To quote Thomas Jefferson: “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” The gleaming Eiffel tower, the chilling Catacombs, the fascinating Louvre … there is so much to see and discover! But is it possible to visit all the unmissable must-see in Paris monuments in a short vacation? The answer is a big oui!
Paris’ beauty will lure you in the second you set your foot in it. The City Of Lights represents its name well and is overflowing with history and culture. If you’re on a short vacation, you may not have the time to wander all the small streets or dine in all the cozy cafés of Paris. However, you can still have the full French experience if you plan your trip in advance.
We gathered the perfect guide to help you to discover all the iconic spots of the city if you’re on a five-day vacation. Get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of the city!
Day 1: Answer The Call of The Eiffel
Visit the Eiffel Tower first. You will need to get it out of your system ASAP so you can enjoy the other attractions without having the constant image of the tower in the back of your mind. This most obvious must-see in Paris needs no introduction. With more than 7 million people visiting it annually, and an average of 25,000 people ascending the tower every day, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the world, and the most crowded.
In order to see this standing beauty, make sure to check the hours of operations and the admission costs. In order to avoid the two-hour ticket queue, you may consider planning your visit in off-peak season. You can check the Eiffel Tower’s calendar for peak and off-peak visiting periods.
Ater climbing the 1,710 steps of the Eiffel Tower, you will need a well-deserved rest. Head to Champ de Mars, a large public green space that extends to the Tower – basically the Central Park of Paris!
After a good walk, your last stop and must-see in Paris will be Hôtel des Invalides, a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France. Originally, Hôtel des Invalides was a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. If you like military art, you will bebe well-served. Make sure to pay a visit to the Dôme des Invalides, a large beautiful church where rest some of France’s war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Day 2: Celebrate Art and Spirituality
Calling all artists and art lovers: Montmartre is the place to be! This unique district is the favorite of many Parisians, and for a good reason. Its popularity goes back to the middle of the 20th century, when many artists moved there due to its cheap cost of living. Little did they know that many luminaries of art would find their muse within its buildings and streets. Picasso, Renoir, Modiglianiand Van Gogh, to name a few, all lived there at some point in the life.
You can book a tour and learn all the quirky historical facts about the neighborhood. But if you want to wander in its streets at your own pace, make sure to visit the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret, the Montmartre Museum, Lapin Agile and Place Dalida to celebrate the legacy of the beloved, same-named singer.
Your next must-see in Paris is the gorgeous Sacré-Coeur Basilica cathedral, a popular landmark located at the highest point of the city. You can access the top of the dome of Sacré-Coeur by stairs and take in the breathtaking view of Paris. Use the binoculars to play “spot the monument,” as almost every Paris monument can be seen from there.
Day 3: Say ‘Hi’ To Mona Lisa, The Seine … and The Ducks
It’s art time! Be ready to dedicate your whole morning or afternoon to visit the largest art museum and most visited museum in the world.
As for the most wildly visited monument, take into account the opening hours/days and entrance tickets. Buy your tickets online to save time or in the ticket purchase counters and machines inside the museum (right after you clear security). Visit their website to look up the prices and be prepared. If you’re there the first Sunday of any month (except if it coincides with Jan. 1 or May 1) or July 14 (Bastille Day), then you’re in luck: Entry into the Louvre is free.
Also remember to wear comfy shoes, it’s a (very) long walk!
You will certainly be hungry after finishing your visit. And what could be better than a bread-and-cheese picnic or quick snack in one of the most beautiful gardens of Paris? Head to the Tuileries Gardens, the dreamy, four-centuries-old public garden. You can unwind, relax, feed the ducks and watch a beautiful sunset. It is located right behind the Concorde, where you can also fully see the Arc de Triomphe in all its splendor.
And, finally, stroll along the Seine and let its small waves take you with them. That river has a melancholic yet romantic vibe to it that will suit all dreamers and lovers.
Day 4: Go From Creepy To Dreamy
In Paris, you can experience the unsettling and the relaxing one right after the other. The Catacombs of Paris are a must-see in Paris for all those with an adventurous heart. These underground ossuaries hold the remains of more than 6 million people, which makes the experience quite chilly, literally and figuratively.
The temperature can go down to 57 F (14 C), so bring your jacket to avoid the cold, and your running shoes, since it’s about a 45-minute walk. It will be exactly like your daily walk, except it’s underground, and you’re surrounded by skeleton parts. Yep.
Keep in mind that the Catacombs may not be appropriate for children or those with a sensitive disposition; also, you might need to take some precautions if you have respiratory or heart problems.
Once your adrenaline levels are all up, it’s time to go visit the gorgeous Luxembourg palace and gardens. They were created at the beginning of 1612 by Marie de’ Medici as an imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence, Italy. Now we know where the Italian architecture vibes came from!
Relax by the mesmerizing Fountain of the Observatory, walk under the shadows of its huge trees, and head all the way up to the Pantheon, which can be seen from the gardens.
Day 5: Finish with Beauty and Art
On your last day, see Paris through the eyes of its most famous artists. Discover how Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Degas, and more, have painted Paris, at the Orsay Museum, which is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay Orsay train station).
Orsay Museum has the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, including paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography.
After having visited many places the previous days, you will delightfully start recognizing some of the sceneries depicted in the artwork!
One destination remains: the Sainte Chapelle cathedral. This Gothic-style royal chapel has jaw-dropping state-of-the-art, upper-level interior. The most (rightly) famous features of the chapel are its stained glass windows. Just go on a sunny morning or afternoon, and bask in the colorful light that comes from those windows. If bliss is your favorite a feeling, get fully prepared to bask in it here!
Are you ready to plan your France adventure and visit all attractions that are must-see in Paris? Do you have any other places in mind you’d like to visit? Let us know in the comments, and read our article about the 5 best spots for afternoon tea in Paris!