Paris is a stunning city. No matter what you do there, you will be happy you went. If you’re a first time visitor, like I was, hit up the Louvre, D’Orsay & see the Eiffel Tower. Walk the streets of Montmartre, see the view from Sacre Coeur & ride the metro. Most importantly, visit the bakeries & patisseries everyday & get your fill of pain au chocolat, baguettes & freshly made croissants. These were my favorite things in Paris!
3 Days in Paris: Tips
What to eat
When in France, eat butter, bread & cheese & lots of it! In my Notes on Paris post I recommend a few types of pastries I really enjoyed in Paris & also, visit a market & stock up on plenty of cheeses, tapenades & deli meats for breakfast. You will be shocked at how reasonably priced they are in Europe.
Also, eat escargot. It may be a cliche but, it’s also a must if you haven’t had it before.
When you’re ready to eat lunch, look for “Formules.” These are set menu lunch specials served between 12:00-2:00-ish. Most restaurants in Paris have a menu outside that should list the Formules for the day & price. Eat it while you can! Once the lunch hours are over, you might have difficulty finding food again until dinner hours, beginning around 7 p.m. at the earliest.
Where to stay
As always, I recommend Air BnB. I also recommend Montmartre if you’re looking for a specific neighborhood. I chose Montmartre because it’s mostly where Amelie was filmed. Like most Amelie fan girls, I couldn’t resist. But it also proved to be an awesome location for sightseeing. We were far enough from the sites to enjoy peace, quiet & lower prices but near enough to walk to some of them. Sacre Couer & Moulin Rouge were just 10 minutes from our Air BnB. The Opera House & LaFayette Galleries were only a 15 minute walk. Also, don’t stress too much about the neighborhood you choose so long as you’re near a metro. The Paris metro was really easy & convenient. It was 1.80€ for each ride and you can use the city’s metro app to navigate your way around.
What to see
Paris has a little bit of everything to offer and of course, what you spend your time seeing & doing depends on your interests. If it’s your first time visiting the city spend some time sight seeing & wandering the museums. I recommend the following:
Churches– Sacre Couer & Notre Dame
Museums– The Louvre, D’orsay
Sites– The Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, the Catacombs, Shakespeare & Company Bookstore & Place du Tertre
- Beware of pick pockets! Especially during high season, pick pockets flock to tourists. This is nothing new but be vigilant & know what to look for. Women who surround you as a group to ask you to sign petitions or men who want to make you a bracelet on your wrist & tell you about how much they like your home country are all skilled at charming you while their friend snags your wallet from behind. Use your common sense here & avoid these situations like this!
- Know your stuff about ordering coffee! In Europe, coffee is usually served as a shot of espresso to drink while standing at the bar or in a restaurant. However, if you prefer something different, here are a few menu options:
Café/Café Noir/Espresso– shot of espresso
Noisette– Espresso with a little cream
Café crème– espresso with steamed milk (similar to a latte or cappuccino)
3 Days in Paris: Itinerary
Day 1 – Relax & take it all in at your own pace!
Morning – You’ve just arrived in Paris & you probably took a long flight to get here! Relax & take it easy this morning. Eat a nice breakfast & take your time with plenty of coffee, you’ll need it later for the jet lag. Don’t forget to hydrate!
Midmorning – Wander around the area you are staying in. Get familiar with the local shops & explore the metro.
Afternoon – Stop by the Opera House, Palais Garnier, for a self guided tour. They offer a tour of the Opera house, think grand foyers & chandeliers, or a backstage tour, you know where the Phantom hides.
Following the Opera House, catch sunset views of the city from the rooftop at Galleries Lafayette Haussmann, open from 9:30-7:30.
Evening – Venture over to Quartier Pigalle to see the Moulin Rouge & the racy neon signs.
Day 2 – Sight Seeing
Morning – Drop by the bakery/patisserie and get fresh goodies for breakfast. Take it easy & treat yo self! This vacation is also time away from work so don’t forget to enjoy!
Mid morning –Take the Stairs of Montmartre to see Sacre Coeur, take the funicular if walking the stairs isn’t possible. Afterwards, wander over to Place du tertre, the Artists Square, to see the painters in action. Also in this area, Espace Dali & the Wall of Love.
Afternoon – See the Arc de Triomphe & walk Champs Elysees, to see what the French call “the world’s most beautiful avenue.”
Evening – Squeeze in a cultural tour, I recommend the Catacombs.
Following your tour, see the belle of the ball, the Eiffel Tower. If you’d like to go up in the tower, the shortest line will be the walk to the 2nd floor at 7€. The tower will be lit up at night with twinkling lights coming on for 5 minutes at a time at the beginning of each hour.
Cap off the evening with a walk by the Seine banks, home to plenty of beautiful bridges, statues & history.
Day 3 – Museum Day
Morning – Today is your last day, so let’s get up & get going! To begin, visit Notre Dame & get in line early for the bell tower.
Midmorning – Wander over to Shakespeare & Company Bookstore to have a look at all this quirky old bookshop then have lunch in the Latin Quarter.
Afternoon – You can’t visit Paris for the first time & not see the Louvre! So get over there, with your tickets in hand to skip the line. Set aside a few hours as there is plenty to see & you’ll want to take your time.
Evening – End the day with a visit to Musee d’Orsay, a museum housed in an old train station with some of the most world’s loved Impressionist paintings, sculptures & great views.