Exploring Paris: The Ideal Travel Duration

how many days to travel in paris

Paris is a city that takes a lifetime to see, but if you're planning a trip, you might be wondering how many days to spend there. The answer depends on your interests, budget, and travel style. Ideally, you should spend as much time as you can in the City of Lights. However, if you're short on time, even one day in Paris is better than nothing! Here's an introduction to help you decide how many days to spend in Paris.

For a solid itinerary, most sources recommend spending at least three to four days in Paris. This gives you enough time to visit some of the major attractions and explore a few neighbourhoods. With this amount of time, you can take a walking tour, visit museums and landmarks like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, and stroll along the Seine. You can also explore popular areas like the Marais district, Champs-Élysées, and Latin Quarter.

If you have more time, spending five to seven days in Paris is ideal. This allows you to slow down, immerse yourself in the city, and explore beyond the typical tourist spots. You can spend more time in museums, enjoy leisurely meals at cafes and brasseries, and discover up-and-coming neighbourhoods like Sentier and Oberkampf. With a week in Paris, you can also consider taking day trips to nearby places like Versailles, Giverny, or Boulogne-Billancourt.

So, how many days should you spend in Paris? It all depends on your preferences and the type of trip you want to have. Whether you choose to spend a day, a week, or somewhere in between, Paris has something for everyone!

Characteristics Values
Minimum time in Paris 1-3 days
Recommended time in Paris 4-7 days
Ideal time in Paris 7+ days

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Visiting the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles

The Louvre is the world's largest art museum, and the Palace of Versailles is a mere stone's throw away from the city. Both are must-sees when visiting Paris, but you will need to dedicate a decent amount of time to each.

The Louvre

The Louvre is the world's most popular art museum, with 7.8 million art lovers flocking to see some of the world's most recognisable works of art, such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory of Samothrace. With over 40,000 pieces on display, taken from a collection of over 600,000 works of art, you could spend days exploring the museum. The Louvre is housed in the Louvre Palace, which was the royal residence for around 900 years until the 17th century.

The Louvre is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and weekends from 9 am to 6 pm, and Fridays from 9 am to 9:45 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is 17 EUR, but there is free admission for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month from October to March and on Bastille Day (14 July). Admission is also free for EU residents under 26.

The Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is a former royal residence located a short distance west of Paris. It is easy and cheap to reach by direct train. The palace covers over 700,000 square feet and sits on an estate of over 2,000 acres. The palace has over 2,000 windows and is filled with over 60,000 works of art. The palace is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5:30 pm, with the last entry at 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays. A "Passport" ticket, which gives you admission to all the palace tours, grounds, and the Musical Fountain Show, costs 28.50 EUR.

You will need at least a full day to explore the palace and its grounds. In addition to the palace, be sure to visit the Grand Trianon, a smaller palace built as a retreat for King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, and Marie Antoinette's rustic model village and theatre. The palace grounds include manicured gardens, statues, fountains, royal stables, and tennis courts.

Tips for Visiting the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles

  • Book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues, especially for the Eiffel Tower.
  • If you want to avoid crowds at the Palace of Versailles, go on a weekday and see the gardens first, then the palace in the afternoon or evening.
  • If you want a deeper dive into the history of either attraction, consider taking a guided tour.
  • If you plan to visit multiple museums and attractions in Paris, consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass, which can save you money and allow you to skip some ticket lines.

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Exploring the city's history and art

Paris is known as the "City of Art" and has a rich artistic history. For centuries, Paris has attracted artists from around the world, who have come to educate themselves and seek inspiration from its artistic resources and galleries. The city is home to some of the world's most famous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and the Musée de Cluny, also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages.

Paris has a long history of artistic activity, dating back to the Middle Ages. During the French Baroque and Classicism era, painting and sculpture became the pride of the French monarchy, with sculptors such as Girardon, Coysevox, and Coustou acquiring a reputation as the finest artists in the royal court. In the medieval era, depictions of the Virgin Madonna and her Blessed Child were common, believed to show Paris a "protective presence".

The 19th century and early 20th century were a particularly vibrant time for art in Paris, with a colony of artists established in the city and many art schools associated with renowned painters. The French Revolution and political and social change in France had a profound influence on the art of the capital, with painters embracing vibrant colours and elements of fantasy, and the city becoming a centre for the development of Romanticism, with painters such as Géricault.

Paris was also a hub for the development of numerous art movements, including Impressionism, Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Neo-Impressionism, Divisionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Art Deco, and Abstract art. The city attracted artists from around the world, who came to exhibit their work in the numerous salons and expositions. During this time, Paris also became known for its bohemian culture and anti-bourgeois attitudes, attracting artists seeking artistic and sexual freedom.

Many famous artists became associated with Paris during this period, including Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Amedeo Modigliani, among others. The Académie de La Palette, established in the early 20th century, was particularly popular with Russian female painters and specialised in Cubism.

Today, Paris remains an important art centre, with many schools and institutions catering to artists, including the Paris College of Art. The city is also home to numerous museums and galleries, showcasing art from a range of periods and movements. Paris's art scene is diverse, catering to both traditional and modern art forms, and continues to attract artists and art lovers from around the world.

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Shopping in Paris

Paris is a shopping destination for every taste and budget. From opulent department stores to independent boutiques, here are some of the best places to shop in the City of Light.

Department Stores

Paris is home to some of the world's most famous department stores, including the historic Le Bon Marché, the city's oldest, and the newly revamped Samaritaine. Both offer a wide range of luxury goods, from fashion and cosmetics to homeware and food.

Fashion Boutiques

For haute couture, head to the Triangle d'Or, where you'll find the flagship stores of Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Balenciaga. The Champs-Élysées is another famous shopping street, home to luxury brands like Guerlain and Galeries Lafayette.

Unique Shopping Districts

The historic Marais district, with its trendy boutiques and vintage shops, is a great place to find unique fashion and accessories. The Latin Quarter, known for its literary cafes, is also worth exploring for bookshops and avant-garde fashion.

Markets and Food Shops

Rue Cler is a famous market street in Paris, offering a variety of food shops, from delicatessens and cheese shops to fishmongers and chocolatiers. The Forum des Halles, a multi-level underground shopping centre, is another great place to find food and fashion.

Antiques and Second-Hand Goods

Paris is also a haven for antique and second-hand shoppers. The Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, nicknamed Les Puces, is said to be the largest antiques and second-hand market in the world, with over 1,700 vendors.

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A day in the Marais district

Le Marais is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in Paris, with a rich Jewish heritage and a vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. It's a great place to get lost in the winding streets, which are lined with historic medieval architecture, unique boutiques and stylish art galleries.

Here's how you could spend a day in the Marais:

Start your day early with coffee at Fragments, which starts serving at 7 am. Then, take a stroll to one of the blogger's favourite parks in Paris, Place des Vosges. On Sundays, head to the lively Bastille Market, where you can find a flower vendor and fresh produce.

After the market, walk back towards Boulevard Beaumarchais to the blogger's favourite boulangerie to grab a baguette. Then, head to one of the great cafes right off Rue de Bretagne, such as Café Charlot.

For lunch, there are plenty of options in the Marais. Big Love serves gluten-free pizza and truffle pasta, while Miznon is the place to go for chicken sandwiches and roasted cauliflower. For those on a budget, there are also many falafel restaurants along Rue de Rosiers.

In the afternoon, do some shopping at Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais, which has a great bookstore and is a perfect spot for tea. Don't miss the Place des Vosges, where you can stroll around the arcades and enjoy tea at Damman Frères or macarons at Carette.

In the evening, gather with friends at Au Petit Fer à Cheval, a bar that has been around for years.

End your day by enjoying the last light in Paris towards the Seine, where the rooftops glisten in the sunlight and the whole city glows.

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Exploring the city's secret locations

Paris is a city full of secrets and hidden gems, from impressive interiors to hidden courtyards and everything in between. Here are some of the best-kept secrets in the City of Light.

Explore the hidden courtyards of the Marais district

The Marais district is the city's oldest district, and its hidden courtyards offer a glimpse into Paris' past with their cobblestone streets and antique architecture. Four gardens on Rue Payenne to look out for are Jardin Lazare-Rachline, Centre Culturel Suédois, Square Georges-Cain, and Square Léopold-Achille.

Discover the street art scene at Rue Dénoyez in Belleville

Explore the vibrant street art scene in Paris by visiting Rue Dénoyez in Belleville. This street is covered in colourful, artistic murals that showcase the creativity of the city's local artists.

Visit the Promenade Plantée

This elevated garden walkway is filled with lush trees, flowers, small pools, and vegetation. Constructed in 1994, it is the world's first elevated park, built along an abandoned railway line.

Take a stroll through the abandoned railway, Petite Ceinture

The ever-fascinating Petite Ceinture is an abandoned circular railway line that was active from 1862 to 1934. Now, it has been transformed into a nature trail, with wildflowers and graffiti art dotting the path.

Go for a picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in this scenic park, which features a lake, waterfalls, and a picturesque suspension bridge. The park is less well-known than other Parisian parks, making it a great spot to escape the crowds.

Wander the Paris Pet Cemetery

Located a little way out of Paris Proper, the Paris Pet Cemetery is the oldest pet graveyard in the world. Founded in the late 1800s, it is the final resting place of dogs, cats, horses, and even some more unusual animals, such as a monkey, chicken, and sheep.

Discover the hidden façades of Paris

Wander through Paris, and you'll notice a uniformity to the architecture, thanks to the Haussmann renovations of the 19th century. However, some of these façades are fake and empty behind, created to allow the metro to air itself.

Frequently asked questions

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on your interests and budget. However, spending at least three days in Paris will give you a good taste of the city and its main attractions. If you can spare the time, spending a week in Paris will allow you to explore the city at a more relaxed pace and visit some lesser-known neighbourhoods.

Paris is home to numerous world-class attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Champs-Élysées.

Paris is made up of 20 unique arrondissements (neighbourhoods) to explore, each with its own character and charm. Some recommended neighbourhoods include the Marais district, known for its shopping and dining options, as well as Sentier and Oberkampf, which offer trendy shops, restaurants, and vintage finds.

Paris is a great base for exploring the surrounding areas. Popular day trip options include Versailles, Giverny, and Boulogne-Billancourt, all of which offer a glimpse into France's rich history and culture.

To make the most of your time in Paris, consider purchasing skip-the-line tickets for popular attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Additionally, the Paris Museum Pass can save you money and time by providing access to over 50 museums and attractions.

The best time to visit Paris is during the spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) when the city is less crowded and accommodation prices tend to be lower.

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