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“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 3 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.
Best Paris Itinerary 3 Days – Our Proposal
What to see in Paris in 3 days? Here’s an overview of the best Paris itinerary for three perfect days in Paris:
- Day 1 in Paris – Right Bank, visiting Ile de la Cité, and Montmartre
- Day 2 in Paris – Right Bank, walking along the banks of the River Seine and visiting the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Garden, Place Vendôme and part of Grands Boulevards
- Day 3 in Paris – Left Bank, with the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Près, Trocadéro, and the Eiffel Tower.
We decided to split this Paris 3-day itinerary into Paris Right Bank (2 full days) and Paris Left Bank (1 day). This has an obvious logistics advantage: all our proposals for the day are concentrated on the same side of Paris so the walking and metro distances are optimized.
You can also decide to use one day to travel beyond Paris as there are many wonderful day trips near Paris easy to organize. In this case, you can use our 2 days in Paris itinerary and have a look at the most popular day trips from Paris.
This Paris itinerary 3 days comes with 3 different maps, one for each day spent in Paris and with our suggested points of interest.
To understand the different areas of Paris, it’s important to know that Paris is made up of 20 arrondissements. These arrondissements of Paris are individual districts that make up the entire city of Paris. For this 3 days Paris itinerary, we are going to cover the most popular Arrondissement of Paris, leaving the lesser-known districts for longer Paris itineraries. Still, it’s recommended that you read our Paris by Arrondissement guide, with the story and main highlights by arrondissement. This will make your Paris itinerary planning much easier.
With three days in Paris, it might be interesting to buy a 3-day Paris City Pass. The Paris City Pass allows visitors to save lots of money and time thanks to its skip-the-line tickets and many discounts. In addition, the pass covers most of your transportation needs in Paris and beyond. The Paris City Pass 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 3-day metro card for getting around Paris
- A 1-way transfer from the Airport (Charles de Gaulle or Orly Airport) to the city center
The Paris City Pass proposes also a 20% discount on top museums, attractions, tours, and excursions (you can check the full list here). For example, you can use it to get discounted tickets for the Moulin Rouge dinner show or for the Opéra Garnier tour, both places covered in this itinerary.
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 Right Bank
Notre Dame | Ile de la Cité | Le Marais |Montmartre | Moulin Rouge
Paris is crossed by the River Seine (La Seine, in French) which flows westwards to the English Channel cutting the city into two. In Paris, we often talk about Paris Rive Gauche (Paris’ Left Bank) and Paris Rive Droite (Paris’ Right Bank): when facing downstream, the northern bank is to the right, and the southern bank is to the left.
1. NOTRE DAME (FROM OUTSIDE)
Start 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.
Ile de la Cité was during the Middle Ages home to the Royal Palace, which was surrounded by the civil and religious institutions. It is in Ile de la Cité where we find the Conciergerie, Notre Dame de Paris, and the Sainte Chapelle,
On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral was badly damaged by a terrible fire and it is currently closed to the public for reconstruction works. However, we still find a good idea to start this 3-day Paris itinerary from the Cathedral because Notre Dame is (and will always be) the heart and soul of Paris.
Admire Notre Dame‘s main facade, this Cathedral is a jewel of Gothic architecture and one of Paris’ main sights. Notre Dame de Paris is dedicated to Our Lady of Paris. You can see Her represented on the rose-window.
With the restoration works, this spot is not visible right now but just in front of the cathedral’s main façade there is a plaque indicating France’s km 0 so you are in the center of France! All the French roads are measured from this point.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS:
» Notre Dame opening hours: closed to the public until further notice
» Notre Dame Towers opening hours: closed to the public until further notice
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.
Save time and money! This combo ticket Sainte Chapelle + Conciergerie gives you skip-the-line access to these 2 unique sites at a discounted price.
» The Sainte Chapelle (13th century), located at one edge of the formal Royal Palace, was King Saint Louis’ private chapel, where the relics of the Cross of Thorns were kept. The Sainte Chapelle is famous for its awesome stained glass windows, 15 meters high, depicting 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
» The Conciergerie was the medieval Royal Palace until the 14th 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 Queen Marie-Antoinette before the guillotine.
» Another interesting sight in Cité is the Archaeological Crypt, 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.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS:
» 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
» The Archaeological Crypt is closed until further notice.
3. 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. On the way to Le Marais you are going to cross the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, where the city’s town hall is located.
Le Marais is neither an Arrondissement of Paris nor a neighborhood, Le Marais is Le Marais! Le Marais, part in Paris 3 and part in Paris 4, is well-known for its beautiful private mansions (hôtels particuliers), art galleries, and cute cafes.
In Le Marais, you cannot miss Place des Vosges, the oldest public square in Paris, surrounded by beautiful architecture. Once you have ticked Place des Vosges off your Paris bucket list, 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.
If you are in need of some ideas, read our Paris 3rd Arrondissement and Paris 4th Arrondissement posts, where we describe Le Marais more in detail and provide a list of things to see and do and some suggestions of restaurants in the area.
Leave Le Marais 2-3 hours (depending on the season) before sunset and take the metro to the iconic neighborhood of Montmartre. We suggest arriving at Anvers metro station (line 12) and follow this Stories of Old Montmartre Walking Tour which explores the top sights of Montmartre such as the Sacré Coeur, the Moulin de la Galette, Place du Tertre or the Wall of Love.
Take your time to read the stories behind the main sights of this self-guided walking tour, perhaps with a break somewhere to soak up the particular atmosphere of this bohemian neighborhood.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: climb up to Sacré Coeur’s dome for amazing panoramic views of Paris! The access to the dome is from outside the basilica, on the left side.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS
» The Sacré Coeur is open every day from 6 am to 10.30 pm. The entrance is free.
» The Dome is open every day from 9.30 am to 8.30 pm depending on the season. To climb up the dome there are 300 stairs without lift.
» Beware of pickpockets in Montmartre, especially around the Sacré Coeur
Evening at Moulin Rouge or Montmartre
5. MONTMARTRE AT NIGHT
Montmartre is a good neighborhood to have dinner, we just recommend to avoid the oh-so-touristy restaurants around Place du Tertre.
During late spring or in the summer, when the weather is good, you can finish your first day in the city at Terrass Rooftop Bar (12 Rue Joseph de Maistre), one of our favorite rooftop bars in Paris, admiring the Paris skyline cocktail in hand.
You can also decide to 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, and i is always full, so you may want to buy your tickets well in advance!
3 Days in Paris, Day 2: Paris Right Bank
Louvre Museum | Tuileries Garden | Place Vendôme | Opéra Garnier | Canal Saint-Martin
The second day of this 3-day itinerary for Paris goes on exploring the Right Bank of the River Seine. The first part of the day is dedicated to some 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 3 days in Paris, you might have time for only one 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.
First-timers in Paris find it difficult to resist the temptation of visiting the Louvre Museum, even if they are staying in 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 the Louvre’s main artworks such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus of Milo or the vast collection of Egyptian Art.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: inside the Louvre, not far from the apartments of Napoleon iii, the famous tea-house Angelina is waiting for you for a sweet break. Enjoy their famous hot chocolate or taste the incredible Ispahan dessert without the crowds!
USEFUL INFO & TIPS
» 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
» Have a look at our Louvre Museum guide, with our best tips
» If you don’t have much time to spend at the Louvre, click here to learn how to get the most out of the Louvre in 2 hours or less.
After your visit to the Louvre Museum, take some fresh air in the Tuileries Garden. You can either walk around this French garden or have a rest by one of the ponds.
The Tuileries Palace and Garden, commissioned by Queen Cathérine de Médicis, were built on the site of ancient tileries in the 16th century. The current layout still keeps the spirit of André Le Notre’s design, the same landscape designer than the Versailles Gardens and the gardens of Château de Chantilly.
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 front of this building. Enjoy an awesome view over the Eiffel Tower without the crowds!
3. PLACE VENDÔME
Exit the Tuileries Garden 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 luxurious 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 sculpture on the top is Napoleon I himself, like if he was a Roman emperor! Admire the architecture of the Hotel Ritz and the other beautiful buildings around and be amazed by the shop windows and the prices!
Le Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier de Paris or Opéra de Paris, was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III as part of his reconstruction of Paris (the Haussmann Works). The project is considered a masterpiece of Neo-Baroque Architecture, with awesome, richly decorated interiors. We strongly recommend the Opéra Garnier guided tour, you can read our feedback about this tour here.
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.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS
» The Opéra Garnier day tours do not cover the seat box of the Phantom of the Opera. If you want to see the Phantom’s seat box, you need to book the Mysteries of the Opéra Garnier night tour.
Evening at Canal Saint-Martin
Try to arrive at Canal Saint-Martin at least one hour before the sunset to enjoy this area also with daylight.
5. CANAL SAINT-MARTIN
This is a very beautiful and trendy area that became famous thanks to the French film Amélie Poulain. Compared to other popular neighborhoods like 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 your feet over the water while watching the boats sail by.
Canal Saint-Martin gets especially lively at the “aperitif time”. Do like the locals and choose one of the trendy 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 Left Bank
The Latin Quarter | Panthéon | Luxembourg Gardens | Saint-Germain-des-Pres | Eiffel Tower | Seine Cruise
The third and last day of this 3 day trip to Paris is dedicated to exploring 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.
Start with a coffee at Quartier Latin (Paris 5), the heart of the university life in Paris. This is also the origin of Lutetia, the former Roman city (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. You can visit the Roman amphitheater for different kinds of shows, Les Arènes de Lutèce, or the ruins of the Roman baths, inside the Cluny Museum but visible from boulevard Saint-Michel.
2. THE PANTHÉON
The Panthéon is 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 Grands 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 the Luxembourg Gardens by rue Soufflot. Can you imagine a street with better views?
Before heading to the Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps you may want to wander around the Quartier Latin (check out our article on Paris 5 for some inspiration), with the first universities of Paris like La Sorbonne, or the Collège de France, and beautiful bookshops, cafes and independent cinemas.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS
» The Panthéon of Paris is open every day from 10 am to 6.30 pm. The entrance ticket costs 9€
» The access to the Panthéon’s dome is open from April to October. Apart from the Panthéon ticket, you need to purchase a second ticket that costs 2€.
Explore the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens built for Queen Marie de Médicis to surround her Palace (today used by the French Sénat). This is one of the most popular parks in the city, with beautiful sights like the octagonal pond, the romantic 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.
MAKE IT SPECIAL: explore the hidden secrets of Luxembourg Gardens and have fun with this self-guided Treasure Hunt!
The next stop of this Paris three day itinerary is the neighborhood of Saint Germain-des-Prés. 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-minute walk starting from the octagonal pond.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés was in the 12th century a small village developed around the Abbey of Saint Germain, 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 the intellectuals, 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 but it is still a beautiful place to get lost or to stop at a nice cafe for people watching.
Evening at the Eiffel Tower and Seine River Boat Tour
We have kept the visit to the Eiffel Tower for the 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!
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 champagne) and admire the historical monuments dotted along the route: the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Conciergerie, …back to Notre Dame, where your 3 day trip to Paris started.
USEFUL INFO & TIPS
» Boat tours usually run until 10.30 pm. If you want to do the night cruise during the summertime (sunset around 10 pm), 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 Things to Do for your Paris in 3 Days Itinerary
With this itinerary for 3 days in Paris, you can get a good idea of what the city has to offer. However, even the best Paris itineraries for 3 days cannot include all the musts the city has to offer. Are you missing other places to see in Paris in 3 days?
» This Paris in 3 days itinerary does not include other beautiful museums like the Orsay Museum. Perhaps you want to exchange the Louvre Museum for the Orsay Museum?
» For some people, visiting Versailles is a must. If you don’t want to miss Versailles, you can follow our 2-day Paris Itinerary and use the extra day for Versailles or one of the picturesque small towns near Paris.
» If it is raining in Paris, you can replace the Tuileries Gardens or the Luxembourg Gardens by the covered passages of Paris. You can also check out our favorite things to do in Paris during rainy days.
Where to Sleep in Paris for 3 Days
If you have not decided where to sleep in Paris for 3 days yet, we can help with some suggestions.
Booking.com is the best site for booking hotels in Paris. They have good rates and a huge selection of hotels of all kinds plus it is possible to cancel for free if in the end, you cannot make it to Paris.
HOTEL WITH EIFFEL TOWER VIEWS
If you can afford it, why not treating yourself with the pleasure of waking up with an amazing Eiffel Tower balcony view? Some of Paris’ top luxury hotels, well known for its great facilities and amazing interiors, come also with the best views of Eiffel Tower, especially beautiful during its night show.
HOTELS AT LE MARAIS
Le Marais is a beautiful area to stay in Paris, especially if you are visiting Paris for the first time. It is beautiful, central, and there are plenty of bar and restaurant options around.
LE PAVILLON DE LA REINE & SPA, Paris 3, $$$$
Le Pavillon de la Reine is a luxury hotel & spa located at Place des Vosges in the Marais. The rooms are individually decorated and very spacious. Facilities include a spa, fitness center, and hammam. Its beautiful secluded garden is perfect to end your day with a drink.
HOTEL DU PETIT MOULIN, Paris 3, $$$
Located at the heart of Marais and entirely designed by Christian Lacroix, this hotel offers the best combination history + design. Guests can use complimentary bicycles and enjoy free access to the spa at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine, a 10-min walk away.
HOTEL JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE, Paris 4, $$$$
Located in Le Marais, in a former convent, Hotel de Joséphine is inspired by Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine de Bonaparte. Its unique decorated rooms are elegant and romantic and its cozy saloons are the perfect place for a last glass of champagne.
HOTELS AT LE QUARTIER LATIN
If you prefer to stay in the Left Bank, Le Quartier Latin is a central and lively area with many bars and restaurants nearby plus you are never far from the Luxemboug Gardens. Prices in Le Quartier Latin are slightly cheaper than in Saint- Germain.
HOTEL LA LANTERNE; Paris 5, $$$$
Hotel La Lanterne has an excellent location (between Notre Dame and Luxembourg Gardens), attractive rooms, and some great facilities like a spa, pool, or a private garden. Perfect to finish your exploring days in a more relaxing way.
OBSERVATOIRE LUXEMBOURG: Paris 5, $$$
Located close to Luxembourg Gardens, we find its design pretty cool. But of course, it is not all about decoration: the hotel’s comfortable rooms, French Brasserie, modern facilities, and cool staff are the perfect combination for a great stay in Paris.
We hope that you enjoyed this 3 days in Paris guide. Ready to explore Paris in 3 days? Don’t forget to pin this post for later!
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