Itineraries for Paris - 5 days & 10 days - Paris with Scott

Two Sample Itineraries: 5 Day & 10 Day Trips

The days on these sample itineraries are full.  That is why it is so important to read about the monuments, museums, gardens and sights before you leave.  It will help you revise your Paris List to make your visit the best it can be for you.

Seeing sights takes up a lot of time.  Decide whether you really have a burning desire to see whatever it is, say, Napoleon’s tomb.  If so, great.  If not, you will see the golden-topped tomb from the open top bus tour – and it will be amazing without even going in.  You can’t do it all, and you don’t have to do it all, but you have to do what will make it the best experience in Paris for you.

Keep Your Itineraries Flexible

Obviously, itineraries will change based on your interests and the time you have to spend in Paris.  Keep in mind that in May, June and July, sunset may be as late as between 9:30pm and 10:00pm.  Twilight will be around allowing visits to public parks and walking the Seine late into the evening.  In winter, the sun may set as early as 5:00.  Also, remember August is when many Parisians take a holiday for the month.  You may experience longer lines because there are fewer workers at the sights.

Depending on the actual days you are in Paris and what days the monuments or museums are open, your itinerary will change from these samples.  I find it helps to think in blocks of time.  Try to swap out the blocks of time.  Just make sure things are open on the day you are moving that block to, and make sure they are kind of close to each other.  If you don’t, you may spend your whole day trying to get across town rather than seeing the things on your Paris List.

Five Day Trip

This is a sample itinerary for a 5 day trip to Paris.

Day 1

Travel Day.  Up and at ‘em and to the airport.  See the details at Travel Day.

Try to avoid jet lag and eat your last meal at the appropriate time before leaving the U.S. for your international flight.

Day 2

Arrive in Paris!  See the details of what to expect on Arrival.

Check in at hotel and leave bags.

If you haven’t done so already, write down your hotel name, address and telephone number on a piece of paper and keep it in your satchel.  Take a photo of the front of your hotel with your smart phone.

Walk around the block or up and down the street your hotel is on and notice what it looks like – get your bearings.

If it is lunchtime, have your first meal on Paris time!

Check with your hotel and find the nearest open top bus tour and take a ride to see the best of Paris monuments!  Open Tour is one operator you may want to check out.

Return to the hotel after check-in time, put away your bags and organize yourself in the hotel room.  Take a quick nap if you absolutely must.  Make sure to set your alarm clock to wake up in 30 or 45 minutes before your eyes close.

Walk and stretch your legs, then enjoy an early dinner and go to bed.

Day 3

Morning/breakfast routine.  This is whatever you do or need in the morning – coffee and croissant, orange juice and yogurt, in the room, or standing at a café.

First stop – Musée d’Orsay to see the Beaux-Arts railway station that was converted to one of the most visited museums in Paris.  Venture through the holdings of visual art from 1848-1915.  Be sure to go upstairs and behind the clock face for a great view of Paris.

Then, cross the Seine, stroll through the Tuileries, stop at one of the cafés in the gardens for a relaxing outdoor lunch.

Next, continue onward from the Place de la Concorde to La Madeleine, then up the Boulevard de la Madeleine, which turns into Boulevard des Capucines and to the Opéra Garnier.

After that, go around behind the Opéra and you will see Galeries Lafayette, and to the left, H&M, and a little farther down, Printemps.  Get all of your shopping and ogling of glass ceilings in here, plus go to the rooftop for views.

If you still have strength, go back around to the front of the Opéra and down Avenue de l’Opéra a few blocks to the Place André Malraux. where you will see two fountains on either side of the avenue.  From here you can cross into the Palais Royal, or stop at a café off the Place Colette for some coffee and then into the gardens of the Palais Royal.

Head to the hotel for a rest off your feet for a few minutes.

Have your tickets in hand and go to the Eiffel Tower for an early evening/twilight visit, then off to dinner.

Hit the hay and rest up for tomorrow.

Day 4

Morning/breakfast routine – early.

Take an early (8:30-ish) Métro to Place de la Bastille and see the July Column and the Opéra Bastille.  Next, walk down Rue Saint-Antoine and take a right on Rue de Birague.  You will see an archway ahead of you.  Enter and you will be in the Place des Vosges, the beautiful, and oldest planned square, that Henri IV created in the very early 1600s.

Back track to Rue Saint-Antoine and take a right again (going away from the July Column) to see specialty markets, a Monoprix, butchers, bakers, cheese shops, markets, delicatessens and lots of locals.  This street will turn into the Rue de Rivoli and a little farther down on the left is the Hotel de Ville, or city hall.  It was made famous by a Robert Doisneau photograph.

Take the bridge next to Hotel de Ville and cross the Seine onto the Ile de la Cité.  Continue a block or so and you will be at the towering Notre-Dame de Paris.  Go inside for mind-blowing stained glass and super high Gothic arches.

Unless you want to take a tour of the Opéra Bastille, all of these things, so far, on Day 3, do not require admission, just curiosity.

Take a cab or ride service to the Musée de l’Orangerie.  Go in for a look at Monet’s two rooms of water lilies.  But, do not leave without going downstairs to see the masterpieces collected by Paul Guillaume.  It is an intimate space where you can really see the works of art.

Cross over the Seine at any bridge and take the RER from the Musée d’Orsay station to the Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame station.  Wander in the 6th Arrondisement, see the narrow medieval streets and little shops and make your way to Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots for a little lunch.  Rest and fortify yourself.

Venture back to the Louvre, it should be later in the afternoon by now and maybe fewer visitors.  Take the self-guided Masterpieces Visitor Trail – about an hour from the time you start with the first art work on the trail.  If you finish and feel up to more, look on the map for something of interest and go take a look.  Be mesmerized by the gold of the Egyptians, or the medieval remains of the moat, or look at the French crown jewels in a gilded room.

Make it back to your hotel, put your feet up.  Finally, head out to dinner then back to snooze-ville.

Day 5

Depending on your departure time, you may have to leave early from the hotel to get to the airport.

If not….

Breakfast routine – or skip it and grab a croissant on your upcoming walk.

Find a point of interest close to you and go to it.  Or, the following is a suggested departure day if you have enough time.

Go to the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and sit quietly under the stars painted in the 19th century.  Hardly anyone will be there, except for locals in prayer, so please be considerate and no talking.

Shake a tail feather for the 20 minute walk to the Bell Towers of Notre-Dame de Paris.  If you are leaving from Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can walk straight down Boulevard Saint-Germain (the numbers on the buildings will be getting lower).  Then, take a veering left on Rue Dante (which turns into Rue Lagrange) and cross right over the Seine to the front of Notre-Dame de Paris.   If you are looking at the front of the cathedral, go to the left side and you will see a line (or if you are really early) an iron gate by the tower.  Be there between 9:15 and 9:30 so you can try to be in the first group up.

Watch your step and your head, then from the top of Notre-Dame de Paris, admire the city before you.

When you are back on the ground, go into the cathedral for one more look, or walk around it and see the flying buttresses and the little park in the back.  Or, cross the street, have a coffee in a café and sit in awe of where you just were – the top.

Make your way back to your hotel to collect your bags.  On the way, pick up some pains au chocolat or baguette sandwiches to eat on your way home or while waiting at the airport.

Get your bags, check out and wave good bye to Paris.

 

10 Day Trip to Paris

If you can have two weekends and the week in-between for your visit to Paris, take a look at the following sample itinerary.

Day 1

Travel Day.  Up and at ‘em and to the airport.  See the details at Travel Day.

Try to avoid jet lag and eat your last meal at the appropriate time before leaving the U.S. for your international flight.

Day 2

Arrive in Paris!  See the details of what to expect on Arrival.

Check in at hotel and leave bags.

If you haven’t done so already, write down your hotel name, address and telephone number on a piece of paper and keep it in your satchel.  Take a photo of the front of your hotel with your smart phone.

Walk around the block or up and down the street your hotel is on and notice what it looks like – get your bearings.

If it is lunchtime, have your first meal on Paris time!

Check with your hotel and find the nearest open top bus tour and take a ride to see the best of Paris monuments!

Return to the hotel after check-in time, put away your bags and organize yourself in the hotel room.  Take a quick nap if you absolutely must.  Make sure to set your alarm clock to wake up in 30 or 45 minutes before your eyes close.

Walk and stretch your legs, then enjoy an early dinner and go to bed.

Day 3

Morning/breakfast routine.  This is whatever you do or need in the morning – coffee and croissant, orange juice and yogurt, in the room, or standing at a café.

If you have a bakery near you, collect some baguette sandwiches and drinks.  Then, catch your open top bus and use the second day of your pass today for traveling around Paris.

Ride to the Arc de Triomphe.  Make your way UNDER the roadway to the arch.  Visit, go up, then back under the roadway to one of the benches on the residential side of the roundabout.  Enjoy your pique-pique in awe of the arch.

Jump back on your open top bus, and get off at the Trocadéro.  Maybe have a crêpe if you did not get sandwiches before getting on the bus.  Take in the magnificence of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and the City of Paris.  Watch the fountains, take a photo with your finger on the top of the tower, enjoy!

Next, load onto the bus again and ride to Les Invalides via the Eiffel Tower.  Get off at the Les Invalides stop and go in to see Napoleon’s tomb, the army museum and an interesting gift shop.

Hop a lift again on the bus and ride until you can ride no longer.

Rest up at the hotel and then out to dinner in Paris!

Day 4

Morning/breakfast routine.

Take the Métro to Saint-Michel station.  Find a café along the Seine and across from Notre-Dame de Paris.  Sit in the window seats and look at that cathedral that celebrated its 850th birthday in 2013!

Cross the river and go into the cathedral for mind-blowing stained glass and super high Gothic arches.  Stroll around the outside afterward to see the flying buttresses and the little park in the back.  Lunch?  Maybe a croquet monsieur at Le Vieux Bistro on the side of the cathedral.

Walk the block or so over to Sainte Chapelle.  Get in line for even more mind-blowing stained glass that seems unreal.  Visit under the main chapel for a million fleur-de-lys above your head.

From there, walk to the Cluny Museum (Musée de Cluny – Musée National du Moyen Âge).  Stop at a café on the way for some fortification.  Then, see Roman ruins and medieval masterpieces including the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

Return to the hotel and take a short nap, or rest up for a bit.  Then explore Paris through its food again.  Another dinner – what a drag!!

Day 5

Morning/breakfast routine.

Louvre today.  Get there early – like 30 minutes before opening so you can get in line (even with a museum pass).  Take the self-guided Masterpieces Visitor Trail – about an hour from the time you start with the first art work on the trail.  If you finish and feel up to more, look on the map for something of interest and go take a look.  Be mesmerized by the gold of the Egyptians, or the medieval remains of the moat, or look at the French crown jewels in a gilded room.

Visit the museum shop for souvenirs.

Have lunch at one of the Louvre cafés overlooking the entrance under the pyramid.  Watch the feat of the French to handle so many visitors.

Have a nap back at the hotel.

See what churches may have an organ concert.  If Saint-Eustache is having one, head over early and wander in E. Dehillerin – a culinary shop with anything you or a restaurant may want for serving or cooking.  Also, look across the street at the Bourse – Paris stock exchange.  Then, walk around inside Saint-Eustache and find a seat for the organ concert.

Dinner in the neighborhood and back to your hotel for some zzzzs.

Day 6

Morning/breakfast routine – but early.

Versailles Palace tour in the morning and a very brief walk outside to see the gardens.  If you want to see the gardens and the Grand and Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s little farm, then plan on spending the entire day at Versailles.  You can have lunch at one of the kiosks/restaurants on the grounds.  Or, bring your own pique-nique.

If you spend a half day at Versailles, then maybe have sandwiches and tarts in the room for lunch.  Have a rest.  After, take a cab or ride service to the Musée de l’Orangerie.  Go in for a look at Monet’s two rooms of water lilies.  But, do not leave without going downstairs to see the masterpieces collected by Paul Guillaume.  It is an intimate space where you can really enjoy the works of art.  Now, walk to the Concorde Métro station and ride the green line in the direction of Front Populaire to the Abbesses station (one of the stops for Sacré-Cœur).

If you spent the entire day at Versailles, and feel up to it, then get the Métro at a station near you and ride the Métro to Abbesses station.

The Abbesses station has the early 1900s Hector Guimard designed entrance/exit canopy.  It is very photogenic, so take a selfie.  Then, find the funiculaire, or the stairs, or a taxi and climb to the top of Montmartre.  The steps of Sacré-Cœur are nearby so take in the panoramic views over Paris.  Visit inside the basilica and then walk over to Place du Tertre for the accordion music and artists.

Dinner up on Montmartre?  Or, back down below?  Back from Versailles too late for visiting Sacré-Cœur?  Rest and then dinner.

Day 7

Morning/breakfast routine.

Depending on where you are and what you feel up to, order a cab and drive through Place Vendôme, across the Pont Alexandre III, then over to Musée d’Orsay.

At the Musée d’Orsay see the Beaux-Arts railway station that was converted to one of the most visited museums in Paris.  Venture through the holdings of visual art from 1848-1915.  Be sure to go upstairs and behind the clock face for a great view of Paris.

Cross the Seine and walk in the Tuileries Garden to one of the cafés in the garden.  Enjoy the centuries old garden and lunch at the same time.

Earlier than usual, have a rest back at the hotel.  You still have a lot of the day that will be busy.  Write some postcards or check your email.

This afternoon is when you assess the weather and input one of the following that you may not have had an opportunity to do on Day 6 or Day 8.  See what strikes your fancy – Musée de l’Orangerie, Sacré-Cœur, Père-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise), Picasso Museum (Musée Picasso Paris), the Hunting and Nature Museum (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature), a special exhibit you have read about, or walk the bouquinistes.

By now you will have had lots of practice on the Métro.  So, from wherever you may be, find station near you and travel to the Champ de Mars-Tour-Eiffel station.  Exit the Métro and walk to the Eiffel Tower!  Get your pre-purchased tickets ready and go to the top.  (If you don’t want to go to the top, take a Seine river cruise.)

Come down from on high, or get off the boat and enjoy the evening with dinner.  Then, back to the hotel for much needed rest.

Day 8

Morning/breakfast routine.

After breakfast, take a stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardins du Luxembourg).  Begun in 1612 by Marie de Medici, the garden is extensive.  Even a walk across it will give you a glimpse of fountains, statues, a children’s playground, towering trees, beautiful flower beds and the palace.  Built in the early 1600s, the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg) now serves as the home of French Senate.  Make sure to see the Medici Fountain (la fontaine Médicis) – an enchanting long pool with garlands bordering the sides.

Then, walk up the hill to the Panthéon – a mausoleum for famous and distinguished French citizens who the senate declares “National Heroes.”  Modeled on its Roman namesake, the Parisian temple was built in the late 1700s.  Inside, the main floor is a vast open space crowned with a dome that you can climb into.  Also, from the dome, a copy of Foucault’s pendulum hangs for inspection.  The crypt contains the tombs of the worthies.  Look for Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile Zola and many more.

Next, walk down the hill and take a right on Rue Saint-Jacques.  As you walk several blocks to the Seine, notice you are in an area filled with schools.  Nearer the Seine you will see the aging Gothic back of the church, Saint-Séverin, that was built in the 1200s.  And, before you cross over to the Seine side of the street, take a right.  Shakespeare & Company will be on your right and 50 feet more you will see a little square and the charming Église Saint-Julien-le Pauvre.

Cross to the Seine side and turn left – away from Notre-Dame de Paris.  Walk along the bouquinistes.  Admire with your eyes and only touch after asking the proprietor.  In one block Place Saint-Michel will be on your left.  You are in tourist central, but find something for lunch.  If you walk in one block from the river and back track, the pedestrian street is filled with street food that you can walk and eat, or take back to the park or by the Seine and eat.

You will come back to the bouquinistes, if you are up for browsing.  But after lunch cross onto the Île de la Cité directly across from the Fontaine Saint-Michel.  Nearly all the way to the other side of the island, find the Conciergerie on the left and go in for a visit.  It is a Gothic palace that was turned into a prison that famously held Marie-Antoinette.

Next, stop for coffee or continue surveying the bouquinistes’ stalls.  These stalls continue on both sides of the river and provide a reason to cross the bridges back and forth.  Rather see a museum in a magnificent house?  If you feel up to it, take a 20 minute walk to visit the Picasso Museum (Musée Picasso Paris) or the Hunting and Nature Museum (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature).  Each extraordinary collection is presented in period houses that are museum quality in their own right.

Is the day beautiful and you want to spend it outside?  Take the Métro or a taxi to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise).  Monumental above ground tombs contain the remains of many celebrities in this elegant tree-filled park.  Maps are available at the entrance.

Then, make your way back to the hotel for a rest.  Next, on to dinner and a return to the hotel.  Finally, off to bed.  This is a full day of activity and you need some rest.

Day 9

Morning/breakfast routine.

Visit the Musée Marmottan.  It is a house museum that includes the Monet painting that is said to have begun Impressionism, Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise).  The house is incredible, the art extraordinary.  It is not easy to get to and the closest Métro stop is La Muette station.

From there, cab it to the Rodin Museum.  Have lunch at a café on the street outside or, enter the museum and have lunch under the giant trees in the back.  Another extraordinary house museum with Rodins everywhere.  Outside tour the gardens and marvel at the ancient roses as well as the Rodin sculptures.  Do not miss the gardens on the side of the great lawn because they hide more Rodin sculptures.

Take another cab to the Place des Vosges, the beautiful, and oldest, planned square that Henri IV created in the very early 1600s.  Have a walk around and coffee and crêpes under the arcades.  Exit down the Rue de Birague.  At Rue Saint-Antoine take a right to walk by specialty markets, a Monoprix, butchers, bakers, cheese shops, markets, delicatessens and lots of locals.

Rue Saint-Antoine will become Rue de Rivoli and a little farther down on the left is the Hôtel de Ville, or city hall.  It was made famous by a Robert Doisneau photograph.  Continue walking on the Rue de Rivoli or take the Métro to the Louvre-Rivoli station.  Exit and shop for souvenir along the Rue de Rivoli.

Back to the hotel and rest for bit.

Next, out to dinner, then back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

Day 10

Depending on your departure time, you may have to leave early from the hotel to get to the airport.

If not….

Breakfast routine – or skip it and grab a croissant on your upcoming walk.

Find a point of interest close to you and go to it.  Following is a suggested departure day if you have enough time.

Go to the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and sit quietly under the stars painted in the 19th century.  Hardly anyone will be there, except for locals in prayer, so please be considerate and no talking.

Shake a tail feather for the 20 minute walk to the Bell Towers of Notre-Dame de Paris.  If you are leaving from Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you can walk straight down Boulevard Saint-Germain (the numbers on the buildings will be getting lower).  Then, take a veering left on Rue Dante (which turns into Rue Lagrange) and cross right over the Seine to the front of Notre-Dame de Paris.  If you are looking at the front of the cathedral, go to the left side and you will see a line (or if you are really early) an iron gate by the tower.  Be there between 9:15 and 9:30 so you can try to be in the first group to go up.

Watch your step and your head, then from the top of Notre-Dame de Paris, admire the city before you.

Back on the ground, go into the cathedral for one more look, or walk around it and see the flying buttresses and the little park in the back.  Or, cross the street, have a coffee in a café and sit in awe of where you just were – the top.

Make your way back to your hotel to collect your bags.  On the way, pick up some pains au chocolat or baguette sandwiches to eat on your way home or while waiting at the airport.

Get your bags, check out and wave good bye to Paris.

What is Paris with Scott?

My goal is to inspire you to enjoy the Paris of your dreams. If you are trying to take your first trip to Paris, or if you want to go without an organized tour group, then this blog is for you. If this kind of travel experience is what you are after, follow me and revel in all things Paris.

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