Personal experience

Explore Paris in Three Days: A Pre-Planned Itinerary by a Local Guide

Paris is an everlasting holiday destination, and if you're one of the fortunate travelers planning a trip to this enchanting city, you'll find this article invaluable. Follow the 3-day travel itinerary in Paris from our expert guide.
31 march 2020
АВТОР: Polina Doronina

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Polina Doronina
Paris Guide

Three days may not be sufficient to fully explore the rich history and culinary delights of Paris. The capital of beautiful France, with over two millennia of stories to share, is a city worth savoring. Yet, if you aim to experience the essence of Paris in a short time, do it the French way: leisurely strolls through charming park pathways, pauses for coffee and pastries at quintessential Parisian cafés, and above all, indulge in your own pleasures.

Day 1

Paris City Hall (Hôtel de Ville)

The square in front of Paris City Hall serves as an ideal starting point for your city exploration. From here, both Notre Dame and Cité Island are within easy walking distance. If you're familiar with the works of French literary greats like Dumas and Balzac, the square's historical name, Place de Grève, may ring a bell. It's a square with a rich past, where people once sought employment due to its gentle slope to the Seine, facilitating the unloading of riverboats.

In the Middle Ages, this square witnessed various historical events, from the formation of the first municipal body to grisly executions, including beheadings of nobles and punishments for those who attempted to harm the king. Fortunately, today, the square bears no reminders of its dark history, as the Renaissance-style Paris City Hall captivates the eyes and cameras of thousands of visitors.

The Isle of Cité: Paris' Spiritual and Historical Heart (Île de la Cité)

Just across the bridge from City Hall, situated on the right bank of the Seine, lies the Isle of Cité. For the first ten centuries of the city's history, this island practically constituted the entirety of Paris!

The Isle of Cité is home to several iconic landmarks, including Notre-Dame-de-Paris (the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris), the medieval castle-fortress-prison of the Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution), Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle with its extraordinarily beautiful stained glass windows, and Place du Dauphine, one of Paris's earliest city squares.

As you explore the west side of the island, you'll encounter the New Bridge, despite its name, being the oldest bridge in Paris!

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Photo author - Oxane Alexandroff
Photo author - Gregory Hayes

Notre-Dame-de-Paris (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris)

Located on the eastern side of the island, as you cross the bridge at City Hall, you'll be greeted by the majestic Gothic towers and soaring metal spire of Notre Dame. This cathedral holds a special place in the heart of France, serving as its principal Catholic cathedral, housing the Crown of Thorns of God, and witnessing the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte. Unfortunately, the cathedral is currently closed for renovation due to a fire in 2019, so visiting its interior won't be possible.

Louvre Museum and Jardins des Tuileries

A brief stroll from the New Bridge will bring you to the Louvre! After crossing from the island back to the right bank of the Seine, take a leisurely walk along the promenade lined with Parisian book vendors. A French-language book or a vintage magazine poster can make excellent souvenirs.

Start your exploration of the Louvre from this side, where you'll encounter the local moat that, according to eyewitnesses, presented challenges to the Louvre's occupants and affected the palace's atmosphere.

Continue through the central archway from the square courtyard into the main courtyard of the Louvre, where you'll find the iconic glass pyramids designed by architect Ming Pei. As you explore further, you'll come across Napoleon's first (though unsuccessful, according to art historians) Arc de Triomphe, the Carrousel du Louvre, and beyond that, the magnificent royal Tuileries Garden.

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Photo author - Kirsten Drew

Place de la Concorde (Place de la Concorde)

The Place de la Concorde serves as a pivotal point connecting the Louvre and Tuileries Park with the Champs-Élysées, which begins at the square and stretches to the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

Once a royal square graced by an imposing statue of Louis XV, the Place de la Concorde witnessed darker times as the Place de la Révolution, where the guillotine was erected, sealing the fate of many rebellious French citizens.

However, these somber days eventually gave way to an era of reconciliation, leading to a decision to rename the square in its current spirit. The addition of an ancient Egyptian obelisk, a gift from Egypt in appreciation of French scientists' deciphering of hieroglyphics, came much later, during the reign of Napoleon III.


The famous Champs-Élysées avenue, immortalized in the song by French singer Joe Dassin, holds a special place in the hearts of Parisians. While not particularly cherished by locals, it remains a prominent setting for France's grand celebrations and marches.

The avenue's history dates back to the late 16th century when Queen Maria de' Medici planted the first elm trees here. It even hosted the Russian Cossacks camp during Alexander I's time.

Today, the Champs-Élysées serves dual purposes. The first part, characterized by leisurely strolls, reflects its "field" origin. The second part transforms it into a "paradise" for tourists, adorned with countless cafes, restaurants, quaint boutiques, and shops, creating an endless carnival atmosphere.

Your walk can culminate in two ways: a straight path leading to the iconic Arc de Triomphe or a detour to Paris's most renowned symbol, the Eiffel Tower. If you opt for the latter, veer left at the avenue's beginning, near the palaces (Petit and Grand Palais), the Charles de Gaulle monument, and head towards the Alexander III Bridge and the striking gilded dome of the House of Invalides, easily recognizable from a distance.

Pont Alexandre III

As you make your way towards the Eiffel Tower, don't miss the opportunity to admire one of Paris's most exquisite bridges, the Pont Alexandre III. At the center of the bridge's arches, you'll find depictions of nymphs representing the Neva and Seine rivers, adorned with the coats of arms of allied states. This bridge was strategically designed to offer some of the finest panoramic views: the Champs Elysees esplanade and the grand Maison des Invalides.

House of Invalides

Now, it's time to venture to the other side of the bridge, on the Rive Gauche, or the left bank! From this vantage point, the Eiffel Tower appears tantalizingly close—no optical illusion here!

On your path lies the complex of the House of Invalides, a truly fascinating institution. Established by the Sun King Louis XIV in the 17th century as a military asylum-hospital, it continues to serve its purpose. However, today, only a handful of retired servicemen—around a hundred—reside here. The vast halls, spanning 16 kilometers of corridors in the boarding house, have been repurposed into the Army Museum.

Yet, the House of Invalides is most renowned for housing the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte beneath its gilded dome. This historic site is open to the public. For a brief exploration, you can gaze upon its courtyard, wander through the centuries-old stonework, and pay your respects to the stone statue of the emperor sporting his iconic triangle hat. Keep in mind, there are even rabbits residing under the charming evergreen cypress cones.

Address: 129 Rue de Grenelle

Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ticket price: €15

The Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower

We're almost there! It's just a short walk from the Maison des Invalides to the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars. To make the most of your visit, I recommend taking Rue Grenelle to reach this iconic landmark. It's also a perfect time to plan your evening activities!

If the weather is favorable, consider having a delightful picnic while enjoying a view of the Eiffel Tower from the lush green lawn of the Champ de Mars. Be sure to prepare everything you need in advance. And if you happen to forget something, don't worry. You can find all the picnic essentials on Rue Claire: disposable utensils and tableware at the supermarket, a selection of cheeses at the cheese shop, ham and pâtés at the butcher's, a fine bottle of wine at the local wine shop, and, of course, freshly baked baguettes and pastries at the bakery.

In case the weather takes a turn for the worse, you'll find plenty of cozy cafés on both streets. Alternatively, after your exploration of the Eiffel Tower, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the restaurants in Trocadéro Square.

Photo author - Eugene Dorosh: Pexels

For capturing the most stunning photos of the Eiffel Tower, head to the Champ de Mars or the steps of the Palais de Chaillot on the opposite side of the tower.

When it comes to ascending the tower, you have two options: take the elevator or climb on foot (though you can only walk up to the middle of the second level). It's advisable to purchase elevator tickets online in advance to skip the ticket office queues.

Don't forget to spot the Military School, nestled in the tower's shadow. This school, built by Louis XV and still operational today, was personally completed by Napoleon. The Champ de Mars itself once served as a military training ground for the school.

The Eiffel Tower joined these historic surroundings much later, in the late 19th century, in honor of the Paris World's Fair!

For our first day, let's call it a day and conserve our energy for tomorrow!

Cost: €10.40 - €25.90

Opening hours: June 13 to August 29 from 9:00 to 00:45 (elevator) / 00:30 (steps); otherwise 9:30 to 18:30 (steps) and 23:45 (elevator)

Tip: We recommend purchasing Eiffel Tower tickets in advance from the official website.

Day 2

Louvre Museum

It's best to set aside at least three hours to visit the Louvre, and that's to see the very, very basics, of course. The three ladies of the Louvre should be on the must-see program - the Mona Lisa (the diagrams of how to get to da Vinci's enigmatic beauty are almost all over the museum), the Venus of Milos, and Nika of Samothrace, dressed in a dress fluttering in the sea breeze.

Jean-Paul Engrah's "Grand Odalisque," Louis David's "Coronation of Napoleon," Theodore Géricault's "Raft of the Medusa," Jan Vermeer's "Lacemaker," and Michelangelo's slave sculptures are certainly also worthy of attention.

The Louvre, with its rich collection of art from different styles and eras, has something for everyone. Italian Renaissance geniuses, the best Dutch painters (Rubens' "Life of Maria de' Medici" is worth a visit!), the Egyptian section, Oriental Antiquities. Stop by to visit Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew, Napoleon III, the last crowned resident of the palace.

Experiencing the opulence and eclecticism of the interiors of that era will bring you closer to understanding the architectural transformations of Paris. The jewel of the Louvre is the Apollo Gallery, commissioned by Louis XIV and housing the main treasures of the French monarchy - the surviving royal regalia.

Palais Royal

After visiting Catherine de Medici and Napoleon III, why not stop by to greet the almighty Cardinal Richelieu, who is housed next door.

The house was known as the Palais Cardinal, or "Cardinal's Palace," but when the palace was taken over by the royal family under the latter's will, it was renamed "the royal palace."

The palace still keeps its secrets: you can't enter from the central facade on rue de Rivoli, but the entrance is reserved for visitors to the Council of State and the Constitutional Council, which are housed in the palace's halls.

To enter the palace's secret garden, you have to go around the building on the left side, where it meets the Theatre de la Comedie Française, founded by Molière himself.

In the garden of the Palais Richelieu, you'll find a string of surprises: Buren columns, metal balloon fountains, and a small, cozy palace square adored by Parisians. Fashionable boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants are nestled in the vaults of the complex. In good weather, Parisians flock to the Palais Royal garden to read the newspaper and eat their lunch sandwich in the fresh air.

Photo author - Dmitriy Nushtaev
Photo author - Behzad Ghaffarian

Galerie Vivienne

When you leave Cardinal Richelieu's garden, don't forget to check out one of the oldest and most beautiful passages in Paris. Everything here has been preserved as it was in the early twentieth century. Only the tenants of the retail space have changed (and only occasionally), but the signage itself is usually intact.

Passages were built as "passageways" between two houses, hidden under a glass roof with a metal base. This way, the bourgeois, strolling through the passageway in a dry, clean, and festive place, could make fashionable purchases and pop into a café for a cup of coffee. The first gas lighting horns appeared in the arcades, and the first public toilets were installed here. The arcades were the prototype for the first big stores, the department stores that soon replaced them.

The Parisian arcades are still haunted by the ghost of the past, with many antique shops selling exquisite pieces of merchandise. Next to the Passage Vivienne is the Passage Colbert, now sadly closed to the public and put at the disposal of the Library of Paris and the Sorbonne universities.

A little further on, on the way to the Opéra Garnier, with its entrance on rue des Petits Champs, is the colorful Passage Choiseul, which is well worth a visit.

Opera Garnier (Palais Garnier)

The building of the Paris Opera is on everyone's lips: the mysterious story of the Opera's ghost, Eric, originates from here. It has burned many times and has been a favorite place for assassination attempts on kings and emperors.

The previous location of the opera house was destroyed and rebuilt because of an assassination attempt on Emperor Napoleon III. Paris now has another opera building, erected on Place de la Bastille in the 1980s.

The interior of the Opéra Garnier can be admired when attending ballet performances or when viewing the opera on a proper tour. The opera building can be visited every day from 10:00 to 16:30. After your tour, stop by for a coffee and cake in the luxurious interiors of the Café de la Paix, located opposite the opera house on the first floor of the stellar Grand Hotel.

Open hours: from mid-July to early September, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; other times, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ticket price: €12-14


After parking in such a lovely location, exploring Paris' enchanting Montmartre hill is a breeze. It's just a leisurely 20-minute walk from the Opéra.

The best route is to ascend rue de Martyrs, leading you directly to the iconic Moulin Rouge, the famous Red Mill. Continue up rue Lepic at a relaxed pace, and a short distance on your left, you'll discover Café des Deux Moulins, the charming café where the film "Amélie" was shot. A poster of Audrey Tautou on the wall will surely jog your memory.

Proceed along rue Tholozé, and your efforts will be rewarded by an authentic windmill that has graced the hill's skyline since the 17th century. Take a right, and a few dozen meters away stands the legendary Moulin de la Galette, immortalized in over two thousand paintings by artists.

Continue your ascent along rue Girardon, where you'll encounter the bust of Dalida, who adored Montmartre and called it home until her final days. Now, cast your gaze to the right, and you'll find one of Montmartre's most picturesque streets.

To your left, the pink house of the painter Maurice Utrillo and the summit of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur will captivate your attention. Head in that direction, and you're almost there!

Don't forget to explore the Montmartre vineyard, visit the cabaret of the rabbit, and stroll through Place de la Tertre, where numerous artists will be delighted to create your portrait, caricature, or even sell you their artwork. And make sure to step inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart; admission is free, but photography is not allowed.

After descending the basilica's majestic stairs, turn left towards Abbesses metro station, where you'll discover another Montmartre gem: the Wall of Love, adorned with "I love you" inscriptions in various languages. What a fabulous way to conclude your day! On Rue Abbesses, you'll also find a delightful café-restaurant to satisfy your culinary cravings; for example, Mascotte restaurant is a fantastic seafood option.

Day 3

Musée d'Orsay

The world's premier Impressionist museum, housed in a former train station in Paris, is impossible to miss. Everyone will find their favorite exhibit here: one will be enchanted by Degas's ballerinas, impressed by the cabaret and tavern scenes of their regular Toulouse-Lautrec, inspired by the glitter of Parisian boulevards and the festivities of Parisian life from Renoir's canvases, or come to the museum for Van Gogh's Starry Night over the Rhone.

The museum has a great café and restaurant, and you can buy souvenirs in the museum's boutique. The queues are not as long as at the Louvre, but the exhibition space is several times smaller, so it's best to arrive at the museum just before it opens to see what's on view.

Recommended time to visit: 2-3 hours

Cost: €14, €11 - 18-25 years or from 16:30 for all (except Thursday), under 18 free

Opening hours: every day except Monday from 9:30 to 18:00, Thursday 9:30 to 21:45. May 1 and Dec. 25 are weekends.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The park is so beloved by Parisians that they have given it the diminutive nickname "Luco."

And indeed, on a sunny summer's day, there's no better place to be: The older generation plays chess in the northern part of the park; in the southern part, closer to the orchard, pétanque competitions unfold; in front of the Luxembourg Palace, toddlers launch long wooden sticks into the pond; students and academics from the Sorbonne next door read on massive green chairs in the shady alleys; and office workers come to enjoy salads and sandwiches on the park's benches at lunchtime.

The park and palace were built at the behest of Queen Maria de' Medici, and today the palace houses the upper house of parliament, the Senate. Don't miss the Maria de' Medici Fountain, often referred to as the 'grotto,' located on the eastern side of the palace. As you leave the park, you'll spot the massive dome of the Pantheon, the mausoleum of the great men of France, just across the street.

Saint Germain Quarter, the Quintessential Parisian Lifestyle

After enjoying the views of Luxembourg Park, step onto rue Bonaparte and venture into the heart of the Saint-Germain neighborhood. This is the epitome of bourgeois and vibrant Parisian life.

It's the haunt of sophisticated Parisians, renowned actors, established writers, and publishers. Attend evening mass at the Church of St. Sulpice, where Victor Hugo himself was married. The frescoes in the first chapel, to the right of the entrance, were painted by none other than Eugène Delacroix. The Rose Line runs through the church, symbolizing the Paris meridian mentioned in Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code."

Just a stone's throw from the church, on Rue Lobineau, you'll find the covered food market known as Marché Saint-Germain. Here, you can pick up exquisite gastronomic souvenirs: cheeses, sausages, foie gras, pâtés, wine, and champagne. Don't forget to ask the vendors to vacuum-seal your delicacies for safekeeping.

For chocolate connoisseurs, be sure to visit chocolatier Pierre Marcolini (known for amazing chocolates with various fillings), Patrick Roger (famous for the best pralines in town), Pierre Hermé for almond macarons, and Gerard Mulot for excellent bakery treats.

Photo author - Joe deSousa

Is it time to sit down for a cup of coffee in a café on a bustling Parisian boulevard, perhaps in Saint-Germain? Right next door, you'll find the legendary literary cafés Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots. They serve excellent hot chocolate, club sandwiches, and omelettes. Once, regulars included the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone Beauvoir, Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Henry Miller. Quite a stellar bunch, isn't it?

After your gastronomic break, consider visiting one of Paris's oldest churches, the Romanesque-style Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Continue your stroll toward the city center along rue Bonaparte, taking in the charming antique shops and art galleries along the way.

Wrap up your Parisian adventure with picturesque views of the city's riverbanks from some of the most romantic bridges in the city. At the new bridge, Pont Neuf, on the Île de la Cité, you can embark on a riverboat tour. Alternatively, at the Eiffel Tower's base, you'll find a wide selection of riverboat companies and cruises. Those seeking romance can even book a cruise with a romantic dinner on board.

For those who enjoy walking, take a leisurely stroll along the Seine's banks to the west or east of the city. On the left bank in the west, you'll discover the upscale and ornate restaurants of the 7th arrondissement, favored by French politicians. In the eastern part of the left bank, explore the Latin Quarter, with its medieval winding streets and charming café taverns serving traditional French cuisine.

Interested in a guided tour with Pauline? Learn about all the topics you can and contact her!

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