How to spend 3 days in Paris: The Perfect Paris Itinerary

Paris, the city of love or the city of lights? What ever you choose to call it no one forgets their first time visiting Paris. I was so amazed that people really do ride around on bikes with Baguettes in their baskets or backpacks. Every building is worth stopping to gaze at and every small back street is worth a walk.

Paris is the perfect place to Flâneur, or simply put, take a stroll. There is always something to see, a bakery to stop in, a cafe to sit a while. 3 days in Paris, is it really enough? Can you say you’ve been to Paris if you’ve only visited for three days?

No matter, how long you spend in Paris, you will never see it all! If you plan your three days well, you will cover enough of the “top places” in Paris.

This is the essential Paris guide, broken down into a three day itinerary. Most of the itinerary can be walked, however, if walking is not your thing or you’re short on time, you can take the metro.

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Overview of your 3 days in Paris

Breakdown of your 3 days in Paris

Before diving into the full 3 days in Paris Itinerary, here is a breakdown of how you can expect to spend your 3 days in Paris. Feel to pick and choose sights and activities that interest you or to mix things up based on where you are staying.

Be warned, day one is a big day so pop on some comfortable walking shoes. I always find when visiting Paris that we go in hard on day one because we are just so excited to be in Paris.

Day 1 – Sunrise at the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Tuileries Garden, Explore the Louvre, Shop at the Bouquinistes, Admire the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Sunset Cruise on the River Seine

Day 2 – Le Marais, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge

Day 3 – A Day trip to Versailles

Day 1 of 3 days in Paris | The Paris Essentials

On the first day of Paris, if you’re like me, you will want to tick off many of the items on your Paris Bucket list. On your first day, you are going to cover A LOT of ground and tick of many of those iconic Parisian sites that you’ve probably spent years looking at on postcards and in the movies.

According to Google Maps, your total walking time for today, in between locations is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. However, it took us longer as we were stopping to look at something or take photos every two seconds. The metro in Paris is very good and relatively cheap, so feel free to jump on the metro if you do not feel like walking as much.

Even the most basic street in Paris is beautiful and an Instagram worthy moment, so I recommend walking as much as you can because you never know what unique thing you will find around the next corner.

Catch sunrise at the Eiffel Tower

The sun rising over the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero in Paris

What could be more Parisian than watching the sunrise at the Eiffel Tower? I recommend visiting a bakery on the way and creating your own picnic to have as you watch sunrise.

To get the best views of the Eiffel Tower you will want to start your stroll at Trocadero.

The Eiffel Tower was never intended to be a permanent structure in Paris. It was built in 1889 for the World Fair. It was hated by locals initially but has since become one of the most Iconic sites in Paris.

Enjoy the piece and quite before the locals start heading to work, the tourists start sightseeing and Paris is awake and buzzing for the day.

You will be back later in the day to Climb the Eiffel tower but make sure to grab some beautiful photos with the sun rising in the background.

Arc de Triomphe

The arc de triomphe in Paris

The Arc de Triomphe was constructed to remember the soldiers who lost their lives during the French Revolution and fighting in wars under Napoleon. It is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI.

But, did you know that it was almost a giant elephant? 45 years before the Eiffel Tower was constructed a French architect proposed the idea of a giant elephant statue. What would you prefer on your Parisian bucket list? A giant elephant or the Arc de Triomphe?

The Arc De Triomphe is located in the middle of a very busy roundabout so use the stairs to walk down into a tunnel under the road to the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

It is free to access the roundabout and to walk around the base but if you would like to climb the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe you do need to purchase a ticket which will cost you 13€ and allow you to skip the line.

Champs-Élysées

Cars driving down Champs-Élysées towards the Arc De Triomphe

One of the most famous shopping streets in the world is the Champs-Élysées. It is home to many high-end shops (such as Louis Vuitton’s flag ship store!) as well as some more affordable shops and restaurants.

Even if you are not into shopping it is a nice street to walk down and at the end of the street and get another view of the Arc de Triomphe. It is also easily one of the most recognised streets in the world, it is where the cyclist cross the finish line for the Tour de France and where the famed Bastille Day parade is held each year on the 14th of July each year.

Top tip: Stop in at Laduree for a Macaron, even if you think Macarons are not you “thing” do yourself a favour and grab one anyway.

The Champs-Élysées does feel very touristy and you will find vendors selling paintings of Paris (I’m guilty of buying a few of these to put on my wall at home), Eiffel Tower Charms etc, it is still worth at least walking part of the street.

Tuileries Garden

Trees turning yellow in the Tuileries Gardens

On your walk from the Champs-Élysées to the Louvre you will walk through the beautiful Tuileries Gardens.

If you pick up a baguette or even a picnic and a bottle of wine this is a great place to sit and enjoy the tranquility of the garden.

A favourite pastime of many Parisians or visitors is, people watching! This is a great place to do some people watching as you will see many locals and tourists running, walking or picnicking in the gardens.

Make sure to check out Place de la Concorde, a square filled with a lot of French history. You might have heard of this place as this was the place where King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre were executed during the French Revolution. Beautiful place to have your head chopped off!!

On a happier note, from mid to late November until early May instead of guillotine sitting in the square you will find a large Ferris Wheel. This is another great place to grab a beautiful view of Paris.

Explore the Louvre

The Glass Pyramids of the Louvre

The Eiffel Tower aside, the Louvre and its glass pyramid is on the most iconic sites in Paris. Most of us think of the Mona Lisa when we think of the Louvre but there is so much more to see than just the Mona Lisa.

The Louvre is home to ancient artifacts, medieval ruins and so much more. As the largest museum in the world you will find yourself easily passing a few hours, and getting lost along the way.

The Louvre is at the top of many Paris bucket lists and can get very crowded, so visiting in the morning or late in the afternoon will help you miss the crowds or another good option is to purchase your ticket online in advance and you can choose your entrance time so you miss the line.

The Louvre is very big and you could easily spend a whole day or two here. It can be overwhelming and hard to know what is what and where to go, an audio guide might be helpful to navigate the exhibitions and give you as much information as possible.

Bouquinistes

The Bouquinistes stalls in Paris selling records, comics and posters

Located on the River Seine and along the river there are many small stalls known as Bouquinistes. These stalls sell everything from antique books to paintings to comic books to records.

It is quite cool to poke your head into some of the stalls and see the eclectic range of items on sale. Who knows, you find yourself a bargain on a book or a record.

Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Three days in Paris would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Notre Dame. The Notre Dame Cathedral is free to visit and a must on your one day in Paris itinerary.

There are often long lines but unlike other attractions these lines move pretty quickly. When visiting the Notre Dame you must see the Crown of Thorns and admire the Gothic Architecture.

Sadly, the Notre Dame was badly damaged by a fire on the 15th of April, 2019, the hope is to have the Cathedral returned to its former glory by 2024 in time for the Paris Olympics.

Whilst you cannot go into the Cathedral at the moment you can see the outside of this beautiful building and I believe it is still well worth a visit. It sits right on the Seine River and it is a gorgeous example of a French Gothic Building.

Climb the Eiffel Tower

A close up view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

As mentioned earlier, The Eiffel Tower was never intended to be a permanent structure in Paris. It was built in 1889 for the World Fair. But, in my opinion, I think we are pretty lucky that it has become a permanent structure, what would Paris be without the Eiffel Tower?

When visiting the Eiffel Tower be prepared for the security measures that have been put in place over the last few years. You will need to have your bags scanned and go through a body scanner.

You have two options for reaching the top of the tower, you can take the lift from the ground floor up to the top floor or you can walk to the second floor and then take the lift up to the top floor. If you do choose to walk you will need to be reasonably fit as there are over 600 stairs but it is definitely do able. It is pretty cool to be able to say that you have climbed the Eiffel Tower.

On the second floor there are cafes and shops that you can relax in and on the top floor you can buy a glass of real champagne to sip while you admire the incredible views.

Sunset Cruise on the River Seine

A boat cruising down the river seine in Paris at sunset

A trip to France’s capital city means taking at least one cruise along the river that gives it life, the Seine. As with any romantic place, one can see Paris from a whole new perspective on a river cruise in Paris at sunset or late into the evening.

There are many different types of cruises you can do, some include drinks, dinner or just a basic boat cruise. They start for as little as 10€ and go every half hour or hour, usually lasting for about 60-90 minutes (called the illumination cruise) or paired with a 3-course dinner meal (lasts 2.50 to 3 hours). Most of the cruises have a running commentary in a few different languages that gives you the history of the Paris and the sites that you are going past.

If you take the cruise on a winters night, make sure you wear plenty of layers because it is much nicer to sit outside on the boat. But, seeing the Eiffel Tower’s lights twinkling in the night sky more than makes up for the cold.

Day 2 of 3 days in Paris | The Neighbourhoods

Paris is full of beautiful neighbourhoods that are very easy to access from the heart of Paris. Every one you talk to, whether it be a local or a tourist, will have a different opinion on which neighbourhood is more beautiful or has more things to see.

However, my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris are Le Marais and Montmatre and they’re both very easy to access.

Le Marais is located in 3rd and 4th arrondissements and is full of museums and gorgeous architecture, whilst Montmartre is located in the 18th arrondissement and is home to Sacré-Coeur, the artists corner and the Moulin Rouge.

Le Marais

One of the things that I first noticed and loved about Le Marais is that is appears different to other parts of Paris. The reason for this is that a lot of Paris was reconstructed in the 1800s but Le Marais was not.

This neighbourhood is a perfect place to just wander and explore the streets. It is full of local bistros, cafes and shops. You could easily spend half a day just exploring the area and stopping to people watch outside a café or picking up some local produce.

It is also home to Hotel de Ville, the Paris City Hall, this is a beautiful building to explore both inside and out. There is also a carousel outside the City Hall for you to ride because we are never too old for carousels.

Montmartre

A pink cafe on top of the hill in Montmartre Paris

Montmartre is set up on a hill and gives stunning views of Paris. We were lucky to be staying in Montmartre so we could enjoy the views of Paris in the morning and the evening and I would recommend this for you too! One of the best viewing points in Montmartre is from Sacré-Coeur where you can see for miles and get a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

Le Consulat restaurant in Montmartre Paris

Montmartre is filled with cobbled stone streets, cafes, shops and in the middle sits artists square. Many local artists gather in Artists square to paint or draw and then sell their art work. I recommend stopping by one of the cafes on the outside of the square and watch the artists at work.

This neighbour is very popular with tourists and can get very busy. It is a great place to take some of those “typical Paris” photos, so I suggest you get there early in the morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds.

Moulin Rouge

Located in Montmartre is the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Spending a night at the Moulin Rouge is an absolute must. It took me three visits to Paris to make it to the Moulin Rouge and my only regret is that I didn’t go sooner.

The Moulin Rouge is home to one of the most famous Cabaret shows in the world. It is a show full of glitz, glamour and at times, very little clothing. There are several shows each day and they sell out in advance so book your tickets before you get to Paris.

There are two shows during the day, one at 1pm and one again at 2:45pm. For the evening you can simply purchase a regular ticket or you can go all out and purchase a ticket including dinner. We decided to go in between and buy our ticket including a bottle of champagne (shared between two), it was amazing sitting watching the world famous show while sipping on French Champagne.

If you choose the dinner option you arrive at the Moulin Rouge and are served dinner before the show. We chose the Champagne and show option, on arrival we were seated at our table and served a bottle of champagne. I recommend this option as it is very pricey to have dinner and a show but it is lovely to have some champagne as you watch the show.

Day 3 of 3 days in Paris | Let them eat cake

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is located in Versailles which is 20km from the center of Paris. It is easily accessed by train but will be a full day trip (unless you would prefer to stay in Versailles) as there is a lot to see at the Palace and the surrounding gardens.

This is a very popular place for tourists to visit as it was the residence of the French Royal family from 1682 until the French Revolution. It was home to Marie Antionette and you can still visit her cottage. Make sure you visit the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Opera and of course the amazing gardens.

The Palace of Versailles is very busy on Tuesdays and weekends, so it is recommended to avoid these days and if possible to arrive early in the morning. As with many sites these days it is recommend that you book your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.

If you “rush” through the Palace it will take you around 3 – 4 hours to see the whole thing, however, if you would like to take your time and enjoy looking in all the different rooms and exploring the gardens you could spend most of the day here.

Getting to Versailles from Paris is relatively straight forward and takes around 45 minutes on RER C. Versailles is outside of the city “limits” and therefore you won’t be able to use your city travel card (if you’re using one of course).

You can purchase your ticket from the metro station, make sure to ask for a return ticket and it will cost you 7.10Є.

Best tours for the Palace of Versailles

Explore Versailles

When most people think of Versailles they immediately think of the Palace and don’t realise that Versailles is a town, albeit a small town. If you have some time it is worth looking around Versailles or even having some dinner before heading back to Paris.

There are plenty of things to do and see in Versailles such as visiting the Cathedral, the Notre-Dame of Versailles, Petit Trianon and the Versailles Market.

Useful Information for spending 3 days in Paris

How to get to Paris

Paris is very easy to access from most European cities and the French infrastructure is set up in such a way that it has brilliant domestic and international options for arriving into Paris.

Paris has two large airports, Orly and Charles de Gaulle. Both of these airports are located approximately 10km from the city center. Once you arrive to either Orly or Charles de Gaulle you can take the RER train for around 10€ per person. 60km from the city you will find Beauvais airport which is much smaller and used by budget airlines.

If you have your own car you will be able to arrive in Paris from any location in Europe. If you are travelling from London you need to use the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone in the UK to Calais in France. There are many crossings a day and tickets cost about 55€ and can be bought in advance via Eurotunnel. Once arrived in Calais, get on the A16 going through Amiens, all the way to Paris. The estimated toll fare is 20€.

Finally if you are taking public transport you can take the Eurostar from London to Paris through the Channel Tunnel. Paris is also very easily accessible from other areas of France, Belgium, Holland with a direct trains into the city center.

Book your train tickets here | Book your bus tickets here | Hire your car here

Best time to visit Paris

The weather is obviously the best during summer, in Paris the summer months occur from June to August. However, along with the good weather comes the crowds as everyone likes to travel in the summer.

If you would like to benefit from the good weather but also have less tourists to contend with, I think the best time to visit Paris is in April – May or September until October.

In the shoulder seasons, you will find the weather is still warm enough, hotels can often be cheaper and there are lesson tourists to fight in the lines for the top sights.

Having said that, Paris is also gorgeous in winter, when the Christmas Markets come to life and if you’re lucky you might see the snow falling to make Paris even more magical.

There really is no bad time to visit Paris but you need to consider the type of weather you prefer to travel in, the cost of flights and hotels and also when you have holidays available.

Finding your way around Paris

Although Paris is a very large city, much of the city is quite easy to walk and much of the area is fairly flat. However, if you would rather take public transport the Metro is easy to navigate and pretty cheap.

Paris is set out in a spiral which is made of smaller areas called arrondissements. This formation of Paris has been in existence since the French Revolution. The 1st arrondissement is in the heart of Paris, there are 20 arrondissements in total.

Keep in mind the lower the number the more central the location, ie 1st is in the center of Paris whilst the 20th arrondissement is on the out skirts of central Paris.

Although Paris is very walk able, when you’ve been walking all day, you sometimes just want to hop on a train. The metro is super easy to navigate – and when you’re not sure, just ask a local!

It is possible to buy passes for the metro rather than pay for each journey. Of course, there are also Uber or cabs that you can hail in the streets.

Hiring bikes is another amazing way to get around Paris. I recommend cycling at night time, it is very busy during the day and can be quite intimidating. A cheaper way to hire a bike is to use Velib . There are many docking points around the city and you can rent these bikes using their app.

The first half hour of hire is free and you do not need to return your bike to the same station. I recommend hiring a bike, returning it within half an hour and then hiring another bike again! Before you know it, you will have a whole day of free bike hire.

Where to stay in Paris

Budget

Elysées Union Hôtel is located in the 16th arrondissement and is a short walk from major sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

The hotel is located in a 19th century building and was once the home of Marcel Proust. The rooms are made up of either singles, doubles, triples or two bedroom apartments complete with kitchenettes.

Breakfast is served each morning in the breakfast room and guests are free to enjoy the hotel bar. Parking is located near by but fees may apply so keep this in mind when booking your stay.

Compare prices on Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range

Hotel Petit Paris is a beautiful boutique hotel located close to the Luxembourg Gardens and the Latin Quarter. If you are wanting to spend most of your time exploring the city on foot then this will be the perfect hotel for you.

You are also located 5 minutes from Gare du Nord train station, which is perfect if you are arriving into Paris by Train or if you are planning day trips from Paris.

The décor of the rooms are to resemble Historic France and every room is sound proof with either views of the garden or the inner courtyard.

Each get will be able to enjoy a buffet breakfast each morning in the breakfast room and every room has a mini bar for those late night munchies and there is a bar for you to enjoy a drink after your busy day of exploring Paris.

Compare prices on Booking.com | Agoda

Luxury

A view of the Eiffel Tower from the terrace at the Shangri-La in Paris
Photographer: Marcelo Barbosa, Photograph courtesy of the Shangri-La Paris

The Shangri-La in Paris was once the resident of Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s Great Nephew. Today, it is a palace 5-star hotel, located on the east corner of Jardins du Trocadéro. Not only do you receive a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower but you are also a short 10 minute walk from the tower.

As you might expect, everything about this hotel is complete lavish luxury. From the grand staircase to the opulent bathrooms, you will feel as though you are living your own Royal Dream.

Each room has its own living room space and beautiful bathrooms complete with rain shower and separate bath tub. The upper levels have beautiful balcony to enjoy your breakfast as your admire the view of the Eiffel Tower.

The restaurants (there are two!) offer both Asian and French cuisine and are overseen by Michelin starred Chef Christophe Moret. In the morning, guests can take in a beautiful breakfast in the glass roofed restaurant.

Why not enjoy the spa and health and wellness center in the evening after a day of exploring the must see sites in Paris!

Compare prices on Booking.com | Agoda

Final Questions on visiting Paris

Should you get the museum pass?

The Paris Museum Pass allows you access for free and without waiting in lines at over 50 museums and monuments around Paris.

You can choose a pass for 2, 4 or 6 days and your pass is valid from the first time you use it, which means you can buy it in advance without worrying about wasting time.

The Paris Pass allows you access ONCE to each museum or monument on the list.

So what does the Paris Museum Pass cost? Two days will cost 52€ per person, four days will cost 66€ and 6 days will cost 78€.

Some of the museums and monuments included with the pass are the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, Pantheon and many many more.

In my opinion, you need to do your research to help you decide if the Pass is going to be worth it for you. If you are planning on visiting more museums and monuments than are listed on the itinerary I would say the pass is worth it for you.

However, if you are following this itinerary “to a T” then you will not get your money’s worth on the pass.

If you choose to purchase the pass you can do so online, at train stations, in the museums and in some shops. For more information on where to purchase the pass click here.

For more information on the Paris Museum Pass click here

What about the Paris Pass?

Another Pass on offer in Paris is the Paris Pass. You may have heard of this before as many of the main cities in Europe have a city pass available for purchase.

The Paris Pass includes the Paris Museum Pass and access to other attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Hop-on-hop off bus, the Louvre, Seine River Cruise, Arc de Triomphe and many more.

As with the Museum Pass, your pass it not activated until you visit your first attraction, so you can safely purchase it in advance.

You are only allowed access to each attraction ONCE using the pass.

A 2 day pass costs 110€ per adult and 39€ per child, the 3 day pass costs 129€ per adult and 49€ per child, the 4 day pass costs 149€ per adult and 59€ per child and finally the 6 day pass costs 169€ per adult and 69€ per child.

So is the Paris Pass worth the cost? Again, like with the Museum Pass you need to do some research to see how many attractions you are planning to visit and how much individual tickets will cost versus buying the pass.

If you are following this itinerary, then you are better off purchasing the 2 day Paris Pass with the Museum pass included.

For more information on the Paris Pass please click here

Is three days in Paris enough?

Is any amount of time really enough in Paris? The answer is probably no. Depending on what you want to see and do, three days in Paris is probably enough. It gives you enough time to see the bucket list items, explore some of the neighbours and get out of the city to places like Versailles or Disneyland Paris.

Three days in Paris works perfectly as a long weekend trip or as part of a four week tour of Europe. However, I will warn you, if this is your first time visiting Paris you probably will feel as though three days in Paris is not quite enough and you will be planning your return trip the minute the minute you leave.

So, long story short, three days in Paris is definitely enough time to explore Paris and to feel as though you have really been in Paris and at the end of the day, three days in Paris is better than nothing.

How much spending money for 3 days in Paris?

Paris has been touted as one of the most expensive cities in Europe and to an extent this is true. However, it is possible to see Paris on a budget if you are short on money, you can walk most places, there are plenty of things to see for free in Paris and you can eat on a budget by purchasing picnic supplies (including wine) from the supermarket on a budget.

However, if you would like to splurge and eat out three times a day you will need slightly more money.

On average, I would recommend allowing on average 184€ per day including accommodation. This will allow you to do some paid activities, eat some nice food and stay in a mid class hotel.

Budget Your Trip is a fantastic resource for working out how much things will cost in many cities around the world and might give you a better idea of exactly how much money you are going to need.

Final Thoughts on 3 days in Paris

I hope you have found this 3 days in Paris itinerary useful. This how we spent our last trip to Paris, during our four month journey around Europe. From the must sees in Paris CBD to exploring just outside the city, we felt it covered the essentials of Paris.

If you any questions about your trip to Paris please send me an email at travellingthirties@gmail.com or a message on Instagram. If you have visited Paris before, let me know in the comments below what you loved most about the city.

How would you spend three days in Paris? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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