Monday: The Icons
As most of the major museums are closed on Monday, use the day to get acquainted with some of the iconic landmarks of the city. Starting at the Eiffel Tower in the morning, snap the essential touristy shots before all the crowds arrive in the afternoon. If you’re looking to save money, skip going up the tower in favor of better views later on in the trip and just relax and wander around the Champ de Mars, taking in the romantic scenery. If you’re feeling peckish grab a pastry for breakfast at one of Paris’ many excellent boulangeries. For the afternoon hop on one of the Bateaux Parisiens riverboats and view the tower from the water as well. Heading east down the river, the boat guide will give you a little bit of history and information to chew on while checking out some more of the sights. Disembarking at Pont Neuf, walk up to the bridge and onto the Ile de la Cité. The island was the original site for the city of Paris, first settled by a small Gallic tribe as early as 52 AD. On the island you’ll find La Conciergerie and 13th century Sainte-Chapelle, which are both worth a visit. Take a break in-between the two for lunch at Ma Salle à Manger where you can find typical French fare and even try escargot for the quintessential French experience. Sainte-Chapelle will often host classical concerts in the evening so check out their weekly schedule if Chopin or Vivaldi tickles your fancy. Finally, make your way to the southeastern end of the island to visit Notre Dame.
Tuesday: New Impressions of The Old
In the morning, head to the Musée D’Orsay to take in the works of iconic French impressionism. Start on the top floor where the Impressionist gallery is housed and work down. After marveling at the life work of French artists such as Cézanne and Monet, take the afternoon to walk through St-Germain-des-Prés. Pop into classic stores such as Comptoir des Cotonniers or even vintage establishments like The Kilo Shop. Café Procope, one of the oldest restaurants in all of Paris, is in the area and provides an excellent pick me up for those needing a caffeine fix. However, if it’s a nice day consider getting a baguette sandwich to go and sit in the Luxembourg Gardens for a picnic lunch. For dinner, Bateau le Calife or Little Breizh in the area are ideal for a bite.
Wednesday: A Day In Artists’ Shoes
Take a break from galleries and make your way to Montmartre for a free walking tour with Discover Walks or The Culture Fish Tours. The tours are very comprehensive and further detail the inspiration for the Impressionist works viewed in the Musée D’Orsay. Expect to see the Moulin Rouge and Sacré-Cœur on the trip as well. Have lunch in the area as it is filled with delicious gourmet establishments. Try Le Coq Rico or Le Chamarré Montmartre. Fans of the film Amèlie can eat at the Café Deux Moulins as well. In the afternoon, head to the Louvre and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening making your way through one of the world’s most famous art museums. On Wednesdays and Fridays, it is open until 10pm so you will have lots of time to explore. Have dinner in the Marais at Les Enfants Rouges or Le Mary Celeste for French fusion gastronomy and good cocktails.
Thursday: A Day With The Sun King
Leaving from Gare Montparnasse, take the train to Versailles and tour the magnificent palace of The Sun King and its expansive gardens. Spend the majority of the day at Versailles touring the Château, gardens, and Marie Antoinette’s estate as well. On the grounds you’ll find a La Durée boutique and famed cafe Angelina’s. Both are fairly pricey, but they also produce some of the best macarons and desserts in Paris. After Versailles, take the train back to Montparnasse for a laid-back evening. Less than a 10-minute walk from Gare Montparnasse is the Rue du Montparnasse, which sports almost a dozen authentic Breton Crêperies. It will be easy to get your fill of savory buckwheat galettes or sweet crêpes at any of these establishments.
Friday: Day Five in The Fifth
Spend the day exploring the Latin Quarter. Home to some of the oldest scholarly institutions, the area is rich with impressive architecture. Head up the steps of the Panthéon and enter into the 16th century neoclassical mausoleum. After the Pantheon, grab lunch at the Café Le Papillon or Terroir Parisien for wonderful food at a reasonable price. In the afternoon, wander the botanical garden, the Jardin de Plantes and then visit the Grand Mosque of Paris for tea and a snack. If you’re still hungry head to the famed Fromagerie Laurent Dubois to pick up some of the best cheese France has to offer. One of the knowledgeable attendants will help you make a selection based on your tastes, and even vacuum package it for the journey home. For an evening out, walk along on the lively and historic student bar street, Rue Mouffetard. The neighborhood and intersecting streets date back to Neolithic times, and also sport several Roman fountains along the route.
Saturday: Easy Spending
Wake up late on Saturday and start the day at one of Paris’ famed markets. Check out the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen to sift through knick-knacks and original finds. The open-air market also serves food so have a bite while perusing the wares. If you still haven’t had your fill of shopping, the mega center of Forum Les Halles or Rue de Rivoli offer international and local brands. However, a more cultured afternoon calls for a visit to the Pompidou Centre to get a refreshing breath of modern art. Head to the Canal St-Martin for the evening and grab a drink along the canal.
Sunday: Pedestrians Only
On your final day spend the morning at Les Champs Élysées. The area is free of cars on Sundays, making for an incredible view of the Arc de Triomphe. After spending some time people watching and strolling down the wide boulevard, make your way to the 14th arrondissement and head underground to the Catacombs. The spiraling mass tomb is an eerie and fascinating way to spend the day below Paris. Afterwards, head to the Montparnasse Tower and enjoy the panoramic view of the city from 56 stories up. Bid farewell to the city at sunset, grab a glass of champagne in their lounge and watch the great landmarks you’ve visited in the city of Paris come to light.