From its wonderful historic monuments to its exceptional cuisine, Paris is a destination unlike any other. Wander in and out of museums, cafes, farmers markets, beautiful gardens and enjoy the romance of the city. This Paris travel guide will help you plan an unforgettable trip!
I wasn’t initially planning on coming to Paris due to the fact that I simply didn’t think I had the funds to properly enjoy myself. I had come to Paris when I was younger with my family and had no idea of how much things actually cost.
Well, sometimes life is funny. I ended up booking a flight from Asia to Europe, and the stopover just so happened to be in Paris, so why not stay “stopped” for an extra couple of days, right??
Unlike most other parts of my round-the-world trip which have been a lot more flexible and unplanned, I actually mapped out an itinerary for three days in Paris in an Excel spreadsheet with everything I wanted to see and do down to a T.
I knew that three days would fly by, and there was so much I wanted to see and do, so I made a jam-packed schedule and I made damn sure that I checked everything off my list that I wanted to see!
After an absolutely exhilarating and exhausting few months exploring Southeast Asia at the peak of its summer – tackling Paris felt quite tame in comparison. Come to think of it, almost anything has felt pretty tame in comparison to backpacking through Southeast Asia in the peak of summer.
So, Paris in three days.
Getting around the city is quite easy. Taking the metro is by far the cheapest and fastest option. You can either buy a two-day metro pass, or pay as you go for one-way tickets. You can get pretty much anywhere by using the metro.
You’ll need an offline map downloaded on your phone so you know which lines to take, (and having a SIM card makes it even easier), but it’s pretty straightforward once you get your wits about you.
I preferred taking the metro at my own pace as opposed to a two-day Hop-On/Off bus pass, because I don’t like feeling stuck. I much preferred to do my own “walking tour” of the entire city, and I got to see every single sight that I wanted to and spend as much time in each location as I pleased!
Here is the itinerary that I created, doing my own walking tour of the city to see all the best sights at my own pace.
9:00 AM. Start Your Day at the Louvre
The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world with hundreds of thousands of works to see. You could easily spend half the day here and still not see everything.
There are a few options for making sure you hit all the highlights.
- Book an organized tour with a guide.
- Do a TON of research prior to visiting and map out your own route (you can see a map online with all the exhibits to make this easy)
- Pre-book “skip the line” tickets with a downloadable audio guide! (This is what I did, and it was fantastic! Only a few $ more than a normal entry ticket.)
I recommend buying your ticket a few days in advance as there are only a certain number of tickets sold per time slot. Otherwise, you could spend hours waiting in the lines to get in, no matter what time of day.
12:00 PM Lunch at Le Petit Vendome
After hours of meandering through the Louvre you will feel a bit disoriented stepping back out into the real world, and if you’re anything like me, starving. I can’t go more than a few hours without a snack, so I always keep a couple restaurants in mind to avoid those hangry moments.
Head down the street to Le Petit Vendome, a classic Parisian bistro that’s always busy and packed with locals. They are known for their classic sandwiches which you can stay and enjoy or takeaway. You can also try some of their best classic French dishes at a lunch special price (try the duck confit.)
1:00 PM Wander in the Latin Quarter
A historic are near the Louvre, this neighborhood is fueled with tiny, cobblestone streets that open up into café-lined squares. There are a ton of shops and bars here as well, making it a popular destination for all times of the day.
3:00 PM Visit the Pantheon
Located in the Latin Quarter, this neoclassical building originally built as a church, was turned into a burial site for French heroes – Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire.
The admission is quite cheap to get in to the Pantheon, approximately 8 EUR, but you can also just as easily spend time admiring the monument from the outside.
4:00 PM Have a Picnic in Jardin du Luxembourg
I had a very specific vision for this part of my itinerary: setting up a giant picnic blanket, sun shining, a chilled bottle of wine, a fresh baguette, and a selection of cheeses to nibble on while watching locals and visiting passerby’s.
Well, I’d say I hit about 70% of my expectations. The weather was a little finnickey during my time here (June), and although the afternoon started off quite sunny, a VERY ominous rain cloud started rolling in over the city just as I was setting up.
I also didn’t have a picnic blanket, and we weren’t able to sit in the grass… so the four of us made a little circle of chairs and used the ground as a table. We ended up running back and forth during the bouts of rain for shelter under a palm tree, carrying our plastic cups of wine and protecting our bread and cheese like our lives depended on it.
It made for a great memory, anyway. Stock up for your picnic by popping into the local wine shop around the corner, and chances are the sommelier will also refer to you to his friends’ cheese and bread shop next door. Score!
8:00 PM Dinner at Le Coup de Torchon
This place is a hidden gem. A wonderful little French Bistro in the 5th arrondismont, walking distance from the Luxembourg Gardens. I highly recommend making a reservation. I feel as though my group of 4 got very lucky and we were able to get a table at 8 pm on the day of.
The restaurant is quite small, and I can’t imagine a day where they’re not full. It is an incredible value for the quality of French food you’ll order. A three course-dinner meal costs around $16 a person, and add in a bottle of wine for $12. I was truly shocked at how low the bill came out to be, after such a wonderful meal and fantastic experience!
9:00 AM Eiffel Tower
Built in 1889, this iconic beauty is worth the visit. Although in a very congested part of the city, you can start your day here and meander through the long parks and shopping streets from one stop on your itinerary to the next. Lines will form early if you want to access the second level or take the elevator to the top.
11:00 AM Champs Elysees
This prestigious avenue in Paris has cafes, specialty shops, boutique stores, and you wont be able to help yourself but to hum the synonymous tune “champs Elysees..” as you’re strolling the street. You’ll see the Arc de Triumph at the end of the street.
12:00 PM Arc de Triumph
Another famous landmark not to miss. Quite literally a triumphal arc to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. Visitors can climb 284 steps to reach the top of the Arc to see some amazing panoramic views of the city.
1:30 PM Lunch at Soul Kitchen
This cozy little place is the perfect stopover for a quick lunch, a coffee fuel, or a chocolate croissant. When in Paris… (I definitely had one a day.) This spot has an entirely homemade menu, a great atmosphere, vegan options, and a great outdoor area to people watch in Montmartre.
3:00 PM Explore Montmartre
Wander down the hill to the famous Sacre Couer. This white domed church will blow your mind from a mile away. Perched on top of the hill in Montmartre overlooking the city, this 100-year old basilica is a place for locals and tourists alike.
The sprawling front lawn is filled with people enjoying the view, having a picnic, or just having a rest after hiking straight uphill. The interior is filled with mosaics, stained-glass windows, and crypt.
Musee de Montmartre
If you have time, check out this art museum showcasing local history and culture of Paris in a 17th-century house and garden where Renoir and other famous artists used to work. You can wander around through the exhibits, visit the garden, and enjoy the Cafe Renoir.
Place du Tertre
This tiny square is packed and bustling with local artists, vendors, shops, cafes, live music, the list goes on! This is where Paris’ famous artists used to hang out, so wander the square, get a caricature drawn, grab a croissant, and enjoy the people watching.
After wandering down through the streets of Montmartre back into the city, make your way towards Canal St. Martin.
6:00 PM Explore the Trendy Canal St. Martin
As your first stop, have a drink at the riverside Point Ephemere. This place serves as a plant shop, art gallery, a multi-use concert hall, rehearsal studio, dance hall, and bar.
It’s such a fun, unique experience and is the perfect representation of this neighborhood. Wander down the boardwalk along the river and you’ll come to the more bustling part of the area.
This is where you’ll find locals who spend their nights sitting alongside the river with snacks and beer from the local market. The scene is so social and vibrant, you’ll for sure want to join alongside them for a drink!
8:00 PM Dinner at Chez Prune
Chez Prune has a wonderful staff, vibrant atmosphere, huge portions for a very reasonable price. It truly feels like an authentic Parisian environment. There is a daily menu offered with Chefs suggestions, as well as a variety of cuisine from French, Thai, or Italian.
The menu is quite short which indicates their food is all homemade and prepared day to day. The bar is also very cool and lively with good drinks and apps!
9:00 AM Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited monument of Paris. You will find the Notre Dame in Paris fourth district, located in the City Island on the Seine river. Mornings are the most enjoyable time of the day to visit as the place is much more quiet and you won’t have to wait for too long to get inside the church.
Once you stand in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, you might get a little disappointed due to the length of the lines, but you don’t need to worry. It’ll go by quickly and it’s free to get inside the church!
10:00 AM Sainte Chapelle
To me, Saint Chapelle is the most beautiful chapel in Paris. Yes, the nearby Notre Dame is towering and stunning, but this much smaller, gothic church has the most exquisite, intricate interiors that I’ve ever seen.
Stained glass windows reaching from the floors to the ceiling, with some of the oldest, original stained glass in the world. The outside doesn’t do it justice, it’s the interior that will take your breath away.
12:00 PM Visit the Iconic Shakespeare & Company
This iconic bookstore is a a must visit for all lovers of literature, history, or even just beautiful spaces and a warm, inviting atmosphere. There’s a huge collection of English titles. You could easily spend hours getting lost in its bohemian surrounds.
1:00 PM Lunch on Ile Saint-Louis – Pom’Cannelle
This simple Parisian bistro is perfect for lunch. Think quiche, crepes, sandwiches, French onion soup, and beignets. This French cuisine will delight your palette and despite its touristy location on this island, it won’t break the bank.
3:00 PM Visit Musee D’Orsay
Musee D’Orsay is my favorite gallery/museum to visit in Paris. I definitely recommend to book tickets beforehand to skip the lines, and keep in mind that it does get a bit crowded (although definitely not as bad as the Louvre).
There are tons of amazing impressionist artworks, and the temporary exhibitions I got to see were wonderful. There is also a great view of the city from the top, and the inside is a piece of art in itself. The building is the old train station, and there is a cafe on the top floor with views out of the clock tower.
6:00 PM Dinner at Restaurant 52
This wonderful French bistro is the spot for locals and tourists alike. It’s menu is creative, the food is attractively presented, reliably tasty, and an extensive wine list.
It’s best to get here early as they don’t take reservations and the restaurant will be full by 7 pm.
8:00 PM Atelier des Lumieres
THIS SHOW. Exceeded my expectations. Located in the 11th arr. of Paris, the Atelier des lumieres offers monumental immersive exhibitions. The exhibitions usually run for a couple months, so when I was there I saw the Van Gogh exhibit and it was phenomenal. All of his best artwork splayed all across floor-ceiling surfaces with walls up to 10 meters.
This is a great way to experience famous artworks with a modern twist allowing viewer to experience works of art in an entirely creative and immersive way.
The integration of music that goes along with the lights and the digital transitions in a 4D experience will show you a whole new world of art. Book tickets in advance online!
That wraps up my three day itinerary in Paris. The city of lights… the city of love… whatever you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to find it in this wonderful metropolis.
The Traveling Yogi