Europe

How to Spend Three Days in Paris

Did you know that the Louvre is the world’s largest museum? This attraction alone could take a whole week to see everything. We have have visited Paris two times now, and still have not seen everything on our list. This quick and easy guide outlines our top picks after both trips and even a day trip to the Loire Valley.

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We have a family member who moved to Paris in his early 20’s so we love making the stop in Paris to see him on our way to another European destination. We tend to stay near Rue des Martyrs for this reason, but have been lucky to have our on personal tour guide each time we visit the city of love. Thankfully, he showed us the must-see attractions, but steered us away from the less than desirable tourist traps. Taking our experiences and his tips, we wrote this guide to share the best attractions, hotels, and restaurants in the city in only three days.

Paris in 3 Days: Suggested Activities, Hotels, and Restaurants

SUGGESTED 3-DAY PARIS ITINERARY

DAY 1

Arrive in Paris

You can either arrange a private transfer or catch a taxi at a taxi stand located at the airport. Keep in mind you may wait up to 30 minutes for a taxi.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

It is free to enter the cathedral, but you must wear appropriate clothing. Make sure your shoulders are covered and you are not wearing any shorts or skirts. The bell tower has a separate entrance, and the line can get very long. The line was too long when we arrived, so we decided to skip it, but we recommend checking it out if you get there early enough or don’t mind waiting in line.

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Walk along the Seine River

Enjoy the gorgeous views while walking along the River.

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We happened to visit during Bastille Day on one of our trips and witnessed this rare helicopter fly over. It was quite a site to see. If you are interested in seeing this on your trip, make sure you are there on July 14.

The Louvre

This is a must-see when visiting Paris! We were on a tight schedule so we basically had to run through the Louvre in an hour and a half. We know, it was crazy! But we left feeling like we saw everything important, including the Mona Lisa.

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It is recommended to give yourself at least  a couple hours to tour the museum. The more time the better, especially if you like visiting museums. You can buy your tickets ahead of time here. Tickets are free for visitors under 18 years of age.

Dinner at Hotaru

Located in Rue des Martyrs. We highly recommend eating here for one of the best sushi dinners you will ever have! It is no wonder the chef is a Michelin star winner. It is a little on the pricey side (~ 25-53 euros pp) but it is so worth it!

DAY 2

We decided to book a tour on Viator to get to the Loire Valley. We were still a little bit jet-lagged so it was nice to be able to sleep on the bus while someone else drove us to the Loire Valley. There were only about 25 people on the motor coach so there was plenty of room to spread out and get comfortable. Our tour included entrance to 2 chateaus and lunch at a winery, although Viator has other tour options.

You could certainly rent a car too. It appeared to be an easy 3-hour drive to the furthest chataeu, Chenonceau, from Paris. Make sure you give yourself enough time to visit all of the chateaus. Our tour lasted 12 hours, which gave us plenty of time to explore each stop.

Early Breakfast

Find a local café or brasserie to enjoy a cup of coffee and people watching.

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Chateau de Chambord

This was the first chateau we visited and the largest in the Loire Valley.

Ambois

We regret not booking a tour that included this town and chateau. We saw pictures of the town all over Pinterest, but decided against it to visit a winery instead. Our tour drove through the town, and it looked as beautiful as it did in pictures. Don’t make the same mistake we did – book a tour that stops here or drive to the town yourself.

Lunch and wine tasting at Château de Nitray

This stop was included with our tour. This a great option if you love wine-tasting. Our traditional French meal was delicious and the hosts were fantastic. According to locals, wine from the Loire Valley isn’t the go-to choice, but we thought it was pretty good.

Chateau de Chenonceau

This chateau is said to be one of the prettiest in the Loire Valley and we could see why! The chateau was stunning and the gardens were just as beautiful. They also have fresh flower arrangements placed throughout the chateau. It was truly a dream come true!

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Dinner

There are so many fabulous places to eat dinner! You will be arriving back in Paris around 7:30 pm if you took the tour and probably want to eat close to your hotel. You can check out our top restaurant recommendations below if you’re looking for suggestions.

DAY 3

Versailles

One of the most luxurious and famous chateaus in France. This gold-adorned palace is another must-see in Paris.

We do not normally book museum tours, but we definitely recommend booking one for Versailles ahead of time to avoid extremely long lines. Viator had a ton of tour options that allow you to skip the line.

Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-Elysées

Get your shopping fix in at any of the luxury or chain stores in these areas. You can also see the Eiffel Tower from Avenue Montaigne and the Arc de Triomphe at the west end of Champs-Elysees.

Lunch at L’Avenue

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Located on Avenue Montaigne, this is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch and a glass of champagne with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Eiffel Tower

Do we even need to say that this is a must-see in Paris? Luckily, even if you can’t make it over to the exact location or don’t want to deal with the crowds, you can see the tower all over the city. We used Uber to catch a ride over to the Trocadero to view the Eiffel Tower. This is the second time we have taken pictures here.

trocadero

During our first trip, we went early in the morning and it was practically empty. On our second trip, it was under construction and crowded due to the World Cup being held in France.

Thus, check with your hotel concierge to see if it is still under construction before visiting and be aware of events being held in the city. Afterwards, you can walk down to the Eiffel Tower and tour the surrounding parks/gardens for additional views.

Dinner/Leave for Flight

If you are staying one more night, then we recommend having dinner at the Eiffel Tower or Minipalais. We were not particularly fond of the food at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, but it was incredibly romantic and a once in a lifetime experience.

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You must book reservations far in advance if you plan to dine at Le Jules Verne. If you insist on eating at the Eiffel Tower, and can’t get a reservation at Le Jules Verne, another option is 58 Tour Eiffel which is located on the first floor.

Another great option is the Minipalais, which has a beautiful atmosphere and wonderful food. Also, you don’t have to stress about booking in advance.

WHERE WE STAYED IN PARIS

We have visited Paris two times now, and stayed at different hotels each time. Both were wonderful, but there was a significant difference in price. If you are looking to stay at an ultra-luxurious, 5-star hotel, then we recommend Le Meurice. It is one of the nicest hotels in Paris, and a popular spot for celebrities and prominent political figures.

It is conveniently located across from the Metropolitan and all the major sites. We also read recently that the best pastry chef in the world works there!

During our most recent trip, we stayed at Les Plumes hotel. It was a quaint hotel located in Rue des Martyrs. It is located a little further from the main attractions, but definitely a quieter part of town. The staff were super nice and the room decor was pretty cool.

If neither of these match what you’re looking for, check out this link for a list of the top hotels in Paris.

OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN PARIS

Lunch

  • MinipalaisFor the atmosphere and raw beef tartar.
  • Yoom – For the yummy dumplings.

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  • 58 Tour Eiffel – For one of the best views in the city and bragging rights.
  • L’Avenue – For a fantastic view of the Eiffel tower and people watching.

Dinner:

  • Hotaru – For some of the best sushi you will ever have.
  • Le Jules Verne – For a romantic date night and astounding view.

Dessert:

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Top Activities

Don’t miss:  Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (at least outside), Notre-Dame Cathedral, Versailles, Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe

Go if you have time: The Louvre (inside), Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau de Chambord, Ambois

Could Have Skipped It: Wine-tasting at Château de Nitray

Next Time: Notre-Dame Cathedral bell tower, Ambois, Musee d’Orsay, Luxembourg Gardens

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Heading to Paris? We would love to hear about your plans!

 

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