Even a lifetime wouldn’t be enough for this amazing city, but when you have limited time and financial resources, you just do what you can to enjoy it at least a little.
We arrived by train to the Gare Du Nord and stayed in the 3rd ARR, which was a great decision, because it was not only close to the train station, but also to a number of food places and to some attractions.
Some guides will suggest getting a Paris pass or Paris museum pass. I found that the first is not very useful in any way, the second would be useful, if you are in Paris for a couple of weeks. But when you only have 4 days and want to walk around, as well as visit the attractions, passes are not value for money.
Here are the possible suggestions to help you plan your own itinerary. Obviously, this can be modified according to your tastes and weather (this last can certainly significantly alter plans sometimes).
Start a day with crepes – if you, like me, are the fan of French crepes, you should go to Le Marais area to one of the creperies, such as La Droguerie.
Head to Notre Dame de Paris – Unfortunately, the recent fire significantly damaged this magnificent landmark. Even though it is currently currently closed to visitors to accommodate for renovations after the fire, you still need to visit it and the amazing surrounding area. We were lucky to see this Notre Dame in its glory before the fire. We were able to climb the 387 steps up to the tower and to marvel at the gargoyles. This was my dream ever since reading Hugo. Either way, the surrounding area and the views over the façade of this amazing building still can be seen. You will find wonderful street musicians all around. Their mastery will entice you and you will feel the soul of this amazing city.
Walk towards Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge on the Seine – and marvel at the numerous locks, which lovers from around the world have left here.
Walk on the left Bank of Seine (they are on the right bank as well, as far as I heard, but haven’t seen them) passing marvelous book stall area and buy some antiques books.
Have crepes at Au p’tit Grec or lunch at one of the Parisian cafes in the area.
Visit Pantheon, then walk to the beautiful Le Jardin du Luxembourg and Palais du Luxembourg.
Walk around Saint Germaine des Pres area and enjoy the atmosphere. The Mazarine library can be visited only if you are here during end of September and don’t mind very long queues, so that would be impossible in only 4 day itinerary, so marvel at this building from outside. Also visit Saint Germaine des Pres church.
Have coffee at the Coutume café and/or eat chocolates from one of the many chocolate stores in the area.
If you still have time, visit Musee d’Orsay, an amazing art museum, particularly famous for its impressionist collection. Certainly, this museum could take all day, but well, when you have such a limited time, you will have to let go of some things.
Pass by the historical landmarks, such as army museum and Hôtel des Invalides.
In the evening, sit in a café near Eiffel tower and watch the lighted landmark.
Start a day with visiting the Louvre. We did this on a very rainy day, when it was impossible to walk around. Remember, the museum is closed on Tuesdays. To bypass at least part of the queue, definitely avoid the main entrance. Buy your ticket downstairs entering through the Carrousel du Louvre mall or online in advance. This will save you a lot of time.
If you have time, you will at least spend a day there and leisurely see all parts. That would also require for you to be quite fit, because simply walking from one part to another takes a while. We spent 5 hours in this immense museum and obviously this still wasn’t enough to see everything we wanted. At least we managed to see the parts we were most interested in. As everyone probably has heard the rooms with renaissance paintings are always overcrowded. However, the best parts of the museum for me are King’s chambers. Note that near Mona Lisa, in front of which you find heaps of people, you have amazing Renaissance and French neoclassical works.
Visit café Angelina or Verlet café for the coffee and cakes.
If the weather allows, visit Tuileries gardens after the Louvre to relax and enjoy the flowers and fountains.
If you are not too tired of art and still have time, visit Musee de L’Orangerie.
In the evening, walk around the Place de la Concorde.
Start the day by visiting the Champ Mars to marvel at the Eiffel tower and take great photos.
Do buy the tickets for the tower in advance to cut down on the time spent in queues. If you are keen on climbing, instead of taking a lift, you are allowed to do so to the second floor, which apparently makes some 674 steps.
I don’t suggest buying anything around this area, you will find triple prices and nothing tasty or interesting here. So just pass by any vendors and find another area, where you can buy some food or snacks. You can go to the nearby cafes, like Le Petit Cler to have coffee and/or snacks.
Next, cross the bridge to Jardins Du Trocadero and see the numerous spots, where people take photos. These places you will particularly often see in wedding photos. Oh, yes, obviously, you will see a number of white dresses all around the city, especially, if the weather is nice. People from all around the world like to get marries here and add to the overcrowding of the city.
Walk towards the Arc de Triomphe. Eat macaroons or cakes at the Pierre Herme nearby.
Climb up the Arc, if you like. I have seen the photos in advance and didn’t consider it worth the price.
Walk on Champs Elysees and marvel at the vibe. You will find stylish Parisians here. Continue your walk down to Grand Palais and, if you have time, visit the exhibition there. The Petite Palais has a free collection – again, if you have time. On our 4-day trip, we ended up here only in the evening and didn’t manage to see them.
Walk on the Pont Alexandre III.
Today, head to Monmartre. This area is considered a heart of Paris and it still kept some of its old glory. However, the feeling of art filled streets and the Tertre square is spoiled by the crowds. The artists on the square are huddled together next to numerous coffee places, inviting tourists to do their painting. That said, the area is still cute and has its vibe.
Do visit Sacre-Coeur and climb the dome, if you can. When we were there, the dome was, unfortunately, closed for the public. The basilica is truly impressive, however overcrowding definitely spoils the experience. The views from in front of it over the city are truly beautiful.
Continue downwards and explore this beautiful area. Visit Le Mur Des Je T’Aime – a wall with “I love you” signs in numerous languages and watch the people taking photos in front of it.
Have coffee in one of the roadside cafes. Sit outside and watch people pass. The coffee in the one we wondered in wasn’t all that great, but well, maybe you will find a better one 😊 I do recommend KB Cafeshop nearby though.
Continue walking to Moulin Rouge. You can also purchase dinner and show packages to visit it, however, they are extremely expensive. We didn’t do it, so can’t comment on how good it would be. Down the street and all around the area, you will find numerous sex shops.
Continue walking southward, towards the Palais Garnier. Maybe visit the St Augustin Church, some more macaroon and chocolate shops, etc. Visit the opera house. If you are there during the season, book to see a performance. It’s best to book your tickets in advance, as they are often sold out.
Nearby the opera is the shopping district. Do visit the top floor of Galeries Lafayette for the nice views.