Three Days in Paris – What to See and Do (A Weekend Break in the French Capital)
Three days in Paris. Exploring the city of love and lights.
“Paris is always a good idea” famously quoted Audrey Hepburn, and what’s good enough for Audrey is good enough for us! We adore Paris, and with around 35 million people visiting the city every year – we’re not alone! Plus, it’s currently very affordable to travel there so if you are looking for some cheap holiday destinations this summer, add Paris to your list!
As we know, many of the people that go there are madly in love with each other, gazing into each other’s eyes as they stroll across a bridge over the Seine. Either that or they’re about to break up and visiting the most romantic city in the world is their last ditch attempt to save the relationship!
But there’s more to the city than the cliché of romance, and we’ve put together a handy guide for a three-day trip to see the best the city has to offer. Whether you’re going alone or with a loved one, you’ll almost certainly fall in love with the city itself.
Three Days in Paris – What to See and Do
Table of Contents
Day 1: The basics
The Arc De Triomphe
You’re going to need to pack a lot in if you’ve only got three days here – you could be here three years and still not scratch the surface! So get out of that bed as early as you possibly can, and catch a sunrise over the Arch De Triomphe. Arguably the most famous of all arches and memorial to those that fought and died for France – particularly in the Napoleonic wars, the stunning Arc De Triomphe is a must as you begin your exploration of Paris.
You’ll naturally progress down onto one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, the magnificent Champs-Elysées. Follow the route of many a parade and of course where the Tour De France finishes, and walk the stretch all the way from the Arc De Triomphe to the Place De La Concorde – which is the largest square in Paris. Here you’ll find the very best in high-end shopping, so if you’re in the market for a Ferrari you can drive one away here. On second thought though, this probably isn’t the best place to visit if you’re on a shoestring budget in Paris!
The Eiffel Tower
We couldn’t really miss it off, could we?! We wonder if anyone has ever written a guide for Paris and not included the Eiffel Tower?! However, there are alternative ways to see it if you’re not one for waiting in lengthy queues, you’re not on a romantic break, or you don’t have a head for heights. There is a famous urban legend about a woman who climbed the Eiffel Tower and then complained when she couldn’t see it on the Paris skyline! So sometimes seeing this iconic structure is better from another vantage point. Try visiting the Montparnasse Tower instead, it’s a little further away but you’ll get fabulous views of the Paris skyline as the lights come on at dusk.
The iconic cathedral and sometimes home to Quasimodo stand on an island in the river Seine, and if you can stretch to it, taking a boat from the Eiffel Tower is well worth it. This is as romantic as we will get – we promise. The cathedral is one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in the world and incorporates stunningly beautiful stained glass windows, and of course – those famous bells. Watching the sun set and cast shadows over this work of art are one of the life’s little pleasures.
Day 2: The museums and Montmartre
Day two is all about the museums, but only if you can stand the crowds and it’s not a gorgeous day outside. One of Paris’ most visited attractions is the Louvre art gallery and museum, and quite rightly so – it houses some of the most famous works of art in the world, including THE most famous – the Mona Lisa. But you’ll have to brave the throng of people queuing to get a look at her, so if you’re not really into that, you might want to try elsewhere. We’re not sure if that’s the real one hanging there anyway. Decide for yourselves, but unless you’re a die-hard art lover, don’t spend more time than you need to here.
Just over the water where you’ll find the Musée d’Orsay, which is home to masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries. It boasts the largest collection of impressionist paintings in the world, and you’ll find all the usual suspects here from Gogh to Monet, Degas to Renoir. The building was originally a railway station, which makes it a sizeable collection indeed. A better option if you just want a quick art fix with smaller queues.
Probably one of the most famous districts of this glorious city, you could spend a whole day in the rickety back streets of Montmartre alone. Walk in the footsteps of some of the world’s most famous painters – but you might find it difficult to avoid being accosted by the millions of portrait artists, who inevitably will have a picture of Angelina Jolie as an example of their work. Don’t miss the seminal Sacré Cœur Basilica which dominates the hilltop and has wonderful views over the city.
Day 3: The weird and wonderful
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
For day three we’ll step outside some people’s comfort zones. Visiting a graveyard might not be everyone’s cup of tea as an ideal tourist attraction, but you simply cannot miss this astonishing example outside the city center. It’s a breathtaking city of the dead, with beautiful tombs, sculptures, works of art and sarcophagus as far as the eye can see. It’s also a who’s who of famous dead people. Visit Jim Morrison’s notorious last resting place and find out why there’s usually a security guard there. Leave a lipstick kiss on Oscar Wilde’s tomb, and pay your respects to Édith Piaf, Moliere, Chopin and a host of others. A visit will live long, even if everyone else here is dead.
The Catacombs of Paris
If you like things really dark and really weird, check out the romantic Catacombs of Paris with your loved one. We’re just kidding – they’re not romantic at all – unless you’re into this sort of thing. Not for the faint of heart, it’s an underground ossuary, which contains the remains of more than six million people. It was created when the powers that be began running out of cemetery space in the 1700’s, and millions of bones and skulls were deposited here. It’s since become one of the more unlikely tourist attractions – and well worth a visit if you dare!
The Moulin Rouge
You’ve probably seen the film, now visit the actual site of the world-famous French cabaret – The Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge translates as “red mill”, but you’ll probably be able to figure that out because there’s a giant one spinning over the entrance of the modern birthplace of the can-can. Whether you take a show in or not, the surrounding area is fascinating, and more than a little risqué. We won’t tell if you don’t!
Yes we know that we’ve missed of a ridiculous amount of sights and attractions, but if you’ve only got three days you could do a lot worse than catching these highlights. Paris is a city that will never cease to amaze and invites you to return time again and time again. There’s so much more to discover here we would never be able to cover it all in one post. All you need to do is go and find out for yourself, and discover exactly why it is the most visited city in the world.
Agnes and Cez
Howdy from Agness and Cez who are creators of eTramping – a travel blog packed with plenty of useful tips on how to travel intensively while having unique experiences and collecting unforgettable memories. These two have visited over 50 countries since 2011 and they are not planning to stop with their upcoming journey across Europe, South America and Antartica. Join their journeys on Instagram, Pepo and Facebook and enjoy the ride with them.
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- Apart from wine, food and coffee – what else have we missed for this three days in Paris itinerary?
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