Time is precious when you’re traveling, and each moment is a chance to see something new. So how can you make the most of a trip to Paris and ensure you see all the sights and more?
Paris is a great city that blends history, art, and gastronomy with its reputation for being the fashion capital of the world.
Follow our Paris 3-day itinerary and you’ll get to see not only the iconic landmarks but also get the chance to spoil yourself with a wellness treatment or some time at the fitness center. From the awe-inspiring views from the Eiffel Tower to the art of the Louvre or luxury shopping at Galeries Lafayette, each day you’ll find something new.
You’ll stop for coffee in charming neighborhoods, wander through beautiful parks, see amazing museums and have time to take the perfect photos for your Instagram.
This 3-day itinerary in Paris is the key to a memorable stay seeing the sights in the city center, and it’ll leave you plenty of time to relax and soak up the French way of life.
Day 1 – Explore the iconic landmarks
The significance of visiting Paris’s landmarks is more than just sightseeing. This is an opportunity to create enduring memories and a connection with the essence of the city.
Exploring these museums and landmarks gives you a sense of the history of Paris and a glimpse into the lives of the Parisian people.
The Eiffel Tower
Start your day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower – La dame de fer (the Iron Lady), located in the 7th arrondissement. Arriving early means you’ll witness Paris gradually awakening and won’t have to wait in queues for hours.
As the most famous landmark in Paris, the Eiffel Tower has to be top of the list of the best places to visit in Paris. You can take an elevator ride to the summit and marvel at the panoramic views across the city. There’s also a mock-up of the office of the Eiffel Tower’s designer, Gustave Eiffel, which you can peek into and see wax models of him and his daughter.
On the way back down you can spend time at the first-floor museum that will teach you about the history of this great monument.
If you’re feeling fit (and don´t want to wait for the elevator) you can take the stairs – all 704 of them.
For an in-depth learning experience, you can book tickets for a tour guide, who will share their in-depth knowledge of the Eiffel Tower with you.
For a unique perspective of the Eiffel Tower visit the roof terrace at Galeries Lafayette. You’ll get the most amazing views of the Paris skyline with the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacré Coeur in the distance. In the warmer months, a drink and snack on the roof terrace is a welcome respite from the buzz of the city.
The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées
Probably the second most famous monument in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe should be next on your list. Located a 20-minute walk or 15-minute metro ride from the Eiffel Tower, this impressive archway stands proud at the western end of the Champs Elysées.
Constructed in the early 19th century, the Arc’s imposing structure with its intricate detail and sculptures tells stories of triumph and sacrifice. The Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of French national pride and a tribute to those who fought and died for the country during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
Ascending to the observation deck of the Arc de Triomphe offers a 360-degree view of the city. From this vantage point, you can appreciate the careful planning that has shaped Paris into the cultural and historical hub it is today.
As you descend the Arc de Triomphe the Champs-Élysées will entice you. This grand avenue, often referred to as “the world’s most beautiful avenue,” exudes elegance and sophistication. Lined with theaters, cafes, and luxury boutiques, you’ll find a charming blend of culture and commerce at the Champs-Élysées.
As lunchtime approaches you can stop off at Galeries Lafayette on the Champs Elysées for a quick snack before continuing your exploration of the city. If you’d prefer a leisurely lunch you’ll find plenty of outdoor bistros to spend time watching people along the Champs Elysées.
Next, from the Champs Elysées, take a leisurely stroll along the River Seine’s picturesque banks to the Pont des Arts before you reach the Louvre.
This famous bridge is adorned with love locks and is known as the bridge of romance. It’s appeared in many movies, including The Bourne Identity and Amélie. (Café des Deux Moulins in the district of Montmartre was also featured in Amélie). In the past lovers attached the locks engraved with their initials and threw the key into the river, to symbolize their eternal love.
Unfortunately, you can no longer attach new locks, but the incredible sight is sure to bring out the romantic side of you.
Cross the bridge and you’ll find the Quai des Tuileries, at the entrance to the Louvre Museum, the world’s largest art museum in the center of Paris. Stand in awe before the famous Mona Lisa, stroll through the stunning Napoleon III Apartments, and discover the many other great works of art in the vast collection.
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Check opening times
To avoid disappointment, before setting out always check the opening times of the attraction you wish to visit. Some museums are closed on certain days, for example, the Louvre is not open on Tuesdays.
The Tourist Information Point at Galeries Lafayette can advise you on opening times of the major Paris landmarks, the best way to get to them and where to buy tickets. They can also tell you which attractions are free to visit.
The Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou presents a stark contrast to the Louvre, focusing on modern and contemporary works.
Designed with architectural innovation, the building’s exterior is a fascinating example of modern architecture. Its iconic exposed structural elements symbolize a departure from conventional design in favor of avant-garde creativity.
The Centre Pompidou offers a shift in artistic perspective from the formality of the Louvre. Visiting both enables you to appreciate the best of both classic and contemporary art.
From avant-garde movements to contemporary collections, the Centre Pompidou provides an overview of the artistic landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries. You’ll see works by figures such as Picasso, Duchamp, and Kandinsky and witness some thought-provoking art.
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Save money with a Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museum Pass gives you free access to over 50 museums and monuments in Paris, including the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and The Palace of Versailles on the outskirts. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time and skip queueing for tickets.
Notre Dame Cathedral
A 15-minute bus ride from the Centre Pompidou will take you to Notre Dame Cathedral. Due to the terrible fire that took place in 2019, you can only currently view the cathedral from the outside. However, just seeing this amazing building from the outside should be on your 3-day Paris itinerary to appreciate the work going into the restoration.
The exterior still stands as a testament to Notre Dame Cathedral’s Gothic magnificence. The intricate façade, adorned with gargoyles and statuary, remains a captivating sight.
The anticipation surrounding the reopening of Notre Dame Cathedral echoes a collective eagerness to witness the great revival of this impressive landmark. Once restored, visitors will once again have the opportunity to marvel at the cathedral’s interior, including its renowned stained glass windows and awe-inspiring architecture.
This is one of the best sights in Paris and can be seen from many of the high landmarks in Paris, including the rooftop terrace at Galeries Lafayette.
After an afternoon of culture it’s time to relax a little. Saint-Germain-des-Prés, located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, is full of charming streets and known for its literary and artistic history. This historic neighborhood, nestled on the left bank of the Seine River, has long been a focal point for intellectuals, artists, and philosophers.
If you’re up for more sight-seeing you’ll find a Romanesque and Gothic church dating back to the 6th century in the heart of the district. This place of worship has witnessed centuries of transformation, from its origins as an abbey to its role as a meeting place for the existentialist movement in the mid-20th century.
The surrounding streets exude a scholarly and creative ambiance, with its numerous cafes, bookstores, and galleries. Spend half an hour at Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots for a coffee, immersing yourself in the ambiance once frequented by intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.
Luxembourg Gardens and Palace
If you have time in your itinerary before returning to your hotel for an evening out in Paris you’ll find the Luxembourg Gardens and Palace also in the 6th arrondissement. A visit to this site promises a tranquil immersion into the city’s past and present, where formal gardens and impressive architecture create a culturally enriching experience.
Commissioned by Marie de’ Medici in the early 17th century, the Luxembourg Palace is a combination of Renaissance and Baroque styles. It is a building of historical significance, having been witness to pivotal moments in French politics and culture. The Palace is now the seat of the French Senate and opens its doors to visitors keen on exploring its opulent interiors.
Designed in the French formal style, the surrounding gardens feature geometric patterns, statues, and a pond in the ums. The gardens are not only a horticultural scene but also host art exhibitions, concerts, and literary events. You can also play a game of tennis or chess in the gardens, and children will find plenty to keep them busy with the outdoor activities.
Day 2 – Shopping and culture
The seamless blend of art, culture, and shopping in Paris defines a unique and enriching experience. Where better to experience this than at Galeries Lafayette – the most prestigious shopping mall in Paris?
More than a department store to shop high fashion brands, Galeries Lafayette is a complete experience, which is why you should spend one of your three days in Paris here.
With its mix of over 3,500 luxury and designer brands, Galeries Lafayette is a shopper’s paradise. The historic department store, adorned with a stunning Art Nouveau dome, is where you’ll find some of the best shops in France.
You can dress yourself in classic labels such as Chanel and Dior and discover some of the emerging French fashion designers too. You’ll also find ‘Instabrands’ – the collections making their debut on social media, while kitting yourself out in your favorite Levi’s and Uggs adds to the retail experience.
Discover the stylish ranges of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion and indulge in an exclusive shopping trip. Of course, what shopping excursion would be complete without a bag and a pair of designer shoes to enhance your outfit? The men’s department, l’Homme can be found in its own area, just a walkway away from the main Haussman building.
You can find children’s fashion on the 5th floor of the main store, along with the Kingdom of Toys. Parents will find the Galeries Lafayette Nursery a welcome place to stop with little ones and take a break. With baby changing and feeding facilities this is an ideal space if you’re shopping with young children.
A world of Wellness
Spend an hour of your itinerary rejuvenating and indulging in a relaxing beauty treatment at the holistic-style Wellness Galerie. If you’re feeling energetic you can take a sports session or unwind at a yoga class. You’ll find the Wellness Galerie on the lower ground floor – a peaceful sanctuary to escape from the activity of the shopping mall.
You’ll find a great choice, with every relaxation and care technique you can imagine, from a post jet lag massage and skin detox to getting your haircut and eyelashes tinted, or a manicure and pedicure.
Restaurants and cafés
After you spend a couple of hours shopping and you need a break for coffee or a glass of champagne you can relax in one of the Galeries Lafayette restaurants.
Café Coutume on the 3rd floor offers the atmosphere of a typical French café, with the bonus of watching the shoppers against the magnificent architecture of the building. It’s almost like a private trip to the theater. If you wish to try a glass of the finest French champagne or a wine from a French vineyard head for Le Bar de la Cave on the first floor. These are only two of the selection of places to refresh and prepare to further immerse yourself in the Galeries Lafayette universe.
Beauty treatments and skin care
Next on the itinerary is a chance to pamper yourself. You can make a personalized appointment with a health and beauty care expert, who can advise you on which products will suit you best. (Please make an appointment for any of these services so we can give you our utmost attention).
Men can also stock up on their beauty and skincare products on the first floor of the men’s department. From all the top personal care brands to new labels, the range of men’s grooming products covers everything from beard care to cologne and hair gels.
A Galeries Lafayette experience
Once you’re revived it’s time for a unique Galaries Lafayette experience. Why not try a French macaroon bakery course or take a guided tour of the famous Haussmann building? Or if you love the world of haute couture check when the next Galeries Lafayette fashion show is taking place and book a ticket. Do you love authentic French macarons? The whole family can find out how to bake the best macarons at home at the Macaron Bakery class.
You can´t leave Galeries Lafayette without a souvenir of your day in one of the most stunning shopping malls in the world. Whether you want to take souvenirs home for yourself or friends and family, you’re sure to find a memory of Paris at Galeries Lafayette. From a book on Paris from the bookshop to something to decorate your home or a piece of special jewelry, the choice is endless.
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Tax refunds if you live outside the EU
If you spend over €100, you’re over 16 and you live outside the EU you can get a 12% tax refund on your purchases. Visit the first floor of the main store for more information.
Dinner at Galeries Lafayette
At the end of the day why not dine with us at one of the quality restaurants. Most are open until 9.30 p.m. so you’ve time to head to the city for cocktails afterwards. You can choose from a great selection of French, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine to suit your taste.
Before you complete the second of your 3 days in Paris, spend some time on the rooftop terrace for a free breathtaking view of the city at night.
Day 3 – Versailles Palace
For an escape from the city take a short train ride to Versailles on the outskirts of Paris on the third day of your itinerary. This is a must-see attraction that you can visit for the whole day or return to the city for more sightseeing.
The journey time will depend on where your RER line is during your 3 days in Paris. There are plenty of stops on the RER C line that will take you directly to Chateau Rive Gauche station in Versailles. The round trip will cost you less than €10 and Versailles is only a 10-minute walk from the station.
The Palace of Versailles is an emblem of opulence and power. Commissioned by Louis XIV, the Sun King, this UNESCO World Heritage site is an illustration of French classical architecture and the pinnacle of 17th-century art.
As you wander through the Hall of Mirrors, adorned with dazzling chandeliers and ornate gilded mirrors, you can envision the historic treaties and agreements that have shaped the course of European history. The perfectly manicured gardens provide a tranquil escape and the chance to view regal fountains and sculpted greenery.
While in Versailles spend a couple of hours visiting the center of the town as well as the Palace. The Grand Trianon, a secluded retreat commissioned by Louis XIV, is a marvel of classical architecture, boasting pink marble walls and a calm atmosphere. This palace is based on Italian architectural design, set on one floor and surrounded by formal gardens.
The Queen’s Hamlet, a rustic mini village on the estate, transports visitors to a less formal environment. Marie Antoinette, seeking an escape from court life, designed this hamlet as a haven of simplicity, complete with a thatched cottage and natural countryside landscapes. Visitors can explore the exquisite interiors, which have been restored over the years, and gain an insight into the private world of the French queen.
More things to do in Paris
So your Paris 3-day itinerary has come to an end. Just in case you have any spare hours in your schedule here are a few extra things to do in Paris.
The Musée d’Orsay, housed in the magnificent Beaux-Arts railway station represents the artistic evolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is one of Paris’s most stunning museums where you can view the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, including works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas.
An enormous gilt clock sits above the entrance, while grand halls and soaring glass ceilings create a sense of opulence.
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Good to know Free museum tickets
Many museums in Paris offer free tickets on the first Sunday of the month. Check with the Paris tourist office or individual museum websites for more information on free museum tickets.
Spend a couple of hours in the historic Le Marais district in the 4th arrondissement for some cultural exploration. Le Marais provides a unique window into Parisian life.
Renowned for its medieval architecture and vibrant ambiance, Le Marais is a combination of narrow cobblestone streets and 17th-century buildings interspersed with trendy boutiques and art galleries. Find hidden gems in the eclectic shops, delve into the district’s artistic spirit, and visit the Jewish Quarter, with its synagogues, bakeries, and falafel stores.
Whether meandering through the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris or experiencing the ambiance of Rue des Rosiers, Le Marais is a mix of the old and the new.
Montmartre and the Salvador Dalí Museum
Try and spend some of your 3 days in Paris in the bohemian district of Montmartre. Paris’s charming 18th arrondissement reflects the artistic heartbeat of Paris.
Wander through the cobbled streets, where avant-garde artists like Picasso and Van Gogh once spent their time. Ensure you visit the Place du Tertre, the café-lined square filled with artists painting and displaying their wares.
Next, climb to the top of Montmartre for panoramic views of the city from the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, which you can also see from the Galeries Lafayette roof terrace. The construction of this amazing monument began in 1875 and was only completed in 1923. The Romano-Byzantine design is a tribute to the development of French architecture.
Be prepared for an energetic walk, as there are almost 300 steps to climb. When you reach the top the vista is worth it, with Paris sprawling beneath you and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket for the funicular railway and slowly ascend and descend whilst taking in Paris beneath you.
Following this, your final stop is the Salvador Dalí Museum, a peaceful sanctuary showcasing the eccentric genius of the renowned surrealist. Explore Dalí’s fantastical world, encapsulated in over 300 sculptures, paintings, and drawings, symbolizing the depths of his vivid imagination.
Île de la Cité
If you have time, a visit to this unique island in the center of Paris in the Seine is a special experience. The main attraction is Saint-Chapelle – a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
Its beauty lies in the intricate details of its 1,113 stained glass windows, which soar skyward, depicting biblical narratives. As sunlight filters through these panels, the interior is transformed into a luminous sanctuary, evoking a sense of calm.
Originally conceived to house precious relics, including the Crown of Thorns, the chapel served as a royal chapel for the Kings of France. The sense of history within its walls invites visitors to connect with the medieval legacy of France and its monarchs.
The Paris Catacombs
Journeying beneath the surface of Paris, the catacombs are a reminder of the city’s macabre history. This network of ossuaries is a unique and sobering experience that will satisfy your morbid curiosity.
Originally limestone quarries, these tunnels were transformed in the late 18th century to address the issue of overflowing cemeteries. The walls, lined with neatly arranged bones and skulls, tell a poignant tale of mortality. The catacombs are a symbol of the measures taken to address the city’s public health and burial challenges during that era.
Beyond their historical significance, the catacombs showcase architectural ingenuity. Navigating the dimly lit passages, visitors encounter chambers adorned with carefully stacked bones, forming artistic compositions that evoke both awe and contemplation.
The Moulin Rouge
If you love shows and live entertainment the best place for dinner and a great night to remember is the Moulin Rouge. This historic cabaret is not just a venue it’s a summary of the vivacity and decadence that define Parisian nightlife.
The unmistakable red windmill atop the Moulin Rouge is a symbol of its architectural grandeur. Dating back to the Belle Époque, the venue exudes an air of nostalgia, transporting visitors to an era of bohemian glamour. Its distinctive facade, adorned with shimmering lights, is a prelude to the drama that awaits within.
The Moulin Rouge’s renowned Féerie show is a dazzling spectacle, where the stage comes alive with can-can dancers, elaborate costumes, and captivating music. The energy and exuberance of the performance create an atmosphere you won´t forget.
For couples seeking a romantic interlude, the Moulin Rouge offers an enchanting setting. The dimly lit interiors, the plush red velvet seats, and the melodious strains of the orchestra create a spellbinding environment. This is one of the best ways to celebrate a romantic trip to the City of Love.
In the heart of Paris, the Palais Garnier, commonly known as the Opera Garnier, is another place to visit if you’re looking for more things to do in Paris. A visit to the Opera Garnier is a chance to experience the artistic legacy that Paris is so well known for. Why not take the chance to pay a visit to Galaries Lafayette while you’re in this district, and view the Opera Garnier from the roof terrace?
Built in the Second Empire style, the Opera Garnier is an architectural masterpiece designed by Charles Garnier. Its façade, adorned with Corinthian columns and sculpted friezes, reflects the sophistication of the time. The luxurious interiors, including the Grand Staircase and the Grand Foyer, transport visitors to a world of timeless elegance.
As the main home of the Paris Opera, the Opera Garnier has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the performing arts. Its illustrious history has presented famous works such as “Carmen” and “Swan Lake.” The auditorium, with its plush red velvet and gold leaf ornamentation, is typical of the grandness of opera.
The Opera Garnier is also a treasure trove of artistic riches. The Marc Chagall-painted ceiling infuses the auditorium with a dramatic energy. The resident Phantom of the Opera, immortalized in Gaston Leroux’s novel, adds a touch of mystique to the venue and will captivate your imagination.
A guided tour of the Opera Garnier offers an understanding of its history, architecture, and the intricacies of staging world-class productions. Visitors can see the behind-the-scenes, explore the corridors and the artists’ studios, and learn how a stage-managed opera is put together.
In the heart of Paris, the Palais Garnier, commonly known as the Opera Garnier, stands as a paragon of opulence and architectural grandeur, beckoning connoisseurs of culture and enthusiasts of the arts. A visit to the Opera Garnier is not merely a tour through history; it is an immersion into the splendor and artistic legacy that defines Paris.
Getting around Paris
Navigating Paris means planning and understanding your transport options carefully. A 3-day itinerary means you’ll want to ensure both efficiency and cost-effectiveness – there’s no time to waste. Of course, you’ll be walking for much of the time (so take comfortable shoes), but there are times when you’ll need public transport to take you to your destination.
A boat trip on the Seine
Taking a River Seine boat trip will allow you to see Paris from a different perspective. You’ll get to view all the main attractions you may not have time to visit on your three days in Paris. Plus, you can pop into Galeries Lafayette Beaugrenelle which is located a block back from the Seine, opposite the Beaugrenelle mall.
The leisurely journey along the meandering River Seine starts and ends at Bateaux Parisiens, where most of the main tour operators depart. The boats cruise beneath picturesque bridges and centuries-old landmarks.
Some of the sights you’ll witness are Notre–Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Art Nouveau dome of Galeries Lafayette. Passing by the Musée d’Orsay, once a majestic railway station, you’ll see the Seine’s Left Bank, adorned with charming bookstalls and open-air cafes. Each bend in the river reveals a new scene, showcasing Paris in its full splendor
The Paris Metro
This extensive and efficient subway system is the backbone of Paris travel. With well-connected lines, it provides rapid access to major attractions. Purchasing a Navigo Easy card streamlines fare payment, offering unlimited rides within specified zones. You just swipe the card and reload it when necessary which saves buying individual tickets.
The most economical thing for a 3-day visit is to buy a pack of 10 tickets. Each is valid for one journey, no matter how many times you change, as long as you don´t exit the metro station.
You purchase your Navigo Easy card from any metro station ticket office.
You may also see the Paris Visite pass, which can be more complicated as the price changes depending on the zone you travel to and from. This option is more suitable if you’re going to be traveling outside the inner zone lots, perhaps if your accommodation is on the outskirts or you want to travel to the airport by metro.
Traveling by bus can be a great way to get around Paris, particularly if you’re going a short distance. Paris offers an extensive bus network that’s easy to follow by checking the information at the bus stop – there’s sure to be one near your hotel.
You can use the Navigo Easy card and! Paris Visite pass on public buses, but not on the private bus guided tours. If you want to buy bus tickets for a one-stop ride it’s cheaper to buy it at a metro station or newsagent as there’s a small extra charge if you buy from the bus driver.
For a guided excursion take a tour bus around Paris. Equipped with informative commentary, these double-deckers pass all the significant landmarks in a couple of hours. They offer a comfortable and informative way to discover Paris, especially if you’re on a tight schedule.
Velib’ Métropole Biking
For a blend of fitness and sightseeing, Velib’, Paris’s bike-sharing program, is a great option. Scattered across the city, these bicycles are easily rentable, permitting a leisurely exploration of Parisian streets and scenic spots. An eco-friendly alternative, Velib’ ensures mobility without the constraints of traffic.
A well-planned three-day itinerary to Paris ensures an unforgettable experience. A tour of the City of Light is not just about ticking off landmarks but an insight into the heart of Paris.
There’s something different to do each day from a visit to the Eiffel Tower to viewing the beauty of the Palace of Versailles or enjoying a beauty treatment at Galeries Lafayette’s Wellness Galerie. The catacombs, with their subterranean mysteries, the bustling streets, lined with charming cafés, and the magnificent buildings such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay add to the ambiance of the city.
Paris – a city that will leave its mark on your memories.