“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris. “ – Ernest Hemingway
Paris is without a doubt one of those cities that the rest of the world envies Europe for. Romantic, elegant, dotted with stunning architecture, a city where the past and present intermingle in a perfect way. With delicious cuisine and so many things to see and do, it is no wonder that Paris is on many people’s bucket list, from near and far.
Paris is always a good idea and we are sure that once you have discovered Paris, you will definitely want to come back again and again. But if you only have three days in Paris, what to do? We’ve put together the perfect 3 days in Paris itinerary, to help you make the most of your time in the French capital.
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Paris 3 day Itinerary – the basics
» Language: French; English is widely spoken by the youngest people but it is always better to start your questions in English with a “bonjour!” and a smile.
» Currency: Euro
Considering a day trip from Paris?
Some people visiting Paris for 3 days may consider blocking one full day of their Paris itineraries to explore the city’s surroundings. And with a reason! France is much more than its capital and there are so many interesting places to see near Paris that it would be a pity not to get a taste of what the rest of France has to offer.
If you want to add a Paris side trip in your 3 days Paris itinerary, go ahead, you will love it! In this case, we suggest using our Paris in 2 days itinerary plus one day to do a day trip from Paris or a Paris day tour of your choice. Here are some suggestions:
What to do in Paris for 3 days – Our Proposal
This 3 days to Paris itinerary considers 3 full days in Paris and 3 nights in Paris. We decided to split the itinerary into Paris Right Bank and Paris Left Bank. This has an obvious logistics advantage: all the sights and activities proposed during a day are concentrated on the same river bank of Paris so the transportation time between the different areas and sights is optimized.
In Paris, you will often hear about Paris Rive Droite (the Seine’s Right Bank) and Paris Rive Gauche (the Seine’s Left Bank): when facing downstream, the river’s northern bank is to the right, and the river’s southern bank is to the left. During the first two days of this trip to Paris, we are going to get the most out of the Seine’s Right Bank while the third day is fully dedicated to exploring the Seine’s Left Bank.
The Google map with our suggested points of interest is very easy to use:
- the green spots on the map are for the first day in Paris
- the blue spots on the map are for the second day in Paris
- the red spots on the map are for the third day in Paris.
Dark green, dark blue, and dark red spots are the activities that we suggest to do in Paris at night. For your convenience, the map can be zoomed in and zoomed out.
Unless it is clearly specified, these itineraries foresee a lunch break at the end of the Morning section or at the beginning of the Afternoon section in the areas that we are exploring. We usually are more specific with the dinner, which is supposed to happen during the Evening section.
You may consider the 3-day Paris City Pass
With three days in Paris, you may consider buying a 3-day Paris City Pass. The Paris City Pass is a great Paris travel pass because it allows visitors to save lots of time and money thanks to their Paris skip the line tickets and many discounts. This fantastic Paris travel card 3 days comes with the following tickets and discounts:
- Skip the Line Louvre Ticket
- Skip the Line Montparnasse Tower Ticket
- Cruise on the River Seine
- A Paris Metro 3 day pass
- A 1-way transfer from the Airport (Charles de Gaulle or Orly) to the city center
In addition, Paris City Pass proposes also 20% discount on top museums, attractions, tours and excursions (we counted more than 50 proposals on the list!). Some popular options included in this Paris travel card are tickets to visit Château de Versailles, Catacombs skip the line tickets or Paris Cabarets tickets.
After booking your Paris City Pass online, you will receive your pass by email which avoids you the hassle of finding the pickup place of your pass in a city that you don’t know. This means that you can use your pass as soon as you land in Paris.
3 DAYS IN PARIS, DAY 1: CITÉ & PARIS RIVE DROITE
Paris is crossed by the river Seine (la Seine, in French) which flows westwards to the English Channel cutting the city into two. The isle that you can see in the middle of the Seine is named Ile de la Cité and it is the starting point of your Paris explorations today.
~ MORNING ~
Notre Dame and Ile de la Cité
Begin with a coffee at Ile de la Cité, the heart of Paris. Ile de la Cité is considered the cradle of Paris and one of the oldest areas of the city, with many interesting historical sights. On Ile de la Cité it is where the medieval royal palace was located, surrounded by the civil and religious institutions. Ile de la Cité, in the middle of the Seine River, is also the ideal place for a beautiful stroll on a sunny day.
From metro Cité head to Notre Dame Cathedral. First, admire Notre Dame’s main facade with its fine proportions and beautiful sculptures. This cathedral is a jewel of Gothic architecture and one of the main tourist sights in Paris. Notre Dame de Paris is dedicated to Our Lady of Paris who is represented on the huge rose-window on the main facade. The 28 statues below Our Lady of Paris represent the kings of Judah and Israel, ancestors of Christ. These “royal sculptures” lost their heads during the French Revolution and what you can see now are reproductions. Now it is time to visit Notre Dame Cathedral inside.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: we recommend climbing the Towers of Notre Dame to admire Paris from a different point of view, this is our favorite view of Paris from above! The towers open at 10 am so if you are an early bird you have the time to visit Notre Dame Cathedral first.
Before leaving Notre Dame, look around at the ground, you should be able to find quickly (there are always some tourists around) a plaque indicating France’s km 0. All the French roads, included the French roads overseas, are measured from this point.
» The closest metro station to Ile de la Cité is Cité, line 4
» Notre Dame opening hours: 7.45 am to 6.45 am. Entrance free
» Notre Dame Towers opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm.
Explore other sights on Ile de la Cité
On Ile de la Cité, you may consider visiting 1 or 2 other historical sights. The most popular sights near Notre Dame are the Archaeological Crypt, the Sainte Chapelle, or the Conciergerie. If you prefer to stay outdoors, there is a beautiful park behind Notre Dame, Square Jean XXIII, where you can sit and relax while watching the boats passing by.
» The Archaeological Crypt is located just in front of Notre Dame. This underground site, focused on the earliest days of Paris, hosts some interesting ruins of Roman Lutetia, including streets, parts of Lutetia’s walls, public Roman baths and a part of the first river port of the Seine.
» The Conciergerie was the medieval royal palace until the XIV century when it was transformed into a Palace of Justice and prison. The Conciergerie is famous for its awesome medieval Salle des Gens d’Armes (Hall of the soldiers), and for hosting King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette before the guillotine.
» The Sainte Chapelle (XIII century), located at one edge of the medieval royal palace, was King Saint Louis’ private chapel. Sainte Chapelle is famous for its awesome stained glass windows, 15 meters high, depicting 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: To get the full effect of its windows, try to visit on a sunny day. Best time is one hour or so before sunset as the sun is getting down through the windows. Stay for a while and see it happen. It will depend on the time of year. Can be 4:00 in winter and 9:30 in summer.
» You can find all the sights mentioned in the description on the Google Map.
» The Crypte Archéologique opens from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm
» The Sainte Chapelle opens every day, from 9 am to 5 pm in the winter and from 9 am to 7 pm during the summer.
» The Conciergerie opens every day, from 9.30 am to 6 pm
~ AFTERNOON ~
Get lost at Le Marais
Leave Parvis de Notre Dame, and then cross rue d’Arcole and the bridge (Pont d’Arcole) to reach Paris’ Right Bank. The big square in front of you is Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, where the city’s town hall is located.
Historically, Paris Rive Droite (right bank) was the synonym of elegance and sophistication, the center of banking and trade.
Cross Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, and turn right to take rue de Rivoli: you are entering Le Marais, one of the most beautiful areas in Paris. Le Marais is neither an Arrondissement of Paris nor a neighborhood, Le Marais is Le Marais! Le Marais, in Paris 3 and Paris 4, is well known for its beautiful hôtels particuliers, art galleries, and cute cafes. In Le Marais, you cannot miss Place des Vosges (Paris 3 – 4), the oldest square in Paris and with beautiful architecture and central garden. Once you have ticked Place des Vosges off your Paris bucket list, we prefer that you get lost and explore the area without a particular direction: it is fun plus we are sure you will find beautiful surprises on your way! Otherwise, read about Le Marais history and some cool things to do in Le Marais in our Paris 3 and Paris 4 posts.
OUR TIP: Le Marais has beautiful “secret gardens”, peaceful corners perfect for a break or a picnic on a sunny day. Our favorite ones are Jardin des Rosiers (Paris 3), Jardin de l’Hôtel Lamoignon (Paris 4), Square Georges Caïn (Paris 3) and the not-so-secret gardens of the National Archives (Paris 3).
Up to Montmartre!
Leave Le Marais 2-3 hours (depending on the season) before sunset and take the metro to the iconic neighborhood of Montmartre. Abbesses metro station (line 12) is a good starting point to explore Montmartre, with interesting sights around like the Wall of Love, Saint Jean de Montmartre church, the picturesque rue Lepic or Le Consulat. Remember that Montmartre is a hilly neighborhood, and there are many steps between Abbesses and the Sacré Coeur so take your time, perhaps with a wine break on the way.
OUR TIP: beware of pickpockets in Montmartre, especially around the Sacré Coeur.
» Metro Abbesses can be reached with line 12
» The Wall of Love is located in a small park, Square Jehan Rictus, just behind the metro entrance.
» The Sacré Coeur is open every day from 6 am to 10.30 pm. The entrance is free.
~ EVENING ~
Montmartre is a good neighborhood to have dinner, we just recommend to avoid the oh-so-touristy restaurants near Sacré Coeur. During late spring or in the summer, when the weather is good, you can finish your first day in Paris at one of our favorite rooftop bars in Paris, Terrass Rooftop Bar, admiring the Paris skyline cocktail in hand. Alternatively, head to the Moulin Rouge for a night of music, can-can, and lots of bubbles. The Moulin Rouge is one of the most iconic cabarets in Paris, which is always full, so you may want to buy your tickets well in advance!
» Terrass Hotel and Rooftop Bar are located at 12 Rue Joseph de Maistre. Closest metro stations are Place de Clichy (lines 2 and 13) and Abbesses (line 12)
» The closest metro station near Moulin Rouge is Blanche, line 2
OUR TIP: interested in Paris at night? Check the Paris Night Pass, with interesting discounts on night activities and shows!
3 DAYS IN PARIS, DAY 2: PARIS RIVE DROITE (SEINE’S RIGHT BANK)
The second day of your Paris 3 days trip goes on exploring the right bank of the River Seine. During the first part of the day, we will be exploring some beautiful historical sights, from Paris 1 to Paris 9 while the last hours of the day are more relaxing and off the beaten path.
When spending only 3 days in Paris, you might have time for only of the two most important museums in the city. Pick either the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, depending on what you want to see. We recommend the Louvre Museum.
~ MORNING ~
The Louvre Museum
First timers in Paris find difficult to resist the temptation of visiting the Louvre Museum, even if they are visiting Paris for a short time! Originally built as a royal palace, the Louvre Palace is today one of the most visited museums in the world. Admire Pei’s glass pyramid, the Louvre’s main entrance, and also the beautiful inner courts. Don’t worry if you don’t have (or you don’t want to spend) much time for the Louvre, we tell you how to get the most of the Louvre in 2 hours or less!
TREAT YOURSELF: the famous tea-house Angelina has an establishment inside the Louvre, not far from Napoleon iii apartments. Enjoy their famous hot chocolate or taste the incredible Mont Blanc dessert without the crowds!
» The Louvre Museum opens from Wednesday to Monday from 9 am to 6 am. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Louvre opens until 10 pm.
» The Louvre Museum sees long lines all year round. You can buy your Louvre skip the line ticket now
Jardin des Tuileries
After your visit to the Louvre Museum, take some fresh air at Tuileries Gardens. You can either walk around this French garden or have a rest by one of the ponds. Tuileries Gardens and Palace, commissioned by Queen Cathérine de Médicis, were built on the site of ancient tileries that gave it its name in the XVI century. The current layout still keeps the spirit of André Le Notre’s design, the same landscape designer than Versailles Gardens and the gardens of Château de Chantilly.
If you have not eaten yet and the weather is good, you can have a picnic (and perhaps a short nap) on the grass. Check the weather and plan this in advance as there are not many shops for buying food around. Alternatively, you can sit in one of the guinguettes in the park for a coffee and a quick snack.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: looking for a special place to take a rest? Climb the stairs up to the Jeu de Paume and look for the green chairs just in face of this building. Enjoy an awesome view over the Eiffel Tower without the crowds!
~ AFTERNOON ~
From Place Vendôme to Opéra de Garnier
Leave Tuileries Gardens through rue de Rivoli in the north and take rue Castiglione. At the end of this street, there is the magnificent Place Vendôme, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Paris and also one of the most luxury squares in the world. Place Vendôme is dominated by the Vendôme Column. This column was commissioned by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz. And yep, the guy on the top is Napoleon I himself, like if he was a Roman emperor! Admire the architecture of the Hotel Ritz and the other buildings around and be amazed by the shop windows and the prices, ha haa!
Next stop is Opéra de Garnier, at the end of Avenue de l’Opéra. You can reach it directly if you take rue de la Paix until the end, and then turn left.
Le Palais Garnier Paris, also known as Opéra Garnier de Paris or Opéra de Paris, was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III as part of his reconstruction of Paris (Haussmann Works). The project is considered a masterpiece of Neo-Baroque Architecture, with awesome, richly decorated interiors. We strongly recommend the Opéra Garnier tour, you can read more about this tour here.
- Guided day tour of Opéra Garnier: 90 min at 11 am, 1.30 pm or 2.30 pm
- Guided night tour Mysteries of the Opéra Garnier: 90 min at 5.30 pm
Alternatively, if you prefer to stay outdoors, take a stroll along Boulevard Haussmann for beautiful architecture and fancy shopping. Don’t forget to visit the historic Galeries Lafayette, with its spectacular Art Déco main hall, covered by a beautiful cupola.
~ EVENING ~
A stroll along Canal Saint-Martin
Try to arrive at Canal Saint-Martin at least one hour before the sunset to enjoy this area also with daylight. Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802 when he was First Consul. Until that moment, Parisians only had access to a small supply of drinking water from the Bièvre River and Seine River, which were often very polluted. This new source of fresh water and its fountains helped to avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera. The canal was also used to transport different goods on big boats.
Today Canal de Saint-Martin is a very beautiful and trendy area which became famous thanks to the film Amélie Poulain. Compared to the neighborhood of Montmartre, Canal Saint-Martin is an area with a much more local feeling to hang around. Have a stroll along the canal or just sit on one of the canal banks dangling their feet over the water while watching the boats sail by.
Canal Saint-Martin gets especially lively at the “aperó time”. Do like the locals and choose one of the cute bars by the canal for a drink or two. Some bars also propose “planches” with different kinds of cheese and cold cuts which can do the job for a casual dinner. Alternatively, the canal banks are a very popular area for a night picnic with friends, especially during the weekend.
3 DAYS IN PARIS, DAY 3: PARIS RIVE GAUCHE (SEINE’S LEFT BANK)
During the third and last day of this Paris travel itinerary, it is time to cross the river and explore the Seine’s Left Bank. Historically, la Rive Gauche, especially Paris 5 and Paris 6, was the Bohemian side of Paris and the focus of the intellectual and religious life in the city, with all the universities and big monasteries.
~ MORNING ~
Start with a coffee at Quartier Latin (Paris 5), the heart of the university life in Paris. This is also where the former Roman city Lutetia (IC AD). It is believed that the former Roman Cardo Maximus was the present Rue Saint Jacques which would be the oldest street in Paris. Like all the Roman cities, Lutetia had a forum (located in the current Rue Soufflot), a couple of Roman baths near the Seine and even an amphitheater for different kinds of shows, Les Arènes de Lutèce.
Start with the Panthéon, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. Originally built as a church, the Panthéon is today a mausoleum with the tombs of the most illustrious citizens in France (aux grandes hommes). The Panthéon is also world-known for being the place where Léon Foucault demonstrated in 1851 the rotation of the Earth by hanging a 67-meter long pendulum from the central dome. Today, a copy of this famous pendulum is still displayed at the Panthéon so you can check the Earth rotation by yourself.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: don’t miss the awesome views from the Panthéon’s dome! The dome is often referred to as the “Balcony of Paris” because of these amazing 360-degree views of Paris.
The Panthéon is connected to Luxembourg Gardens by rue Soufflot. Can you imagine a street with better views? Before heading to Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps you may want to wander around the Quartier Latin (check our Paris 5 post for some inspiration), with the first universities of Paris, like La Sorbonne, or the Collège de France, and beautiful bookshops, cafes and independent cinemas.
» You can reach the Panthéon by metro from Jussieu metro station (lines 7 and 10) if you want to see Les Arènes de Luthèce or from Cardinal Lemoine metro station (line 10) if you want to go straight to the Panthéon.
» The Panthéon of Paris is open every day from 10 am to 6.30 pm. Entrance ticket costs 9€
» The access to the Panthéon’s dome is open from April to October. Ticket to the dome is the Panthéon ticket + 2€
Explore the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and Palace (today hosting the French Sénat) were built for Queen Marie de Médicis. This park, located in Paris 6, is one of the most popular parks in the city, with beautiful sights like the octagonal pond, or the Médicis Fountain or the octagonal music kiosk. If the weather is good, the Luxembourg Gardens make an excellent place for a picnic on the grass.
~ AFTERNOON ~
The next stop of this Paris in 3 days itinerary is the neighborhood of Saint Germain-des-Prèes. You can go from Luxembourg Gardens to Saint Germain-des-Prés by taking avenue Bonaparte, which limits the park on the west. It is a 13 min walk starting from the octagonal pond.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés was in the XIIth century a small village around Saint Germain Abbey still outside the Philippe-Auguste walls. Saint Germain became after the Second World War, a center of intellectual and cultural life in Paris, with many small printers, bookshops and with the presence of writers and artists. Saint Germain’s cafes were a common meeting place for these people, being Café Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore the most popular ones. Today, the neighborhood of Saint-Germain is deeply transformed by the tourism industry and big investors, and luxury boutiques and art galleries instead of small bookshops and some universities. However, it is a very nice place to get lost in its winding streets or stop at a nice cafe for people watching.
TREAT YOURSELF: Saint-Germain is well known for having some of the best chocolate shops and pâtisseries of Paris. Why not exploring this cool neighborhood through a chocolate and pastries tour? We recommend the Saint-Germain Chocolate Walking Tour but you can find other chocolate and pastries tours here.
~ EVENING ~
Eiffel Tower and Seine River Boat Tour
We have kept the visit to the Eiffel Tower for your last evening in Paris! Designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Iron Lady is especially beautiful at night when the golden floodlights come on. When the Tour Eiffel is lit up it will sparkle for the first five minutes of every hour so check your watch not to miss the next one! We prefer Paris with the Eiffel Tower than Paris from the Eiffel Tower but if you cannot resist the temptation of climbing the most iconic sight of Paris book your Eiffel Tower tickets well in advance.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: a gourmet dinner with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower at restaurant Les Ombres can be the perfect start of an unforgettable night!
End your day with a Seine night boat tour (and perhaps a glass of wine) and admire the historical monuments dotted along the route: the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Conciergerie, …back to Notre Dame, where everything started.
OUR TIP: Boat tours usually run until 10.30 pm. If you want to do the night cruise during the summertime (sunset around 22:00), you need to take the last boat tour.
» Restaurant Les Ombres is located at 27 Quai Branly (Paris 7). Book your table in advance directly on their website
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
OTHER PLACES TO ADD TO YOUR ITINERARY FOR 3 DAYS IN PARIS
With this Paris 3 days itinerary, you can get a good idea of what the city has to offer. However, it is not possible to include everything in an itinerary for 3 days in Paris. Are you missing other places to see in Paris in 3 days?
» This Paris three day itinerary does not include beautiful museums like Orsay Museum or Rodin Museum. Perhaps you want to exchange the Louvre Museum for the Orsay Museum?
» This Paris in three days itinerary includes the Tuileries Gardens and Luxembourg Gardens but what if it is pouring down? Check out our favorite things to do in Paris during rainy days.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN PARIS FOR 3 DAYS
Where to sleep 3 nights in Paris? If you are traveling to Paris for 3 days and you can afford it, go for a hotel with Eiffel Tower views. In Paris, there is nothing more unique than a room with a view over the Eiffel Tower, especially beautiful during its night show. In addition, the Eiffel Tower celebrates its 130 anniversary this year, which makes the perfect excuse to treat yourself with a view of the Eiffel Tower from your room.
Alternatively, you can decide to stay in a Paris Arrondissement which is not well covered in this Paris 3-day itinerary. Paris 8 and Paris 9, for example, are central areas with beautiful Haussmannian architecture and lots of places to have a drink or dine out. This means you are close to everywhere, and you get the chance to get the taste of this interesting area whilst you are exploring the rest of Paris. Here are our suggestions on where to sleep in Paris during your three days in Paris trip:
- District of Paris: Paris 9
- Category: 3 stars
This design hotel has an excellent location, on the heart of the Grands Boulevards and close to Opéra de Garnier and some covered passages. The rooms are comfortable, with a minimalist design, and come with a bathroom with shower or bath. We especially like the common spaces, and the free afternoon soft drinks and snacks : -)
- District of Paris: Paris 8
- Category: 4 stars
Le Belleval is a VERY beautiful hotel located a 15-minutes walk from Champs Elysées. We like its bright and comfortable rooms but the best of this hotel is its common indoor spaces, and other facilities like a fitness center, a spa, a garden and an inner patio decorated with a giant fresco by the artist Gola Hundun. The hotel’s restaurant serves everyday French cuisine made of organic products.
Hotel de Seze is an excellent choice, located in Paris 9 not far from the Madelaine Church. We LOVE the hotel’s design, especially in the rooms and suites, and how they blend contemporary and classical design in the common spaces. The hotel comes with interesting facilities like a fitness room and a beautiful hammam.
Did you like this 3 days in Paris itinerary? What would you add to this Paris 3 day itinerary?
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