Many people don’t spend a lot of time in Paris.
Accommodation in Paris can be expensive, eating out is expensive and people only have a set amount of time before they would like to move on to see the rest of France.
While it would take years to really experience everything that Paris has to offer, you can see many of its sites in three days. It will be a busy three days and you will need a vacation after running around the streets of Paris, but it can be done.
Here are our suggestions of things to see in Paris.
In 3 short days we managed to pack a lot of sites in to our itinerary.
Day 1 – ½ Day Arrive late morning.
Arrive at Charles De Gaulle Airport and hop on the Air France Shuttle to Mont Parnasse Paris. Enjoy a coffee in a café before heading off to your hotel in the Montmartre area. Take the bus it’s cheaper.
Grab your metro and bus maps from the metro ticket office and purchase your 10 ticket metro pass.
Once you settle in, walk around Montmartre and explore the Molin Rouge area. Have lunch at the Place du Tertre before heading to The Basilique du Sacre Coeur for sunset. It has an amazing view of the city and it is alive with street vendors and people.
Grab a city map from your hotel and plan your days marking your route, bus or metro numbers and stops of sites you will be seeing.
The Montmartre area is an excellent budget area to stay in Paris. Not only is it affordable, it is a very cool part of Paris filled with artists, cafés and history. Don’t overdo your first day in Paris, you will need your energy to see as many sites as possible, but it is wise to stay up as long as you can to try to work through your jet lag if you are coming from North America.
Day 2 – Full Day Paris Sightseeing
To make the most of your Paris sight seeing start far away and work your way home.
The Catacombs – They are the farthest south of the major sites in Paris. Spend 1-2 hours checking out the bones of Parisians past. It is a must see attraction in Paris for spooky fun.
Walk to the Mont Parnasse Cemetery- once you are finished at the Catacombs, you can walk through the cemetery and explore a few of its famous graves en route to…
Jardin du Luxombourg for a picnic lunch. Jardin du Luxombourg is Paris’ most popular park. It is green, large and filled with gardens and sculptures. It is an attraction in itself and worth a visit just to walk around and enjoy its beauty.
Hop on the Metro to the Eiffel Tower – Enjoy the view from every angle and make sure to go down to the Seine for a good photo opportunity from a vantage point without people in the shot. Line ups are long at the Eiffel Tower and if you don’t have many days in Paris, you may not want to go up. Then again, a trip up the Eiffel Tower is on the top of mosts peoples lists of must do activities in Paris. So you may want to ignore this piece of advice.
Walk to Rue Cler for a coffee and a snack. This is a beautiful Parissean street. Outdoor cafés line the sidewalk and restaurants offer reasonable fixe prix meals.
Make your way to Musee D’Orsay for the final 2 hours of the day to enjoy French Impressionism at its best. Every day after 4:30, you can get a discount to enter the Musee D’Orsday and witness the great Impressionist Art of the world. It is a museum that commands more time, but if you only have a short time in Paris (like say 3 days) 2 hours will do just fine.
Grab a quick shot of Notre Dame at sunset before heading to…
Dinner at the Latin Quarter – Enjoy a cheap fixed priced dinner in this lively area.
At night, go for a walk along the Seine and enjoy the lights of Paris.
Day 3 – Full Day Sightseeing in Paris
Buy yourself a day pass for 13 Euro on the hop on hop off boat. – you will be able to enjoy the sites of Paris in a shorter amount of time than walking and you will have the romance and relaxation of cruising on the River Seine.
Morning is a beautiful time to make your way to Notre Dame. Go around back for the perfect photo. The sun is in the right spot and there are few tourists walking around. Then make your way inside to be awe inspired by its size and beauty.
Hop on the tourist boat and hop off at the Louvre. Explore the outside of the Louvre and its gardens. (Note; we are not including going into the Louvre in our three-day itinerary because it takes much more time to fully appreciate the inside. It is massive) The outer grounds of the Louvre are incredibly beautiful and it is a tourist destination in its own right. The garden is filled with sculptures, the glass pyramids are fun to explore and the architecture is splendid.
Walk along the Louvres impressive gardens towards the Champs Elysees. You will pass through two gorgeous gardens filled with sculptures and the Place de la Concorde.
You can either choose to picnic in these gardens or make your way to the Champse Elysees for lunch.
The Champs Elysees is filled with excitement and decadence. Boutiques and bistros line the wide lanes. Street performers shine on the sidewalks and you will marvel at one of the worlds most famous streets. Take your time to explore the shops and splurge on a café au lait at a sidewalk restaurant.
After enjoying the Champs Elysees walk towards the Arc Du Triomphe – Witness the worlds largest roundabout from the inside. Pay your respects to the unknown soldier and marvel and the grandness of this impressive monument. Go up to the top of the Arc Du Triomphe for a spectacular view of Paris.
Hop on the metro and make your way to Hotel Les Invalides and see Napoleon’s Tomb. You don’t need to spend too much time at the war museum, but Napoleon’s Tomb itself is impressive.
End your day at Montmartre for a fixed price dinner.
Day 4 – ½ day Morning before Leaving
I know, you are seeing Day 4 and wondering what we are talking about. Wasn’t this post supposed to be about 3 days in Paris? Well you see, Day 1 is only a half day and Day 4 is only a half day. Add them both together and you have 3 full days in Paris to see it’s top sites.
Go to the Cemetiere du Pere Lachaise and explore the graves of Jim Morrison, Chopin and Moliere to name a few. Housing 800,000 souls, it is the most famous cemetery in France.
The end. Hop in your rental car or take your train to your next destination.
Believe it or not, the main attractions and sites of Paris can be seen in three short days. It you plan your route well and take the metro or bus where needed, you can see a lot of Paris’ best sites in a short amount of time. Paris is a large city, but its main tourist sites are very close to one another.
To visit museums and really take in the culture and vibe of the city, you will need far more that 3 days, but to see its highlights and its most famous sites, you can do it. You will just need plenty of caffeine and luckily Paris has a lot of that.
For more tips on Visiting Paris check out our other blog posts