Paris is probably on every girls travel wish list. City of lights, city of love, there is so much to do, see and eat!
While I was scanning through flights one day, I came across a great flight deal from Norwegian airlines. $360 non-stop round trip from Boston to Paris. Although I’ve been to Paris many years ago, I knew this was the best opportunity to check it out with my husband. We decided to make this little Europe trip our 3rd wedding anniversary celebration.
We started with Paris and spent three days there. Some people would argue that three days is not enough time in Paris but I thought it was just perfect.
TIP: The Paris airport is not located in Paris city and is about 30 – 35 mins away from the center. You can either take a cab from the airport which will cost around 55 EUR or you can take the RER train from the airport into the city. This will cost you about 9 EUR. This is probably best if you are travelling light and on a budget.
Check out this website for all the information you need on using the train system in Paris.
Here is a general guide on what to do with three days in Paris
Day 1: Explore around the Eiffel Tower.
Depending on what part of Paris you are staying at, I would recommend starting by checking out the area around the Eiffel tower. Start your morning with a nice coffee and croissant from a bakery close to your hotel. There will be several and they are all great.
Take the subway to the Arc De Triomphe station. The Arc de Triomphe was built in memory of those who died in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. If you arrive early you can go to the top for an excellent view of the city and the Eiffel tower. That will be your first major tourist attraction.
From there walk about 30 mins towards the Seine river to see the Pont Alexandre III bridge. From here, you will also get a pretty nice view of the Eiffel tower. From the bridge, it is about a 10 minute walk to Musee D’Orsay. You will need at minimum 2.5 hours to check out the museum.
We chose to skip this and just continued towards the Eiffel Tower. The best place to get Eiffel tower photos are at the Trocadero. This is the location where most Instagram photos are shot at. You can also go to the opposite side of the Eiffel tower park to Palais de chaillot. Once you have your share of Instagram worthy photos with the Eiffel tower, head back over to the Seine River.
You can either buy a bottle of wine and pack a picnic or eat at several restaurants that are along the river. My favorite was Le Bal Del Marine. This spot had live music, people jiving on the streets in and around the restaurant and the best part – stone oven pizza.
For day 1, I would not recommend to do any more than this just because you will likely be exhausted from travelling. We sat around the river for a few hours before we headed back to our hotel to shower and change for a light dinner. We ate close to our hotel at some random restaurant that I would not recommend. We called it an early night since we landed at 10 am in the morning and got no sleep on the flight.
TIP: The Eiffel tower is crowded at all times of the day with afternoon time being the most crowded. If you want to get photos without people in it, you will have to go during sunrise. You can also wait till 12 am if you want to get a good night shot. Every hour starting at 10 PM the Eiffel tower will sparkle and light up for 5 minutes.
Day 2: Day trip to Versailles and explore Le Marais District
On day two, we decided to head to Versailles. This is where you can visit the incredible Palace of Versailles that was the seat of many French Royalty including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
It was a Sunday and although we had initially planned to go there on our last day in Paris, I realized two weeks before our trip that the palace is open every day except on Mondays from 9:00 am. The estate of Trianon and the Coach Gallery only open in the afternoon.
Getting to Versailles is easy. You can get a train (RER C) from central Paris to the Gare de Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche. Depending on if you are using a tour company or walking the palace yourself, you will either meet somewhere close to the station to pick up your tickets and walk over with your tour guide or just head directly to the palace entrance. This is a quick 10 minute walk from the train station.
TIP: I would highly recommend taking the morning train to Versailles and getting a fast-track pass beforehand. This will cut a 2 hour wait down to 10 minutes.
To truly appreciate Versailles, I would suggest allocating at least half a day to it. It is huge and there is so much to see. Using an audio guide is best because you can then walk through the palace, estates and gardens on your own pace and skip things if you wanted to. Prepare to do a lot of walking and expect that there will be big crowds.
The palace itself is just astonishing. The architecture, artwork, light fixtures and the number of bedrooms just left me amazed. Listen carefully to the audio tour otherwise, you will feel like you are just walking into the same room repeatedly. Once you leave the palace, you can enter into the gardens, which are out of this world. I felt like I was in an Alice in Wonderland movie. Take a long walk through the gardens and visit the various fountains located throughout the gardens. You can also then take a mini train ride to Marie Antoinette’s estate, which is further down from the Palace. It took us a total of about 4 hours to look through everything and we even ended up skipping some of the estates.
We then headed back to Paris and went to Le Marais district. Here you will find small crooked medieval lanes which are brought to life with bars, restaurants, fashion boutiques, trendy shops, old fashioned bread shops, jewelry and art galleries all crammed into one small area.
We stopped to eat at a local restaurant called Les Philosophes. This restaurant is a perfect place to get some local French cuisine like French onion soup and just people watch. When eating at local restaurants just know that most of the menus will be in French only and the waiters will speak to you in French only. Google translate to the rescue!
If you are looking for something other than French cuisine, another great place to grab a bite is L’aus du falafel. I know, falafel in Paris? Trust me, I grew up in Kuwait and I know what good Mediterranean food should taste like and I will say that L’aus du falafel did not disappoint. Le Marais just happens to have one of the old Jewish communities in Paris hence the great middle eastern food.
Once in Le Marais, you can take a 15 minute walk to the Notre Dame. Ofcourse we were not able to go in or get a great picture of it because of the recent fire so it was closed off to the public. We then took a 8 minute walk to Saint Chappelle. This is a relatively small chapel especially compared to the Norte Dame but the interior consists of almost floor to ceiling stained glass is known absolutely outstanding.
It was a beautiful day in Paris and from being inside almost all afternoon in Versailles, we decided to take a long walk back to our hotel. When I say long, I mean, it was a 1 hr and 45 minute long walk back. We were hoping to find some scooters on the way back but there were none available. Most of the time we walked along the Seine River and stopped for a drink every 25 minutes, which made the walk back much more fun.
Day 3: Montmartre & Musée Du Louvre
We started day three by taking a train to Montmartre. This is home to a large hill, atop which sits the glorious Sacre Coeur de Montmartre, one of Paris’s 2nd most visited tourist spot. This was by far my favorite part about Paris and I wish I had more to time spend there.
When getting off from the train station, right ahead you will find Moulin Rouge. We did not go to any show because it was a beautiful day out but we had it on our itinerary if it ended up being a rainy day.
From there we walked up a steep road to have some breakfast at a small whole in the wall crepe place called Creperie. This place was cash only and was amazing! With some banana nutella crepes in my belly, I was ready for the hike up the steep roads to head towards the Sacre Coeur.
As you walk up you will realise that Montmartre is a maze of cute little streets, cafes and shops. It is a very artsy little town and was famous for being home to artists Picasso and was very frequently visited by Dali.
Once you get to the top, you will find the Sacre Coeur, which is free to go into. You do have to pay a small fee to go all the way to the top of the tower, which has breathtaking views of the entire city of Paris. This is also a great place to watch the sunset over Paris in case you visit during the evening time. Do note that in the summertime, the sun sets around 8:45 – 9:15 so you should plan to be in the area accordingly.
We loved walking around and exploring the little art shops, stopped to have a little afternoon appetizer –L’escargot, at one of the many side restaurants in the centre on Montmartre.
Once we were done exploring, we headed back to the train and took the train to the Louvre. We purposely split up the museums into different days so that we were inside all day. The Louvre will take you a good 2.5 – 3 hrs to visit in its entirety and can leave you pretty exhausted from fighting to get through the crowds.
From there you can head over to Montparnasse which is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Paris. Too bad we were so get lagged we decided to walk back to the hotel AGAIN and retire for the night. Close to Montparnasse is also the Catacombs which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines. We decided not to visit these because I had already seen this on my last Paris trip. I also get very claustrophobic and the thought of being in an underground burial chamber with no windows did not seem pleasing to me at all.
To summarize here are the things you should do with your three days in Paris.
- Arc de Triomphe
- Pointe Alexandre
- Seine River walk or river cruise
- Eiffel Tower
- Le Marais
- Notre Dame
- Sainte Chapelle
- Sacre Coeur at Montmartre
- Musée du Louvre
- Musée D’Orsay
- Day trip to Versailles
Before heading to Paris, I was expecting it to be like a typically city… crowded, dirty and the smell of drainage and food. But, what I found was beautiful architecture – probably the best I’ve ever seen, clean streets and great food. Ofcourse it was still crowded, full of tourists and lots of traffic, but I enjoyed Paris much more than I expected to. But, I was very excited to leave the city and head over to Amsterdam next!