If you just started planning your 3 days in Paris itinerary, welcome!
I first got the inkling to write this article after my recent trip to Paris elicited a half-dozen texts from friends and family asking for suggestions on planning their own visits.
And you know what Uncle Ben says, with great power comes great responsibility. So fueled by an endless supply of drip coffee and a hard-drive full of inspiring pictures, I wrote this article to help.
I’ll chat about helpful tips, the different neighborhoods, and the best things to do during your 3 days in Paris. Hopefully by preparing your own 3 day Paris itinerary you’ll also quell any nerves of visiting for the first time.
But enough of the small talk, we have a lot of ground to cover. What do you say we dive right in?
Visiting Paris? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in Paris (The best neighborhoods for first timers + two to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in Paris, hands down.
Who is this 3 days in Paris itinerary for?
I’ve geared this 3 day Paris itinerary specifically towards first time visitors who don’t even know where to begin planning. If you don’t know anything about Paris besides what you’ve seen in the movies, consider this is your launching pad into the French capital.
I’ll help narrow down where to stay, offer helpful tips, give recommendations on dining and (of course) help you see all the can’t-miss landmarks you’ve likely been dreaming of visiting for a while.
If you’ve been to Paris odds are you’ve likely done some of the things I recommend in this article. But feel free to read anyways because I might surprise you with something new, and the classics are classics for a reason, right? 😉
Is 3 days in Paris enough time?
I can confidently say 3 days in Paris is enough time, to be introduced to the city.
There is so much to see and do that it’d take a lifetime to become an expert.
With that said introductions go a long way, 3 days in Paris is enough time to get a feel for the atmosphere and the attractions. You can snap some photos and have the bragging right to say, “I’ve been there” when the Eiffel Tower (inevitably) comes across your screen.
Three days may be all you have if you’re traveling across Europe or only have a long weekend. Fortunately, it’s sufficient to visit the important landmarks. Your time in Paris won’t fly by if you follow this 3-day Paris itinerary because you’ll be paced and won’t be overwhelmed.
Think of this 3 day Paris itinerary as a tasting menu at a restaurant. When a nice joint is trying to impress they’ll bring out a variety of small but tasty dishes so you can taste the best of what they offer. In a similar way, if you follow this itinerary during your 3 days in Paris you’ll hopefully be enticed to return.
Tips for visiting Paris for the first time
Decide what type of experience you’re after. When deciding where to stay in Paris you’ll first have to determine why you’re actually visiting. A history buff will plan a different 3 days in Paris than someone visiting for nightlife. Once you iron out the purpose behind your visit you’ll have a better lens to build your 3 day Paris itinerary.
List your top attractions. Although Paris is well connected by public transportation, choosing your top attractions can help you build an efficient 3 day Paris itinerary. Make a Google Map and add pins to your top attractions, from here you can develop a route to follow rather than wasting time bouncing between the same few neighborhoods.
Determine your budget & book in advance. I’m not too proud to beg, I implore you! Please book your stay well in advance! Hotel prices go up the closer you get to your trip and you don’t want to be left scrambling. Not to mention popular attractions sell out and restaurants grow to capacity, so when applicable, book in advance!
Paris businesses close for a midday break: Americans can learn a thing or two from Europeans when it comes to resting. In fact the work/life balance is one of the biggest pros of living in Paris. With that said you should remember that a lot of businesses in Paris close for a prolonged lunch break around midday. Check schedules and make accommodations to eat/visit stores before noon or after 2PM.
wee oui bit of French: Let’s address the elephant in the room, we’ve all heard stories of locals being snobby to tourists because they don’t speak French. I can honestly say that Parisians are kind folks, but I won’t lie and say you might not catch some ‘tude. Practice basic French words to (at least) be able to greet people in French.
Why is Paris divided into arrondissements?
So you’ve likely heard the word “arrondissement” and are wondering what the hell is that and why should I care if I’m only spending 3 days in Paris? I’m glad you asked! Let’s start with the basics — arrondissements is the French word for districts.
Let’s break it down some more. In 1860 Baron Haussmann was instructed by Emperor Napoleon III to renovate the city. He was told to make it more beautiful, clean, efficient and safe (by removing creepy alleys and the sort).
One of the steps Haussman took was creating the arrondissement system. He numbered districts in Paris, starting at the Île de la Cité (the island where the Notre Dame is in the Seine River) and working in a spiral, like a snail’s shell.
The arrondissements help break the city up into bite-size pieces. Now instead of organizing things like garbage-pickup, schools, police precincts etc. for an entire city, Paris was able to make city planning more digestable.
It also makes planning a 3 day Paris itinerary a little easier since you might realize two landmarks are in the same arrondissement and visit them both while in the area. Do you have to memorize the arrondissements? Not unless you’re applying for a job in city planning, but it’s always nice to be an informed visitor.
3 Day Paris Itinerary
3 Day Paris Itinerary: Day 1
Imagine this: your plane is still hot on the tarmac as you watch the airport get smaller and smaller behind you. You’re heading towards the city center, excited to be spending the next 3 days in Paris. Butterflies are in your stomach, adrenaline in your veins and magic is in the air.
Welcome to Paris, baby.
Drop off your suitcase and let’s hit the ground running, I don’t want to waste your 3 days in Paris in a hotel room! Day one will serve as an introduction to France and acquaint you with some of the city’s most famous landmarks.
If you follow this 3 day Paris itinerary it’ll also be the day you walk the most, so wear comfortable shoes. And before I forget, make sure your camera has a full battery because you’ll be snapping photos like it’s your job.
Top sights for day one:
- Hôtel de Ville
- Notre Dame
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Hôtel des Invalides
- Eiffel Tower
Paris Itinerary, Day 1 (early) Morning: Île de la Cité
The Île de la Cité is an island in the Seine River (which runs the length of Paris). From the moment the Romans overran Paris 2000 years ago to the present, it has been regarded as the city’s center.
It’s a convenient place to begin your 3 days in Paris because there are numerous attractions all within walking distance. We’ll start with a couple of the most beautiful buildings in Paris.
Hôtel de Ville
I’ll be starting this 3 day Paris itinerary just north of the Île de la Cité, at the Hôtel de Ville.
When I first passed by, I mistook it for a real hotel and wondered, “How much does a night in there cost?!”. I’ve since learned that it’s actually city hall, and now I desperately want to meet the mayor.
The Hôtel de Ville is unfortunately closed to the public, but you should still swing by to see the exterior. It’s one of the most stunning displays of architecture you’ll come across during your 3 days in Paris.
Construction began in 1535 under the supervision of King Francis I. The building would continue to be extended and renovated by French monarchs for 100 more years.
Tragically in 1871 it was burned and destroyed. Later the Hôtel de Ville was rebuilt with the same design, but made even bigger. All this to say calling it a “palatial estate” would be an understatement.
If at all possible, try to stop by the courtyard early to catch a peek of the stunning building before crowds start to form. Take a few pictures and move on; the next stop on this three-day Paris itinerary is less than a 10-minute walk away.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris
The Notre Dame de Paris, usually shorted to just the Notre Dame, is one of the most famous churches in the world. Completed in 1345, the cathedral is a stunning example of French-Gothic architecture.
It sits as the crown-jewel of the Île de la Cité , and was even the site of the coronation of Napoleon. One of the most interesting facts about Paris is that, by definition, the Notre Dame is the center of the city.
From its inception the church has captured the attention of the public. It was once even known as the “poor people’s book” thanks to its statues that helped tell the story of the Bible to the city’s illiterate residents.
And then books like Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (later turned into a Disney movie) helped romanticize Paris audiences all across the world. No wonder it was the most visited landmark in Paris!
Even if you’re not religious, the cathedral is a can’t-miss landmark you should make the time to see during your 3 days in Paris.
Heartbreakingly, a tragic fire in 2019 forced the church to close to the public. Within weeks more than $1 billion was fund-raised to rebuild the cathedral, which is expected to re-open in late 2024.
Whether your 3 days in Paris coincide with the church re-opening to the public or not, it’d be inconceivable to travel this far and at least not see the facade.
The city has built bleachers in the square in front of the church, where folks can sit and gawk at the landmark for as long as they’d like. You’ll also likely come across street musician’s adding to the area’s idyllic charm.
Paris Itinerary, Day 1 (mid) morning: The Latin Quarter
From the Île de la Cité you’ll head south into the Latin Quarter, one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris. The area got its name from the universities that call it home, which largely taught in Latin during the Middle Ages.
Some of the city’s most well-known sights can be found in the Latin Quarter, which is safe, beautiful, and teeming with life. Here are a handful of popular spots that you should schedule time to visit throughout your three days in Paris.
Indeed, Paris has its own Pantheon inspired by the one in Rome. It’s one of the prettiest buildings in the city, standing tall and being instantly recognizable from the skyline.
There’s no way I could leave it off a 3 day Paris itinerary, it’s just that stunning.
The building was originally commissioned by King Louis XV and destined to be a church, but the French Revolution had other plans. After the revolution it was converted into a mausoleum for notable French citizens.
And luckily you can see the inside. It’s a striking display of architecture that will leave a lasting impression. Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas all call the Pantheon their final resting place and you can tour their (along with 70 other) graves.
Just remember you’ll have to book tickets ahead of time, the Pantheon is a popular landmark that a lot of visitors will have on their Paris itineraries.
And while you’re on the website consider booking tickets to climb the dome too, which offers stunning panoramic views of the city that will no doubt be a highlight of your 3 days in Paris.
The Jardin du Luxembourg was commissioned by Marie de’ Medici after her sweet thang, King Henry IV, died and left her a (very rich) widow. She decided the Louvre was no longer a suitable residence and built the Luxembourg Palace in imitation of the place she was born — Pitti Palace in Florence.
Today it’s one of the most famous gardens in the world, and a must-visit destination during your 3 days in Paris.
You especially need to include it on your 3 day Paris itinerary if you’re visiting the city with kids. There’s ample space to run around, but plot twist! Unlike most parks in the U.S. there isn’t a playground.
Instead it’s home to one of the best things to do in Paris with kids, sailing miniature sailboats in the Grand Bassin (an artificial pond at the center of the garden). You can bring your own boat (but good luck fitting it into your carry on) or rent one from a stall that’s parked in front of the pond during the spring and summer.
Paris Itinerary, Day 1 Afternoon: Hôtel des Invalides
Remember how I said to wear comfortable shoes? This is where they prove their worth. From the Luxembourg Garden head to the Hôtel des Invalides, a campus dedicated to telling the story and aiding France’s military.
The walk should take about a half hour, and along the way you’ll get to see Saint-Germain des Pres, a beloved neighborhood that will be a highlight of your 3 days in Paris. And oh yeah, time to eat, you’re probably starved!
Les Deux Magots
All my fellow hopeless romantics will love Les Deux Magots, an elegant Paris cafe that has been a hotbed for artists and celebrities for over 100 years. Even the exterior greets you with a subtle charm that’s hard to resist.
Folks like Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso are known to have enjoyed a meal here, and now you can join their ranks. Les Deux Magots can be a simple coffee pit-stop or a full meal or an evening date-night with a glass of wine.
As far as the food goes you can expect good but not fireworks. Don’t take me wrong, I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve had at Les Deux Magots but here you pay for the experience (the history, the service), not the cuisine.
But it is a popular destination, so when planning your 3 day Paris itinerary I strongly encourage you make a reservation. Fill up enough that you’re satisfied but don’t over do it. You’re only about halfway to the Hôtel des Invalides.
Hôtel des Invalides
King Louis XIV commissioned a series of structures known as the Hôtel des Invalides in 1670 to serve as homes for France’s wounded and aged war veterans. More than 200 years later, it is still utilized for that function, and the architecture is worth the detour over your 3 days in Paris.
Given that the location resembles a magnificent fortress, it will be difficult to ignore. Gates with golden accents stand at the entrance and the Invalides Dome, which can be seen all over the city, also boasts golden hues.
It’s also the home of one of the best museums in Paris, the Musée de l’Armée (The Army Museum). In the museum you’ll learn about the many escapades of France’s military, as well as methods of warfare from all across the globe.
But the Hôtel des Invalides is perhaps most famous for being the site of Napoleon’s Tomb. It’s an opulent display of power that’s riveting. The sarcophagus stands more than 16 feet tall and 13 feet long!
It’s a bit ironic that a man who was renowned for being so small has such a massive tomb. A trip to the museum is one of the most memorable experiences you’ll have throughout your 3 days in Paris.
You can geek-out over the details from beyond the gate, or spend 30 minutes making a bee-line and touring Napoleon’s Tomb. If you’re interested in the military or warfare though, plan to spend at least two hours perusing the museum.
Paris Itinerary, Day 1 Night: The Eiffel Tower, Baby
Did you really believe I’d let you spend a whole day visiting Paris without bringing you to the Eiffel Tower? Come on, cruelty goes against my morals! I merely saved the best for last so that this 3 day Paris itinerary has a little wow-factor.
A lot of folks think the Iron Lady is over-romanticized, but I disagree. There’s something about the 1,000 foot tower that evokes a deep-rooted sense of inspiration, especially at night.
Regardless of when you arrive you have to stick around and watch it sparkle. I’m not a pushy person, but this is a non-negotiable. The Eiffel Tower sparkles for the first five minutes of every hour, after sundown.
There are two main sites to watch the show.
The first of which is the Champs de Mars. It’s a long, green field where cheery folks on picnic blankets drink wine and gawk at the tower. Arriving early in the afternoon allows you the freedom to roam the green space peacefully.
The other is spot is the Trocadero, a square across the Seine River that has a direct view of the tower. I prefer to watch the Eiffel Tower from here because it feels better lit than the park and offers ample seating opportunities. Musicians are often performing and it all just feels so picturesque.
A crowd will often grow in anticipation and when the tower dances in the darkness folks erupt in giddy cheer. People will clap, cheer and sometimes even share a kiss like it’s new years eve. There isn’t a better way to end the first of your 3 days in Paris.
But I’ll leave you with a word of caution. After the first Eiffel Tower sparkle-sesh the nearby metro station floods with crowds. I’m not claustrophobic but I was sympathizing with sardines the entire time.
Give it at least 20 minutes before even attempting to head down to the metro station. Hopefully by then the crowds have dissipated.
Paris Itinerary for 3 Days: Day 2
So you survived your first of 3 days in Paris, how are you feeling? I hope you’re pumped because day two will be just as loaded with fun things to do as day one.
Today you’ll be starting in the historic first arrondissement, visiting the largest museum in the world. From there you’ll strut the Champs-Élysees like a runway, heading towards a phenomenal view of the city. Are you ready?
Top sights for day two:
- The Louvre
- Jardin du Palais Royal + Palais Garnier (Optional)
- Jardin de Tuilieries
- Place de la Concorde
- Arc de Triomphe
Paris Itinerary, Day 2 Morning: The museum to end all museums
The Louvre is magnificent in every sense of the word. A lot of folks think it can be glossed over during your first trip to Paris but I strongly (strongly!) disagree.
How do you justify spending 3 days in Paris and not stop by? Home to some of the world’s most famous and valuable art pieces, even the museum itself is a work of art.
Originally built as a fortress before being repurposed as a royal palace, the building officially became a museum in 1793. It’s since spent the last 230 years scouring the globe for the most riveting art.
Architecture aside, you can’t sleep on the opportunity to see the Mona Lisa with your own eyes! More impressive than the honorable Mona (in my opinion), is the Coronation of Napoleon. A massive painting depicting — you guessed it — Napoleon’s coronation. It’s the most beautiful artwork I’ve every seen (and I visit The MET weekly).
I have a full article written about the best things to see at the Louvre which will prove helpful in planning. It’s said if you spent 30 seconds admiring every piece of art at the Louvre it would take you 200 days to see it all!
With only 3 days in Paris you’ll be better off making a “must-see” list and checking them off like a scavenger hunt. I’d allocate anywhere between two and six hours at the Louvre before continuing with this 3 day Paris itinerary.
Paris Itinerary, Day 2 Afternoon: Historic First Arrondissement
Your feet might be tired after the Louvre but we have to keep chugging along with this 3 day Paris itinerary. You’ll exit into the first arrondissement where you’ll explore some of Paris’ most historic sites.
You’ll see the places French monarchs lived (and where some died). Heading west from the museum before jumping in to the opulent eighth arrondissement.
Take a second to catch your breath after the Louvre in the Tuileries Garden. Built as the private garden of the Tuileries Palace (which no longer exists) every square foot of the landscaping was designed with a purpose.
After the French Revolution the garden became a public space. You’ll actually find it in the Louvre’s backyard (or side-yard, technically). Between the vibrant life, abundant seating and fresh air it’s a good place to catch your breath during your 3 days in Paris.
What’s more, there are vendors who set up shop and street performers who offer entertainment, helping the time melt away. But don’t linger too long, you only have 3 days in Paris and have a lot more to see!
As you work your way through the garden you’ll come across statues, fountains and flowers spread throughout. Prepare your eyes to see something beautiful no matter where you look.
Bonus tip: If you GPS from the Louvre to the Tuileries Garden it’ll take you out from the museum’s courtyard and into the street, but there is an easier way. From the Louvre’s pyramids look to the west, there should be a gate. It’ll take you directly into the garden, from where you just continue straight along the main path.
Place de la Concorde
One of the best free things to do in Paris is to swing by the Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest square. It lies to the west of the Tuileries Garden making it a natural stop on this 3 day Paris itinerary.
At first glance you might think it’s just a concrete square with a busy street running around it. And while technically it is… it’s also home to some of the most notorious moments in French history.
The square was completed in 1772 and named after King Louis XV. It was meant to celebrate the monarch surviving a serious illness. However, the king’s popularity was on the decline and it only took a few years for the square to become a major hub for the French Revolution.
In 1792 the square had its first executions by guillotine. Come 1793 King Louis XV’s grandson and heir, King Louis XVI was executed in the square, too. Even the king’s wife, Marie Antoinette, couldn’t escape the bloodbath. She was among the 1,000 victims of the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde.
Needless to say, the square is frequented by tourists who want to visit the home of the French Revolution. In the present you won’t witness any beheadings or locals with pitchforks, it’s mostly just full of selfie sticks.
The Place de la Concorde is an easy and quick stop, but don’t let it take too much of your time before continuing with your 3 day Paris itinerary.
Fun fact: The obelisk at the center of the Place de la Concorde is from Egypt and dates back to 1250 BCE. It is one of two obelisks that originally stood at the Luxor Temple near the Nile River.
Paris Itinerary, Day 2 Evening: Champs-Élysées + Arc de Triomphe
As you continue with this 3 day Paris itinerary from the Tuileries Garden the next natural step is to walk the Champs-Élysees, the city’s most famous avenue.
Known for its luxury shopping there will be more than one place that catches your eye. Plus, once you get to the end of the avenue you’ll be at the foot of one of Paris’ most iconic landmarks.
The avenue begins at Place de la Concorde and runs about a mile and a half west. The street comes to an end at the Arc de Triomphe. The entire walk should take about a half hour if you don’t stop to peruse.
But don’t worry this 3 day Paris itinerary gives you more than enough time to pop into some stores and even grab a bite to eat. You should 100% take your time to meander the interesting shops.
The Champs-Élysees is one of the city’s major tourist attractions. The eight line avenue is used by roughly 3,000 cars per hour. But even that number pales in comparison to the 300,000 visitors the Champs-Élysées gets, daily.
The stores found on the Champs-Elysees are the kind rich socialites shop at in the movies (you know, where the chauffeur carries a load of designer bags to a fancy SUV). I only say that half jokingly!
The reality is shopping in Paris is a lot less intimidating than it sounds (even for those of us with modest bank accounts).
But the street’s opulence is undeniable. Forbes ranked the Champs-Elysee the fifth most-expensive shopping street in the world! It’s important to come in with a plan of what you want (that is if retiring with money is still a priority).
If your 3 days in Paris coincides with the first Sunday of the month, you’re in luck! The City of Paris makes the Champs-Élysées a car free environment for the day to reduce pollution. It also helps you pin-ball freely from store to store while shopping.
Arc de Triomphe
If seeing the City of Light from a viewpoint isn’t on your bucketlist I’ll give you time to write it down now.
All jokes aside, seeing the city unfurl at your feet like a map will be one of the highlights of your 3 days in Paris. There’s no better place to do that than from the Arc de Triomphe.
Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, the monumental arch is a striking display of expertly carved limestone. Not to mention I have yet to see any pictures do it justice, the thing is massive!
And unbeknownst to many first time visitors, you can climb to the top. In order to get to the top of Arc de Triomphe, you’ll need to climb a steep set of stairs (284 steps… I know, I’m sorry).
The stairs will eventually lead to the rooftop terrace, where you get some of the most breathtaking views of the city. I guarantee this will be a core memory of your 3 days in Paris!
To me it’s an even better view than if you were to climb the Eiffel Tower. The reason? Views of the tower are more exciting than merely being inside of it.
But remember, what comes up must come down. Take your time soaking in the views (there isn’t a time limit) before making the trek back to street-level.
I planned this 3 day Paris itinerary to bring you up around sunset (depending on the time of year you visit). But if you’d prefer you can also make the climb after sundown to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle, like day one of this 3 day Paris itinerary.
But I’ll give you a heads up, tickets sell fast, and tickets around sunset/night go even faster. Plan ahead and book tickets here (current cost is 13€ per person).
Word to the wise: It’s best to know the history of this important landmark before spending 3 days in Paris. It makes you an informed and respectful tourist, who doesn’t love that?
Why is the Arc de Triomphe important?
inaugurated in 1836, the Arc de Triomphe honors soldiers that died fighting for France’s freedom during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Observe the walls on the arc and you’ll see the names of generals and notable French victories during those times.
As you leave the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll notice a moving tribute to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
3 Days in Paris Itinerary: Day 3
Alas, the dreaded last day is here. Instead of moping let’s hit the last of your 3 days in Paris in stride. Today will be full of sight-seeing and walking, so be prepared.
It’ll also require a ride on the subway, because you’ll be traveling between two charming neighborhoods. We’ll start the morning in Le Marais and end it in Montmartre, so let’s roll!
Top sights for day 3 in Paris:
- Place de la Bastille
- Maison Victor Hugo + Place des Vosges
- Centre Pompidou
- Moulin Rouge
- Place du Tetre
- Basilica Sacre Couer
Day 3 in Paris Itinerary, Morning: Le Marais
It’s quite ironic that an area that was once a swamp is now one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris. Shrek would be so proud. But don’t worry, we won’t be hunting any gators during your 3 days in Paris.
You’ll find it difficult to leave after you’ve discovered this gem of a neighborhood. The area is home to quaint cafes, little boutiques, and delightful eateries. You can meander throughout this neighborhood, getting lost in the adorable streets, and popping in to random cafes.
And it’s also home to a few attractions including a slew of museums and green-spaces. Let’s go over what you can’t afford to miss in Le Marais during your 3 days in Paris.
Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille doesn’t have a whole lot going on. Rather it’s a convenient place to start the last of your 3 days in Paris. That doesn’t mean it won’t interest a few of you, though.
History buffs will love the Place de la Bastille, it’s the site of the former prison that helped spark the French Revolution.
On July 14th, 1789 French Revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a political prison which was seen as a symbol of the abusive monarchy. July 14th is now known as Bastille Day and is France’s national holiday, celebrated with the same fervor as the 4th of July is in America.
And although the prison is now gone a major city square takes its place. At its center is a column that looms over those passing by. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t commemorate the Storming of the Bastille, rather the Revolution of 1830.
But I won’t go down the French Revolutions rabbit hole, that’s a story for another day. We’re running short on time so let’s keep this 3 day Paris itinerary rolling.
Breakfast suggestion: Less than a five minute walk from the Place de la Bastille is Aux 2 Anges, one of my favorite bakeries in Paris. Swing by for an almond croissant and cappuccino, you won’t regret it.
Maison de Victor Hugo + Place des Vosges
Dating back to 1605, the Place des Vosges is the former stomping grounds of French royals and nobility. Today it’s one of the prettiest parks in the city, surrounded on all sides by beautiful buildings and irresistible cafes.
On any given day you’ll find the park littered with locals sprawled out on picnic blankets. Since this 3 day Paris itinerary has you swinging by in the morning odds are you’ll get to enjoy it in a more serene state.
The surrounding cafes will be open and ready to host, so if you didn’t have time for breakfast this is a great place to stop. Either grab a pastry to go and eat it in the park or find a sit-down place for a formal meal.
From the Place des Vosges you can visit the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Victor Hugo was a French writer that has inspired millions of people all around the globe. His most famous works (Les Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ruy Blas) have been damn-near immortal since they were written.
So one of the things to do during your 3 days in Paris is pay his former apartment a visit. It has been converted into a museum! He lived in the apartment for 16 years from 1832 to 1848 and it’s been recreated to look exactly as it would have in those times.
The home is conveniently located in the Place des Vosges so you can kill two birds with one stone. Plus the museum is operated by the City of Paris which means its permanent collection won’t cost you a euro to tour.
The Pompidou Center is one of the most popular museums in Paris, as well as being one of its most unique. It resembles a colorful factory, like what you’d see in a children’s movie.
The outside looks like a slew of pipes and metalwork that stick out like a sore thumb in the chic neighborhood. It isn’t until you see the futuristic looking escalator running up the side of the building that you realize it’s not actually a construction zone.
It’s home to the National Museum of Modern Art, one of the top-10 most visited museums in the world. But the museum doesn’t take up all of the Centre Pompidou’s 8-million square feet.
There’s also a performing-arts theater, two screening rooms, and a library. The full run-down of what you can expect and tickets to each distinct event are listed on the Centre Pompidou’s official website.
With only 3 days in Paris you’ll have to decide how much time to allocate to the Centre Pompidou. But I’d suggest just swinging by to see it with your own eyes and stopping by the next place on your itinerary.
Day 3 in Paris Itinerary, Afternoon: Montmartre
From the Le Marais you’ll take a subway ride to Montmartre, just prepare to have your heart-stolen. The neighborhood is the home of the Basilica of Sacre-Couer and is an artist’s playground.
I saved the best for last and Montmartre is the last area you’ll be exploring during your 3 days in Paris. It’s on a hill so we’ll start you off at the base. Plug Moulin Rouge into your GPS and let’s continue with your 3 days in Paris.
You couldn’t spend 3 days in Paris and not visit Moulin Rouge! The cabaret has been one of Paris’ premier tourist attractions for nearly 140 years. The name translates to the “red mill” but believe me, there ain’t no farming going on inside.
Cabarets are best described as halfway between a concert and a musical. Dancers take the stage and perform high energy routines while guests eat and drink at their tables.
The cabaret opened in 1889, the same year that Paris hosted the World’s Fair (and built another iconic landmark). Tourists from around the world flocked to the French capital and many stopped by Moulin Rouge. This helped grow its fame and in a lot of ways, its notoriety (because the dancing was of a provocative nature).
Thanks to its rich history, visiting Moulin Rouge is one of the best things to during your 3 days in Paris. You can book tickets for a show if you’re interested. But I’d recommend circling back later at night after the rest of this 3 day Paris itinerary.
Each guests will receive half a bottle of champagne (Moulin Rouge is the largest consumer of champagne in the world). So you can understand why I suggest ending your night here.
Place du Tertre
In the very heart of Montmartre is an artist hot pocket you cannot afford to miss during your 3 days in Paris. In the Place du Tertre (a public square), there is a congregation of talented artists selling original artwork al fresco.
The most common art being made are portraits, often for tourists. Folks sit down in front of an artist and have themselves painted or drawn. If interested, peruse the artists and find one whose style you like.
Having said that, if you want to leave with a reminder of your 3 days in Paris, one of these paintings is hard to beat. I’ll admit I have yet to get one myself. But I never miss an opportunity to watch a master at work and visit Place du Tertre every time I’m in Paris.
Basilica de Sacre-Couer
I couldn’t make a 3 day Paris itinerary and not include the Basilica de Sacre Couer! It’d be an unforgivable offense.
The magnificent church was built in the Romano-Byzantine style at the end of the 19th century. It is still used to this day as an important house of worship. It stands atop a butte, overlooking Montmartre and the city of Paris.
Even non-religious guests can appreciate its splendor. The church has beautiful domes that refuse to be ignored. As you walk closer you’ll notice smaller, more mind-blowing details, like intricate carvings in the limestone facade.
The skilled laborers that built the basilica could work with stone better than I can Play-Doh.
You can tour the inside for free, but there is usually a line. Fret not, it moves quickly and once inside you’ll be even more impressed. There are chapels with beautiful artwork and pews for those who would like to sit for a moment.
And the views from the basilica are some of the best. On any given day you’ll see swarms of tourists and locals alike, laid out on the lawn enjoying the panorama. End your 3 days in Paris by joining them, watching the sunset.
Day 3 in Paris Itinerary, Evening: Your CHoice
Now that you’ve been introduced to Paris you have the evening to yourself. Use it to do anything that might’ve caught your eye during your 3 days in Paris but didn’t have time for.
You can shop for souvenirs, visit a restaurant you thought was interesting or catch a show one of the many performance venues. There’s also a few landmarks that were too out of the way for this 3 day Paris itinerary and might be worth checking out now.
I’ll add more fun things to do below, in case you’re an overachiever (or competitive speed-walker )and this 3 day in Paris itinerary wasn’t enough.
More activities for your 3 days in Paris itinerary
If you have more than 3 days in Paris (or would like to swap some of the activities mentioned above), this section is for you. Here are more popular landmarks, attractions and things to do.
Commissioned by Napoleon III in 1861, the 1,900+ seat Palais Garnier took 14 years to complete. It would be the only official Paris Opera for over 100 years, until the Opera Bastille opened in 1989.
Seeing a show is electric and (if time allows) one of the best things to do during your 3 days in Paris. There are concerts, operas and ballets all performed at Palais Garnier.
But even if you don’t see a show, you can take a self-guided tour of the interior for less than €20. It’s hard not to be impressed by the intricate architecture and opulent nature of the building.
Grand & Petit Palais
The Grand and the Petit Palais are two gorgeous buildings across the street from each other. They were both built for the World Fair of 1900 and are used as event spaces.
The Petit Palais is home to the City of Paris’ Museum of Fine Arts and is free to visit. Walking through their golden doors is a surreal experience, it’s impossible not to feel like you’re in a Disney movie.
The Grand Palais on the other hand is unfortunately closed until 2024. It’s getting a major facelift for the 2024 Olympic games. Depending on when you visit you may or may not be able to see it during your 3 days in Paris.
Le Bon Marche
Shopaholics unite! While spending 3 days in Paris you might want to visit the oldest department store in the world, Le Bon Marche. I mean this is the fashion capital of the world, right?
In Le Bon Marche you’ll find everything from clothes to furniture. There’s even a food court to drop off any company that doesn’t share the same passion for fashion as you.
The store has multiple floors to help you spend hours perusing the shelves and booths. As an added bonus: they have a public bathroom. Hallelujah!
Seine River Cruise
If your legs give out and you can’t take another step, consider sitting down and floating through Paris. This river cruise offers a family-friendly guided tour that takes the hard work out for you.
You’ll get to explore Paris from a different vantage point. The best part? You can pawn off any questions you may have to the tour guide. The experience can be so romantic and provide an unforgettable memory of your 3 days in Paris.
Before shopping malls there were shopping halls, better known as passageways. They were most popular in the 1800’s. Luckily there are still a few standing that you can visit during your 3 days in Paris.
Arguably the most famous of these passageways is Galeries Vivienne. Celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, it provides one of the most unique shopping experiences in Paris.
You’ll walk through a covered, hall-like passage which has skylights filtering in natural light. It’s lined by stores, cafes and boutiques on both sides where you can peruse nifty and useful gizmos and trinkets.
For a full list of the current shops at Galeries Vivienne visit the passageway’s official website.
Now this next item won’t be up everyone’s alley, but there’s no way I could gloss over it. Paris has catacombs housing the remains of more than six-million people, and they’re open to the public.
Managed by the Musée de Paris, this isn’t some sneaky or morbid suggestion. It’s a well organized excursion meant to highlight the French capital’s history and its people. If you have space in your 3 day Paris itinerary consider booking tickets online and taking the trek into the underground.
There are lights illuminating the space so try not to get any sinister ideas. However I will admit it’s still one of the spookiest places to be in Paris at night. Luckily it’s only open until 8:30PM, so you won’t be walking home at midnight (knees buckling) when you’re done.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Keeping with the spooky vibe, visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery is something you might enjoy during your 3 days in Paris. As the largest cemetery in Paris the Pere Lachaise is the final resting place of more than one celebrity.
Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Honore de Balzac and even lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison are all buried in the cemetery. Maybe that’s why more than 3.5 million people visit the cemetery each year!
Strolling the cemetery’s headstones is one of the best free things to do in Paris. And you can make a game of trying to recognize more celebrities than your friends. Just know that at 110 acres odds are you won’t get through them all.
Bois de Vincennes
Looking to enjoy some greenery during their 3 days in Paris? Hop on the metro towards the Bois de Vincennes. Standing at nearly 2,500 acres this is the largest park in Paris!
You can stroll the park at a leisurely pace, stopping to admire the greenery or parking yourself under a bench. If you need a plan though, there are some attractions in the park including a floral garden, Buddhist temple and zoo.
Saint-Ouen Flea Market
The Saint-Ouen Flea Market (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen) is one the biggest flea markets in the world. And a destination you’re not going to want to miss during your 3 days in Paris.
There are stalls and shops filled with intricate trinkets, great art, leather goods, clothing and dishes. This is also a great time to pick up souvenirs. My suggestion is to bring small bills (if you’re gutsy enough to haggle).
If I’m being honest, some of the prices can be a bit of shock (it’s a popular tourist destination). But if you’re into antiques and one of a kind finds there is no better place to be.
The million dollar question — should you devote precious time during your 3 days in Paris to the Palace of Versailles. The answer? Of course.
Located a mere 30 minute train ride from downtown, this used to be the official royal residence of the top dogs until the French Revolution in 1789. Today the palace is open to the public — and damn — it’s a joy to explore. Seeing the Hall of Mirrors (unreal) and Marie Antoinette’s gardens are a must-do.
If you’re going to add the Palace of Versailles to your 3 day Paris itinerary make sure to book tickets well in advance. This is especially true if you plan on visiting Paris in the summer.
More helpful Paris Guides:
I’ve written about my experiences exploring the French capital in multiple helpful guides. While planning your 3 day Paris itinerary some might prove to be helpful, I’ll list a few of them here:
- Shopping in Paris: A Shopaholic’s Guide to The Fashion Capital of The World
- 25 Exciting Things to Do in Paris With Kids (For All Budgets)
- 15+ Delightful Day Trips From Paris (Exploring the City’s Surrounding Gems)
- 20 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Paris (To Help You Decide Whether to Pack Your Bags)
- 15 Satisfying Cheap Eats in Paris (That Will Save You a Buck)
- 30 Epic Things to Do in Paris at Night (The City of Lights After Dark)
- 15 Special Things to Do in Paris in The Spring (+ What to Pack!)
- 15 Exciting Facts About The Eiffel Tower (You May Not Know!)
- 20 Epic Views of The Eiffel Tower (Including Restaurants + Hotels)
- 25 Exciting Museums in Paris (To Lose Track of Time in)
Will I be disappointed while visiting Paris?
Listen, you know I’m all about honesty, and I never want to mislead you. So let’s chat about this.
Paris is able to captivate a special place in a person’s heart long before they board the plane for their first visit to Paris. Why is that? I’m guessing it has to do with the glorification of the City of Light in the movies and shows we watch growing up.
There’s no denying that Paris is a romanticized city. As such, it’s inevitable that folks may find themselves almost let down, so much so that there’s an actual term for this: Paris Syndrome.
To set yourself up for success, remember this: Paris is a real city. I know this sounds like an odd thing to say, almost like an understatement, but it warrants saying.
Everyday people live and work in Paris and it’s not all glory and Gucci every Tuesday morning. This is a real place where people are rushing to work, garbage bags are tossed on the street and the occasional waiter wishes you would greet them with “bonjour” over “hello.”
It’s a beautiful city, too. There’s so much to enjoy and so many great things to do in Paris. Keep an open mind as you experience everything the City of Light has to offer. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. And this 3 day Paris itinerary will help guide you in the right direction.
3 days in Paris (Post Summary)
For a quick and easy wrap-up, here’s the 4 day Paris itinerary summarized.
- Hôtel de Ville
- Notre Dame
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Hôtel des Invalides
- Eiffel Tower
- The Louvre
- Jardin du Palais Royal + Palais Garnier (Optional)
- Jardin de Tuilieries
- Place de la Concorde
- Arc de Triomphe
- Place de la Bastille
- Maison Victor Hugo + Place des Vosges
- Centre Pompidou
- Moulin Rouge
- Place du Tetre
- Basilica Sacre Couer
Map of this 3 day Paris itinerary
A map of the points outlined on this 3 day Paris itinerary. For reference, day one are blue pins, day two are yellow and day three are green.
Well, that my friends is how to spend 3 days in Paris and then some. I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive 3 days in Paris guide. Let me know if you have any questions or comments below.
Enjoy the City of Light.
Until next time! Cheers.