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Honest Paris Itinerary – 4 days in the City of Lights for First Timers

(Last Updated On: 31/03/2020)

Grab your stripey t-shirts, red berets and join me in this post as I talk you through my experience of visiting Paris for the first time. In this post, I’ll be sharing encounters from my own 4 days in Paris, as well as answering important questions, such as where to visit, where to eat in Paris for a first-time visit and, where to stay in Paris!

In addition, I’ll also be sharing some tips for staying safe in the city of lights and love!

travel tips for visiting Paris for the first time

Is 4 Days in Paris enough for a first-time visit?

Like any big city, you will always find new events, museums to visit and the latest bars and restaurants to visit in Paris, which you may not have visited previously. I’d say 2 days in Paris is enough to see the main tourist attractions, but 4 days in Paris will give you more time to immerse yourself into a Parisian lifestyle.

Paris City of Lights and love

Paris is a big feature on many fashion & travel bloggers Instagram accounts, where you will see whimsical pictures of love, flowers as well as the prettiest brunch locations.

Paris city of love - Red roses under The Eiffel Tower

A romantic city break, Paris has the perfect itinerary for couples. But, is visiting Paris for the first time quite the love story we are led to believe?

my first trip to Paris Soaking up the sunset views of the Eiffel Tower

Adam and I experienced a couple of scary moments during our 4 days in Paris, but I’ll give you more details later on in the post!

How to get to Paris to begin your 4 days in Paris itinerary

We travelled to Paris by plane and flew into Charles De Gaulle airport. We had talked about getting the Eurostar, but as it only takes us 50 minutes to fly to Paris from our local airport, we didn’t see much point in adding travel time to our short weekend away. For those looking to visit Paris for longer than 4 days, there are some benefits taking the Eurostar (no luggage restrictions) and some wonderful day trips from Paris to really make the most of a longer stay. 

I mentioned this is our first time in Paris, though, this statement is a bit of a fib as we have in fact been to Disneyland many years ago. Back then my French was much better, though looking back, we were probably too naive and should have done more research prior to travel. Without prior planning, we took a taxi from Charles De Gaulle to our hotel near Disneyland at a cost of almost €100 and, took the same journey back! What were we thinking!? I didn’t count this experience as our first time in Paris as we didn’t see the Eiffel Tower or any other attractions; most probably because we couldn’t afford it after the taxi journey! But, this guide isn’t about what not to do in Paris…!

If you’re reading this and don’t want to do the same, check out this guide of how to get to from Gard Du Nord to Disneyland Paris by RER. This time we took the train directly from Charles De Gaulle airport to Gare Du Nord (RER B Roissypole train), where we then took the nearest metro to our hotel. Our tickets for the entire journey were at a special anti-pollution rate of 3.80 euros each! It was well worth a short queue at the airport ticket office to get this bargain price!

tips for staying safe on the metro in Paris

In fact, we found the metro a godsend during our weekend break in Paris. It’s cheap to use, convenient and well-manned, with staff always on hand to help with any difficulties. It also gave us a chance to warm up as the weather was – zero degrees when we visited Paris in February and, it was far too cold to walk the distance between some of the main attractions!

Paris Metro billboard sign

Inspired to explore more of France? Read about things to do in Nantes.

Safety on the Metro in Paris

A word of caution: Be careful if you are travelling solo or in small groups on the metro late at night. We were almost approached by two men who had their eyes on my handbag, until another man approached us and guided us away. This was in one of the tunnels inside Gare de l’Est metro station. Luckily, my Kate Spade bag with Olympus Pen camera inside was not stolen and we were both able to get back to the hotel safely. It is definitely something you need to be aware of when travelling on the metro in Paris, particularly as the ticket gates are huge great doors and you do not know who is lurking once your ticket has disappeared and you go through those gates!

Travelling by taxi may well be the better option for travelling in Paris at night!

Staying Safe in Paris

It’s worth checking out places of interest prior to travelling, as this is something we learned the hard way on our first trip to Paris. After emerging from a metro stop near to a cafe I had discovered on Instagram, we quickly found the area was not advisable for lost tourists and we swiftly got on the metro by crossing the other side of the road…

As we discovered, street crime in Paris is not uncommon.

Beautiful architecture in Paris at sunsetPre-planning is key to avoid stumbling across undesirable arrondissement neighbourhoods which may put you at a higher risk of theft.

Visiting The Louvre is one of the most popular things to do in Paris. It’s important to be mindful of ladies asking you to sign a petition for a charity outside. These ladies are very forceful and, from reading online they have the intention of keeping your hands occupied so they can rob your bag and pockets.

Though caution with belongings is always advisable, we found Paris to be quite the hotspot for street crime.

For more information about how to stay safe in Paris and areas to avoid, please see the link below: TripAdvisor: Safety on the Metro

Paris Itinerary 4 Days

The Louvre

We attended the Louvre Museum – home to the Mona Lisa, late on a Saturday afternoon. I’d heard some horror stories about the queues, selfie sticks and crowds inside the Louvre, which was the main reason we opted not to go inside.

The Louvre a must see attraction in Paris

That said, the queues were fairly minimal when we arrived, particularly on the inside entrance, which we would recommend using if only to keep out of the cold.

Downward pyramid inside The Louvre Paris

Interested in modern art forms – check out the street art in Paris.


The inside entrance can be accessed on the left of the pyramids outside, signposted Carousel de Louvre and a selection of restaurants & shops are inside too.

Lights at Carousel de Louvre

As well as viewing the pyramids from the inside, you can also pick up some French macaroons from Ladurée inside Carousel de Louvre.

Colourful Assortment of French Macaroons

Obviously, we couldn’t see the Louvre without taking the iconic shot touching the top of the pyramid…

Me touching the top of the pyramid at The Louvre Paris pictures   Pyramid picture at The Louvre first timers must!

glimpsing and seeing the Louvre for the first timeThe Pyramids of The Louvre Paris

The Eiffel Tower

One of the most iconic and photographed buildings in the world; the Eiffel Tower is a wonder to see.

seeing the The Eiffel Tower for the first time

I have to admit, it is much smaller than I’d imagined. Though, The Eiffel Tower is somewhere you definitely have to see with your own eyes, especially on visiting Paris for the first time.

In the summer months, I can imagine it’s quite nice to have a picnic on the green overlooking The Eiffel Tower. Whilst The Eiffel Tower is always going to be a busy attraction, I would say it’s worth arriving just before sunset. I managed to capture some fantastic shots of the carousel and Eiffel Tower before sundown.

Carousel view of The Eiffel TowerEiffel Tower Carousel at DuskPlaying on the carousel at The Eiffel Tower

To be greeted with a twinkling display of lights at 7 pm for The Eiffel Tower light show. After sundown, the lights twinkle on the hour until midnight and it really is the perfect romantic spot.

Twinkling light show at The Eiffel Tower Paris

The Seine at Sunset

Another benefit of seeing The Eiffel Tower at sunset, is that you also get to see the River Seine at sunset too! It really is the dreamiest outlook and you’ll thank me for this recommendation, I’m sure!

Paris Restaurants with a view of The Eiffel Tower

If you are looking for somewhere incredible to eat on your first visit trip to Paris and want to dine near The Eiffel Tower, Monsieur Bleu not only has fantastic views of The Eiffel Tower; it is one of few restaurants in Paris where it’s acceptable to only pop in for a dessert or nightcap.

Geometric chandalier at Monsieur Bleu ParisEiffel Tower View from Monsieur BleuRead more about Monsieur Bleu and my other Paris food recommendations on my Paris foodie post.

Visit The Champs-Elysees by Bike

European cities are often best explored by bike and Paris is no exception! Whether you are looking to bike along the Seine or bike to Champs-Elysees, you will find plenty of places to bike up and drop off a bike in Paris!

Champ-Elysees is one of the most famous avenues in the world and you won’t want to miss it!

Climb inside The Arc de Triomphe

Honouring those who fought and died in France, The Arc de Triomphe is another famous landmark in Paris.

You may well have seen photos of The Arc de Triomphe, but did you know you can climb inside?

It’s a great place to find out more about France’s history and to get a great view of The Eiffel Tower from the observation deck!

It’s worth buying skip the line tickets for The Arc de Triomphe to beat the queues!

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf is known for its love lock bridge. In the past, Adam and I have purchased various love locks in various cities. It’s something we have liked to do like to do, to leave a token of our love on enjoyable trips. 

*In more recent times, we have learned how these love locks have caused damaged to historical structures and issues in popular European cities. Therefore, this is something we have ceased to do on our recent trips.*

Love Lock Pont Neuf Paris

Me & Adam in Paris Feb 2018

Take a little cake pitstop at Cafe Du Pont Neuf, which not only has a delectable selection of cakes; it’s also a great suntrap to escape the cold weather.

Raspberry cake Cafe du Pont NeufSun trap at Cafe du Pont Neuf

Notre Dame

We had hoped to get to Notre Dame Cathedral for late afternoon to avoid the crowds and to capture some pictures of the gargoyles atop the tower looking out to The Eiffel Tower.   Unfortunately, we had arrived too late to go inside, but seeing Notre Dame aglow at sunset was truly beautiful.

Beautiful Notre Dame Paris at Sunset

The area around Notre Dame appears much safer than some others we had encountered on our trip.

Check out the mesmerising stained glass at Saint-Chapelle

Oh, how I wish I knew about this gem during my 4 day trip to Paris! Saint-Chapelle is located so close to Notre Dame, but people either don’t visit or (like me) didn’t know about it! Saint Chapelle has over 1,000 beautiful stained glass windows on its upper-level.

Be sure to take the stairs up to the main chapel to see some of Paris’ best stained-glass windows!

Where the locals eat in Paris

Located within a couple of minutes walk from Notre Dame is the most quaint, picturesque restaurant.

Au Vieux Paris D'Arcole Restaurant Exterior

In Spring, Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole is adorned with lilac wisteria. Spring or not, it’s a must if you’re visiting Paris and has the most wonderful French dishes, including an extremely delicious French onion soup. If you’re wondering where the locals eat in Paris, you’ll be sure to find plenty of locals dining at Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole!

Heartwarming French Onion Soup with Cheese at Au Vieux Paris D'Arcole Paris

Read about Au Vieux Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole is on my Food in Paris post.

Where to Stay in Paris 

For accommodation in Paris, you really are spoilt for choice, from hostels in Paris to hotels; there are a variety of options available whatever your budget. When It comes to hotels in Paris, I highly recommend staying at The Hoxton Paris

The Hoxton Hotel is within a reasonable walking distance to The Eiffel Tower and all the other main attractions in Paris. First and foremost, The Hoxton Paris has a fantastic vibe to it that appeals to both tourists and French locals.

Hoxton Hotel Paris Interiors

The rooms are also soundproofed and have the dreamiest beds for the ultimate relaxing stay!

Hoxton Hotel Paris Hotel Room Cosy

Rooms at The Hoxton are from £99 and you can read about my stay by clicking here.

What to Wear in Paris & What to pack for 4 days in Paris

The French are known for their chic styling and knowing what to wear in Paris can be a real dilemma!

You may wish to wear the cliché stripey top and red beret, as suggested in the opening to this post. However, you will find the people wearing this attire will generally be tourists capturing this classic French look for their photos!

Instagram spots in Paris near The Eiffel Tower

In terms of style, the French keep their look relatively simple, with dark block colours and neutral tones. Navy and khaki colours appeared to be popular during my visit and, are staples wardrobe colours that can often transcend seasons.

That said, it didn’t stop me taking my Primark heart-shaped bag! Well, it was a few days after Valentine’s Day…

Mucking around at Pont Neuf

As block colours are key, simple styling is ideal and it also makes packing for Paris much easier! I packed two/three basic black t-shirts, a couple of jumpers, a dress and a pair of jeans.

I highly recommend buying The Travel Hack Cabin Case or Travel Hack Backpack to make the use of cabin bag allowance for a trip to Paris. The packing cubes are a godsend too (something I had never thought to use!) Head over to my Travel Hack Backpack Review post to see how I’ve changed my travel style!

Paris in 4 Days for first-timers

We loved our time in Paris and are looking forward to returning with a much clearer idea of what to expect to ensure our safety.

As Audrey Hepburn once said “Paris is always a good idea”, but hopefully after reading this post you will be able to visit for the first time with a good understanding of what to be aware of to ensure an enjoyable stay!

Visiting Paris for the first time and seeing the Sunset at The Eiffel Tower

I hope you found this Paris Itinerary 4 days post helpful and feel assured that you are prepared for visiting Paris for the first time. If so, please can you share this post using the share buttons on the bottom/left-hand side of the screen. Every share helps my blog be seen by a wider audience and helps other travellers like you!

Jaz

xoxo

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Visiting Paris for the first time? Paris is the city of love and light, though knowing what things to do in Paris and more importantly where to eat in Paris for a first time visit can be tricky! Click through to read about what to do in Paris to ensure a great first time Paris itinerary! #Paris #France #paristraveltips #europe #parisfirsttime #paristravelguide #paristodo

Visiting Paris for the first time? Then you'll want to know what to do in Paris in 4 days, where to eat in Paris and all the things to do in the city of light & love! Read my Paris 4 days itinerary for first timers for all my Paris travel tips, including how to stay safe in Paris! #whattoseeinparis #paristravelguide #weekendinparis #parisfirsttime

Visiting Paris for the first time? Paris is the city of love, though a first time trip to Paris isn't always a bed of roses. Read my guide for staying safe in Paris, where to eat in Paris for a first time visit & plenty of Paris travel tips! #Paris #France #parisitinerary #whattodoinparis #paristravelguide

16 Comments

  1. 22/03/2018 / 1:29 pm

    I’ve never spent more than a few hours in Paris as it was a layover, I used the metro but that was at rush hour and it was absolutely awful! I don’t recommend it then lol! Great guide though!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:03 pm

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience too Lorna! Overall, I found the Metro convenient, easy-to-use and well-manned but I think something needs to be done to prevent crimes in the tunnels with greater uses of cameras and security procedures!
      xoxo

  2. 23/03/2018 / 4:11 pm

    I absolutely LOVE your photos in this post ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:05 pm

      Aww thanks Beth! I loved capturing photos in Paris, it really is the most Instagrammable place. I need to return in Spring, I bet it’s even better when the weather is nice! ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  3. Emily
    25/03/2018 / 5:56 pm

    If you plan well, you really can see so much during a short amount of time in Paris. We actually saw everything we wanted to in just one day in the city – the only thing I reckon we missed out on is some classic french food! Love your guides Jasmine – so informative!

    Musings & More

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:05 pm

      Thanks for reading Samantha ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  4. 27/03/2018 / 5:33 am

    Once a bustling village outside Parisโ€™ city walls during the Middle-Ages, Montmartre still retains its village ambiance with small streets, quaint shops, lively restaurants, a tiny vineyard and other fascinating curiosities. Walk in this Paris neighborhood where artists Picasso, Dali and more once did and discover the magic of Montmartre.

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:06 pm

      Thanks for the tips about Montmarte, Annette. I’d love to return and explore this area in detail ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:08 pm

      The metro tunnel incident was an enlightening experience, though I did truly enjoy my time in Paris as a whole. I’d love to return over Spring and at the very least I can say I’ve finally seen the Eiffel Tower! ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      31/03/2018 / 7:09 pm

      Monsieur Bleu has incredible views of the Eiffel Tower and great food too – I would definitely recommend if you return to Paris ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  5. 16/02/2019 / 12:46 pm

    Great guide – one of my fave things about Paris is the twinkling tower at night, simple things! lol. Sad to hear its getting bad for theft etc, when I head back next I’ll been keeping my wits about me for sure… #travellinkup

    • thelifeofasocialbutterfly
      Author
      13/03/2019 / 6:34 pm

      The twinkling lights on The Eiffel Tower really are incredible! I was mesmerised! ๐Ÿ™‚

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