A 4 day Paris itinerary for the best place to stay, the best activities and best food in Paris.
This is the second post in a string of posts of my travels through Europe this spring/summer, 2023. I’ll be sharing where we stayed, what we did, the best food and how we got to each place. Thanks for reading along! I hope this helps if you’re interested in going to any of these travel destinations yourself!
Where we stayed: Hotel Raphael $$$$ stunning, luxurious, walking distance from the Champ Elyssise
Our favorite activities: Seine evening river cruise, shopping in Rue Cler and picnic, bike rides through the city, Versailles gardens
Day 1: Traveling to Paris
Logistics: This was our first big travel day. We drove from Moreton in Marsh to London to drop off our rental, took an Uber to Kings Cross Station, pretended we were heading to platform 9 ¾ and instead found the platform for the Eurostar! We took the Eurostar from London to Paris, then took an Uber from Gare du Nord to our hotel in the 16th arrondissement. I didn’t even want to try riding the metro with our luggage after our experience with the tube in London.
About our hotel: We stayed at Hotel Raphael, which as of right now is my favorite stay of the trip. I researched hotels for hours for Paris and landed on this one because it was a great location, had a view of the Arc de Triomphe and the rooms are beautiful. It is more on the higher end price range, but I didn’t mind splurging here because Paris was an important stop on our trip for me and I knew other places later in the trip were going to have cheaper stays. We also used our credit card points which helped too! The hotel has an amazing rooftop which sweeping views of the city, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. It was unfortunately closed for renovations while we were staying, but if you get a chance to stay here, this is a major bonus!
We got in to Paris in the evening, checked into our hotel, and got ready for the evening. We had dinner in the restaurant of our hotel, which was defiantly delicious, but expensive and honestly there are so many other amazing restaurants to try in Paris. After dinner we headed down to the Seine to take a boat ride along the river. We found our river cruise through Get Your Guide. I liked this boat ride option because it was smaller than a lot of the other boat tours available so it felt more private. We were able to sit up at the front of the boat and the views were great. The ride was just about an hour long and we got to see iconic sights from the boat like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. It was romantic and the perfect way to start the trip. I highly recommend booking this for your trip to Paris.
DAY 2: Rue Cler Picnic
We had a very late start on this day after traveling so early in the morning the following day. We planned for this day to just be a wander around Paris day and it was lovely. We went to La Jacobine for lunch and it was incredible. Their onion soup and lamb shank are out of this world amazing. You will have to wait quite while, but it is worth it. The restaurant is tiny but the staff is so welcoming and the food is incredible.
After lunch we walked around the surrounding stores in the 6th and I was just in awe of all the beauty of Paris. I think I took about 100 pictures of the buildings. We made our way down to Rue Cler and had coffee at a little cafe. Then we went shopping for breakfast the next morning. There are so many incredible shops in Rue Cler; everything you could ever want. The freshest, in season, fruit, incredible meat and cheese, and all the bread your heart could desire. I was in charcuterie heaven.
From Rue Cler we made our way down to Champs de Mars where you can sit in the soft grass and have the best view of the Eiffel Tower. It was just about a 10 minute walk. Our original plan was to have a picnic here after shopping in Rue Cler, but we were so full from lunch still that we just ate a few strawberries and admired the perfect view.
A rant about Le Relais de l'Entrecote: From there we went back to our hotel and slowly got ready for the night. We walked down to Le Relais de l'Entrecote for dinner and got in the notoriously long line. We waited bout 1 hour and 45 minutes in total, and to be quite frank, it was not worth it all. I watched countless videos of people really talking this restaurant up, but let me tell you, you need not worry about FOMO, just skip this restaurant. There are so many other amazing restaurants in Paris and this is just not worth your time. After waiting for so long, we were sat in a small corner and our experience begun.
The restaurant was way too busy and the service showed. It kind of reminded me of an American buffet, except they bring you your food. The idea is that there’s no menu; they only serve steak and frites. You sit, they ask what temperature you want your steak, then they serve you. It was strange to me even though I knew what to expect. The portions of meat really aren’t that big; they give you about 3 times as many fries as steak. It seemed to be filet mignon, but in total you’re only getting about 4 oz of steak after being served both portions, but again, they give you so many fries. The fries were really soggy each time we were served and extremely oily. The sauce on the steak was just not good.
I do not understand the hype behind this restaurant. It tasted like a mustardy, watered down pesto with parmesan cheese. That’s the best way I can describe it. Please, please learn from our mistake and skip this restaurant. Instead go to La Jacobine or Le Machon d’Henri, both of which are in the 6th. We found that a lot of the restaurants or bakeries we liked were in the 6th, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence! Okay, rant over, just please don’t go here.
DAY 3: Versailles Day
On our first trip to Paris we did not get to go to Versailles, so we definitely wanted to go on this trip. Something I didn’t think about before hand, is that we visited on a Saturday. This was probably the worst day of the week to go because there were so many people there. I would highly recommend visiting on a weekday for this reason. It was very difficult to walk through any part of the palace because there were people shoulder to shoulder with you everywhere you went. I am not exaggerating. We didn’t end up spending much time inside because it was just overwhelming and anxiety inducing.
We had lunch at Angelina Paris which was really lovely. I’m glad we got to go, because the Paris location is always so busy. The food was great and it was so cool to have lunch inside the palace, away from all the crowds. After lunch we headed to the gardens, and oh my goodness were they breathtaking. I found that I liked the gardens much more than the inside of the palace. You could spend days exploring the entirety of them; they are massive and extraordinarily beautiful. We walked around for a few hours and only saw a small fraction of the gardens.
From Versailles we headed to dinner at PNY, a burger place Kevin wanted to try out. We both got the Return of the Cowboy burger. It was good and reminded me of American food LOL. I think there are probably better place to go, but if you want a quick bite, it's great.
DAY 4: Bike Day
This was our last full day in Paris and I really just wanted to see as much of the city as we could. It ended up raining for most of the day but we still made the best of it. We rented bikes and rode around to everything else we had on our Paris list.
We headed to The French Bastards first for breakfast. Their croissants and pain au chocolat were the best we had on the trip, except for Laduree’s walnut croissant, which tastes like baklava. That’s more of a dessert I would say though!
From The French Bastards we rode to the Louvre and just enjoyed the outside area. It’s one of the prettiest spots in Paris I think. Then we headed to La Jacobine again for lunch because it’s just that good. I got the duck filet this time and it was just excellent. Don’t skip the onion soup if you go here! So, so good.
From lunch we biked to Jardin du Luxembourg, one of my favorite spots. I just can never get over the extensive, beautiful gardens in Europe. It’s such a lovely spot to just relax and take in the beauty of Paris. From the gardens, Kevin entertained me and we headed to the sight where Emily in Paris was filmed. We got to see the restaurant where Gabriel works at and their apartment building. It was really cool to see it in real life, although I think the locals hate that tourists flock to this site to take photos LOL.
We also went to Thevenin for the best pastries we had in Paris. The New York roll was this incredible croissant like roll, filled with pistachio cream and rolled in crushed pistachios. It was perfect. We also got an L'Orient which was likewise perfection.
A positive rant about Le Machon d’Henri: After this we went back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We were going to go to Pink Mama since everyone says how good it is, but after our experience at Le Relais de l'Entrecote I thought we better skip it, in fear of it being mediocre and over hyped. Instead we went to Le Machon d’Henri, and it was definitely the right choice. This ended up being our favorite meal of the trip. We walked in, were immediately sat and were given a plate of the best salami I’ve ever had (prior to Italy). We ordered a bottle of Bordeaux since it was our last night, and it was perfect with the salami, which the waitress brought us more of. Seriously so good. We both ordered the ribeye with bone marrow and au gratin potatoes. The steak was perfectly cooked and the potatoes were the best I’ve ever had. For dessert we got creme brûlée and I was in foodie heaven. So creamy, not too sweet and a thick layer of bruleed sugar. Not to overplay it, but again, it was the best creme brûlée I’ve ever had. An absolutely phenomenal meal. I will dream of those potatoes until we come back to Paris!
After dinner we headed to the Jardins du Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower one more time. Unfortunately we did not get to see her sparkle on this visit because they changed the times for when the sparkles go off, and we missed the last one of the night. But, it was still lovely all the same. We saw the tower one last time then headed back to or hotel to turn in for the night and get ready to leave for Epernay in the morning!
Things to Note About Paris
Like any big city, beware of scams. Any heavily populated tourist location will always have people outside of it trying to sell you something, and it can be annoying when 10 people ask you the same questions about buying something from them. On our first visit to Paris my husband and I got separated from each other at Sacré-Coeur Basilica and a group of men surrounded me trying to get me to buy a bracelet from them. They literally took my arm and tied a bracelet on it and demanded 10 euros. It was really scary and extremely annoying, so beware of this kind of behavior and stay close together with your travel partner(s) and you will be fine. In other parts of the city that aren’t so touristy you won’t have any issues.
Biking is a very common way to see the city and it’s quite convenient because there are locations to pick up and drop off bikes all throughout the city. Learn from our mistake, and stick to biking on the road, not the sidewalks. On almost every road there is a designated bike lane, and when in doubt follow the other Parisians riding bikes to know where you should be riding. We rode on the sidewalk and people walking just will not move for you, so be careful!
I hope this 4 Day Paris Itinerary was helpful if you are interested in visiting Paris!
If you're interested in reading about the first part of our Europe trip, read my Cotswold Itinerary!