Is it possible to visit Paris in 5 days? Well…YES! Paris is a wonderful city that you can visit again and again and still discover something new each time you go, but you don’t necessarily need a lot of time to get something out of a trip to the City of Lights.
A little tip before we start: if you only have a few days in Paris you should definitely consider buying a ParisMuseum Pass or the new Paris Passlib’. With these little cards you’ll get to visit all the museums and attractions you want, as many times as you want, and, cherry on top, without standing in line. If you’re under 26 you get free entry to most museums, but honestly, I wouldn’t visit Paris without that pass anyway. Bypassing the long lines is definitely worth the extra $$!
So, you want to know how to “do” Paris in 5 days?
Here’s the ultimate itinerary for a trip to Paris, taking in all the must-see places, sights and activities on and off the beaten track:
• CHAMPS ELYSEES
Métro station: Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau – Line 1 (yellow) or line 13 (light blue)
The Avenue des Champs Elysées is one of the main touristic attractions of the capital city, and some people even consider it the most beautiful avenue in the world. It is truly majestic – 70 meters wide and almost 2 km long from the place de la Concorde to the place Charles de Gaulle. Parisians gather here faithfully for annual events such as the Bastille Day parades, the finish of the Tour de France, and New Year’s Eve.
• ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Métro Station: Charles de Gaulle Etoile – Line 6 (green-blue)
After a long stroll up the Champs Elysées, you’ll eventually find yourself in front of the Arc De Triomphe. To get close, don’t even try to cross the roundabout, Paris’s busiest traffic hub – death is certain! Instead, take the underground passage and live a little longer. Note that visiting the Arc de Triomphe involves climbing up no less than 284 steps, but I’m telling you, it’s totally worth it: walking up those stairs not only will give you a great workout, but at the top you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in Paris!
• TOUR MONTPARNASSE
Métro Station: Montparnasse Bienvenüe – Line 6 (green-blue)
It’s time to celebrate your first evening in Paris with a kick-ass sunset! If you’re coming from the métro station Charles de Gaulle Etoile Station near Arc de Triomphe, then you can take the subway line 6 directly to Montparnasse Bienvenüe.
Tour Montparnasse is a 210-meter tall office skyscraper located in in the area of Montparnasse. Its gigantic proportions and monolithic appearance have been often criticized for being out of place in Paris’s urban landscape and, as a result, two years after its completion, the construction of skyscrapers in the city centre was banned. Still, the tower definitely deserves a visit, if only to get a glimpse of that gorgeous 360° view it provides. A super-fast lift will take you to the top where you’ll be able to shoot that one-million-dollar photo from the open air roof terrace.
• TOUR EIFFEL
Métro station: Trocadéro – Line 6 (green-blue) or line 9 (yellow)
Rise and shine little birdies, it’s time to get your second day started! As corny and cliché as it sounds, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time is just one of those inexplicably memorable life moments that you will remember forever. But don’t worry, Paris is a city where embracing the clichés is perfectly fine! And Trocadéro is definitely the best place in Paris to admire the Iron Lady.
• SEINE RIVER AND PONT ALEXANDRE III
When you’re done taking about a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower, head over the banks of the Seine and cross Pont Alexandre III (on the right with your back facing the Tower).
A stroll along the Seine will show you wonderful sights of the everyday Parisien’s life. Take your time, wander around, and enjoy all the beautiful landmarks built through the centuries. Spanning the Seine between the Grand Palais and the lawn of Invalides, the splendidly ornamental Pont Alexandre III is a romantic backdrop that often pops up in wedding photos and even in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. With its golden framework and perfect symmetry, Pont Alexandre is beautiful by day and especially charming at night.
• JARDIN DE TUILERIE AND ORANGERIE
After crossing Pont Alexandre III, turn right and then walk through the Jardin de Tuileries – a huge garden with fountains and crushed stone walkways. This is perfect place to relax, maybe get an ice-cream, and engage in some people-watching.
Just around the corner, the intimate Musée de l’Orangerie is also a lovely break to take from your stroll around the city. Home to Claude Monet’s masterpiece water lily series called Nymphéas, the Musée de l’Orangerie is one of the most famous Paris’ artistic gems. Sitting in the centre of the grand oval gallery, you’ll be surrounded by an enchanting flow of blues and greens.
• MUSEUM D’ORSAY
Cross Pont Alexandre III in the opposite direction and you will find yourself right in front of the lovely Museum D’Orsay, highly regarded by most art lovers who come to Paris to enjoy some valuable items of French art. The museum exhibits plenty of late French art dated back to the late 19th – 20th centuries. The most valuable collections of the museum include the works of the impressionists like Monet, Degas and Renoir.
Métro Station: Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre – (Line 1, yellow)
I hope you slept well and that you are refreshed enough to take on a new day! I highly suggest starting the day visiting the Louvre before heading over to the rest of the sights – this place needs your full undivided attention!
With a collection of more than 30.000 works of art and relics, the Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest and most visited museum, with representative examples from almost every civilization on Earth. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. It’s nearly impossible to see them all, but if you’d like to try, it does help to have a plan of action and choose in advance which works see.
Métro Station: Opéra – Line 3 (green); line 7 (pink); line 8 (light purple)
In the same district of the Louvre Museum, there is the Opera Garnier, one of the world’s renowned opera-houses. The Opera Garnier is certainly one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Not only does it welcome world-class opera and ballet performances, but its architectural beauty and interior decoration make it a visit not to be missed. At the end of the 19th century, the Opera Garnier was to the place to be for society life and small talk among the elite!
• THE GALERIES LAFAYETTE
After this cultural overdose it is time to give your brain a break and let your wallet feel a little lighter. By a little I mean a lot, and by a lot I mean a lot a lot. The Galeries Lafayette in Paris are in the same vein as Harrod’s in London, Bloomingdale’s in New York or Isetan in Tokyo. You can find all the major brands of ready-to-wear and lingerie, cosmetics, fragrances and jewerly. Little tip: it is possible to visit the terrace on the top floor!
• SACRE COEUR
Métro station: Abbesses – Line 12 (green); Anvers – Line 2 (blue)
Montmartre is the highest Paris hill at 130 meters. Rural until 1900, it became famous in late 1800 with the arrival of artists such as Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso. In spite of the affluence of tourists from all over the world, Montmartre still keeps its charm and its villagey atmosphere. Montmartre’s most recognizable landmark is the Basilica du Sacré-Coeur, constructed from 1876 to 1912. The white dome of this Roman Catholic basilica sits at the highest point in the city.
• PLACE DU TERTRE
The square is also lined with lovely 18th-century buildings featuring busy restaurants, crepe stands, and cafés. Many places have outdoor seating, allowing tourists to soak up the scene.
• SORBONNE AND LATIN QUARTER
Métro station: Cluny, La Sorbonne – Line 10 (yellow)
No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement! The area’s many cafés and restaurants are laid-back, welcoming and filled with Parisians, students and tourists. There are several attractions to visit, like the Pantheon, the Musée National du Moyen-Âge, the Luxembourg gardens and museum and the Arènes de Lutèce. As you stroll through the district you will also come across the Sorbonne, the best-known university in Paris.
• CENTRE POMPIDOU
Straight ahead, on the opposite bank of the Seine, you will find the Centre Pompidou and the Marais district.
Just as modern on the outside as it is on the inside, the Centre Pompidou is housed in a building you will not soon forget. The museum not only features well-known masterpieces by the likes of Picasso, Duchamp, and Miró, but those of 5,000 other artists as well. Explore the history of Cubism, Surrealism, Fauvism and Abstract Expressionism with over 50,000 works of late 19th-20th century art spread over 5 acres.
• NOTRE DAME
If Paris has a heart, then this is it. One of Paris’ most popular attractions, Notre Dame de Paris is a Gothic cathedral built in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was the site of Joan of Arc’s canonization and the coronation of Napoleon I. It is perched on the Ile de la Cite, which represents, as I mentioned, the heart of Paris. Fun fact? Ile de la Cite is the exact point where Paris was ‘born’ when the Parisii celtic tribes settled here a long, long time ago.
I think that’s a delightful way to end your visit to Paris, right? So there you have it, a perfectly planned out 5 days trip to Paris!
If you haven’t already, check out this list of fun facts about Paris, so you can get to know a little bit this city before your trip and make your visit even more exciting!