4. Did I mention prepare to walk yet? Bring your serious best walking shoes since this city is SO BEAUTIFUL, you will do a lot of walking.
5. Explore all you options for night stays. I was mostly looking into Airbnb until I realized hotels were cheaper. (This has been the case in other cities like NYC and Venice for me as well) Unless you like hostels, don’t forget to check hotels for a good deal since those might be the cheapest option. (apart from bunk rooms which I don’t fancy, sorry)
Where we stayed -> Hotel le Pavillon
6. We found you can bring a tripod with you ANYWHERE. If you are a photography nut like me, don’t be afraid to haul it around. You will have to open the tripod bag at security and several places won’t let you USE the tripod inside, but you can bring it with you. Same goes for purses. A lot of museums these days require bag check for backpacks or large bags but we were fine with my travelon purse and tripod.
7. Beware pick pockets and scammers. (Here is a link to the most common scams) I use a Travelon purse and so far it’s served me well. Here’s what I use: Travelon Crossbody Purse *This is an affiliate link- if you make a purchase using this link, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.
8. Rooftops for best views of the city and Eiffel Tower: Arc de Triomphe, Galleries Lafayette, Notre Dame, and Montparnasse tower. I was only able to experience the Arc de Triomphe but it was pretty spectacular.
9. My general travel tip for just about any trip (not just Paris) pay the price to have data/cell service abroad. We pay $10 a day for unlimited data and text plus 100 min calls. It is a DREAM to be able to google maps all your destinations (Google is great at advice on public transport) as well as information about our destination like hours/cost/ stuff near by.
10. Last tip: CHECK museum hours before your trip. They tend to close on odd days and you don’t want to miss any of these spectacular museums because of the days you are there. ie. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, Musee D’Orsay, Versailles, and the Catacombs are closed on Mondays, etc… We were there over a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.. which is why the below itinerary is laid out like it is.
6. Get an early night, so you can get an early morning! (also to recover from some of the travel exhaustion you’re bound to be feeling!)
Train from airport to city center: $20 for 2 people
Museum Pass: 4 day pass at a cost of 167 for 2 people divided by 4 days: $42/day for 2 people
Lunch of panini and crepe: $14 for 2 people
Day 1 total: $196 for 2 people
2. Get over to the Louvre BEFORE it opens in the Summer. (around 9) It’s a bit of a walk but a beautiful one from Place du Trocadero, passing the Grand Palais and Petite Palais, the stunning bridge Pont Alexandre III (which frames the Musee de l’armee beautifully), and then through the Tulleries Gardens without the crowds. Walking distance= 4 km or around 1 hour
3. Spend a few hours exploring the multiple wings of the Louvre. We visited both the French Sculpture wing which I LOVED as there was almost no one first thing in the morning and it had such an open airy feel. Then make sure you visit the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman wing to see the famous Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory statue, as well as my favorite: Lady Liberty leading the people.
- We spent approx 2 hours in the Louvre which I felt was enough to hit the big stuff. However if you are an art guru, you could literally spend days exploring.
4. Again more walking, head over to the Île de la Cité. I would HIGHLY recommend walking along the Seine here. The views are beautiful and once you approach Pont du Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris), you get a killer view of the city and your next destination: The Concierge.
Walking distance =1-1.5 km and around 20-30 minutes.
5. The Concierge for a taste of the original architecture in Paris as well as the bloody revolution since it’s most famous prisoner during the French Revolution was none other than Marie Antoinette. (appox. time here about an hour)
6. Next stop: my favorite building in all of Paris, the Saint Chapelle. This is one of those stops that a museum pass pays off it’s value as you can skip the line and go right in. Enjoy a kaleidoscope of the most brilliant stained glass ANYWHERE.
7. It’s an easy walk now to Notre Dame a few blocks away. It’s free to enter the chapel and there will likely be a queue to get in. Make sure to be respectful since this chapel is still used for worship and dress modestly and speak quietly. After that, exit the building and walk around to the North side to climb the towers and visit with the gargoyles if you wish.
8. Hop the nearest metro to check out Palais Garnier: the Paris Opera house. The queue outside is to get through security but it is easy to buy tickets at kiosks inside. We forgo the extra for audio headsets so explored on our own. This building was AMAZING and GLAMOROUS and I wouldn’t skip it but if you have little interest in opera and short on time, it isn’t a must do. (expect at least 1.5 hours to queue and explore)
9. Right next to the Palais Garnier, is the massive shopping center- Galleries Lafayette. This can be a quick stop to see the incredible stained glass dome ceiling, or a longer stop to shop and grab a snack/drink at the rooftop cafe. Since we toured the opera house, we had less time so this was quick.
10. Again hop on the metro to find your way to the last stop of the day: Montmartre. The metro drops you off at the bottom. There is a train that can take you to the top of the hill, but if you have energy/time, explore the alleys and shops while making your way to the top.
11. Check out the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Like Notre Dame it is free to visit but please be respectful while inside. From the top of the hill you have an amazing view of all of Paris, can photograph the “leaning building” and relax on the steps to what is without a doubt, a beautiful building.
12. With the rest of your day, grab dinner/ explore Montmartre, check out Moulin Rouge, head back to your hotel where ever it may be.
Day 2 Budget:
Hotel: $120 for 2 people
Museum Pass: 4 day pass= $42/ day for 2 people
Breakfast:6 euros for bakery snacks
Lunch: 14 euros for 2 sandwiches and bottle of water from Louvre
Dinner: Panini and quiche from bakery along with a chocolate bread for 11 euros
Opera tickets: 16 euros
Metro tickets throughout the day: 11 euros for 3 trips total
Day 2 total: $220 for 2 people
1. Versailles, like the Louvre, can be an all day event but if you only have 3 days, then you’re probably thinking more of a half day. Either way, get up early and head out to get to Versailles AT LEAST 30 MIN BEFORE OPENING. Versailles is THE MOST visited attraction in Europe and the lines can get hours long to get in. Even in the apex of the tourism season, we got there 30 min before, and waited in line till 30 minutes after opening. (1 hour total) Make sure to have your tickets purchased ahead of time. Plan on at least an hour to tour the inside of the palace, 2 hours if you take the audio tour.
2. If Angelina’s cafe is on your list of things to try, opt for getting it at Versailles as there was next to no wait in the morning. We tried a coffee and a hot chocolate. (The hot chocolate is what they are famous for) Make sure to have a bottle of water handy for after.. you’ll need it!
3. Explore the gardens. The gardens are massive and so fun to explore. I recommend making your way down 1 side of the maze, and then returning up the other. If you have time, the little row boats on the grand canal are affordable and a lot of fun. There’s also bikes to explore the larger grounds.
*Note: You could also visit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s apartments which are a separate admission fee and typically don’t open until the afternoon.
4. Here you can decide on Trianon, a walking/nap break, or visiting the last major museum in Paris. We opted for the last option: the Musée d’Orsay. Plan on at least an hour to see the highlights, 2 hours to see most of it. In an hour we saw all of 1 side, took pictures with the clocks, reveled in the Impressionist wing, and selfied it up with the “Portrait of himself” by Van Gogh.
5. Last major highlight of any trip to Paris: The CATACOMBS. This will require taking the train out pretty far from the center but is so worth it. If you are going during peak tourism season, BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE. It is an additional $10 or so but so worth it. We did a 6:00 PM tour which lasted about an hour and when we got there the line was horrendous! (We’d read that evening time is usually shorter too!)
6. Head back to the city center, grab dinner at a Parisian cafe, and enjoy the sites at night. We hauled the tripod again around with us to take photos at the Louvre after closing hours and without crowds. (This was most definitely our favorite night time hangout spot), then did some nighttime shooting at the Arc de Triomphe, and called it a night finishing up at the Eiffel Tower as it sparkled and dazzled.
Day 3 Budget:
30 minute row boat adventure: 13 euros