was originally built as royal palace but is most famous for incarcerating enemies of the Revolution. Another sight worth seeing on the same island is Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, famous for its impressive seven arches. You can cross the bridge and go to Hotel de Ville neorenaissance town hall, that is rather close by.
From here you can either walk or take metro (station Etienne Marcel or Chatelet) to Saint- Eustache Paris, one of the most unique churches, really worth visiting. Many important Frenchmen were either baptised, wed or buried here. Last stop of the day is Jardin du Palais Royal close by. Here you should just find your spot somewhere between the hedges relax and take everything you have experienced during this day in.
Start your next day early in the morning, visiting Louvre. Children and EU citizens under the age of 25 have free entrance here as well. You can of course buy your tickets in advance, but buying reduced (free) tickets online is unfortunately not possible. You can enter Louvre either via main entrance (Grande Pyramide) or underground shopping mall Carrousel du Louvre, which is usually less crowded. You can also admire the Inversed Pyramide here. Louvre is the biggest and most visited museum in the world. Museum covers everything from Mesopotamia and Antic to Da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s famous artwork. It is rather impossible to cover everything during one visit and I have to admit we covered only the most famous pieces and just that already took around 3 hours.
Our next stop is Place du Carrousel, if you won’t spend the whole day in museum of course, that is placed at the entrance to Jardin des Tuileries. Here stands the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the smaller and less known arc de triomphe in Paris. It was erected by Napoleon and was once crowned with The horses of St. Mark from Venice, but the horses were later returned and replaced by chariot drawn by four horses. Crossing Jardin des Tuileries will bring us to Place de la Concorde. One of the most imposing places in Paris, everywhere you turn, something magnificent will meet your eyes. That includes Eglise de la Madeline, neoclassical church that very much resembles Greek temple. Place de la Concorde is also the very place, where some important figures, including royalties, met their guillotines. Obelisk that stands in the middle was actually brought here from Egypt. Here, some exercise comes again. The most famous avenue in Paris, Champs Elysees, links Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomphe, and we actually have walked along the entire avenue. If you do not have time or any energy left, you can of course take metro. But I would strongly recommend walking as you can observe and notice many amazing buildings, museums and galleries as you walk down Champs Elysees. You can also find every luxurious French or foreign brand somewhere along the avenue. If it is not here, it is not luxurious enough. On the other side of Champs Elysees stands Arc de Triomphe, which was built in 1806 after Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. It stands in the middle of the most impressive, busy with traffic, roundabout. 12 busy streets lead to the roundabout and they form a star. You can get to the Arc via an underground tunnel that lies below the roundabout. On one of the arches French national anthem, La Marseillaise is engraved. Below the Arc is Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that commemorates and honours French soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. Last stop of the day is again a park – Jardin de Luxembourg. Take the metro to station called Luxembourg and then wander a bit around a park. Park is dedicated to children of Paris and has many playgrounds and sporting venues. Palais du Luxembourg resembles the Pitti palace in Florence and was built in honour of Medici’s.
Day three starts with visiting the Eiffel Tower. As you probably already know, the Eiffel Tower was actually built just for the purpose of World Fair exhibition and at first was not warmly accepted by people. To get to the top you can either use a lift or walk up the stairs. You can walk up to the 2nd floor and believe me, it is quite a workout. Tickets for a specific time can be bought in advance, again no reduced fares are sold online. If you choose this option, you have to be there at the time written on the ticket, otherwise they can deny you access. From the top there are amazing views over entire city. Beside the Eiffel Tower lies Park du Champ de Mars, originally used as parade military ground but nowadays used mainly for relaxation and hanging out.
From here next stop is Flamme de la Liberte memorial, which is replica of the sculpture on the top of the Statue of Liberty and honours friendship between US and France. In the tunnel below, Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in 1997. Cross Seine again via Pont Alexandre III and admire its many ornaments which have made this bridge the most extravagant in the city – note that this is Paris, so it is quite an achievement. Crossing the bridge will bring us to Hotel des Invalides. It was built with regard to house 4000 injured or disabled war veterans. It was heavily armed (Army museum is still located here) and here is where the rebels broke into and got armed before starting French revolution. Nearby is Eglise du Dome, church where Napoleon is buried and famous for its remarkable golden dome.
The last day we will use more of metro transportation. Day will start at Montmartre (station Anvers). From metro station you can either walk up or use funicular. I would of course recommend walking and enjoying beautiful views along. The queen here is definitely Basilique du Sacre Coure, its exterior being very impressive. It is also highly in contrast with surrounding bohemian lifestyle. In park in front of the basilique you can find your own spot and enjoy stunning views while listening to musicians playing. Montmartre is artist’s paradise, a lot of painters are working here or just selling their pictures.
Place du Tertre is the place to go and take it all in. Here you can get your own portrait painted or just watch tourist and artists rush from one place to another. When you feel you have seen enough, descent to the metro station and go to Place de la Republique, which is starting point for visiting Canal St Martin. In the middle of the square stands huge statue representing Goddess of Liberty surrounded by three statues personifying liberty, equality and fraternity.
Canal St. Martin starts nearby and once provided shipping link between Seine and suburbs, nowadays mostly offers a badly needed peace for some quiet, nice walks. Our trip will end at Place de la Bastille, where stands Collone de Julliet and commemorates victims of both revolutions. Bastille was actually a fortress built to protect the city, later transformed into a prison. The fortress unfortunately no longer stands, but this place still represents the French revolutionary soul.
If you have some time to spare, Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise is place I would also recommend visiting. In this cemetery is probably the highest number of famous people’s final resting place, including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morisson, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Molier. The only criterion was Paris residency.