How to Spend 10 Days in Paris — A 10-Day Itinerary

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Sara

Sara loves to help people use their vacation time more effectively by planning beautiful, memorable, and delicious trips. In addition to her full-time job, she is constantly searching for beautiful places and spaces. She loves the direct flights between Dallas and Paris or Rome but is always up for wherever a cheap airline ticket will take her. (Sara also really loves European Christmas markets.)

Whether it’s your first or your fifth trip to Paris, you will want to get the most out of your vacation by visiting as many of the city’s historical, cultural and must-see attractions and sights as you can. I thoroughly recommend picking up a Paris Museum Pass to give yourself maximum flexibility in your sightseeing. The Museum Pass allows you to skip the line at most museums, which saves valuable time and it makes it easy to slip a few more things into your itinerary if you find yourself with some downtime. Before activating your museum pass, make sure the sights you want to see are open. 

Let’s get started with your 10-day Paris itinerary. 

Day 1 of your 10-day Paris itinerary

I’ve learned that the best way to fight jet lag is to stay awake until bedtime, local time, and get outside as soon as possible. My favorite thing to do as soon as I arrive in a city is to get a sense of it and the best way to do this is through a food tour or a city walking tour. Every time I visit Paris, I choose a new neighborhood to explore. Not only will you learn what is important to a particular area, but you can also get local recommendations on things to do and restaurants to try, which will only make your trip even more delicious. Once I know what locals think, I can adjust my itinerary to add their recommendations.

If this is your first trip to Paris, I recommend starting with a tour of the Marais. Every food tour I’ve taken in the Marais has included a variety of savory and sweet treats. If you’ve already explored the Marais, I recommend the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, or Montmartre. While on a tour, I make a list of places that I might want to return to later during my trip. 

Wrap up the first day of your 10-day Paris itinerary with a delicious dinner and a reasonable bedtime. The sooner you adapt to Paris time, the better your trip will be.

Day 2

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To prevent oversleeping and miss the crowds, make an early museum reservation. Skip the heavy hotel breakfast and grab a fresh croissant on your way to the museum. There are amazing bakeries across Paris; don’t feel like you need to travel out of your way to find great pastries. 

Everyone has their own favorite museums, but some of my favorite smaller museums are the L’Orangerie, the Picasso Museum, and the Rodin Museum. Save the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre for the evenings when they stay open late.

Why do I love these museums? First, Monet’s “Water Lilies” are a sight to behold in L’Orangerie. I had no idea how large these paintings were, nor could I imagine the complexity of their beauty. You literally move through the light (and the day) as you move through the museum, and it is stunning. The Picasso Museum is constantly changing out their collection, so even if you’ve visited the museum previously (or in Barcelona), it is unlikely that you will see the same exhibit. And, if you love sculpture, there is no better museum than the Rodin Museum. I was fascinated by his ability to create the same sculpture at different sizes and scales. All these museums are covered by the Paris Museum Pass so make a free reservation and go. 

Consider dinner at one of my favorite classic French restaurants in the evening. Le 7eme Vin, Bistro Richelieu, Le Souffle, and Chez Dumonet are all up there. If you visit one of the latter two, leave room for a Grand Marnier souffle. 

Day 3

Take a break from the museums and book a baking class in Paris. Hear me out: croissants and macarons in Paris are next level. Learning to make them only made me want to learn to make (and try) more French treats. Learning to make macarons,croissants, or other French pastries in Paris is a must. 

If sweet treats aren’t your thing, consider booking a cooking class or a tour of one of Paris' many markets. What I love about this option is that it usually offers both sweet and savory options, and you’ll be able to try whatever is in season.

If you’re not into making your own pastries, you can pick up some from one of the best pastry chefs in Paris, François Perret, at Le Comptoir at the Ritz Paris and head over to the Tuileries Garden to enjoy them in a beautiful setting. If you’re on the Left Bank, pick up something from Carton Paris and head to the Luxembourg Gardens. If you’re looking for macarons, I love Pierre Hermé. There are locations throughout the city. 

Day 4

Before heading to Versailles, consider taking a French Revolution walking tour on day 4 of your 10-day Paris itinerary to learn a little bit more about French history. You can also take one by bike

Before heading back to the Right Bank, visit Sainte-Chapelle. This is one of my favorite buildings in the world, especially if you can visit on a bright, sunny day. The stained glass is just stunning. It’s covered by the Paris Museum Pass, so make a free reservation and skip the lines.

Consider having dinner in the Latin Quarter this evening: Racina (Sicilian), Toscanino (charcuterie and sandwiches), or simply follow your nose down Rue Mouffetard for a delicious and reasonably priced meal amid the students of the Sorbonne. 

End your night with a cruise down the Seine river.

Day 5

You’re halfway through your 10-day Paris itinerary, so let’s take a day trip to the Château de Versailles. Book a tour with transportation from Paris or take the RER train. The trip takes about 45 minutes. My tour of Versailles included the King’s State Apartment, the Hall of Mirrors, and part of the gardens. This tour allows you to skip the line, which is a nice perk. If you want to DIY your own tour of Versailles and the gardens, it is covered by the Paris Museum Pass

If you visit June-September, plan your Versailles trip on a Saturday. On Saturday nights, they reopen the gardens in the evening and it’s a magical experience. The fountains are on, music is playing, and if that’s not enough, there are fireworks too. You have to book your ticket in advance, and it’s absolutely worth it. My husband and I loved it so much that we did it twice on a single trip. Just be aware, you won’t have access to the chateau, so you’ll want to plan that separately.

If taking a trip to Versailles doesn’t interest you, head to the Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde to experience the grandeur of an 18th-century palace. 

Day 6

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One of my favorite museums in Paris is the Musée d’Orsay. I grew up with a love for Edgar Degas’ ballerinas (which lined the dressing rooms of my ballet studio), and I fell in love with his sculptures after I visited the Art Institute of Chicago in college. You’ll find familiar pieces from Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and nothing compares to seeing the beauty of these pieces in person. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” series took my breath away the first time I saw it. 

While the Impressionists have always drawn my attention because of the soft colors and seemingly familiar scenes, I didn’t truly have an appreciation for them until I toured the museum with a guide. While you can wander the museum on your own, a good tour of the Musée d’Orsay will teach you why Impressionism was so controversial and revolutionary in 1920s Paris. This understanding can give you a better appreciation for the history of Montmartre, as well.

After getting your fill of the museum, head up to Montmartre and explore the area where many Impressionists lived and worked. I love wandering around the Place du Tertre and observing the artists at work. Artists must apply for a space here, all work must be original and conform to certain mediums, subjects, and specifications, and the waiting list is over ten years long. Don’t forget to step inside the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, as well as enjoy the people watching on the steps in front of it.

If you’re looking for a good restaurant (or wine list) in Montmartre, head to La Boîte aux Lettres. For a classic French steakhouse experience, head down to Sacrée Fleur for one of my favorite meals. Take their recommendations on wine and leave room for dessert. 

For a quick and easy sweet treat, grab a choupette filled with Chantilly cream from Les Choupettes de ChouChou to finish day 6 of your 10-day Paris itinerary. 

Day 7

One of the more sobering experiences I’ve had in Paris was taking a tour to learn more about the occupation of Paris during World War II. Paris was under German control for strategic reasons (and entertainment purposes), but other parts of France were able to maintain their own government. Understanding that is important to understanding the great personal risk that ordinary people faced when carrying out extraordinary activities to protect others. Personally, I had a very limited understanding of the Resistance and the things Parisians did to protect their fellow humans, as well as preserve history, art, and culture. This is a thought-provoking tour, and one that I would absolutely recommend as part of any Paris itinerary. 

If you are more interested in French military history through the ages, I would head to the Musee de l’Armee at Invalides. Hôtel des Invalides is a former military hospital for veterans and wounded soldiers. It houses such a vast collection of military objects, including artillery, armor and uniforms, and weapons through the ages. The museum provides an extensive exhibit of both World War I and World War II and often offers very interesting special exhibitions. Behind the museum is the church that houses the tomb of Napoleon, and it is included in your entry ticket or using the Paris Museum Pass.

In between Invalides and the Eiffel Tower is Rue Cler, a pedestrian-only street filled with numerous markets, bakeries, and cafes. Personally, I love picking up picnic supplies from Davoli. From there, it’s only a short walk to the Champ de Mars for a picnic with a view of the Eiffel Tower. 

End your day with a classic view of Paris — the Eiffel Tower. While you can always enjoy the view from Trocadéro for free, I find it to be a little too crowded and chaotic. Using the Paris Museum Pass, you can skip the line at the Arc de Triomphe and, after a short climb, enjoy an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Don’t forget to plan your visit on the hour so you can see the tower sparkle — it’s one of my favorite moments in Paris. 

Day 8

While you could fill your days by visiting Paris’ many museums, consider taking time to appreciate the performing arts as well. Start your day with a tour of the Palais Garnier opera house, Paris’ most iconic performance hall and the inspiration for “The Phantom of the Opera.”  Visiting the opera house is taking a step back to grandeur of Paris with its beautiful Baroque design, stunning chandelier, and the Marc Chagall ceiling. 

If you want to experience the opera house beyond a tour, consider booking tickets to the Paris Opera Ballet, the Opera National, or the Philharmonic Opera of Paris. These professional companies perform at the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier, and several smaller venues throughout Paris. Check their schedule before you go and buy your tickets in advance. 

For a more lively performance, consider booking a ticket to see a cabaret at Moulin Rouge or another one of Paris’ famous cabarets. Be dazzled by the dancers and costumes with a perfectly choreographed show that brings together the history of the cabaret, the famous French can-can, in a world-famous venue that has survived since the late 1800s. 

Day 9

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to book a local photographer to capture memories for us. We aren’t great at tripod photos, my husband isn’t an Instagram husband, and I love having photos of the two of us together. We started this tradition on our honeymoon in Paris, and it’s still one of my favorite things to do, even in cities that we’ve visited repeatedly. 

I usually save this as one of the last things we do. It allows us to decide if there are any places that are special to us, but it also gives us the flexibility to tell the photographer to take us to their favorite spots without feeling like we are missing out on any of the iconic monuments. While our Paris photoshoot included the Eiffel Tower and the Pont Alexandre III, our photographer took us to places that were far less crowded and created some truly beautiful photos that are some of my favorites, even if they aren’t always the most recognizable backgrounds. 

We used L’Amour de Paris for our photos, but GetYourGuide is a great place to find local photographers and photo tours too.  

If a photoshoot isn't for you, consider catching up on a museum you missed or booking one of the off-the-beaten path tours of Paris, the passageways of Paris, or even a bike tour. The goal of today is to find more reasons to come back and further explore Paris. 

Consider splurging today on lunch or dinner at Lasserre or one of the many other Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris. How about drinks and dessert at Bar Vendôme, a personal favorite? I recommend enjoying at least one elevated dining experience in Paris. I love Bar Vendôme at The Ritz because they don’t blink twice when I order a second (or third!) dessert because I can’t choose between any of the options. 

Day 10

I always reserve shopping for my last day or two in a place. This gives me the opportunity to think about any “big” purchases and leaves room for anything I discover along the way but prevents overbuying. 

For one-of-a-kind souvenirs, consider visiting the Marché de la Création in Montparnasse. This market is filled with original art, and you can usually meet the artists. It’s held on Sundays year-round. 

A few other shops I love: L’Ecritoire (for stationery) in the Marais; Carré d’artistes (for art) — they have different inventory and artists in every store throughout Paris; Edwart (for chocolates); and Maison Brémond 1830 (for olive oil and other savory souvenirs). 

I highly recommend strolling the streets of the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and the Marais on the last day of your 10-day Paris itinerary. I try to mark stores on Google maps as I go; it makes it much easier to come back to them. 

No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Grand Magasins, Paris’ legendary department stores. I love Galeries Lafayette, especially at Christmas, but other beautiful Parisian department stores are Printemps, Samaritaine, and Le Bon Marché.