January 19, 2023

Paris in 3 days – how to visit the city of lights?

Paris is a remarkable city whose rich history is evidenced by its many museums, monuments and historic buildings. Winding cobbled streets turn into wide avenues, cafés tempt with cosy gardens, and the facades of the town houses are reminiscent of the most beautiful film sets. In each of the twenty districts, there is at least one place worth visiting. To reach them all, a first-hand leaflet of the city's attractions is not enough - especially if you have limited time to explore it. Fortunately, our unique guide to Paris comes to the rescue. It includes a concrete itinerary that you can follow to get to know this beautiful city in just 3 days!

In order to visit all the main attractions during such a short stay, you need the right tips. You need to know how to get around Paris in order to enjoy the sights without overstretching yourself unnecessarily. Don't waste time wandering down less interesting streets - instead, use our guide to make the most of your time in the city of lights!

how to get around Paris

Visiting Paris in 3 days - where to start?

The French capital is often referred to as the city of lights, la ville lumière. Although visitors began to refer to it as such back in the 17th century, the term still seems appropriate. What once impressed tourists was the elaborate, for the time, street lighting system. Thousands of torches and candle lamps attached to the facades of buildings illuminated the darkness of the night and increased the safety of residents. Today, the streets of Paris are lit by standard electric lanterns. On the surface, there is nothing special about this, but anyone who has had the opportunity to look down on the city at least once after dark will understand why its nickname remains relevant.

If your budget allows, book an overnight stay in a room with a view. Watching Paris at night, lit up by hundreds of thousands of lanterns, is an added attraction, and it would be a shame to give it up. However, we do not recommend staying in the 18th (Butte-Montmartre) and 19th (Buttes-Chaumont) districts, as well as in the north of the 10th (Enclos-St-Laurent) district. According to many rankings, these are the most dangerous parts of the city - especially at night and for tourists who are not very familiar with the city.

Before arriving in Paris, it is also worth knowing how public transport works. No matter how many days you reserve to explore Paris, we recommend buying a magnetic Navigo Easy Pass. It costs €2, although you can also download the Bonjour RATP phone app and use the same features for free. The card (or app) is then loaded with single-ride tickets or better, very convenient 10-ride tickets. Once these have been paid for, you simply place your card or phone on the reader located on the bus or at the gate at the metro station.

Now that you know what to do before you arrive, find out how to visit Paris in 3 days!

Paris - how to explore the city on your first day?

The best way to start discovering the delights of Paris is with the so-called free walking tour - a guided, “pay as you wish” walking tour. We particularly recommend the Historic Paris Free Tour with Walkative!, during which you'll stroll through the city centre while listening to stories about its remarkable history. This is the perfect choice for your first morning in Paris. You will learn a lot about the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle castle chapel. You will cross some of the most beautiful and oldest bridges in Paris and reach the former royal palace - the Louvre. The tour lasts about 2.5 hours; it departs from the Hôtel de Ville metro station, located by the Town Hall and tourist information office.

During the tour with Walkative!, a professional Paris guide will show you such attractions as:

  • Hôtel de Ville - the beautiful edifice of the Paris Town Hall,
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral,
  • Sainte-Chapelle chapel,
  • Conciergerie, or the imposing north-east wing of the Palace of Justice,
  • the 17th century Pont Neuf,
  • the famous Pont des Arts,
  • Louvre,
  • Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel,
  • the beautiful Tuileries gardens.

After the tour, you can head to the nearby shopping and entertainment area of the 1st district (Louvre), Les Halles, for lunch. We recommend trying one of the restaurants serving traditional French food - such as Le Petit Bouillon Pharamond located on Rue de la Grande Truanderie or La Tour Montlhéry - Chez Denise on Rue des Prouvaires. It should take no more than a quarter of an hour to reach either of them. Both open at 12.00 p.m. After your meal, take a stroll along the Seine, where Parisian bouquiniste (name bouquiniste comes from the word bouquin meaning a book) peddling old books, postcards and souvenirs have their stalls.

Louvre in Paris

What to do on the first afternoon in Paris?

In the afternoon, you can go back to the historic city centre, walk around Place de la Concorde and see the famous Champs Élysées avenue. The best option would be to catch the metro at Concorde station (near the Jeu de Paume art museum) and take it all the way to the Charles de Gaulle - Étoile stop. It is there that you will find the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, erected in the first half of the 19th century by order of Emperor Napoleon I. It is 50 meters high and offers an incredible view of the city. Although admission costs €13 per person, it is definitely an attraction worth the price. A 3-day visit to Paris cannot be done without it.

Next, you can move back and walk along the Champs Élysées - Paris' most representative avenue. It is lined with shops, theatres, restaurants and beautiful town houses. When you reach the Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau metro station, turn right. Nearby is the Petit Palais museum, a real architectural gem, where you can visit an impressive exhibition of 19th century art for free. Also, nearby is the Alexander III Bridge, one of the most romantic bridges in all of Paris and the first to be lit by lanterns. Film buffs will be interested to know that it is famous because of many films - including one of the James Bond adventures (A View to a Kill), A Very Long Engagement or Midnight in Paris. The bridge has also appeared in several TV series - such as The Sopranos and Emily in Paris, and in the music video for Adele's song Someone Like You.

It is the perfect place for a small photo shoot. After all, from the bridge you can see, among other things, the Eiffel Tower and the golden dome of the Dôme des Invalides church, where the sarcophagus containing the ashes of Napoleon I is located. The Alexander III Bridge is best visited when it starts to get dark, as both the bridge and all the monuments visible from it look most beautiful when properly illuminated. When it comes to sightseeing in Paris, advice on the time of day to view particular buildings is always worth heeding. After all, there are quite a few attractions in the city of lights that look better after dark.

sightseeing in Paris, advice

A first evening in Paris - tips for visitors

After such an intense day, it's worth giving your legs a rest and opting for a cruise on the Seine. You'll find tour boats from a number of companies on the waterfront - including Bateaux Mouches or Bateaux Parisien. The tour costs around €15 per person and lasts just over an hour. During such an evening cruise, you will see the city from a new and very charming perspective. You will see how beautiful the Eiffel Tower looks when seen from the river. Also, the many Parisian bridges (there are 30 of them on the Seine) lit up by hundreds of lanterns is a sight you won't forget for years to come. If you still have the energy to explore the city after your cruise, you can go directly under the Eiffel Tower. The best view is from Trocadero square. We recommend this place especially for those who are keen on taking spectacular photos.

Sightseeing in Paris

Sightseeing in Paris - tips for day two

Spend the second day thoroughly exploring the oldest parts of Paris. This will be Le Marais, an area located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (Temple and Hôtel-de-Ville), and the so-called Latin Quarter, covering the northern part of the 5th and the eastern chunk of the 6th arrondissement (Panthéon and Luxembourg). There you will see the real Paris of centuries ago. Many old buildings, streets and small squares that were not destroyed during the great rebuilding of the city in the 19th century have survived exactly in these parts.

Start your walk at the Sainte-Chapelle. It is an excellent example of beautiful French Gothic architecture. If you think it's impossible to visit Paris in 3 days, this is the attraction we recommend. You only need half an hour to get to know it, and we guarantee you won't regret the time spent there. Then you can head to the left bank of the Seine. This is where you'll find the Latin Quarter. See especially the impressive St Michel fountain. We also recommend taking a walk along Rue Saint-André des Arts up to Rue de Buci, a street famous for its cosy cafés serving delicious coffee and cakes. You will also find two historic churches nearby (5-10 minutes' walk): the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the classicist church of Saint Sulpice.

After seeing the Church of Saint Sulpice, the second largest in the entire city, smaller only than the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral, you can head towards the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, one of the oldest theatres in Paris. How do you visit all these sights and not go hungry at the same time? Fortunately, there is a perfect solution! Just have lunch in one of the establishments in the Latin Quarter - such as the often recommended traditional restaurant Polidor. It is located on Rue Monsieur le Prince. There is also one of the largest parks in Paris nearby: The Luxembourg Garden, where you can take the perfect romantic stroll.

Luxembourg Garden

What's next? Your own walking tour of Paris

From the park, you are sure to spot the dome towering over the city. This is the crowning glory of one of Paris' most important monuments, the Pantheon. We encourage you to take a closer look at this unique building. Just behind it is also one of the most interesting churches in the city: St Étienne du Mont. The remains of St Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, rests here. This is where you can end your tour of the left bank of the Seine. On your way back, pay some attention to the Isle of Saint Louis, which lies on the Seine. If you are travelling to Paris with your loved one, take a walk here - the island's climate is definitely super romantic.

Back in Le Marais, head to one of the oldest streets in the city: the Rue Saint Antoine. Look out for the imposing building of the Hôtel de Sully. You can also walk through the gardens nearby (admission is free) to the oldest square in Paris, the Place de Vosges. Although not often frequented by tourists - or perhaps because of it - it has its own unique atmosphere worth discovering. In Le Marais, around Rue des Rosiers, there is also the Jewish quarter with its beautiful synagogues and shops.

Guide to Paris by night

If you have enough time, be sure to visit the contemporary art museum located in the Centre Georges Pompidou building. It closes at 10pm, but it's worth leaving yourself as much time as possible to visit it. The museum's collection includes paintings by Picasso, Chagall or Modigliani, among others. In addition, there is a picturesque panorama of the city from the roof of the Pompidou itself.

To get a taste of Paris' nightlife, head to Rue Montorgueil, where you'll find a whole lot of bars, pubs and restaurants, perfect for dinner and delicious French wine.

Guide to Paris by night

A third day in Paris - how do you get around, so you don't miss any attractions?

For art lovers, we've provided two options to choose from for a third morning of sightseeing: the Louvre or the Orsay museum. In the former, you'll find - among many other amazing art pieces - Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People to the Barricade. However, it will certainly be much more crowded than the slightly smaller Orsay museum. However, this does not mean that the Musée d'Orsay is not worth a visit! Head there to see the works by Renoir, Degas, Monet and van Gogh, among others. It should take about 2.5 hours to see the exhibition.

Close to the Louvre and the Orsay museum is the Comédie-Française, the French national theatre. In addition to it, there are two beautiful shopping arcades worth seeing in the area: Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert. You can visit them on the way to the Garnier opera house. It is one of the largest buildings of its kind in the entire world. You can admire Marc Chagall's frescoes on its ceiling. If you like to admire city skylines, be sure to also head to the Galeries Lafayette and take the lift to the roof. It offers one of the best views of Paris. How do you get around cheaply? By taking advantage of just such attractions! After all, entry to the roof of the Galleries is free.

walking tour Paris

Last afternoon in Paris

We left a real treat for the last afternoon! From the opera house, you'll reach Montmartre, the most romantic part of the city, in less than half an hour. Make sure you catch another great free walking tour of Paris - the Montmartre Free Tour with Walkative! While visiting on your own, it's easy to miss the most charming corners of this district. Without a guide, you won't get to know its rich history, either. Numerous artists have lived here - including Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso. The tour ends at the Sacré-Cœur basilica - in one of the most representative places in Paris. You will find many souvenir shops nearby, and if you want to top off the whole trip with a delicious meal, we recommend nearby restaurants such as the romantic La Maison Rose, Les Vins des Montmartre or Le Grand Phénicien.

Hope you enjoyed our article, we wish you a very enjoyable visit to Paris!

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