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Ah Paris. Fashion capital of the world. Land of baguettes, macarons and cute cafés. There’s no doubt that Paris is an incredibly chic and cosmopolitan city, with lots of things to see and do for both first time and returning visitors.
If you’re thinking about spending a weekend in Paris, I’ve put together a 3-day itinerary that covers all the major attractions and things to do. You’ll see major landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, plus you’ll get to explore some authentic Parisian neighborhoods including Montmartre and Le Marais. I’ve included plenty of suggestions for places to eat and drink too!
With 3 days in Paris you can definitely cover a lot of ground, since the city is quite walkable and has an extensive transportation network.
3 Day Paris Itinerary
I suggest planning a long weekend in Paris from Friday to Sunday. The reason for this is that some museums are closed on Mondays.
Here’s a quick overview of your weekend in Paris:
- Day 1: Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Saint Germain des Pres
- Day 2: Notre Dame, Le Marais, Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge
- Day 3: Palace of Versailles, Catacombs
Only have time for a 2 day trip to Paris? Just follow the first two days of this itinerary and skip the Palace of Versailles and Catacombs.
Day 1: Louvre, Champs-Élysées, Arc De Triomphe, Eiffel Tower etc
On Day 1 of your weekend in Paris you’re going to walk from Le Louvre to the Arc De Triomphe, visiting all the major Paris attractions along the way. You’ll also stop to visit the most famous structure in Paris, the Eiffel Tower.
Your first stop will be the Louvre Museum and its famous glass pyramid. There are usually lines to get into the Louvre so I’d suggest booking your tickets in advance so you can skip the line.
Le Louvre is the world’s most visited art museum, featuring a staggering collection of over 35,000 works of art and 380,000 objects. I’ll be honest though, I’m not the type of person to spend hours walking around museums. When I visited the Louvre I basically made a beeline to see the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. My friend and I were short on time and with so many things to do in Paris, we wanted to pack in as much as possible.
However, you could easily spend several hours just wandering around this museum gazing at all the paintings, sculptures and antiquities. The Egyptian antiquities section is rather interesting, featuring archaeological finds such as the Great Sphinx of Tanis and a real, well-preserved mummy.
Visitors are often surprised to discover that the Mona Lisa is much smaller than they expected but it’s still fascinating to see this famous painting up close. Is she smiling? Is she not? I’ll let you decide.
Want more info? Check out my tips for visiting the Louvre in Paris.
- Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France.
- Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm every day except Tuesday. Museum is closed on Tuesdays so do not visit then! Last entry is 1 hour before closing. Try to visit in the morning or evening to avoid the crowds.
- Tickets: €17 per adult, official Louvre website tickets can be purchased online here.
If you want to skip the lines and learn about the museum, I’d also suggest booking a skip-the-line ticket or guided tour.
From the Louvre, walk along the left bank of the River Seine to the Musée d’Orsay. This museum is housed in a beautiful former railway station and features collections of art from the 19th and 20th centuries. On display you’ll see works of art from the likes of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet.
The most notable feature of Musée d’Orsay is its beautiful clock, which also functions as a giant window. Walk up to the upper floors of the museum and gaze out through the clock face to see views of the River Seine and beyond. It’s a prime spot for taking photos so be prepared to wait your turn!
- Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France.
- Opening hours: Closed Mondays. Open Tues-Sunday 9.30am to 6pm, last admission 5pm. Late opening on Thursday until 9:45 pm, last admission 9pm.
- Tickets: General admission purchased online €16, or €14 at museum. Discounted admission purchased online €13, or €11 at museum. Tickets can be purchased here.
On the opposite side of the river lies Place de La Concorde and the most famous avenue in Paris – the Champs-Élysées. This 1.2 mile avenue runs all the way to the Arc de Triomphe and is divided into two parts.
The first part near Place de La Concorde is very green and leafy, with beautiful gardens and pavilions. You’ll walk past landmarks such as Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Théâtre Marigny and the Statue of Général Charles de Gaulle.
After you reach the Franklin D. Roosevelt Metro station you’ll discover the second part of the Champs-Elysees, which is lined with department stores, restaurants and high-end shops.
The Champs-Élysées is great for people watching, so you may want to stop for a coffee and a pastry here and watch the world go by. Be warned everywhere on this street is expensive, but worth it if you’re only visiting for a few days.
Here are some good places to eat in the Champs-Elysees area:
- Brioche Doree
- Fouquet’s Paris
- Publicis Drugstore
- La Place
- Sir Winston
- Le Joy
- Les Jardins du Presbourg
- Flora Danica
Arc De Triomphe
After walking along the Champs-Élysées you’ll reach The Arc de Triomphe, which is an iconic archway that stands in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle. The arch honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and beneath it lies the tomb of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. An eternal flame burns 24/7 and is never put out, in remembrance of those who lost their lives.
Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to honor his victory in the Battle of Austerlitz, the arch took a total of 30 years to complete.
I would definitely recommend climbing the stairs to the top! You’ll be rewarded with impressive views of the Champs-Élysées and the surrounding arrondissements. Personally I preferred the view from the top of the Arc De Triomphe over the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
- Address: Pl. Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France.
- Opening hours: 10 am – 10:30 pm, last access 30 minutes before closing. Can be closed for official ceremonies, make sure to check the website.
- Tickets: €13, can be purchased online here.
Next up, walk back across the river to visit the Eiffel Tower. This landmark needs no introduction! Designed by Gustave Eiffel, this famous wrought-iron, latticed tower dominates the Paris skyline.
There are usually long lines to go up the tower, so again, I’d recommend booking tickets in advance using the official online ticket office so you can skip the line. You can book tickets up to 2 months in advance and you’ll receive a time slot so you can visit without having to wait in line. Definitely do this if you’re visiting in the peak months of July and August!
When visiting the Eiffel Tower there are a few different floors to discover. The first floor boasts several restaurants and shops so you can relax and unwind on your way to or from the upper levels. It also features an outer passageway with a variety of screens and touch screens so you can learn more about the aspects of the Eiffel Tower.
The viewing deck on the second floor allows you to see the sights of Paris from up high, including the Louvre Museum, the Seine, Montmartre and Notre Dame. On this floor you’ll also find the Michelin-starred restaurant, Jules Verne.
If you’ve purchased a ticket to the top floor then you’ll be able to take the glass-walled elevator to ‘The Top’, which stands 276m above ground. Up here there are two floors – an indoor level and an outdoor one – plus a Champagne Bar serving rosé or white champagne. While it may be on the pricey side, it’s fun to splash out on a glass and toast your visit to The Top.
- Address: Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France.
- Opening hours: Entrances are open 9:30 – 22:45 and the monument closes at 11.45pm.
- Tickets: Prices vary according to which floor you want to access and whether you opt to take the stairs or the elevator. Adult tickets for the second floor with lift access cost €17. 10. Meanwhile an adult ticket with access to The Top by elevator is €26.80. Check out the full price list here.
Dinner in Saint-Germain-des-Prés or the Latin Quarter
Sightseeing can be pretty tiring and after a day on your feet, you’ll probably be feeling pretty hungry! France is known for its cuisine, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Paris. I’d suggest taking the metro to the Latin Quarter or Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Both neighborhoods are located fairly close to each other near Notre Dame Cathedral.
Here are some good restaurant options:
- La Société (French)
- Semilla (French)
- Assanabel (Lebanese)
- Au Coup De Torchon (French)
- Côté Saint-Germain (French)
- Restaurant Le Coupe-Chou (French)
- La Grange Aux Canards (French)
- RESPIRO (Italian)
- HEBE (French)
- La Jacobine (French)
Day 2: Notre Dame, Le Marais, Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge
The second day on your weekend in Paris will be spent exploring some of Paris’s more bohemian neighborhoods. You’ll start out by visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, before exploring Le Marais and Montmartre.
Notre Dame cathedral is one of the world’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. Built in medieval times, the cathedral sits on an island in the middle of the Seine river and is known for its sculptures and stained glass windows.
Over the centuries the cathedral has suffered from structural damage (especially in the French Revolution) and has therefore undergone numerous restorations. During the restorations of 2019, a fire broke out in the attic, which destroyed the roof, the spire and some of the rib vaulting.
After the fire Notre Dame was covered in scaffolding but this has now been dismantled. The cathedral’s parvis is currently open to the public but the towers, treasures and crypt remain closed until further notice. It is set to fully reopen by 2024.
- Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France.
Le Marais Neighborhood
From Notre Dame take a walk to Le Marais, which is home to the oldest market in Paris, Marché couvert des Enfants Rouges. As you walk through the narrow streets of Le Marais you’ll discover lots of boutiques, art galleries, kosher restaurants and gay bars.
If you aren’t too tired of museums, you could take the time to visit the Musée National Picasso-Paris and the Maison Européene de la Photographie, which are both located in Le Marais.
The neighborhood is known for its shopping, with most of the stores located on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue Vieille du Temple. Pay a visit to Merci, which is a unique 3-storey boutique selling everything from vintage clothing to home goods and linens. If you’re a fan of bookstores, then definitely pop by 0fr Librairie, a hipster bookstore/gallery that sells a nice selection of books and magazines.
For breakfast or lunch there are a number of places to choose from but here are some top suggestions:
- Florence Kahn (Jewish)
- Miznon (Pita sandwiches)
- Baffo (Italian)
- L’As du Fallafel (Falafel)
- Pamela Poppo (French)
From Le Marais hop on the metro and make your way to the Sacre-Coeur aka The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This is my favorite landmark in the city.
This Roman Catholic church sits on top of butte Montmartre, which is the highest point in Paris. Climb up the steps towards the church for beautiful views over Montmartre and beyond.
Entrance to the Sacre-Coeur is free and you can also climb a set of 270 steps to the basilica, where you can enjoy views of Paris from up high. Since the church is a major place of prayer, there are no guided tours. Inside the church is the grand organ, which was built in 1898 by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and is considered to be one of the best in Europe.
- Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France.
- Opening hours: The Basilica is open every day from 6.30 am to 10.30 pm. Entrance is free.
Before you head to the Moulin Rouge for the evening, grab dinner in Montmartre. Perched on a hill in the 18th arrondissement beneath the Sacre Coeur, this bohemian neighborhood is known for its cobblestone streets, foliage-covered buildings, cozy bistros and art galleries. It’s my favorite neighborhood in Paris!
You must, must, must grab dinner at La Vache et le Cuisiner, it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my life! The restaurant serves delicious French cuisine at reasonable prices. Everything is well presented and most importantly, tasty. Dishes include beef entrecote, fresh fish of the day, stuffed saddle of rabbit and duck breast.
I’ve been to the Moulin Rouge twice now and both times were totally worth it. I thought it might not have the same impact on me the second time around but it was just entertaining as I remembered it.
The resident Féerie show involves topless dancers performing the cancan in dazzling costumes made with rhinestones, feathers and sequins. Aside from dancing you’ll also be entertained by acrobats, jugglers, a ventriloquist and a woman who immerses herself into an aquarium full of live snakes!
You can either purchase a ticket for the dinner and the show, or a ticket to just the show (which comes with half a bottle of champagne). With hundreds of people dining in the theater the atmosphere is electric and the show itself is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Read more about the Moulin Rouge in my article: A Night at the Moulin Rouge, Paris.
- Address: 82 Bd de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France.
- Show times: Evening shows are at 9pm and 11pm (dinner and show starts at 7pm). Matinée performances are at 2.45pm (lunch starts at 1pm).
- Tickets: Can be booked online here. Prices vary by time and date. Expect to pay around €120 for the 9pm show or €205 for dinner and show.
Day 3: Versailles & Catacombs
On day 3 I’d suggest spending half a day at the Palace of Versailles. It’s important to note that the palace is closed on Mondays so hopefully day 3 of your weekend in Paris falls on a Sunday. However, the gardens are open every day.
This former royal residence is located about 12 miles west of Paris, so you’ll need to take the train to get there.
There are three train stations in Versailles. The closest one to the Palace is Versailles Château Rive Gauche. This is served by the RER line C.
You can also catch SNCF trains from Gare Montparnasse to Versailles Chantiers train station, or from Gare Saint Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite train station.
Built in the 17th century, the palace was occupied by a succession of kings right up until the French Revolution. After that it was turned into a museum.
The entire estate covers an area of 800 hectares and the palace itself contains over 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 square meters of space. Rooms are incredibly grandiose and opulent, with highlights including The Hall of Mirrors, The King’s State Apartment and The Gallery of Great Battles.
The gardens are equally impressive, featuring beautiful fountains, parterres, lawns, statues and pathways. It’s a truly beautiful place and definitely worth the train ride to get there.
- Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
- Hours: The Palace is open every day except Mondays. Opening hours are 9am to 5.30pm (last admission at 5pm). Gardens are open every day from 8am to 6pm.
- Tickets: There are a variety of tickets available but a typical adult ticket to the palace costs €18. Access is free for visitors under 18 (or under 26 residing in the EU). You can see up to date opening hours and ticket information on the official Palace of Versailles website.
Back in the center of Paris you could spend the afternoon exploring the Catacombs; a maze of underground tunnels that were used as a burial ground for millions of Parisians. Located 20 meters below the ground near Montparnasse, this ossuary is one of the largest in the world. The anonymous human skulls and bones, which were once loosely piled, have been organized carefully and neatly in the walls. It’s creepy and yet oddly artistic.
The catacombs were created in the 18th century to solve the growing problem of overflowing, putrid cemeteries that were becoming unhygienic and smelly. As a solution, city planners located a network of subterranean limestone quarries and relocated the bodies underground.
They were opened to the public in 1809 and remain a tourist attraction to this day.
- Address: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:45 – 20:30. Last admission at 19:30.
- Tickets: Must be purchased online. Adults 29€/ 27€ (audioguide included), under 18s 5€ . Special fare for ‘last minute’ ticket 15€ / 13 € (reduced rate).
Alternate Ideas for Day 3
An alternative option for your third day in Paris would be Disneyland Paris! The park is easily accessible from the city so it can be done as a day trip – all you need to do is catch the metro to a station that is serviced by the RER A line (the red line). You’ll then need to take the RER east to east to Marne-la-Vallee–Chessy (train tickets cost around €7.50).
Check out my tips for visiting Disneyland Paris as an adult.
Withlocals Food Tour
Another alternative option for your third day in Paris would be a food tour. I tried The 10 Tastings of Paris foodie tour offered by Withlocals and I had the best time. We started our tour close to Marché d’Aligre and wandered around Paris sampling ten different tastings along the way. Among the foods we tried were tepanade, oysters, baguettes, cheeses, macarons and crêpes – all the French foods!
Getting to Paris
Paris has two airports; Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Paris Orly Airport (ORY). Most international flights will usually arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle but definitely check which airport you’re flying into. Budget airline French Bee flies into Paris Orly.
If you’re flying from the U.S to Paris, you’ll find that all the major airlines including Delta, United and American Airlines offer flights to Charles de Gaulle. For cheap fares, you can also check out French Bee.
If you’re coming from London, you could fly or travel by Eurostar. Personally, I love the Eurostar option. The train goes from St. Pancras International station in central London so you don’t have all the hassle of getting to and from the airport. You get on the train in London, take a nap and then wake up in the middle of Paris at Gare du Nord.
Where to Stay on Your Weekend in Paris
Paris is an enormous city and it can be overwhelming to decide which area to stay in. If you’re arriving by Eurostar then you may want to choose somewhere close to the Gare du Nord train station so you can quickly drop off your bags and get down to some sightseeing.
Otherwise, there are many great neighborhoods you can stay in. Just try to choose something that’s close to a Metro station so you can easily get around. Anything that’s close to the major sights will most likely be more expensive and things generally get cheaper the further out you stay. If I had to choose, I’d say stay in Le Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés, just because there are lots of great restaurants and bars in these neighborhoods and they’re quite close to all the major sights.
Here’s a selection of places to stay in Paris:
The Hoxton Paris – I love all Hoxton Hotels. You can usually guarantee they’re going to be hip, funky and comfortable with a lively atmosphere. The Hoxton Paris is housed in an 18th century residence in the 2nd arrondissement and offers three options for eating and drinking. Rooms feature chevron wood flooring, bold feature walls and contemporary bathrooms.
Relais Christine – 5-star hotel in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Each of the 48 guest rooms feature canopy beds, Carrara marble bathrooms and luxury touches such as velvet and noble materials. The hotel also features an on-site spa with dry sauna, whirlpool and gym.
Le Pavillon de la Reine – Located just a stone’s throw from Place des Vosges, Le Pavillon de la Reine is housed in a 17th century building and features a beautiful private courtyard. The 56 bedrooms and suites feature a mix of rich, contemporary interiors and original antique furnishings and oil paintings.
Hôtel Adèle & Jules – Stylish boutique hotel set on a quiet private road near Grands Boulevards.
La Villa Saint Germain des Pres – Situated in the heart of Saint Germain des Pres, this elegant hotel features contemporary furniture in warm and light tones. Breakfast is included, so you can fuel up before your epic day of sightseeing in Paris. The hotel also has its own gym with spa menu should you wish to book a massage.
Hôtel des Grands Boulevards – Offering 50 bedrooms, a restaurant and a rooftop terrace designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, Hotel des Grands Boulevards provides a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Definitely one of the cutest boutique hotels in the city!
Avalon Cosy Paris Gare du Nord – This hotel is just a 5 minute walk from Gare du Nord train station, so if you’re traveling by Eurostar you can get in and out of Paris in a flash. The hotel is tastefully designed with exposed stone, natural wood parquet and studio-style bathrooms that open to the bedroom.
Hotel Whistler – 4-star hotel near Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est. Room interiors subtly echo the mythical trains of the Belle Epoque era and feature flat-screen TVs and in-room safes. If booking directly on the website, breakfast is free.
Les Piaules – Housed in a renovated Art Deco building, Les Piaules is one of the most stylish hostels in Paris. The hostel has its own bar and rooftop terrace with views of the city, making it easy to mingle with other travelers and make friends.
Generator Paris – Located near Le Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement, Generator Hostel is a popular choice amongst backpackers, offering comfortable rooms and spacious common areas. It’s also only a short walk to the metro, so you can easily get to the major sights by public transport.
St. Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord – If you like a party hostel, then St. Christopher’s Inn is the place to stay. This party hostel has its own bar and nightclub, so after a day of sightseeing you can dance the night away with fellow travelers. Best of all it’s close to Gare du Nord train station, so you can easily hop on the train to your next destination.
How to Get Around on Your Weekend in Paris
The best way to get around Paris is on foot or by taking the metro.
Most of the major landmarks and tourist attractions are concentrated around the Seine River, so the best way to get around that area is by walking. While you may want to look stylish on your trip, make sure you pair your outfit with comfortable shoes. Some stylish dress-sneakers will do. Forego the wedges, ballet flats and heels!
If you need to travel longer distances then it’s best to take the Metro. For single, one-way trips you can buy a t+ ticket which costs €1.90. The ticket is valid for the metro lines, the RER in Paris, the Île-de-France region’s bus lines (with the exception of Orlybus and Roissybus), the tramways, and the Montmartre funicular.
If you purchase a book of 10 tickets you’ll save 25%, however, the books are slowly being phased out in favor of the Navigo Easy pass, which electronically stores your tickets.
You can buy the rechargeable Navigo Easy Pass for € 2 at the automated ticket machines or ticket counters in the stations. Machines accept cards and cash. You can also buy the pass online here, or at RATP approved shops in Paris.
Once you’ve done that, you can load your pass using the free Bonjour RATP app. If you don’t want to download the app you can also top it up in the stations or at RATP approved merchants.
A single ticket with Navigo Easy costs €1.90, while a pack of 10 costs €14.90. Once you’ve activated your ticket you can make as many connections as you want within a 1.5 hour period.
Your FAQs About Paris, Answered
Yes you can totally do Paris in a weekend! In two to three days you could cover most of the major landmarks and tourist attractions. However Paris is an enormous city with lots of arrondissements. You could easily spend a week here exploring the different neighborhoods and living like a local.
Yes, a weekend in Paris should definitely be on your bucket list. Paris is an amazing city that’s rich in history with lots of museums and beautiful architecture. Although Paris is a large city, you’ll still be able to see a lot in a weekend if you plan your day right.
3 days in Paris is a nice amount of time for Paris. If you visit for a long weekend you’ll be able to see most of the major sights plus the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris. However, as with most major cities, if you have more time you’ll be able to get away from the tourist attractions and see hidden pockets of the city that you might not have time to discover on a shorter trip.
Actually, most things are open on Sundays, including museums, attractions, restaurants and cafes. Shops, however, are a different story. Many shops are closed on Sundays, although shops around the Champs-Élysées and touristy areas often open 7 days per week. Check the opening hours on Google or call ahead to see if the shop you want to visit is open.
Paris is a major city, so yes it’s fairly expensive. If you choose to dine on the Champs-Élysées or in any of the major touristy areas then expect to pay a premium. That being said, Paris is huge and you can find plenty of arrondissements and areas frequented by locals where prices are more affordable. Paris is home of the pre-fixe lunch menu, so definitely take advantage of those cheaper lunch specials!
3 days in Paris is enough to see all the attractions near the River Seine, including the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, Musée d’Orsay, Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. You’ll also be able to explore Notre Dame, Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur. On your third day you should have time to visit the Palace of Versailles and the Catacombs or you could visit Disneyland Paris. It’s up to you!
Expect to pay around €6-€7 for a pint of beer or €4 during Happy Hour.
Paris is filled with attractions. Don’t miss the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Montmartre. If you have the time, definitely get tickets to the Moulin Rouge!
Some people will tell you not to go up the Eiffel Tower. I say, you’re in Paris! If you’re visiting as a tourist it’s fun to experience once in your life. It’s fascinating to learn more about the construction of the Eiffel Tower, soak up the views and buy some souvenirs from your time at this world famous attraction.
However I do think that the view from the second floor is good enough – you don’t need to go all the way to the top.
My favorite view of Paris is actually from the top of the Arc de Triomphe because you get to take photos of the Eiffel Tower in the skyline. But I’d still say visit the Eiffel Tower once.
If you hate waiting in line and decide to skip the Eiffel Tower altogether, then take a picnic to the Champs de Mars, which is a large green space in front of the tower.
A Final Word…
Paris is one of those cities that everybody should see at least once in their life. The city is known the world over for its elegant architecture, gourmet food and sidewalk cafes. A weekend in Paris will allow you to get a taste of Parisian life and explore some of the best hotspots.