My love of travel is no secret! So over the coming weeks I’ll be posting a few of these 3 day destination guides to give you some inspiration for your next trip. First up, is one of my favourite destinations: Paris!
What is there not to love about the fascinating and romantic French capital? Having visited a couple of times now, I’ve put together a guide on what to see and do in Paris within a tight 3 day timeframe. This is assuming that you’re a first-timer in Paris and want to cram in as much as you can. If you’ve visited before, I’ll make some suggestions for extra things to do.
After breakfast at your hotel, catch the metro to Sacre Coeur’s nearest stop, Abbesses, and enjoy a pleasant 10 minute walk from there. As this will take you to the bottom of Sacre Coeur, you can either climb the stairs (work off those croissants!) or catch the Montmartre Funicular to the top.
After visiting the basilica itself, take a stroll around the pretty surrounding gardens and walk around the surrounding quaint streets, including visiting the iconic Place du Tertre, where local artists set up to paint and sell their wares. Perhaps stop for a spot of lunch, then stroll back down the hill, take a ride on the Carousel and peruse the shops before making your way back to the metro.
From here catch the metro back to St Lazare and take a stroll along Boulevard Haussman, home to many of Paris’s upmarket department stores. Printemps and Gallerie La Fayette are worth a visit, even if you don’t intend on making a purchase. If you’re visiting at christmas time, the window displays are well worth a look. Be sure to also walk down to the regal Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opera and ballet company. Perhaps the most well known Opera House in the world, this impressive building is worthy of a photo or two.
From here catch the metro to Charles de Gaulle Etoile, which will bring you out directly opposite Arc de Triomphe. Take a stroll down the wide promenades of Champs Elysses, perhaps the most famous street in Paris and peruse the shops before stopping for a coffee to recharge.
Head back to your hotel and have a rest before changing for dinner. In the evening, pre-book onto an Eiffel tower dinner and Cruise package for best value. In my opinion this is the best way to visit the Eiffel tower, as you will not have to wait in line at all. Your tour group will be escorted straight to the elevator and to the 1st Floor restaurant, 58 Tour Eiffel. Enjoy a 3 course meal with spectacular views before heading back down to the river to board your cruise. If you’d prefer more time to explore the Eiffel tower, your cruise voucher is valid for at least a few days, so you can take the cruise another day if you wish. The river Seine cruise allows you to take in all of the sites and catch a glimpse of the Eiffel tower’s night time light show, which happens on the hour, every hour at night.
Start your day off early and head straight to the Louvre after breakfast. If you want to visit the museum itself I would allow up to one full day to explore it properly, so for this itinerary I would only suggest visiting the exterior. Explore the main courtyard and snap some photos of the famous Louvre Pyramid. From here catch the metro to either Citè or St Michel Notre Dame, the closest stations to Notre Dame Cathedral. This beautiful French Gothic Cathedral is a breathtaking feat of architecture and well worth queuing up for to go inside. I would also suggest taking a stroll around the exterior gardens as well as some of the surrounding streets on Îsle de la Citè.
From here, simply walk back across the bridge and continue along Boulevard Saint Michel to explore the vibrant Latin Quarter, one of my favourite areas in Paris! When trying to decide where to stop for lunch, you will be spoilt for choice, as the streets are lined with gorgeous bistros and restaurants.
After soaking up some of the local atmosphere, continue walking to the Panthéon, which stands tall at the end of Rue Soufflot. This towering Neoclassical structure serves mostly as a mausoleum for many distinguished French citizens. The church interior and Panthéon crypt are well worth an hour of your time.
Only a short walk away is the famous Jardin de Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris and home to Luxembourg Palace. This is the perfect place to relax and soak up some sun in the afternoon. Pop into the cute garden cafe for a coffee or snack, before taking a stroll around.
In the late afternoon, head back to your hotel to recharge, before heading out to dinner. Perhaps head to St Germain des Prés (6th Arr) for an authentic french meal, or depending on where you are staying, ask your hotel concierge for local places to eat. Get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s jam-packed itinerary!
Your final day starts with rising early and catching the RER C train out to Château de Versailles, roughly 45 minutes away. Be sure to pre-book your admission tickets online, to avoid extra queuing. You will need to get a train that terminates at Versailles Château-Rive Gauche. Once you arrive at the station, it is only a short walk to the entrance of the palace. By arriving just before the gates open, you hopefully will avoid the long queues, however be prepared to queue for up to one hour depending on how busy it is.
There is so much to see and do at Versailles including the Palace, gardens, Marie Antoinette’s estate and The Trianon Palaces, that you could easily spend a day or two looking around. However it is certainly possible to see everything in half a day.
Once you’ve explored the opulent interiors of the palace, venture outside and meander around the stunning gardens.The Trianon palaces and Marie Antoinette’s estate open at noon, giving you plenty of time to explore the palaces and garden beforehand. As the grounds are so huge, I would strongly recommend catching Le Petit Train, which transports you to various points of interest. This will save you a lot of time, as well as energy, as it can be many kilometres walk otherwise.
After taking in all the splendours of Marie Antoinette’s estate and the Trianon palaces, catch the mini train back to the palace and perhaps indulge in some savoury and sweet treats at Salon de Thè Angelina.
Venture back into the city by train and hop off at Invalides, from here you can walk across one of the most stunning bridges in Paris, Pont Alexandre III, also know as The Golden Bridge. This ornate 19th century bridge provides some great photo opportunities and is a great vantage point for pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Continue walking up to the Grand Palais and admire the beauty of this iconic monument, which is used mostly as an exhibition and museum space. Walk down to Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris, featuring beautiful fountains and a giant Egyptian Obelisk. This provides a great viewpoint for photography straight down Champs Elysses.
Head back to your hotel and rest before venturing out to a dinner show at Le Lido. This iconic burlesque show is just as well known as Moulin Rouge, but in my opinion is a better option. Whilst quite an expensive endeavour, it truly is a once in a lifetime experience! Plus, afterwards you can venture back out onto the Champs Elysses and admire the twinkling lights one last time!
If you have more time in Paris, here are some other suggestions for things to see and do:
- Les Catacombs de Paris- Eerie underground ossuaries, which hold the remains of millions of people. Expect to queue, as this is a very popular attraction. Metro -Denfert Rochereau
- Disneyland Paris- experience the magic of Disney just 45 minutes train ride from Paris – RER A Train Marne-la-Vallèe- Chessy
- Parc Monceau- A large, pretty public park in the 8th Arrondissement. Perfect for a lazy afternoon in Paris! Metro- Monceau
- Monet’s Garden- Visit the picture perfect home and gardens that inspired some of Claude Monet’s most famous works. The garden is open from late March to October each year and is located in Giverny around 45 minutes from Paris by train. Stop- Vernon
- Guided tour of Opera Garnier- instead of forking out for an expensive ticket to the ballet, take a look inside the magnificent Opera house and marvel at the grand staircase, the grand foyer and the auditorium itself, for a fraction of the price. Metro- Opèra
- Musèe d’Orsay- If you’re interested in art, you can explore the works of Monet, Degas, Cèzanne and Van Gogh in his former railway station , which is home to the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. Metro- Solférino
There are so many other wonderful things to see in Paris, so this is only a very small selection. What are some of your suggestions?