Planning a trip to Paris? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
Ah, Paris! With its cafés and boat trips on the Seine, its chic neighbourhoods and department stores, its metro and musicians, its monuments, squares, fountains and riverbanks! The French are proud of their capital and so they should be: the “city of light” shines her culture on the entire world like a beacon that illuminates the darkness.
Your stay in Paris should begin with its famous symbol: the Eiffel Tower, on the Champ de Mars in the 7th arrondissement. Not only does the Eiffel Tower in itself embody the city, and even France, but in addition to this, from its summit you can admire a stunning view over the rooftops of the capital. Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, at over 300 metres high, it is still the tallest observation tower across Europe.
If the sun is out, the Champ-de-Mars, spreading out underneath the Eiffel tower, is an ideal spot for a picnic. To feel like a proper Parisian, you can enjoy a jambon-beurre baguette sandwich, which is so common it’s called “le parisien”. It will also allow you to appreciate the French expertise in bread making.
Come the afternoon, make your way to the Louvre, on the banks of the Seine. This museum housed in a former royal palace is so famous it needs no introduction. Just be aware that you will not be able to see everything, even with the best will in the world. The Italian painters’ gallery, in which you’ll find Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, is a safe bet, but the department of Egyptian antiquities is also
In the evening, if you want to sample the best of French gastronomy, you should go to the Louchebem, a former butcher’s shop located in the Les Halles district, in the centre of town. Not far away, in the Bastille district, you’ll find the Café de l’Industrie, a typical Parisian brasserie, great for a reasonably priced dinner.
The next day, it's already time to leave the capital. Take the RER to Versailles, a few kilometres away. This beautiful chateau, which was the royal residence during the century leading up to the Revolution, is the symbol of the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV, the Sun King. All the courts of Europe then looked to France and its grandest chateau, which served as a model and reference point.
In the late afternoon return to the capital, on its most famous avenue: the Champs-Elysées. As you stroll along it, your heart open to the unknown, you will discover the chic side of Paris, the best of Parisian fashion and elegance. Here you will find the capital’s temples of luxury such as Lancel or Louis Vuitton, and some famous spots like the Lido or Fouquet's restaurant. If your budget allows for it, you can take the opportunity to organise a glamorous evening in one of these legendary places.
If you want to spend a little less and still enjoy a pleasant typical Parisian evening, opt for one of the capital’s vibrant neighbourhoods, such as the Ménilmontant district in the north, the Butte-aux-Cailles in the south, Batignolles in the west or Montparnasse on the left bank.
The next day, head to one of the prettiest villages in the heart of the capital: Montmartre, in the north. Bohemian, artistic, labyrinthine and terribly romantic, this hilltop has a totally unique identity and its location enables you to see over the whole of Paris.
For a picnic, don’t hesitate to take the subway to the most famous cemetery in Paris, and the most visited in the world: Père Lachaise. Unlike other cemeteries, far from being morbid, it is a beautiful, tranquil green space, where you can pay tribute to Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Chopin.
In the afternoon, head towards the Ile de la Cité, the oldest part of the city, where you will visit one of the most famous cathedrals in the world: Notre-Dame de Paris. The construction started in 1163 but it took two centuries to finish. Today it is the most visited monument in France and you can walk up its towers to enjoy a beautiful view over the city. When you come out, continue your walk on the Île de la Cité where you will find some of the oldest buildings in Paris. Leave the island to the south towards Saint-Michel and discover the Latin Quarter, which has been a student district since the Middle Ages.
In the evening, it's time to sample the wild Parisian nightlife. To dance the night away, try the Rex or the Machine du Moulin Rouge. To see live music, you will want to go to the Nouveau Casino in the Ménilmontant district or to Social Club in the Grand Boulevards area in the centre of town. For a more relaxed and laid-back mood, don’t hesitate to try Les Petites Gouttes in the 18th arrondissement or the Comptoir Général on the Canal Saint-Martin to party beside the canal.
If you really want to get to know Paris, one of the world’s most cultural cities, you will need more than three days. However, you will have seen the most emblematic monuments and the most charming neighbourhoods, and the rest will have to wait for a future visit. If you have the opportunity to spend more time in the capital, browse the stalls in the Saint Ouen flea market, go for a stroll in the Bois de Boulogne or visit one of the city’s many museums, such as the Musée d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou or the Institut du Monde Arabe.