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How to spend three days in Paris

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Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens as another day sets on Paris. Photo: Andrew Crump

Previously on EuroCheapo, we’ve presented helpful itineraries for a one-day trip to Paris that takes you to the city’s main attractions and a two-day trip that also includes the Left Bank and Montmartre. For a three-day tour, you’ll have even more liberty to wander a bit and take your time. Once you book your Paris hotel, you can focus on the fun.

Here’s our suggested schedule to help you get the most out of your 72 hours in the City of Light.

Louvre Pyramids

The glowing Pyramids of the Louvre. Boris Doesborg

Day 1: Right Bank

Get your walking shoes on, because day one is all about strolling around to see the major sights on the central Right Bank such as the Louvre, Notre Dame and Marais.

The big ones: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Pompidou & Notre Dame

Spend the first morning in the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay. After your visit, head north up rue du Louvre through the Les Halles quarter toward St-Eustache church. Enjoy lunch on rue Montorgueil, either stopping in a café or grabbing a sandwich and pastry to go.

Afterwards, walk down rue Montorgueil and turn left at the bottom, past the underground mall called Les Halles, and meander towards the Pompidou Center. Turn right on rue Renard (or rue Beaubourg depending on where you reach it). Head towards City Hall (Hotel de Ville), and cross the river towards Notre Dame.

Free culture, vintage shopping and tasty falafel in the Marais

After a quick visit to the church, head back to the Right Bank and wander the Marais. The old Jewish neighborhood also houses some of the city’s best free museums like the Victor Hugo House and the Cognac-Jay Museum. Be sure to check out the stellar Musée Carnavalet and the stunningly beautiful Place des Vosges, designed to be the royal palace under Henry IV.

The Marais is also the place to try your hand at vintage shopping, so don’t be afraid to rummage through some of the piles of scarves to find the one that matches your taste. Once you’ve had enough of exploring, grab a falafel at night on rue des Rosiers followed by ice cream for dessert at Amorino or Pozetto.

Evening options

During the evening, either head to the Eiffel Tower or take a boat cruise starting at Pont Neuf. Depending on the evening, the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay are also options.

rue Mouffetard

Bustling rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter lined with cafes, crepe stands and food shops. Photo: Wally Gobetz

Day 2: Left Bank

On the second day, you’ll spend most of your time on the Left Bank, taking more time to explore than in the 2-day itinerary.

Sights and crepes in the Latin Quarter

Start at St-Michel and the fountain of the archangel slaying Lucifer. Walk south to Luxembourg Gardens via Boulevard St-Michel. After a stroll through the gardens, head up rue Soufflot towards the domed Panthéon. The jewel-box church, St-Etienne du Mont, just behind Panthéon, is worth a quick visit.

Then head over to rue Mouffetard for several lunch options. Consider a takeaway crepe with ham and cheese (a classic!). Be sure to check out the old Roman ruins at the Arènes de Lutèce, and maybe grab a quick €2 mint tea at the Mosque just down the street.

Boutique shops, macarons and historic churches in St-Germain

Afterwards, digest on a stroll west along Boulevard St-Germain or along the cobblestone banks of the Seine (or a Metro ride to be quick—line 10). Back towards St-Michel, take rue Saint-André des Arts and explore the boutiques and shops in this well-traveled part of St-Germain. Head up rue de Seine towards the St-Sulpice church—also worth a quick visit for some beautiful Delacroix paintings—and splurge on macarons on rue Bonaparte (Pierre Hermé or farther north at Ladurée). Regardless of which macarons you try, visit the St-Germain church, one of the city’s oldest.

Napoléon’s tomb and ancient military artifacts

If you’re not too tired, head down the street to Les Invalides and check out the old 17th-century military hospital that today houses Napoléon’s tomb and a great collection of wartime artifacts from the Middle Ages to World War II. The big draw is that even non-history buffs can appreciate the museum because everything’s translated in English (€8 entry, free to walk through main courtyard).

Evening options

Head back to St-Germain for dinner or take this time to head up the Eiffel Tower while everyone else is enjoying their steak-frites. Back-ups for the evening are the boat cruises along the Seine, the Louvre (Wed, Fri) or the Musée d’Orsay (Thurs).

Sacre Couer

An iconic view of Sacre Couer from the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Steve Wilde

Day 3: Montmartre and Grands Boulevards

Your final day can be used for any shopping or dining spots you haven’t touched upon yet, or museums you still wanted to fit in. If you’ve planned nothing, take a leisurely stroll around Montmartre and the iconic boulevards.

Opera with a view

Start around the Opéra area and, if you have some spare cash, take a visit of the gorgeous interior (€9). Afterwards, just around the back of the Opéra, take the escalator to top of Galeries Lafayette for a panoramic (and free) view of the city.

Explore and shop amid beautiful passages and arcades

Resist shopping and walk east along Boulevard Haussmann to the regal covered passages to explore before or after lunch. Walk south through Passage des Panoramas to get a sense of what these 19th-century shopping malls looked like.

Once you arrive at the other end, exit, turn right and then take the first left onto rue Vivienne. Walk a few blocks and turn left into the Galerie Vivienne (near restaurant le Grand Colbert). Soak it up and browse some of the old books and be sure to look up and down at the gorgeous ceilings and the mosaic floors. Continue south from the exit of the galleries through the Jardin du Palais Royal and its designer-filled arcades.

Grab an affordable Japanese lunch

Once hunger hits, explore rue Saint-Anne for lunch. The neighborhood is known for its cheap Japanese food (just in case you were sick of duck and cheese). After a quick bite, take nearby Metro line 14 at Pyramides to Madeline, switch to line 12, and head up to the stop called Abbesses to explore Montmartre.

Say goodbye with fondue and a stunning vista from Sacre Couer

Explore some of the best bakeries in Paris on rue des Abbesses while following in Van Gogh’s footsteps towards his residence at number 54 rue Lépic. Wander the picturesque streets up towards the Sacre Coeur Basilica for a visit to one of Paris’ newer, but iconic churches.

Finish the evening with a glass of wine at a café and/or dinner at nearby Relais de Gascogne or fondue at Refuge des Fondus

Depending on the time, watch the lights of the city come alive as the sun sets over the city while seated on the stairs in front of the Sacre Coeur. It’s the perfect way to say “au revoir” to the City of Light.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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