I’m going to be in Paris for the first time next month, and have scheduled three consecutive days for sightseeing on my own. I know there’s more than I could ever hope to see in three days, but does anyone have suggestions for a reasonable itinerary? Anything in particular that I should be sure to see, or to steer clear of?
I’m an avid walker, so itineraries that emphasize exploration on foot would be of particular interest to me, but given the size of the city I suppose learning to use the metro will also be inevitable.
You can walk much of Paris is you are really dedicated to it and in shape. I walked around a large part of it in one 12 hour (fast) stroll just because that is what I do. I guess you already know about the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. You can’t see the whole Louvre in that amount of time but you can hit major highlights in an afternoon if you aren’t a serious art fan. You may or may not want to skip going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is predictably touristy and takes a bit of time and money. I just liked walking along the Seine River the most. You run into all kinds of things to see and do and it is very pretty. There are also the more odd things to do like the sewer towers and a self-guided tour of the Parisian catacombs (I loved that gigantic spooky thing). Most youngish people speak English if you don’t speak French. Just be polite and humble about it and they will usually just switch to English on their own. Contrary to stereotypes, I have never had a problem with that. However, there are special “American” sections in some restaurants with inflated prices and rude service so don’t get sucked into one of those but they aren’t that common.
Which three days? (Not that you have to tell us, but it matters).
In three days, with planning, you can see most of the “must see” tourist attractions, a few semi-tourist attractions, and have time to wander around quite a bit. But you will need to know which three days so that you know what’s open, what time it’s open, and where it is (as compared to the other things you want to see).
I would also highly advise getting the Paris museum pass, it’s big benefit being not that don’t have to pay to get into places, but that you don’t have to wait in line to get into places.
A lot of things worth seeing are clustered in various arondissements, so knowing what’s near what will allow you to get a ton of walking in (the best way to explore the city) while also covering as many sights and To-Do’s as possible.
Three days in Paris? I’ve done it before. I’ve been for even shorter trips as well. Please trust me when I say that you absolutely MUST committ an entire day to walking Versailles. It’s just west, south west of central Paris. If you love exploring and walking, you will never want to leave that place!!
I would spend a few hours in Montmartre. It was one of the highlights of my trip. The Place de Tertre is full to the brim with tourists, and the steps of the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur were difficult to walk down, there were so many people out, but the little side streets are just as charming as they looked in Amélie. (It’s silly to go to Paris and complain about the tourists, but I draw the line at where you can hardly walk for pushing your way through crowds of people with cameras.)
I went to Notre Dame at 8 a.m. and there were about five other tourists there, and a few people praying. I had no idea until someone told me that if you go at more normal hours of the day, you have to stand in line outside. Since you only have three days, you’ll probably want to begin early, right?
I would definitely recommend taking one day to wander around outside, do some window shopping and sitting in a cafe for a while. You could easily line up three days of museums and sites, but it would be a bit of a shame not to just wander a few districts. The Marais and the Latin Quarter (of course) are the other ones I’d want to see.
Take a night time cruise down the Seine. Don’t bother with the dinner cruise. The food is not that good and you may never see the musicians. Seeing the Eiffel Tower go into its “spasm” is absolutely a must! It won’t be doing that forever, but now it happens once an hour.
If you walk down around the Seine, I would take the steps down from around Pont Neuf. You will feel like you are in the film An American in Paris.
Hemingway, Fitzgeral, and a few others used to watch the world go by at Cafe Les Deux Magots on Saint Germaine Dupres close to St Michel Blvd. About a block or so up from that is where Sarte and de Beauvoir held court with the Existentialists at Cafe de Flore. It will cost you only the price of a lemonade or a coffee to soak up the atmosphere.
Someone help me out. There is a marvelous smaller museum that is located where there used to be a train station, I believe. There are wonderful famous paintings by Monet, Manet, Cezanne and others here. Is that Musee d’Orsay? I just loved that museum! I felt more comfortable there.
Be sure to print the name and address of the hotel where you are staying and the name of the closest Metro Station on a piece of paper to carry in your wallet. If you decide to take a cab instead of the Metro, it helps to be able to show it to the driver.
Anywhere you eat will have good food.
But if you want some place really special, my favorite is La Closerie des Lilas 171, boulevard du Montparnasse. Hemingway wrote much of The Sun Also Rises here in the outdoor cafe among the lilacs. Henry Miller liked to eat here. Even Lenin. What a history!
I found that if I let the Parisians know that I loved their city and was happy to be there, I was treated with great kindness and courtesy.
When you get into Paris from the airport, you won’t have to really “go see” things to find great beauty. You have arrived within a living work of art. It is all around you. Every bridge. Every building. The faces of old men in the park. The pastries and chocolates. Drink it all in.
Yes, *Le Musée d’Orsay. *I’ve been to Paris four times, and this is the only place I visit every single time. The building itself is not to be missed, and features works from early impressionism through art deco. And on the top floor . . . there’s a room of Van Goghs, a room of Monets, a room of Cezannes . . . .
And within walking distance is the Rodin Museum, in the sculptor’s mansion and grounds. It contains an amazing collection of his work, including *The Thinker *and The Kiss.
And my favorite walk in Paris, is the straight line from the Louvre, through the Tuilerie Gardens, and up the Champs d’Elysées to the Arc de Triumphe.
If you want to see Paris from up-high don’t bother waiting in line for the Eiffel Tower. Instead try the roof of the fifty-nine story Tour Montparnasse. It’s open late and the last time we were there we witnessed sunset over Montmartre and floodlit Paris.