I guess everybody has written everything fathomable about Paris by now. I do not blame them. It is totally worth raving about, singing about, writing poems about, and obsessing about. I saved up to visit Paris and met my now husband for the first time there. But that is a story for another time.
I literally learnt everything there is to learn about Paris before finally making the trip. It took me 11 years, but I promise you can do it in less. Without further blabbering, I want to put forward my very easy and very cheap itinerary for Paris in 5 Days.
Paris is a metropolitan city with connections from all over the world. There are flights from almost everywhere, daily trains, and buses from European cities. You can check for the cheapest flights at Skyscanner and for buses and trains you can check out Omio.
Getting around in Paris…
The easiest way to get around in Paris is with public transport. Paris has a very complex, effective, and cheap transport system. The tickets can be bought at the machines in metro stations. The more tickets you buy, the cheaper it is. I recommend you buy a substantial amount for your entire stay to avoid wasting time and money. The tickets are valid in the local buses and metros.
Budget Tip: I usually buy an average of 8 tickets per day. That is the optimal amount you need.
Budget Tip: It is a pain to get around in Paris with a car with very expensive or lack of parking. If you are travelling with a car, I suggest you park it at your hotel and use the public transport instead. This will let you enjoy Paris freely.
I reached Paris from Milan by flight late at night, fell asleep the moment I reached my Airbnb and woke up fresh in the morning to witness my first day in Paris. Hell, I was excited!
Day 1: The Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre, Walk along the Seine and the Eiffel Tower
So, I started my day off with one of the most popular attractions in Paris, the Sacré-Cœur basilica.
Sacré-Cœur is a short walk away from the Anver metro station and is located in the Montmartre area. There are a lot of stairs to reach this spot but there is a funicular available if you want to avoid the climb. The normal public transport tickets are valid for this journey.
Sacré-Cœur is one of the most visited places in Paris, not only for the spectacular basilica but also for the most awe-inspiring panoramic views of Paris. It is located in an elevated part of the city which makes it one of the hotspots for a bird's eye view of Paris.
I skipped the funicular and went straight towards the stairs to have a slow and filling experience of the place. As I ascended, I spotted Paris at its very best, took many pictures, all unique and spectacular. The view of the Sacré-Cœur itself from below is a truly humbling experience.
After reaching the top, I went inside the basilica, which is free to enter. It was truly inspiring to get inside such a historical building. After getting out, I admired the views from the basilica square and took some pictures. Despite the crowd, everybody gets to take that perfect picture with Paris as the backdrop.
Budget Tip: You can get to the roof of the Sacré-Cœur with a charge of 5 Euros for some amazing views. But since I was on a budget, I decided to skip this. The views from the basilica square are equally stunning so you will not miss much.
I slowly made my way to the Montmartre area which is right next door. I had a bite from a Turkish joint which was delicious and pocket friendly. Restaurants could be expensive in Paris but there are many Turkish joints who serve great food at a great price.
After this, I continued with my tour of Montmartre. This area is filled with shops and restaurants. It is one of the busiest parts of Paris. There are street musicians and artists in every corner. After spending some time exploring the streets, I made my way back to the metro station.
Budget Tip: Montmartre is your best chance to buy souvenirs at an affordable rate. If you want to buy a lot of them, this is your best bet at getting quality stuff for less.
My next stop was going to be anywhere along the river Seine. I had seen innumerable romantic movies where couples sit or walk along the river Seine holding hands and wanted to experience it.
I was amazed when I reached the river side. It was the most wonderful riverside promenade I had ever seen in Europe or elsewhere. I sat at the promenade as time passed by. People were walking, cycling, jogging, sitting or just doing their normal chores as I witnessed one of the most wonderful views.
After walking a bit more, I saw the tip of the Eiffel Tower at a distance. I had originally planned to take a bus to the Eiffel Tower but decided to walk given the amazing views. It was a long walk of around an hour with the most wonderful views. I saw the Louvre at a distance, beautiful bridges, and several other magnificent structures that I did not know the names of as I passed by.
It was almost dark when I reached the Eiffel Tower. Up close it was more beautiful than I had ever imagined. I just stood there, bedazzled as I saw my dream become a reality. There were many people on the grounds around Eiffel Tower, but everyone had the tower to themselves in a way.
In Paris, time just passes by as you enjoy the wonders. I sat at the grounds for an hour or so before it got dark. And then it finally SPARKELLED. I have been dreaming about seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle for the longest time. It is the most magical thing you will ever see. Although it is man-made, it makes you skip a beat of your heart. I sat there for 1 more hour enjoying my second sparkle before calling it a day.
Budget Tip: You can sit as long as you want on the Eiffel Tower grounds free of cost. After dark, it sparkles for around 1 minute every hour. This is probably one of the most cherishable things you will do in Paris for free.
Day 2: The Louvre, Walking tour of Pont des Arts (Love Lock Bridge), Pont de Neuf, Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame
I started the day with some sumptuous croissants and coffee at a café nearby. Today I was going to visit one of the most special museums in the world, the Louvre. I took a bus which dropped me right at the square of the Louvre. The square itself is very picturesque. You can take pictures and admire the Pei's glass pyramid as long as you want before heading in the museum.
Louvre has a ton of history and it will take forever to explore it all. If you have a few pieces that you want to see, make sure you note it down. No matter which time of the day you visit, the Mona Lisa will always be surrounded with a crowd and rightfully so.
I spent a solid 3 hours inside the museum and was content with my first visit. I had seen most of the highlights. You can book the tickets to Louvre from here. It is also included in the Paris Museum Card.
Budget Tip: Download the My Visit to the Louvre app to have a self-guided tour. It is free and informative.
Budget Tip: I bought a Paris Museum Pass for the rest of my stay. A 4 Day card included all the major highlights of Paris along with Versailles Palace. As a bonus, it also included the public transport.
Afterwards, I made my way to Pont des Arts, a bridge on the river Seine. This bridge was famous because lovers across the globe tied locks into it. It was still there on my first visit but recently the locks were removed because the weight was damaging the bridge. Here's a picture for reminder.
I then headed towards the Pont Neuf, another famous bridge. It is the oldest bridge on the Seine and still stands tall in all its glory. The views from here are to die for.
After taking some pictures, I walked towards Sainte-Chapelle which is right next door. This place is wonderous because of its uniqueness. The Sainte-Chapelle has 1113 stunning stained-glass windows adorned with Gothic Architecture. It is truly a must visit. There is an entry fee for this but its free with the Museum Pass.
My next stop was the Notre Dame. The spire of the cathedral was truly one of the defining structures of Paris. It breaks my heart to think it's not the same anymore. On my first visit to Paris, it was still standing tall. I even had a tour of the crypt with my Museum Pass. Although you can't enter it anymore, I think just watching it from outside could be a treat.
This ended my sightseeing for the day. I bought some wine and decided to enjoy the sunset by the river Seine. Oh, what a wonderful evening it was! Thus, ended my second day in Paris.
Day 3: Versailles Palace and more...
My third day in Paris included a trip to the much talked about Versailles Palace. Versailles Palace is not exactly inside Paris but a short train ride away. It is most certainly one of the grandest structures you will ever come across and is a must visit in every trip to Paris.
I started my day early and took a train from Paris to Versailles. It was a short walk from there. The ticket to Versailles Palace is included in the Paris Museum Pass.
The palace has a chapel, the Royal Appartments and Opera, a museum and a splendid hall of mirrors. The pathway inside the palace is very well marked so you don't really need a guide. The castle also hosts a dining room called Grand Couvert which has the King's Table where King Louis XVI had dinner with his family in public everyday.
It truly is a walk through history.
However, the best part of the palace, the gardens, can be accessed at an additional charge. I decided to splurge a little to visit the gardens because it is truly unmissable. The view of the garden from the palace window is one of the most divine sights you will ever see.
The garden is adorned with beautiful trees, fountains, statues, and vases. I took a walk in the garden like the royals would during their time. Beyond the garden, are the grand canal and the park. These are free to enter if you have time. I just admired them from a distance and took a few pictures.
After spending a good 4 hours exploring the palace and the gardens, I took the train back to Paris. Since I still had the entire evening to myself I wasted no time and took a bus to the Eiffel Tower. I bought some snacks and wine and sat at the Eiffel Tower grounds for the rest of the evening enjoying the charm and the sparkle. This is how I ended most of my days in Paris.
Day 4: Musée de l'Orangerie, Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe
My fourth day in Paris started with another museum and a must visit for art lovers, the Musée de l'Orangerie. This museum is strategically located in the Tuileries Gardens at the bank of the Seine just adjacent to the Louvre. It has its own share of history having been a store house, an exam room and later an annex for the Luxembourg Museum.
It hosts impressionist and post-impressionist artwork from masters like Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir and Matisse. But the most awe-inspiring masterpiece you will see here are the paintings of Waterlilies by Claude Monet. These paintings were donated by Monet himself. The size of the paintings and the rooms are awe inspiring and is a must visit on any trip to Paris.
After a satisfying visit, I made my way through the narrow Parisian streets to visit one of the most glamorous streets of Paris, the Champs-Élysées. It is one of the most sophisticated shopping streets in the world. Although it is incredibly expensive, strolling along with the rich and famous is absolutely free and an experience in itself.
A short walk away is the Arc de Triomphe. This is truly one of the highlights of Paris. At the crossing of a busy streets stands a grand structure. You could just stand and admire it for a long long time without getting bored.
I stared at the Arc de Triomphe for a while and decided to climb to the top. The ticket is included in the Paris Museum Pass so I thought of giving it a go. I am so glad I did. As twilight was approaching, I witnessed one of the most magical views of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It was simply a delight to see a sparkling city and the birds' eye view of the Eiffel Tower is a must.
I still had a little bit of the evening left so you already know what I did. Cheese, Wine and Eiffel. Thus ended another perfect day.
Day 5: Tour of the Eiffel Tower and Musée d'Orsay
The last day of my trip was reserved for the most awaited activity in Paris. A tour of the Eiffel Tower. I had already experienced it from outside. Now it was time to see it up close. I had booked my ticket online in advance and after a short wait at the security I was in the premises.
After getting in, it can be a little confusing as there are many queues in different directions. Choose the shortest one. They all lead to the top. After a short wait, I was in the elevator. I had booked the ticket for the top because I really did not want to compromise on this experience.
The ride in the elevator could be overwhelming because of the crowd but it was exciting nevertheless. I decided to get down at the second floor on my way up because I wanted as much time as possible at the top. The view from the second floor is wonderful itself. You could see the grounds, the moving cars and the people admiring the tower. After spending some time, I took another elevator to the top.
This was a long one and the ride is thrilling and wonderful at the same time. As we approached the top, it was as if we had entered another world. You could see the birds' eye view of Paris in the most beautiful sense of the word. The world below seemed so little. It was surreal and magical.
I spent a long time admiring the views, checking what is what in the maps provided. All the tiny buildings and the river Seine seemed like a make-believe kingdom. It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Tip: You can take the stairs up to the second floor, or lifts to the first, second or top floor. The ticket prices vary accordingly. I suggest you buy the summit ticket to have the full experience.
After an overwhelming time, I proceeded to my next stop for the day, the Musée d'Orsay. This museum used to be a railway station, a mailing centre, a film set and was finally turned into a museum.
Located at the bank of the Seine, it is one of the largest art museums in Paris and hosts some of the most prolific painters of all times. You would find some of the most famous paintings in the world by Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cézanne and Seurat, to name a few. It truly is a must visit.
It also hosts a giant clock which is a reminder from when the museum used to be a train station. Plus, it offers a magnificent view. Taking a picture here is a must.
I was mesmerized by all the artwork and the excitement of the day. I still had the last part of the evening before saying goodbye to Paris. I decided to spend it by the Seine with some good old French wine. It was the most perfect evening and trip.
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