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A Paris Itinerary: 7 Days of Perfection

From strolling the Champs-Élysées to quaffing copious amounts of wine, make the most of your time in Paris with this handy itinerary

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Montmartre, Paris

Day 1: Getting your bearings

The first day of any trip is about finding your feet. Take it easy and start your week in Paris by getting your bearings. Paris is fairly easy to navigate , with 20 arrondissements making up the city. There are a few ways to get around, including by Metro, Uber or Velib shared bike, but we recommend starting your trip on foot. Make your way to the city centre and begin your self-guided tour at the Champs-Élysées. Straight away you'll be confronted with the Arc de Triomphe. Climb this architectural icon to take the sweeping views of the city, then make your way down the Champs-Élysées to the Jardin des Tuileries - the oldest park in Paris. Admire the Louvre (don't worry, you'll be coming back) and head down the Rue de Rivoli.

Cross over to Notre Dame to check out its Gothic architecture. While you're on the Île de la Cité, take a peek at the Conciergerie (a historic prison) and the Sainte-Chapelle. From here, head over to the fairly touristy but nonetheless charming Latin Quarter. Wind your way through the streets and get lost (or, as may be more advisable, get yourself a well-deserved coffee or glass of wine): away from the main thoroughfare you'll find cafe-lined streets that provide the perfect rest stop. Once you're happily caffeinated (or a little merrier after a few sips of French red), take a wander upstream along the banks of the Seine and head to the Jardin des Plantes. Tomorrow is going to be a big day, so head back to your Plum home for some R&R.

Purely Parisien, Plum Guide home in Paris

Day 2: All things culture

Now you've got your bearings, it's time to ingest some culture. For the real museum fans out there, check out our definitive guide to the best museums in Paris. Start the day with a coffee and pain au chocolat from an authentic Parisienne bakery and take this time to plan out which museums you want to hit – the options can be a little overwhelming. Maybe start with a trip to the Louvre, although even if you took the whole day you'd be hard pushed to get see it all. For a gallery that's slightly more feasible for a day's excursion and will give you your modern art fix, try Le Centre Pompidou, where you'll find artists like Picasso, Rothko, Matisse and Giacometti.

Once you've had your fill, make your way to Marché des Enfants Rouges, the city's oldest covered market and a dream destination for foodies. Here you'll find a mix of cuisines, from Lebanese sandwiches and Japanese bento boxes to buckwheat crêpe. Walk off lunch and head to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, situated in the 19th arrondissement (among northwestern Paris's up-and-coming neighbourhoods) for a bit of downtime. From the park, head to where the cool kids hang - the Canal St Martin. Find the perfect little spot to settle down with a lovely bottle of Beaujolais and let time pass you by as you soak up the real Paris. Head to Le Perchoir for a huge rooftop bar with 360-degree views of the capital. Open till 1:30am most days, it's a great place to spend an evening. If you fancy staying in this part of the city, look no further than this charming home.

Rue de Sambre-et-Meuse Townhouse, Plum Guide home in Paris

Day 3: Versailles

Although a your week in Paris might seem like no time at all to experience the city, it would be a shame not to take a day trip to the enchanting Palace of Versailles. And believe us when we say it will take the whole day - this sprawling behemoth of a palace contains over 2,300 rooms. If you don't manage to hit them all – a distinct possibility – make a beeline for the Hall of Mirrors, the Grande Perspective, Marie Antoinette's bedroom and, of course, the Grand Chapel.

Once you've made it out of the labyrinth of opulent rooms and ornate chapels, take your time to experience the beautiful gardens. Wind your way along the grand canal, which stands proudly between lines of symmetrical topiary and check out the fountains where in summer a musical show takes place. Inside the grounds you can find the estate of Trianon, which provided an escape from court life, as well as being the ideal romping ground for Louis XV to spend time with his mistresses. The real jewel in the crown has to be Marie Antoinette's hamlet, which she had built to get away from the dramas at court.

The palace is open every day except Mondays. Grab 'The Passport' for admission to the whole estate, including entry to the palace, the estate of Trianon, temporary exhibitions, the gardens and park, musical fountain shows and the coach gallery. The easiest way to get to Versailles from Paris is on the RER C. When purchasing tickets, make sure to select Versailles-Château – Rive Gauche as your destination.

Day 4: Shop 'til you drop

'Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant' wrote the novelist Honoré de Balzac. Was there ever a truer statement? Arguably the fashion capital of the world, Paris practically forces you to dedicate a whole day to shopping. At least that's our excuse, and we're sticking to it.

To up your level of Parisian chic (or to get going on some Christmas shopping in December), we would suggest heading to Paris Beaugrenelle, a modern shopping centre in the 15th arrondissement situated close to the Seine and a 10-minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower. (Be sure to take a look at our guide to everything you need to know about visiting the Eiffel Tower.) Here you'll find an array of shops – from high-street to high-end – along with restaurants and a cinema. If you're into design, a wealth of furniture shops will keep you wondering exactly how many chairs you might be able to fit into your 8kg hand luggage.

Le Bon Marche was the first department store in Paris and is the very epitome of style – the architecture in itself looks like something Coco Chanel would have designed. Found in the 7th arrondissement and again, fairly close to the Eiffel Tower, you can be certain to pick up something très chic. Stay in this apartment with sweeping views of the Eiffel Tower for a truly special experience.

Avenue du President Kennedy II

Day 5: Head West

We hate to break it to you, but a Paris itinerary of 7 days is not complete without a trip up the Eiffel Tower. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues if you can't face the stairs (nobody would blame you). Originally constructed in 1889 as an entrance to the World Fair, this intriguing architectural structure was initially criticised for its design but has gone on to become the emblem of Paris. Post-Eiffel Tower, why not take a trip to the Musée D'Orsay for a dose of impressionism, or head across the river to the Palais de Tokyo, which showcases the talent of emerging artists from around the world. While you're there, have a bite at Les Grands Verres – one of the hippest spots to eat in western Paris.

Day 6: Montmartre & Pigalle

Montmartre is not what it used to be. What was once a cool, bohemian place for artists and creatives is (at least in part) an overcrowded and expensive tourist trap. The centre of Parisian tropes like Amélie and the Moulin Rouge, Montmartre has indeed become a bit of a cliché. However, throw off the cynicism and take a look at our expert guide to Montmartre, and you can still find wonder in the 18th arrondissement. This area is still regarded by many as among the most romantic places to stay in Paris. Start with the Sacre Coeur before heading to a cosy cafe like le Petit Moulin on Rue Tholozé and check out the Moulin Rouge (just to say you've seen it). After this, head to Pigalle – the party district and the perfect place to drown any sorrows relating to your imminent departure from 'gay Paris'. We recommend La Fourmi for laid back vibes, DJs and drinks.

Day 7: Say au revoir in style

It's your last day, so make the most of it and end your Paris itinerary of 7 days on a high – by eating all the pastries you can handle and drinkinng copious amounts of wine, for example. If you fancy another museum, now's the day to leisurely head there and eek out as much Parisian culture and history as you can. You might like to play Baudelaire's flâneur and simply stroll, head to a park or sit in a cafe for hours, watching life go by. If you're looking to tick one more sight off your list, head to the Père Lachaise Cemetery (surely among the best free things to do in Paris), where you'll find the graves of legends like Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf. Whatever you choose to do just remember the wise words of Victor Hugo: "To err is human. To loaf is Parisian".

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