Do you dream of visiting Paris? Is seeing the Eiffel Tower in person at the top of your travel wishlist? Do you want to experience the romance the city is known for, taste French cheese and wine, and soak in the Parisian culture? Paris is one of the most popular destinations in the world for a good reason. It is a city full of world famous art, delicious food, and romantic scenery around every corner. Follow our 1 week itinerary in Paris to experience as much of the city as possible.
Table of Contents
When to visit Paris
Paris is worth a visit any time of the year, but be prepared for cold weather during the winter. It’s best to visit from April to October, especially if you want to see any of the gardens in and around Paris. June, July, and August are likely to be hot. Try to avoid August if at all possible. It is the hottest month and in European fashion, a lot of the locals are on vacation anyway, so things can be closed. April, May, September, and October will be more mild but could be rainy.
Getting there and away
Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport is a major airport with international connections all over the world. To get into the city, you can take a regional train to Gare du Nord train station, hail a taxi, or arrange a shuttle to your hotel.
Where to stay in Paris
This is a question that could take up an entire post and still boil down to “it depends.” Paris is a big city made up of a bunch of numbered districts. Each has a different feel and different group of people to mingle with. Which one you like will depend on your tastes. Here are some general tips:
Make sure you are near a metro stop rather than any specific site. Most likely everything you want to see will be spread across the city anyway. You might actually be better off avoiding being near the biggest sites like the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysées. Hunt a more local place with a corner store and some nice cafes for a more relaxed trip.
Use Google to research your neighborhood. Use Street View to “wander around” before you book a place. Get an idea if there are cafe’s nearby, exactly how far the metro is and make sure there aren’t a ton of sex shops around. Google Street View can be a few years old in places, so don’t expect it to be exact, but it should give you a feel of the neighborhood. Also zoom in on Google Maps and look for restaurants near your place. Check opening times. We find that the two biggest mistakes of picking a hotel is being too far from transport and not near decent food options.
Marais: This neighborhood has lots of boutiques and a good mix of cultures due to its history as the Jewish quarter. It’s a trendy area with charming streets and cafes, and there are good transport options. The food tour I took was in this area, and I wish I had explored it a little more.
Latin Quarter and Saint Germain: These areas tend to be a little more youthful and trendy, so you’ll find a somewhat younger crowd. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, and clubs and bars if that’s your thing. You’ll see more tourists here than in Marais, but lots of locals live here too. Notre Dame is located nearby.
Ile Saint-Louis: Next to Notre Dame, this small neighborhood is much more central but still full of life and real Parisian charm. It retains a lot of its historic look and feel. This neighborhood is actually an island in the Seine River, and there are plenty of little shops and cafes.
Search and book a Paris hotel here.
Getting around in Paris
Paris is well served by public transportation. You can buy a 10 pack of tickets (called a “Carnet”) which makes each individual journey a little bit cheaper. There are also tickets for one or more days. As with any city, keep an eye on your belongings, especially during peak hours when trains can be extremely crowded.
Some attractions are within walking distance of each other, so it’s always worth looking at a map or running the route on Google Maps first. Plus exploring Paris on foot is a great way to get to know the city.
Looking for insider tips on what to do, where to eat, and how to fit in? Check out this unconventional guidebook to Paris for advice from locals.
How to spend a week in Paris
This is a general itinerary and should be used as a guide and changed to fit your desires. Only you can judge how much you want to take on for your vacation. Swap out one activity for another if something listed here doesn’t interest you. Paris is a big city, which is why it’s worth spending a full week there. Don’t expect to be able to see everything, and be ok with a day of just relaxing at a cafe if that is what you want to do.
Day 1 – Paris food tour
Food tours are our favorite way to begin a trip in a new city because they teach you about the cuisine you’ll be experiencing for the rest of the week as well as give you a look at the city. Often the guide will be able to recommend restaurants for you to try during your visit. Sometimes you’ll even learn about a food you didn’t know existed.
Most food tours are anywhere from 3 to 5 hours and provide enough food to make up for lunch or dinner. Pace yourself so you have enough room to try food at all the different stops along the way.
Read more about the Paris food tour I took here. There is a list of food tours on that post for you to read through and pick the best one for you.
Day 2 – Eiffel Tower and Paris sightseeing
Once you have an idea of the food, get the big sights out of the way:
Let’s face it, the Eiffel Tower is probably #1 on your must-see list for Paris. Get there early in the morning to try to beat the crowds, and definitely book your tickets ahead to save time and your sanity.
After you’ve had your fill of the gorgeous views of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, explore other big sights. Check out Notre Dame Cathedral, considered one of the earliest and finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It is also famous for the part it plays in the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The Arc de Triomphe is another recognizable symbol of Paris, and of France, that you don’t want to miss. You can climb to the top for another interesting view of the city from above. It also sits in the middle of an impressive roundabout at one of the biggest intersections in the world. Don’t try to cross in front of traffic to get to the Arc. Take the underground tunnel on Avenue de la Grande Armee. More info here.
Day 3 – Loire Valley Castle Day-trip
Some of Europe’s most beautiful castles can be found in the Loire Valley. Luckily the region is within day trip distance from Paris. You could base yourself in one of the towns in the area (like the town of Tours) but for many people, there’s an appeal in taking a day trip from Paris instead of having to pack up and move hotels.
Chateau Chambord and Chateau Chenonceau are two of the more famous castles in the region, so they were at the top of my list when I planned my Paris trip. I signed up for this tour, and you can read my full review of the Loire Valley castles and wine tour here.
Day 4 – Museums and Moulin Rouge
Paris is chock full of museums, the most famous being the Louvre. Since it’s such a big museum, the largest in the world actually, check out the official website here where you can find visitor trails, interactive floor plans and more information to help you plan your visit. Remember that a popular attraction such as this also comes with long lines, and booking a skip-the-line ticket can be well worth it.
You could spend the whole day (or several days really) in the Louvre and not see everything, but if you’re interested in other museums, Paris has you covered. If you plan on visiting several museums, add up the cost of the admission fees, see if the ones you want to see are on the list of 50 or so on the museum pass, and decide if buying a 2 day museum pass including skip-the-line access is worth it for you. Here are a few other fantastic museums to visit in Paris:
- Musée d’Orsay
- Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
- National Museum of Modern Art
- National Medieval Museum/Cluny Museum (site in French)
- Rodin Museum
After a day of cultural exploration at the museums, change gears and go see a show at Moulin Rouge in the evening. More than just dancing, the Moulin Rouge really knows how to entertain. Check out my review of the cabaret show at Moulin Rouge here.
Day 5 – Montmarte
You were out late last night, feel free to sleep in a little today.
When you are ready to see things again head up to the Montmarte neighborhood where you’ll find the gorgeous Basilique du Sacré Cœur. This is also a great place to view the city due to the higher ground. Montmarte is a neighborhood known for artists and bohemian life that has gradually become too expensive for them. Films like Amelie and Moulin Rogue take place in this area. Even though the peddlers of souvenirs cluster around the white bulk Sacré Cœur and a few of the squares, the neighborhood has enough winding back streets to explore if you want a bit more peace.
Definitely take a map to do your wandering. If you don’t fancy walking all the way up, there is a cable car that heads directly to the foot of the cathedral that costs only a metro ticket. From there you can wander leisurely through the neighborhood and enjoy the atmosphere. There are plenty of cafes in this area for a relaxing lunch. Paris by Mouth has a wonderfully titled list of restaurants that aren’t terrible near Sacré Cœur.
Day 6 – Palace of Versailles and Chartres Cathedral
The Palace of Versailles is an impressive palace in terms of size and detail of the decorations and artwork. It was originally built as a hunting lodge in the 1600s, but over the years it was expanded and renovated and eventually it became the royal palace. It also has gardens so gorgeous they rival the palace itself.
You can do the day trip on your own with public transport, but if you want an easier day you can also book a Versailles day tour from Paris, which gets you skip-the-line access, transportation to and from Paris, and an informative guide throughout the palace. If you choose the option that starts from Versailles, you can choose to visit Chartres Cathedral before or after on your own.
While researching tours of Chartres, I came across Malcolm Miller, who is very highly recommended as one of the best tour guides of the cathedral. He does not take reservations, so sadly when my friend and I got there, it turned out he had a family emergency that day and was not around. My husband Andy took his tour several years ago and agreed that he was fantastic.
Day 7 – Deepen your Paris Experience
Writing an itinerary for Paris that fits every person is hard, nearly impossible. Some people will want to spend days in art museums and wandering the galleries. Others might just want to spend their week in small plazas sipping coffee or wine and watching people. Still others might crave a week jammed with activities, tours, and sights.
Paris is all of these things.
There are certainly things that are so typically Parisian (and French) that it would be shame to miss them. The first days of this itinerary cover a lot of them. Day 7 is the day that you should lean into your interests and find out what Paris has to offer. As with all of the itineraries on Travel Made Simple, this 1 week itinerary in Paris gives you a solid start to planning your trip. Modify it as you see fit.
Check out the list on day 4 for museums. If you just like the outsides, a lot of the museums were built in a time where large gardens and beautiful buildings were in vogue. Walking the gardens with a picnic can give you a wonderful relaxing day as well.
Head underground for some offbeats tours
Not the subways, but really underground. There are catacombs in Paris that can be explored (and often have long lines).
If you are not done with being under ground, you can actually tour the sewers in Paris. It sounds kind of smelly, but they were pretty innovative several hundred years ago when they were built. Definitely not on the normal tourist track.
Check out Marché d’Aligre
Not always on the sightseeing trail, markets can be a wonderful way to see a more local side of town. The Marche d’Aligre is open every day except Monday. The main market is in a covered building for architecture buffs and for those days when it rains. It can be a great stop to load up for a picnic as well. Here is a guide to experiencing the market.
Andy and I really like food tours. Given an extra day, we would probably hunt out another one. They are usually smaller groups and have history mixed with the tasty bits. Paris has a bunch of different foods from chocolate, to croissants, to wine, to cheese, to neighborhood wanders. I reviewed the tour I took here and prepared a list of options if this is your thing.
Did we leave anything out? What else would you include on a 1 week itinerary in Paris?
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