Itinerary for 3 Days in Paris: Perfect for First Time Visitors

Everyone has their own sentiments attached to the city of light, and it’s big enough to have something for everyone. Here is my suggested itinerary for 3 days in Paris:

I did a ten day trip with my friends to Paris, Normandy, and London. Here is how we saw most of the key sights in a short amount of time, and on a budget!

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Arrival: The River Seine & Eiffel Tower

After arriving in to the city and checking in to your hotel, you can explore the nearby area on foot. This starts your itinerary for 3 days in Paris!
Our hotel was close to the Eiffel Tower, so of course we went straight there. We had some crepes, and an impromptu picnic!
Around twilight, I suggest going to the River Seine and hopping on a river cruise boat, or a Bateaux Mouche at Pont de l’Alma.
The boats run every 30 minutes until 9pm, and you can ride down the river to see several of Paris’ main sites, and get your bearings of the city. You can also book specialized tours with meals or champagne!

A photo of the Notre Dame Cathedral as seen over the River Seine and a Bateaux Mouche. Part of my itinerary for 3 days in Paris

Lodging: We stayed at the Mercure Tour Eiffel Grenelle 

Day 1: Montmartre, Gardens, & The Opera

Start out by taking the metro to the artsy Montmartre district of town. We headed to the Moulin Rouge for some obligatory photos, but didn’t go inside. If you return here in the evening, you can see a risqué cabaret show here.
Next, stroll in the fairytale-like Tuileries Garden, followed by the Jardins du Luxembourg. At this point, if you have time, you can visit the Musee D’Orsay.
Luxembourg Gardens, image of a building with pink flowers in front. Itinerary for 3 days in Paris.
Luxembourg Gardens
Given I’m a huge Broadway nerd, I suggest stopping at the theater made famous from the Phantom of the Opera. In the book and the play, this is where the Phantom rows in his underground gondola singing to Christine: The Opera Garnier!
Get your tickets here in advance to tour the inside.

opera garnier in paris france. home of the phantom of the opera. see this as part of your itinerary for 3 days in paris

Lodging: We stayed at the Mercure Tour Eiffel Grenelle 

Day 2: Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, & Champs Elysees

Leave very early in the morning to the Palace of Versailles. The journey takes 45 minutes via metro. The tour group lines get insane, so make sure to allot plenty of time.
Buy your Versailles ticket in advance to avoid waiting in more lines.
Famed French Palace of Versailles near Paris. You can see Versailles even with just 3 days in Paris.
This, Madame, is Versailles!
Spend about a half day at the exquisite Palace. It is fascinating to see the former quarters of the ill-fated royal family, dream of Marie Antoinette’s iconic wigs, walk the extensive gardens, and reflect on life at the Hall of Mirrors (see what I did there?).
After a half day at Versailles, go back into Paris, and stop at the Arc de Triomphe.
Pro Tip: Go under the road by the Arc to an entrance where you can pay to go to the top. In my opinion, this view is better than the one from the top of the Eiffel Tower!
Arc d'Triomphe in Paris, France. What to see with 3 days in Paris!
Next, walk the posh high-end shopping district, the Avenue of Champs Élysées. I couldn’t afford anything, but it was fun to look! 😊
Afterwards, visit the Place de la Concorde. This is a famous public square that has been a key location for historical events in the city’s history, including the guillotine execution of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
Place de la Concorde, one of many things to see with 3 days in Paris.
At night, get some gelato near the Notre Dame Cathedral, and walk the romantic river walk near the Île de la Cité.
There is an underground crypt / catacombs near Ile de la Cité you can tour at night!

Lodging: We stayed at the Mercure Tour Eiffel Grenelle 

Day 3: The Louvre, & Notre Dame

On my trip, I started this day out my going to the top of Eiffel Tower. It was a bit of a disappointment however, and so I suggest skipping that and opting to go to the top of the Arc d’Triomphe instead.
Next, it’s time to visit the world famous Louvre Museum. If you only go to one museum in your life, this should be it!
The collection there and the historical value of the pieces are incomparable. It is best to buy your Louvre tickets in advance!
We spent four hours there, but it could have easily been more. And no, the Mona Lisa is really not the best piece there!Louvre museum during a Paris itinerary 3 days
Next, go inside the 12th century world famous Cathedral of Notre Dame. If possible (and it has reopened after the fire), climb to the top of the Cathedral to see its famous gargoyles, stunning views, and Quasimodo’s abode!
With any additional time you have, there are loads of options. One idea is a Paris walking food tour, or a Montmartre wine tasting tour.

Lodging: We stayed at the Mercure Tour Eiffel Grenelle 

If you’re continuing on to Bretagne…

In the morning, visit the Sacre Couer Basilica and a local outdoor market. At this point, we said au revoir to Paris, and took a train to the city of Rennes in the Brittany (Bretagne) region.sacre couer basilica in paris. see the city on foot.
In Rennes, a tour guide met with us, and took us on a private tour to the medieval town of Dinan (straight out of Beauty and the Beast) where we had a city tour, and went to the local market.
Next, our tour took us to Mont St. Michel Monastery. This place is absolutely stunning, and a must-see!
Mont Saint-Michel Fortifications
We stayed the night in the town of Saint-Malo, and then spent another full day there. This city is one of my favorite memories of my trip to France!
I highly recommend this walled, medieval town rich in history and World War II era stories. If you haven’t, read the book All the Light We Cannot See before you visit.
saint malo
Saint Malo Town

Lodging in Paris:

During my time in Paris, I’ve stayed at the Hotel Eiffel Petit Louvre, and Mercure Grenelle.  They both have a good location and are affordable.

Excursions from Paris:

Check here for Normandy excursion ideas. These are perfect for World War II history lovers!
We did a  tour to Mont Saint-Michel. There are several that leave out of Bayeux, and even Paris.
We also did a half day visit to Saint-Malo, and then stayed there for more time after.
It’s possible to do each of these on separate days, but we actually took the train from Paris to Rennes, and then had a private tour to all three places, ending in Saint-Malo where we spent the night. It is pricy, but not too bad if you split with a group!
saint malo, excursion from paris
Saint Malo Fortress
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The French Language:

Don’t be “that tourist”, and learn at least a few key phrases in French. I got away with only knowing the following, and it went pretty well for me as far as interactions with the locals:
  • Hi- Bonjour or Salut
  • How are you- Comment alez-vous?
  • I’m good- Tres Bien
  • Sorry- Désolé
  • Excuse Me- Pardon
  • How much is this? C’est combien?
  • Thank you- Merci
  • Goodbye- Au Revoir
  • Where is … – Ou est
  • I would like… – Je voudrais …
I recommend the Lonely Planet Phrase Book, or language learning app DuoLingo as a start!

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Common Questions

Is 3 days enough to visit Paris? While the city itself is massive, and even 3 action packed days barely scratch the surface, I’d say yes- 3 days is about the minimum amount of time you should spend there for a first time visit.
How do I plan 3 days in Paris? Use my itinerary! This breaks down what to do on each specific day, and lets you pack in as much or as little as you’d like into each day. 
Is 3 nights in Paris too much? Not at all! There is absolutely more than enough to do to fill your time! For example you could dedicate one full day to Versailles, or one day to the Louvre, and then you’d only have 1 day for the rest of the city. That is absolutely not overdoing it to stay 3 nights.
Does Paris require a lot of walking? Overall, yes. The best way to see the most of the city is to go by foot. While it does feel more spaced out than other popular European cities (like Rome or London for example), most places can be reached within one hour walking distance of each other. It’s also very easy to use the metro system if you get tired!

Pin my itinerary for 3 days in Paris (or 4)!How to see Paris with just 3 or 4 days- my list of what to do and how to split up your time, perfect for first time visitors!


  • Reply Michelle W. March 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Hi Dhaval! I have not been to a rooftop pool, but that sounds amazing! You are going to have such a great time in Paris- hopefully this post helped a bit!

  • Reply Cate January 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for a great post! I will definitely be using some of this for my trip in April 😊

    • Reply Michelle W. February 16, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks Cate- I love to hear that! Have fun!!

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