Bienvenue à Paris!(!!!). This is your four-day Paris itinerary, de luxe. Paris is one of the world’s best destinations. It is also one of its busiest, and while definitely not one of its biggest, it can be the most overwhelming. Like, it’s Paris!! How can you possibly decide what to see and what not to see? If you want to just skip to the recs for our four-day Paris itinerary, go here: Day 1: Arrival + Louvre + crepes + more Day 2: Batobus + Eiffel Tower + Le Perchoir + more Day 3: Versailles (or Giverny) + BigLove + more Day 4: Vanves + Montmartre + more And let’s make reservations at: Breizh (not necessarily except for peak times), Septime (100% necessary), BigLove (do it) and Boite aux Lettres (probably not necessary mais pourquoi pas?) The first time I came to Paris, I came for three days, the second time for two days (both because I was living in London, not because I owned a private jet and could travel hither-thither as I liked.) …
Paris, c’est belle. (Ou c’est beau. Qui sait?) But it’s not everything, and it’s certainly not all of France. The most incredible thing about Paris is that just a few miles beyond the city limits is some seriously rural countryside. Here and there you’ll find beautiful villages near Paris — maybe with a train station, maybe with a boulangerie, maybe just a post office. There’s nothing nicer than taking the train to a small town like l’Isle-Adam and setting off across the meadows for another, even smaller village. It’s a necessary part of visiting France.
Wondering about the Paris equivalent of Target? I did too, when I first moved there. The truth is this: Just like there’s no real equivalent to CVS in France, there’s no real equivalent of Target. Of course, they have plenty of amazing things we don’t have, like proper croissants and baguettes. But Targets — in the sense of humungous one-stop-shops for basically everything under the sense, including the latest Target X Random Designer collabs? Mais non. I would say, though, that the closest you can get are the biggest of the Monoprixs. Monoprix is great, and Target-like in that they usually have a large range of clothes as well as a fairly comprehensive food selections — I mean, not Wegman’s-level, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’ll be able to find most everything you need food-wise there. Monoprix also hosts the occasional — and sometimes excellent — design collaboration, like with Maison Chateau Rouge. So in the sense that Target is a giant store that offers both food and (relatively inexpensive) clothing, Monoprix’s your …
So: What is the Paris equivalent of CVS? I love this question because (a) it was one of my primary questions when I first moved to Paris and (b) the truth is that there is no equivalent! There isn’t! There is none. There is no French equivalent of a drug store that’s also a snack shop that’s also sort of a grocery? that also sells magazines but is also like a very, very, very small Best Buy if you get lucky and also sells bandages. And processes photos. CVS is a miracle without equivalent in Paris.
Is Sezane cheaper in Paris? Oh, yeah. Here’s by how much. If you have the chance to shop Sézane in Paris versus in the U.S., take it. Let’s take a basket of four pieces from the Fall 2019 catalogue, and comparez.
One of the best things about the City of Light is how easy it is to make international day trips from Paris by train. That’s definitely not something I grew up with: You can make an international trip from New York City by train — but only if you want to go to Montreal, and only if you have at least three days, because it’s a 12-hour trip each way. From Paris, you can reach London by train in a little over two hours. Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and others aren’t much farther.
Crepes are basically synonymous with France, but not, in fact, with Paris: They’re famously a product of the Bretagne (Brittany) region, several hundred miles west. In fact, historically there’s been a cluster of top crepe places near the Gare Montparnasse — because that’s the train station that serves Brittany. The Bretons who came to Paris first arrived at that train station, and then to that neighborhood — and they brought their crepes with them.
The news is basically all good in terms of the best day trips from Paris by train: There’s a wealth of attractions within Ile-de-France, the administrative region that includes Paris and its suburbs — nearly all of these are accessible via the RER or Transilien commuter trains. (And it’s even better if you get a Navigo pass for the week or month — with an all-zone pass, which would include transport to and from Charles de Gaulle airport, you can travel for free on all of these lines.)
I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money on the best luxury hotels in Paris to have a good time there: The most intoxicating thing about Paris is acting as Parisians do — which is to say, generally enjoying life in a superior way, rather than going home to a $3000-a-night luxury suite at the Royal Monceau like Gigi Hadid. The best thing to do in Paris just might be splitting a bottle of wine on the bank of the Seine on a summer night — and that, friends, will set you back about $10, depending on what bottle of wine you get.
Paris. It’s the most Instagrammable city on the planet. But where to start? Here’s your Paris Instagram bucket list. All of these spots are cheap and easy to get to — you could do them all in a day if you were exceptionally motivated. Happy Instagramming! At bottom is a map of all the locations below — see the full, zoomable map here.