My husband and I recently completed a French Food Journey in France, including 4 days in Paris. I’ve got a four-day itinerary for getting the most of Paris while living like a Parisian and enjoying the little things along the way. While you might not follow this guide 100 percent, you will find some great inspiration for what to do with 4 days in Paris.
If you are interested in visiting Normandy and its WWII sites, we shared our experience staying in Bayeux, France and touring the area. If you enjoy wine, learn more about our day in Beaune, France in the Burgundy region.
What To Do With 4 days in Paris – Day 1
You’ve just landed in Paris with just a few days to see and do and eat. How do you begin?
Start by dropping off your luggage at the hotel or rental, and go ahead and discover the area where you’re staying. You’re most likely exhausted from traveling so a huge walk or museum might not be right for the day.
You might not be too hungry, so I recommend taking a lighter lunch of a Jambon Buerre (ham and butter sandwich on a baguette) or stop to buy some beautiful pastries in the area around your hotel. Do some shopping, get a coffee (café in French), refresh yourself while getting immersed in the city.
Shopping in Paris
Shopping is great in Paris in almost every arrondissement. Weave your way through the shops, stopping to greet all the shop owners with a Bonjour.
My favorite food is chocolate so the huge number of chocolate shops dotted throughout the city. In the 9th arrondissement, you’ll find A la Mere de Famille, or in the 5th arrondissement is Maison Georges Larnicol. Both have fantastic assortments of treats to eat along the way or to take home.
Secondhand Consignment Shops
One of Paris’s great shopping adventures is the vast number of high-end secondhand or consignment shops. With a little bit of effort and patience, you might find a new-to-you purse, shoes or dress at a great deal.
When you start to get tired, stop for a café (expresso), café crème (expresso with lots of cream) or a cappuccino. Sit outside and watch the locals, enjoy a dessert, and just bask in the French culture all around you.
Markets of Paris
Find an open market to visit such as the Marche des Enfants Rouges in the 3rd arrondissement where you’ll find beautiful vegetables, tons of cheeses and more.
Classic Car Tour
Then, I recommend scheduling a tour for the first evening of your trip, a tour where you can see a lot in a short amount of time while enjoying the comforts of a car. This may help you pick out a few destinations that you want to visit later in your trip to explore more extensively.
We enjoyed a three-hour Classic Citroen Car. The driver takes you all around the city, pointing out landmarks, arrondissements, and other points of interest while taking cool pictures along the way.
Traditional French Meal
Afterwards, have the driver drop you off at a restaurant for a traditional French meal with multiple courses.
If you are in or near the 17th arrondissement, try out Le Refuge des Moines for classic French food such as Camembert rôti au lait cru, miel et thym (Baked Camembert cheese with honey and thyme), LE Tartare du Refuge (Beef Tartare) and Soupe à l’oignon (French Onion Soup).
Day 2 Options in Paris
You’ve woken up refreshed, and it’s time to do some sightseeing. Don’t be afraid to venture out from the neighborhood you are staying in. The metro system in Paris is easy to use with a bit of research ahead of time.
First thing in the morning, head over to Ile de la Cite to visit Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame.
At Sainte Chapelle, you’ll see a Gothic style chapel with beautiful stain-glass windows. When we visited, you had to have your tickets pre-purchased (for a specific time) to even get close to the building.
Following your visit to Sainte Chapelle, a short walk away is Notre Dame.
While the historic church is still closed from the devastating fire, there’s a barricade surrounding the church with pictures of the fire and renovations. It’s worth a stop to see how much effort is going into the restoration.
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
Cross the Seine from Notre Dame to visit Shakespeare and Company, an English bookstore with a live-in kitty cat that you can visit while perusing for a new book.
I found a wonderful French inspired casserole cookbook while I was there, but there’s all genres to look through including a kids-corner if you’re traveling with your family.
At this point there are two amazing directions you could go.
Leisurely walk along Blvd. Sainte Germain for cafes, shopping and much more.
Walk along the Seine stopping to shop at Bouquinistes who sell old books and such. Cross one of several beautiful bridges including the most famous Pont Alexander III where the movie Midnight in Paris ends.
Bistro des Augustins
If you start to work up an appetite, stop at my favorite little bistro for steaming hot, cheesy gratins. Bistro des Augustins has outdoor or indoor seating, and is a great place to drink too much wine and eat too much delicious food.
I loved the food so much, that I recreated their gratins at home. Making this classic French gratin recipe is much easier than one might think.
At this point, you’ve got about half a day to go. If you’ve got enough energy, this is the great point to go one of two directions – the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.
With there being so much info about these two places, we’ll leave that up to you!
Day 3 Paris Itinerary
Visit the area of Montmartre. This area in the 20th arrondissement, sits on the highest hill in Paris. Montmartre means hill of martyrs, stemming from St. Denis, a martyr who was beheaded here in 250 AD.
At the top of Montmartre sits the Basilica Sacre Coeur. This beautiful church is the 2nd most visited church in the world.
The great news is that it’s free to get in and walk along the beautiful chapels surrounding the altar. It’s worth it to pay a few dollars to climb up the spiral stairs to the dome overlooking Paris. I highly recommend attending one of the many masses each day at the Basilica Sacre Coeur.
Note: The steps of Sacre Coeur are a known place where scam-artists congregate. A group of men are known to grab the wrists of tourists, place a bracelet and then demand payment. They can be aggressive. Keep your hands in your pockets, and loudly say Non or No when approached.
Place du Tetre
For a second stop, a couple blocks over from the basilica sits Place du Tertre, a plaza or square where artists congregate. This is a fun place to sit to have your portrait drawn or painted, or have a little fun and get a caricature drawn of yourself.
My husband and I had ours drawn for 40 Euros, and it’s a life-long memento to take home. You can also buy a 4 Euro cardboard tube to take your drawing home in. Be sure to come to an agreement on the price before the artists start drawing.
For lunch, try out Le Cabanon de la Butte. It’s a tiny little restaurant with the most amazing Beef Bourguignon. It’s served in a little pot with mashed potatoes and feel free to dip all the baguette in the leftover juices. The duck (canard) in a sweet morello cherry sauce is also delectable. Reservations are recommended!
After doing some great (and inexpensive) souvenir shopping along the bottom of the hill, take a scenic walk down Rue des Martyrs which has all kinds of great shopping along the way. You can even stop at Breizh Café for some crepes.
The great news is that you’re heading in the direction of two more amazing stops.
For the most epic department store you’ll ever find, head to Galleries Lafayette. From high end shopping like Louis Vuitton or Chanel to an entire 3rd floor dedicated to second-hand, this store has everything.
The beautiful dome, stain-glass windows and roof-top terrace are worth it even if you don’t spend a dime. Plus, the bathrooms on floor 6 are great! (Always a bonus to find good restrooms while traveling!)
For a dose of Versailles without having to leave the city, check out the Palais Garnier, an opulent Opera House still in use today.
I highly recommend spending the 11 Euros per adult to leisurely walk through the Opera. The pictures are worth it!
It closes at 5 pm so be sure to get there with enough time to see it all.
Day 4 of Ideas to Do in Paris
For your last full day, or maybe half day if you’re flying, consider checking out the area called Le Marais in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.
You can very easily tour this area yourself or try a walking Food Tour.
On our food tour, our lovely guide, Louise, took us into the basement of a Chez Manon boulangerie/ patisserie to see chocolate croissants, baguettes, and chocolates being made. The Le Pepito was the best!
Pates de Fruits
Another gem of a store to stop in the 3rd is called Jacques Genin. Here you’ll find not only chocolate and caramels, but a specialty called pates de fruits which are sugared fruit jelly, almost like a kids gummy but softer and more naturally flavored. I loved these!
If you’ve yet to try a French Macaron, now’s your chance. Stop in one of Pierre Herme’s famous macaron shops right here in the 3rd. You really can’t go to Paris without trying one of these light and airy cookies in an assortment of flavors.
It’s almost time to go home, and you haven’t bought souvenirs for your friends and family. Do not fear. Make a stop at the one of the many Monoprix Grocery Stores located all through Paris. With over 100 locations, you’re sure to find one close to you no matter what arrondissement you’re in.
From French cookies, tea towels, lotions, skincare, you’ll find something for everyone on your list. Check out my list of souvenirs to buy at Monoprix below.
What should I buy at Monoprix?
- Angelina’s Hot Chocolate Mix
- Kinder Candy
- Tea Towels
- Fleur de Sel
- Herbs de Provence
- Les Sables de La Mere Poulard (Pure Butter Biscuits)
- Le Petit Marseillais (soaps)
- Dijon Mustard
- Chocolat (assortment of bars)
- Pain au Lait
Seine River Tour
If you’ve got time and want to squeeze in one last hurrah before leaving Paris, consider taking a river cruise on the Seine. There’s numerous boats at numerous price points ranging from a one-hour daytime cruise to a three-hour evening cruise with a 6-course meal.
I particularly love the evening Seine river cruise to see the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling and Notre Dame in all its glory.
What Can I do in Paris in the Rain?
Don’t let unfavorable weather stop the fun of a day in Paris.
While getting lost in one of the hundreds of museums is at the top of the list, we recommend searching for one of the many passages of Paris. A passage is a covered walkway that will keep you dry and allow you do shop and eat leisurely. Even in great weather, be sure to visit some of the passages.