It’s time for Part Two in our sporadic Four Days In Paris series (check out Part One here). Some big names, gorgeous gardens and heaps of opportunity to people watch grace this particular itinerary. It’s perfect for travellers who want an authentic experience but who don’t want to exhaust themselves in the process.
Day One – Ease Your Way Into Paris.
After you’ve taken our standard Day One advice of exploring your local arrondissement and finding all your essential services (boulangerie, patisserie, cafe, restaurant, bar etc), one of the best ways to ease yourself into Paris is to experience experience the city as the Parisians do. You do this by visiting one or more of the fabulous Parisian gardens.
My favourite, regardless of the season, is the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Located in the chic 6th arrondissement, the creation of the Luxembourg Gardens was instigated in the 17th century by Queen Marie de Medici. And she did a good job. This popular garden is perfect for people watching. You can also watch toy boats float on the pond (I bet you consider hiring a boat, regardless of your age), take in the potted colour or check out the stunning Medici Fountain.
If you happen to be hungry, the Jardins du Luxembourg boast two cafes, although I must admit we’ve not tried either of them – we are too busy, perched on seats, watching Parisians be Parisian.
If you are not near the 6th and are looking for an alternative garden, you will always find something to charm your senses in the Tuileries.
Day Two – Spend a day people watching – while immersed in Parisian history.
Are you a hot chocolate fan? Yes? Then start your day with a late breakfast at Angelina on rue de Rivoli. I have it on good authority that the famous tea house serves the best hot chocolate on the planet. Even if you don’t like hot chocolate, start your day at Angelina’s anyhow and take in the stately dining room before heading to my favourite people watching spot – the Palais-Royal.
I’ve written about my love for the Palais-Royal here and also here, so I won’t elaborate again in this piece except to say that if I could only go to one Parisian landmark the Palais-Royal would be it. History, art, beauty, fine dining, casual dining, shopping and the best people watching in town all wrapped up in one impressive package.
Once you’ve dragged yourself away from the Palais-Royal, head towards the Marais for a visit to the Musée Carnavalet. This small museum, with free entry to the main collection, is easily visited within a couple of hours and delivers visitors a perfectly curated taste of Parisian history.
Time now for more people watching. So continue on your journey to Place des Vosges – the dream home of Henri IV . If you’ve not stopped to eat since Angelina, you might want to eat under the colonnades of this gorgeous square at one of the numerous restaurants. Or if you did stop to eat earlier, find yourself a table, order a glass of something fabulous and settle in to take in the sights.
Day Three – Get out of Paris.
Hang on a minute. If you only have four days in Paris, do you really want to spend precious time outside the city? Well, yes, if leaving the city means heading out to the Palace of Versailles. Versailles is located 34 kilometres from Paris, and is easily accessed if you happen to have a Paris Visite Pass covering zones one to five.
This famed royal château – and one time home to the equally famed Marie-Antoinette and her ill-fated husband – is simply spectacular in every regard. From the gilded front gates to the artwork, from the Hall of Mirrors to the perfectly manicured gardens (filled with fountains and follies) Versailles is a treat for the senses. And don’t miss the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon or Marie-Antoinette’s Farm.
Our advice is to allow yourself the whole day to visit Versailles. That way you will have time to explore all this amazing place has to offer and give yourself some time to perch yourself up in the gardens and watch the passing parade.
Further information, including ticket sales, can be found here. There are also guided tour options available if that appeals to you.
Day Four – Tower Time.
If you are only doing a couple of big names, then it makes sense to do the biggest name of them all – the Eiffel Tower. And let’s be honest – if you’ve never been to Paris before, you are not going to want to miss the tower. All the options we offered in the last Four Days article are equally valid in this itinerary. And all will give you an excellent tower experience.
Alternatively, if you have been completely captivated by the concept of Parisian gardens and people watching after your first three days in Paris you might just choose to set yourself up with a picnic on the Champs de Mars and watch the people – all of whom will be watching the Iron Lady.
What would you recommend to someone lucky enough to be spending four days in Paris? Please share your recommendations in the comments below.
Until next time – au revoir.