If you're wondering what to do in Paris in 4 days, I've put together the ultimate guide with more than 30 things to see in Paris. Get ready to savour the City of Lights with this 4 day Paris itinerary.
Your 4 Day Paris Itinerary
Why You Should Visit Paris
Where should we begin? The world class food or the world class architecture? The history that reaches into almost every part of the world or the icons we all grew up with? The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa and Notre Dame?
- For the ultimate in luxury and a covid-safe travel plan, consider flying with a private charter company. You can keep up to date with Covid travel restrictions and updates here.
Trouble is, the whole world knows about this city, which is why it helps to plan ahead and avoid frustrating crowds. Also, be ready to open your mind beyond the classics. For Paris is a modern city, with innovative design, fashion, food, sport and architecture. Never mind 4 days in Paris, you could fill a lifetime with everything you can find in the City of Lights.
However, if four days is all you have, then four days is all you have. Let's make the most of it with this 4 day Paris itinerary.
Paris Travel Essentials
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How to Reach Paris
Paris is situated on the River Seine in northern France, 233 miles from the coast with two airports, Roissy Charles de Gaulle to the north and Orly to the south. As one of the world's major cities, you'll find frequent flights into both airports as well as international train services. The Eurostar rail service from London to Paris arrives at the Gare du Nord terminal.
Map for 4 Days in Paris
When to Visit Paris
Honestly, there's never a bad time to visit Paris. I've travelled there during every season there is and you'll always find stunning ways to fill 4 days in Paris.
That said, spring and early autumn are the easiest to enjoy. In the summer months of July and August, tourist crowds and prices increase and many places still close down. And the winter, while beautiful, can feel cold and barren in places that otherwise ooze with laid back charm in the warmer months.
How to Get Around Paris
Central Paris is surprisingly easy to walk around and you'll only really need the Metro or taxis for a few places that are further away - as long as you have comfy footwear.
The Paris Metro is reasonably clean and easy to use, although something of a nightmare with pushchairs for young children or for anyone requiring a wheelchair.
Should You Buy a Paris Pass?
With limited time you need access to the top sites, so it's worth considering a Paris Pass. The pass includes a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and entry to over 60 attractions including the Palace of Versailles and Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum (which used to be a railway station) and Centre Pompidou. The Pompidou centre usually attracts crowds for the artists and performers who congregate there - a bit like Covent Garden in London.
The pass also includes a Bateaux Parisiens river cruise, and unlimited public transport use. You can take the RER (Paris overground) to the Château de Vincennes where the remains of England’s Henry V were barrelled up to be returned to England after he died there of something nasty.
Take note of the lovely art deco signs outside the metro stations.
Why not bookmark this itinerary on how to spend 4 days in Paris on Pinterest for your future travel planning?
4 Days in Paris Itinerary for First Timers
I've designed this 4 days in Paris itinerary with first timers in mind. That said, if it's been a while since your first visit, it's probably worth doing again! If, however, you're a regular in the City of Lights then check out this guide to unusual things to do in Paris instead.
Day One: The Classics of the Mona Lisa & Notre Dame
Visit the Louvre first thing in the morning on day one just to get you in the mood. Home to the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo, it would take you more than 100 days to see everything, but this is a great place to start. Expect long queues to see the Mona Lisa unless you book your ticket in advance!
Even if you decide to skip the inside of the museum to save time, the glass pyramid is a sight worth seeing in its own right.
Tuileries & Place de la Concorde
From the Louvre, enjoy the walk through the Tuileries Gardens to the world-famous Place de la Concorde. It was hear that the bloody executions of the French Revolution took place, and Marie Antoinette lost her head. However, since then, the place has been renamed as the place of agreement and friendship. These days, it's often a snarl of traffic but worth visiting en route to Notre Dame. From here, you should be able to see your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
Pont Neuf to Notre Dame
Cross Pont Neuf and head towards the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Pont Neuf is Paris’ oldest standing bridge (although the name actually means ‘new bridge’) and Notre Dame used to be the most visited historical site in Paris.
Since the damaging fire, you need to check ahead to see when it will reopen. However, even if you can't enter this burial chamber for former Kings and Queens, you can walk around the outside and get a sense of scale and size.
While here on the Ile de la Cite, it's worth the short detour to the nearby Ile St. Louis for a spot of lunch and some shopping for Parisian souvenirs.
Take your time over lunch, before walking back to the Musée de l’Orangerie to see the Monet’s Nymphéas or waterlilies. They're not the only art on show in this bright and fascinating museum, but they absolutely are the must-see. The curved walls of the galleries were purposefully designed to showcase this art and there's something mesmerising about wall to wall lilies that still remains so different to other works of art.
Champs Élsées & Arc de Triomphe
Walk along the Champs Élysées, a grand leafy boulevard, to reach the Arc de Triomphe and the tomb of the unknown soldier. This is one of the grandest streets in Paris, with designer shops and high end restaurants filling its pavements and high profile events like the end of the Tour de France filling its street.
It's a good place to stop for dinner before climbing the Arc de Triomphe for sunset, depending on the time of year of your visit.
Day Two Paris Itinerary: Cafés & Culture
Channel Your Inner Philosopher at St Germain de Prés
Early morning in St Germain de Prés summons up the romance of the literary and philosophical age. Have breakfast, or strong coffee at least, at either Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore. Twas here that the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir enjoyed their tête-à-têtes and you can soak up some of that bygone age at breakfast before the tourists arrive.
Institut du Monde Arabe and the Paris Hammam
For an intriguing look at modern Paris and ancient traditions, visit the Paris Mosque on 39 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire and bring your swimsuit. It's a sex-segregated hammam with steam rooms and invigorating black scrubs set in gorgeous buildings with a gentle mint tea cafe.
After that, for lunch, try the Institut du Monde Arabe on 1 Rue des Fosses Saint Bernard. The panoramic restaurant gives great views of the city and is one of my favourite unusual things to do in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower and Around
And now it's time for the classic. Queues aside, I believe that everyone should try to climb the Eiffel Tower at least once in their lives. Just walking around the shadows and shimmers of its base gives me a shiver of a thrill even now.
For the best views of the tower, though you have two main option. The first is to head to the pretty area of Trocadero across the Seine. The second is to head to the Tour Montparnasse. This is one of the ugliest towers in Paris, if not the world, but it has a sky high restaurant and bar with great views of the Eiffel Tower at sunset.
An Evening in Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge
If you're visiting in winter when the evening darkness arrives early, then I'd suggest skipping the Paris Mosque in the morning and heading to Montmartre instead to catch the daylight.
However, at all other times of year, head to Montmartre in the late afternoon and early evening and relax and make the most of this beautiful, beautiful area.
The white tulip dome of the Sacre Coeur dazzles in its own right but then turn around to see one of the best views in Paris spread out before you.
By day, postcard-pretty Montmartre often throngs with caricaturists and crowds but by the evening, the crowd thins and the cosy cafes and bistros welcome diners with enthusiasm anew.
The Moulin Rouge lives close to Montmartre, its striking red windmill lights bright in the sky. Despite the poetic references throughout history, I've always found it a little seedy. So I'd suggest just walking by to see the windmill - and then to keep on walking.
Day Three Paris Itinerary: Versailles
Don't make the same mistake as me and wait for too long to see Versailles! Yes, it's a day trip from Paris but it's a short and easy hour long journey on the RER train to Versailles-Château – Rive Gauche.
The Palace of Versailles is, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it seems as though it should be more than one. It is so vast and so ornate. Don't miss the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Opera and the chambers of Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake indeed...
Ideally, leave yourself an entire day to explore and understand Versailles and her gardens. A visit here really does leave you with a much better idea of France's history, view of herself and place in the world.
Where to eat in Paris? Some Unique Ideas
- At Bouillon Chartier, 59 boulevard du Montparnasse, the dining room is full of Art Nouveau charm, a vast space with high ceilings, soaring mirrors, brass rails, and a gallery with carved balustrades. Along the walls are wooden armouries with small, numbered drawers where regulars once stored their couverts, or silverware and napkins; this is the place old Paris comes to life, and the food is good too.
- Lunch at Luxembourg Gardens. Grab a baguette to take away and enjoy your lunch on the park benches of this 17th-century garden.
Day Trips from Paris for Your 4 Day Paris Itinerary
If you’re adventurous and energetic you can conquer the main sights in three days and dedicate the fourth to trips outside Paris.
Perhaps no family trip to Paris would be complete without visiting Disneyland Paris. Situated just outside the city, access is possible by car, train and shuttle bus.
Disneyland is as you would expect it to be: just like the American version but perhaps with a little more panache.
The Palace of Fontainebleau
Paris is full of royal palaces but this one homed one iconic Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1812 Pope Pius VII was held prisoner at Fontainebleau, but ‘prisoner’ was a misleading term, as Napoleon gave the Pope a lavish apartment in which to spend his last years.
In 1814 Napoleon was stripped of his right to live in Fontainebleau as part of the 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau and Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba.
- To reach Fontainebleau, take a Transilien train from Gare de Lyon heading towards Migennes, Montargis or Montereau. The journey is straightforward and should take around 40 minutes.
Where to Stay in Paris
I've been lucky to stay with friends in Paris but here are suggestions from locals:
- Paris has so many beautiful hotels and luxurious houses available for your stay. Still, we thought we might suggest La Réserve Paris Apartments in the Avenue d’Eylau. Offered as a luxury stay by Mr and Mrs Smith, referred to as millionaire Pied-à-Terre, this apartment building has a view of the Eiffel tower and the right bank.
- This part of Paris is lovely, similar to Chiswick in London or Greenwich Village in New York; a local feel while having beautiful tree-lined streets and fabulous restaurants.
- While the Réserve Paris Apartments are lovely, if you would like something less conservative but still gorgeous how about Hôtel du Continent at 30, rue du Mont Thabor?
- The Hotel is designed by the famous couturier and designer Christian Lacroix. The Hôtel du Continent consists of six floors; the design is about the world and features a continent floor by level. Ask for a room on the Arctic floor. A little crazy but also lovely.
- If you want a grand hotel stay at The Ritz Paris a famous 5-star hotel popular with film stars and celebrities alike. Just remember you won’t be allowed in without a tie.
However, if all of those options seem out of reach, check out this guide to the best hostels in Paris for budget options.
Travel Restrictions for Paris
At the time of writing, France has been added to the UK quarantine list meaning if you choose to travel now, you may have to self isolate for two weeks when you return to the UK. Always check the latest recommendations before you book or travel and make sure that they apply to the country you plan to return to.
Flying with a Private Charter Company
Inside sources say this:
"As the new reality of life sets in, we understand that you will want to know that you and your family or colleagues are correctly looked after and that the risk of infection remains minimised.
"By flying with a private charter company, be assured that several measures have been put in place to maximise protection and limit the transmission of COVID-19.
"Operators, airport staff and aircraft crew, are following the strictest guidelines wherever possible. The benefit to passengers and the essential team is that they can avoid crowds in airports as they go through a separate terminal for private charter.
"Security controls at private jet terminals are quick and effective, meaning less time in the airport and more time at your destination."
More on Travel in France
More on Travel in Paris
We hope you get to spend at least 4 days in Paris, but if you're short on time, you may be interested in our weekend Paris itinerary instead. We hate tacky souvenirs, but as you'd imagine, France offers something a little more chic in terms of the souvenirs you can find in Paris. Finally, have you seen and done everything we've mentioned here? Then it's time to check out our guide to unusual things to do in Paris here.