How to spend 4 days in Paris

I have been lucky enough to visit Paris twice so far in my adult life, once with a former boyfriend and once with a group of my best friends. Both were quite different experiences, so I’ve put together a rundown of all of these experiences combined. Hopefully, this will give you some inspiration for your own trip to the most romantic capital in Europe, Paris!

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Important Notes

    • Visa – Visit the official website of France to check if you need a visa here.
    • Immunisations – some are required – check out my go-to website for up to date information: www.nathnac.net
    • Safety – always keep up to date with your local foreign travel advice service for relevant news and information. I felt completely safe in Paris, although adopted usual common sense when in any major city, being mindful of my belongings and whereabouts.
    • Currency – Euro
    • Language – French

Getting there

Flight

When I visited Paris with friends we opted for a low-cost airline. Our primary reason for travelling to Paris was actually to visit Disneyland! As you might expect a large proportion of our small budget was taken up by our park tickets and accommodation so securing a cheap flight was great. Plus it’s just over an hour from London to Paris (Charles De Gaulle) so we weren’t at all fussy about our mode of transport. For the best flight deals, I always check Sky Scanner to compare different airlines, dates and times. So if you’re planning your trip definitely check out Sky Scanner!



Euro Star

The second time I visited with a former boyfriend we instead opted to try out the Euro Star. Which was so easy. As we lived just outside London we just took the train up to Kings Cross St Pancras. We did actually have to do this the night before our trip and stay in London as our Euro Star train to Paris was so early in the morning. This obviously did add an additional cost to the entire trip. Coming home was fine in the evening though and we could get a train straight from Paris, to London to home! The trains are pretty comfortable from London, and the journey is just over 2 hours.


So which was better? Well, there’s positives and negatives to both. Euro Star is a great option if you have a fear of flying, although you won’t get over that fear of flying by avoiding it! There’s less hanging around with boarding the Euro Star than there is usually at an airport. The journey on the Eurostar is twice as long as flying. Price wise – it’s really difficult to call and totally depends on when you’re going and any deals available. It’s probably worth checking out both options.

Where to stay

During my stay with friends, we visited Paris during the day when we first arrived and then headed over to Disneyland Paris. We opted to stay in one of the more affordable hotel options on offer – Explorers Hotel but had a comfortable time here. Aside from the freezing cold shower which never actually warmed up during our stay!



For my second visit, it was a surprise for my former boyfriend (I know thoughtful aren’t I – although we did split up not much longer after). I had purchased tickets for us to see The Moulin Rouge, with the film adaptation being one of his favourites, I thought he would appreciate the real deal. So I chose a hotel nearby, in the Montmartre district – Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur. The hotel, part of the Mercure chain was very comfortable and the interiors were beautifully decorated. It’s situated just a stone’s throw from the Moulin Rouge, with several metro stations nearby.

Getting around

It is so easy to get around Paris. The main modes of transport include the great Metro System, and of course walking around and soaking it all in. As well as the very fun Cycle Rickshaws! The Paris Metro is made up of 300 stations on 16 lines covering the 10x10km area of central Paris. Similar to that of New York each line is simply numbered. It’s really easy to get around using the Metro, as well as reasonably priced. For more information around maps, ticketing and timetables visit the website Paris by Train. Obviously, it’s always lovely wandering around a city, but Paris, in particular, has some beautiful avenues and streets to walk along. One of which is the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. It’s lined with shops and restaurants and makes for a nice wander to and from these points of interest.

Cycle Rickshaw in Paris
Cycle Rickshaw in Paris

I wouldn’t ordinarily use the cycle rickshaws on offer in cities as it’s usually more affordable to use public transport or walk. However, it was a lot of fun on this occasion and very much needed! In this photo, we had just arrived in Paris. Our flight was extremely early in the morning and I had a family party the previous night, which meant I had quite a few drinks, and then didn’t sleep, and started to subsequently crash during the day. A few of my friends were also in the same position! Hence the rickshaws to ferry us around and the dark glasses! Although it didn’t seem to dampen our spirits as we raced around Paris!



Eiffel Tower

There are lots of ways to experience the iconic Eiffel Tower, and there’s no right way it’s whatever suits you. So most obvious, visit the park it is situated in, and marvel at its beauty from the ground up. The second time I visited Paris this was enough. I had already been up to the top, and there are often long queues and quite a bit of exercise involved climbing 57 metres worth of stairs.

There are three levels in total in the Eiffel Tower, the first floor, second floor and the top floor. You can purchase different tickets depending on how high you would like to go and how brave you are! Everyone will need to use the stairs up to the first floor which is around 57 metres. After that, however, you’ll be glad to know there are lifts up to the second and top floor. You can purchase tickets depending on how far up you would like to go and by stairs or lift.

When I visited with friends we opted to visit the top floor of the Eiffel Tower. It’s not for the faint-hearted. One of my friends who does suffer from a fear of heights, was feeling particularly brave when we decided what tickets to purchase had quite a tough time, acclimatising to the height but she got there in the end. It can also be extremely windy, as of course its 276 metres high at the top, but my goodness you will be rewarded with spectacular views! Also, there’s a Champagne Bar at the top – surely that’s reason enough? For more information on ticket prices, opening times and how to get their visit the Tour Eiffel website here.



La Grande Roue

The Ferris wheel is one of the biggest and most famous Ferris wheels in the world. It was situated at the start of the Champs Elysees, at the Place de la Concorde for almost half a decade. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to see or ride the wheel in Paris anymore. The Ferris wheel has now been dismantled and is making its way around Europe to other cities. For more information visit the La Grand Roue website here.

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Arc De Triomphe De l’Etoile (Charles De Gaulle)

There are actually a total of 8 famous Arches in Paris. Two of which I was lucky enough to see. The most famous though has got to be the Arc De Triumph De l’Etoile, situated at the western end of the Champs Elysees. This particular arch was built between 1806 and 1836. It pays homage to the soldiers who fought and died for France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. You can also purchase tickets and go inside this arch. Go right to the top and you will see amazing views all across Paris. There are also tour options available, for more information visit the official website here.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Take a leisurely stroll down the Champs Elysees towards the Louvre and you will come across another Arch, the Arc de Triumph du Carrousel. This arch was between 1806-1808 and commemorates Napolean’s victories. It is around half the size of the most famous arch (De l’Etoile) at Charles de Gaulle. As you can see though it is more decorative, using bas reliefs and rose marble.

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Louvre

Any visit to Paris is incomplete without seeing the marvellous Louvre. The Louvre was actually a Royal Residence. When Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, moved to Versailles in the late 17th century, he allowed artists to move in. The Louvre quickly became an artist hub, with artists regularly sharing ideas and collaborating. So the current use of the building as a museum and art gallery actually had its artistic origins much earlier in life. The beautiful pyramid structure, designed by Architect I.M. Pei was later added in 1989 and received a lot of controversies when it was revealed.

As well as the amazing architecture of this monument, it is also home to one of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci. Regrettably, during both of my trips, I only admired the architecture from the outside and did not venture inside (photographs courtesy of my friend who has had the pleasure). I fully intend on returning to Paris soon and paying more attention to the Art galleries and museums on offer in this creative city. For more information on opening times, and ticket prices visit the Louvre website here.



 

Statue of Liberty

Yes, that’s correct there is also a Statue of Liberty in Paris! Probably one of the lesser visited attractions in Paris, the Statue of Liberty should still be on your itinerary! The Statue of Liberty is a replica of the iconic original on Liberty Island in New York. It is of course not as large as the actual statue and stands at just 11.5 metres high. The statue is situated on the southern end of Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island built in the River Seine. The walk along to the Statue and the surrounding area is very calm and relaxed, quite different from the hectic usual sights of the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. If you have some time, and want to escape the hustle and bustle head to the Île aux Cygnes for some downtime, and admire the beautiful statue.



Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame, a quintessential gothic Cathedral is now over 800 years old and is situated in the district of La Cite. The construction of Notre Dame was actually completed over the course of 200 years; starting in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII, it was completed in 1345. The Catholic Cathedral is still actively used today, and every Sunday mass is held here. As well as the Cathedral being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it also became infamous thanks to Victor Hugos’s Novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, published in 1831, which was later adapted into a Disney Movie in 1996 – a childhood favourite of mine!

The top of the Notre Dame also serves as another sightseeing spot, and an opportunity to see the gargoyles up close! You should be prepared however to climb the 140 steps up the staircase to the bell tower, and panoramic terrace! For more information visit the official website here.

Galeries Lafayette

The Galeries Lafayette was officially inaugurated in 1912. It was meant to be a luxurious bazaar, catering to high flying Parisians and visitors of Paris. There features a majestic dome, providing an abundance of light and charm to infect the surrounding goods on offer. When I visited at Christmas they had installed this beautiful upside down looking Christmas tree, filled with changing colour lights. Even when not visiting during the holidays, the space is quite spectacular. The Galeries Lafayette is now considered a monument representative of the Art Nouveau movement. Not only is it a grand department store, featuring a whopping 96 departments, there is also available, a tea room, reading room and terrace with of course a panoramic view of the city!


Moulin Rouge

Is best known as the birthplace of the signature dance move the ‘can-can’. The Moulin Rouge opened its doors in 1889, sadly, the original house burnt down in 1915, but was rebuilt 10 years later and brought back to life. Over the years, the Moulin Rouge has had stars perform as well as visit to watch shows, including icons such as Elton John, Ringo Star, George Michael, and Salvador Dali to name a few.

Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Smart evening wear is mandatory, and also adds to the whole elegance and grandeur of the evening! If you have an evening free in Paris, then do consider purchasing tickets to this unforgettable historic show, which has been going for over 130 years! For further information visit the Moulin Rouge official website here.

Luxor Obelisk

The Luxor Obelisk measures 23 metres high and is an Ancient Egyptian obelisk standing at the centre of the Place de la Concorde. It was originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt. It was given to France in 1833 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the then ruler of Ottoman Egypt. The Luxor Obelisk’s twin still remains at the Luxor Temple in Egypt.

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Love Lock Bridge at Pont des Arts

So I had two experiences with the love lock bridge. One with my best friends and one with my former boyfriend. So the process was that you would attach a padlock to the wire mesh of the side of the bridge, and then toss the key into the River Seine, locking your love to the city of Paris forever and ever. Romantic right? Well, this all went exactly to plan with my besties and we are all still the best of friends.



When my former boyfriend and I attempted this romantic gesture, however, it didn’t quite go to plan. So we had our padlock, one gifted by my mum which was actually silver diamanté’s, classy I know. We locked it onto the bridge and then proceeded to throw it into the River Seine locking our love in an embrace which would last for all eternity, with the key being hidden in the depths of the Seine. No this did not happen. Instead, we misjudged the throw and it landed on a concrete structure making up part of the bridge. Needless to say, this complete flop pretty much summed up our relationship and it ended some months later.

Unfortunately, due to the popularity of this practice of attaching a padlock to the bridge in Paris, it has had a huge impact on the bridge structures. Concerns have increased over the years around injury to Parisians and visitors from falling fences. As well as damage to the structural integrity of the bridges. It not only affects the Pont Des Arts Bridge, tourists and other visitors then  started attaching padlocks to other bridges in Paris

The city of Paris actually removed 40 tonnes of padlocks from its bridges in 2018, in a bid to deter this convention and restore the bridge’s structural integrity however the practice does still continue, although it is advised against. So now I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat, in the hype of locking love together on the bridges of Paris. Why not take a selfie with any remaining locks and leave it there. My experience goes to show that the romantic gesture is pretty meaningless anyhow!


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Disneyland Paris

Disney Land and Paris share a strong bond. With Paris featuring as a location in several of Disney’s animated films including, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ratatouille, Anastasia and the Aristocats! If you are visiting Disneyland, make time to spend at least a day in Paris itself to see some of the sights. If you are primarily visiting Paris, then treat yourself to a day at Disneyland and become a kid again! It’s very easy to travel between the city and Disneyland. Disney Parks are only a 35 minute trip on the RER A regional train. Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station is just a 2-minute walk from Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park and Disney Village. Oh and get your face painted! Face painting isn’t just for kids you know!

For more detailed information and advice why not check out these useful guides and books – Lonely Planet Paris (Travel Guide), Pocket Rough Guide Paris, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Paris, and Fodor’s Paris 2020 (Full-color Travel Guide).

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Image Earth Travel
Guest

Great post! Haven’t been to Paris since 1985!
Many thanks for stopping by my Travel and Photography blog.

Thoughts of SheryL
Guest

Hi Rachel! Thanks a lot for joining me.
Great blog!

Julia Nokes Matton
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Julia Nokes Matton

very helpful for my upcoming trip, as it is unfortunately only for a day – thank you for all the information on the highlights, which I will make a note of xxx

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[…] letters just in front of the Rijksmuseum. Unfortunately much like the thousands of locks across love lock bridges in Paris, the letters have now been removed. They were originally installed in 2004 as a marketing campaign […]

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trumstravels
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Enjoyed reading about Paris and one day I’ll get there