4 Options for Days in Paris

Lisa McCurdy
6 min readMay 12, 2022
The wintry view from my Chambre de bonne when I lived in Paris in 2008–9

My good friend and her family are headed to the city of light and asked for some suggestions of sights to group together, so I thought I would share them here as well.

I left off Monmarte because they’re planning a walking tour of that area with a guide already, but before you read further make sure you have an afternoon, or early evening and into dinner, to go up to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre!

Also, these friends are staying close to the Opera Garnier and therefore close to the Galleries Lafayette, an insanely gorgeous department store a la Harrods in London but they have a gorgeous rooftop deck where you must go for a cocktail or glass of champagne. I don’t believe you need a reservation, and I wouldn’t eat there but it would be perfect for a pre-dinner or midday drink because the views are amazing. This is also why I didn’t include L’Opera on the list.

Galleries Rooftop

Day A:

Luxembourg Gardens

Start at the Luxembourg Gardens, and walk around the park, it’s gorgeous. If you look east from the park you will see the Pantheon — cool to see from the outside and if you have time there are some epic paintings in there and lots of famous french people are buried there (Victor Hugo, Marie Curie…). But, not a priority if you’re short on time.

The Pantheon

From there, you can walk down into the 6th Arrondissement to see St. Germain, the oldest church (I think? it’s very old) but also there are the famous cafes Deux Magots and Le Fleur. They’re fun but very expensive and the food at others around them is just as good! I’ve been to each once, again you’re paying for the name but that’s ok! Great to stop for tea/coffee.

Then from there, you can walk about 1KM down to the Fountain Saint-Michel which is very famous and beautiful. Along the walk, you’ll be in some of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris and you’ll be right by the Sorbonne, among other cool things.

Notre Dame in 2009

From the fountain, head slightly east to see Shakespear and Co, the famous booksellers. You can cross from here on to Ile de la Cite with a great view of Notre Dame- worth seeing even with the scaffolding. Saint Chapelle is also right there, which is worth a stop in if it’s not too crowded — it’s not worth waiting hours to get in but the glass is really quite something.

Saint Chapell

There are also a lot of great little cafes in that area for lunch., and there is a great ice cream spot there called Berthillion — world-famous and as IG-worthy as it is delicious.

Berthillion chocolate and raspberry

If you have time, go across to the right bank (the other side from where you came from, the same side you’re staying on) and go check out the Hotel De Ville and a cool art installation there. There is also an art deco metro entrance there, I can’t remember where exactly, but it should be right in the center of things and very worth seeing (but there’s another one I mention below as well!)

Day B

Start at the Louvre, get there early, and cap your time. It’s a black hole ;). The Louvre metro station itself is really cool so metro there if you can! Once you've seen enough art, Reinforce yourselves with Angelina hot chocolate and a walk around the Tuileries Gardens, then pop into the Orangerie.

Les Tulleries

You’ll be right on the Place de la Concorde, and you’ll see the Hotel La Marine and behind it the Ritz. If you go behind the Ritz (away from the Seine) you’ll find a lot of really great cafes. There’s also a restaurant called Le Souffle which is excellent — filling but so good! The Palais Royal is also right there which has a cool art installation and the Palais Royal metro station is one of the famous art-deco entrances as well.

From the Place, you’re at the bottom of the Champs-Elysse! So walk up that and take in the sights and do some shopping, all the way to the top where the Arc De Triomphe is about a mile or so. Again, the cafes here on the main drag are pretty good but they’ll be expensive because you’re paying their rent ;)

Definitely go up the Arc, it’s a great view down the grand avenues and also over to the tower.

Day C

Start at the Pere Lachaise cemetery to see the graves of very famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Pilaf, and others. From there, walk the 2.2 KM (or Uber, but the metro is not super convenient) to the Place de la Bastille. Lots of great cafes there for lunch!

Jim Morrison

From Bastille, walk along the Canal St. Martin (so cool) back to the Seine and across the river to the Jardin Des Plants. A much smaller and less fussy garden than the Luxembourg! You could go from the Jardin Des Plants over to the Ile de la Cite and do the second part of Day A, too, if you wanted — big day but would fit a lot in!

Jardin Des Plantes

Day D:

Begin at the Arc De Triomphe (if you didn’t do it the other day), and walk to the Pont Alexandre and across to Les Invalides. Or, you can start at the Musee D’Orsay, see some art and then walk along the river to the Invalides. Or just take the metro straight to Les Invalides.

Les Invalides

There, you can see Napoleon’s Tomb and also explore the rest of the military museum if that’s interesting to you (if it’s not, skip it, you have to really be interested in french military history!). The Musee Rodin is also there which is a really pretty and small museum worth a visit if you skip going inside Les Invalides.

Champs de Marche from above

From the backside of the Invalides, walk to the back side of the Champs de Marche, which is the park that has the Eiffel Tower. It’s neat to see it from all the way down the park, and the far end has good cafes!