Travel Guide: 4 Days in Paris
Travel Stories from Compass & Quill
I couldn’t contain the onslaught of emotions coursing through me as I sat on the runway at Logan International Airport in August 2014. I was excited for my first Transatlantic trip. Nervous I wouldn’t know how to get around a foreign country since I couldn’t really speak the language. Exhausted because I took muscle relaxers (I can never sleep on planes despite it being an overnight flight). And hopeful it would be everything I’d dreamed of.
For my first trip to Europe, I headed to Paris and Rome. At the time, I had been living in Boston and took advantage of direct flights from the USA to Europe, which I now miss desperately living in Charleston (seriously, my trip to Prague last May took 18 hours and had two stopovers).
Thankfully, I can say it was perfect. For once, my expectations weren’t so high that the real thing couldn’t live up to it. I lived in the moment and took it for what it was, and I loved it.
I know a lot of people are obsessed with Paris, but some have mixed feelings. For me, it solidified my desire to explore far and wide. To immerse myself in new cultures. To learn the way of life somewhere else.
When you’re stuck in your day-to-day, you sometimes forget there’s a whole world out there where you can discover new parts of yourself. It was this trip I realized I can grow and change as a person. Whether I spend one hour or one month somewhere, letting go and embracing all there is elsewhere showed me there's so much more room to evolve.
Anyhoot, enough with the deep thoughts. You’re here for the tips and an easy guide, right? Let’s get to it then.
First, a few quick tips.
I stayed at Hôtel Duminy Vendôme which was walkable to many major tourist attractions. For ones a little further, the metro station was close by.
If you fly into Charles de Gaulle Airport, the trains will take you right into the city center from the airport. Makes it very easy (and cost effective) to get to your hotel!
Also, grab yourself a Museum Pass. If you plan to go to major tourist attractions, this can save you money and cut down time you’d need to wait in line for each place. You can buy them online ahead of time or grab them at one of their partners once you get to Paris.
4-Day Guide to Paris
Get your bearings.
Explore one of the many cafés for breakfast or lunch. Paris is great for wandering, and you’ll often stumble upon a cute café with delectable pastries, coffees, wines, charcuterie, and cheeses. Need help finding top-rated cafés close to your hotel? Check out this list here.
Stroll through Jardin des Tuileries. If you need a minute to unwind from all the travel craziness, consider taking a breather or a picnic here. The garden is a beautiful oasis of flowers and statues.
Nearby the gardens is the Palais-Royal. This arcade of shops also boasts gorgeous architecture and a courtyard.
Next, make your way to Avenue des Champs-Élysées for shopping or a bite to eat. Pause for a photo op at the Fontaine des Mers.
Stop at the Arc Du Tromp. Avenue des Champs-Élysées leads down to this iconic arc. The traffic to get to it can be a bit scary, but don’t worry! There’s an underground tunnel that allows you to cross under the busy roundabout with no problem. (I only found out about that after I played a dangerous game of Frogger).
Take advantage of how walkable the city is and explore a place for dinner, but be sure to stop and get a view of the Eiffel Tower at night. If you time it right, you can see it sparkle. For 5 minutes every hour on the hour, you can see this glittery show.
Make it a day of museums!
Grab yourself some breakfast and chocolate chaud at the famed Angelina Paris. This restaurant is extremely popular, so make a reservation!
Take your time wandering the Louvre. As the world’s largest art museum, you can explore the endless collections for hours. Don’t forget to check out the Mona Lisa! (FYI, the painting is smaller than expected, so you may need to squeeze through the crowd to get a good photo).
Next, get your fill of art at the Musée d'Orsay. Famous artists are featured here, including some of Vincent van Gogh’s well-known paintings.
Still want to see more artwork? Then pop over to Musée de l'Orangerie for impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.
A quick (and cheap) 40ish-minute train ride from Paris will land you in the heart of Versailles. Here, tour the massive and stunning Palace of Versailles where you can see the famed Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartments, and more.
Be sure to check out the gardens at Versailles before you leave. This expansive garden features walking paths through breathtaking landscaped sections peppered with unique, historic, and beautiful statues.
Back in Paris, walk along the ornate and extravagant Pont Alexandre III bridge and get a bird’s-eye view of the Seine River.
Rather be in the thick of things? Then walk along the Seine River and enjoy the vendors, restaurants, and boat rides. I loved the book and photography vendors and could kick myself for not getting something to take home!
Looking for a little fun? Stop by the Moulin Rouge for a cabaret show.
See Paris from above.
Can you really visit Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower? Stop here and take the elevator to the top where you can grab yourself a glass of champagne and look out to the city below.
As you wander back from the Eiffel Tower, stop by Lenôtre to get your fill of macarons, eclairs, and other confections. (I still dream about their café eclairs even six years later).
If you still want to see gorgeous architecture and another view of Paris, consider Sacré-Cœur. This basilica is simply impressive!
Want to see more grand buildings? Go to the Palais Garnier. This performance hall houses a number of performances, but the building itself could steal the show. Look up! The ceilings are a work of art too.
If you’re looking for something quaint or want to snag a book for your trip home, stop at Shakespeare & Co. How cute is the storefront?
Worked up an appetite? Stop at Au Vieux Paris. Not only is the outside absolutely charming, but it’s noted as a top restaurant in Paris.
Honestly, there’s so much to explore in Paris and simply wandering around can make you stumble upon something interesting off the beaten path.
My parting tip for you is to give yourself enough free time to explore. Although these tourist attractions are a must-see, sometimes the best moments were spent just strolling and stopping in places.
About Compass & Quill:
Travel inspires many of my stories, opening me up to a world of new possibilities and perspectives. So, I'm sharing my travel stories here.
Travel is an opportunity to think bigger and find our place in the world. This blog is meant to inspire you to look beyond beautiful photos that make your heart race and consider what your story will be once you arrive.
Let's explore. Follow me on Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look at all my adventures!