June 19, 2024

A Good Start To Paris

It’s impossible to fully experience all that Paris has to offer in just three days. But it’s a start. If you are a first-time visitor to the city of Love, you must see the popular places and get them under your belt. These are places such as the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, and the Louvre. Those are the places that come into your mind when you hear “Paris”.  You must visit these places to get a baseline of your memories of this wonderful city. Here is my idea of How to Spend 3 Days in Paris | See the Highlights.

I have been to Paris a handful of times, and I still have not seen as much as I’d like. There is a side to Paris that you can go undercover when you have more time. But don’t miss the main attractions.  Then you can go into the different arrondissements of the city to find the hidden gems.

Let me walk you through the days with the recommendations I have for visiting Paris. But first, there are a few “Know before you go” and a few “Tips and Recommendations” I will cover so you get the most out of your trip.

notre dame de paris, arc de triomphe,

Know Before You Go

Lay of the Land

Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or administrative districts, each with its own unique character and charm. The arrondissements are arranged in a clockwise spiral, starting from the city center and spiraling outwards towards the periphery.

1st – 4th Arrondissements: The Heart of the City

The first four arrondissements (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) are in the heart of the city, known as the “Right Bank” or “Rive Droite”, and contain many of Paris’ most famous landmarks, including the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. These arrondissements are also home to some of the city’s most upscale shopping and dining destinations. The Marais district, known for its charm, is situated in both the 3rd and 4th arrondissement.

5th – 7th Arrondissements: The Left Bank’s Intellectual Haven

The next three arrondissements (5th, 6th, and 7th) are located on the Left Bank, or “Rive Gauche”, and are known for their intellectual and artistic heritage. The Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement is home to many of the city’s top universities, while the 6th and 7th arrondissements are home to some of the city’s most famous museums, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Rodin Museum. The Eiffel Tower is in the 7th Arrondissement.

8th – 9th Arrondissements: Opulence and Luxury on the Right Bank

The 8th and 9th arrondissements, situated on the Right Bank, are renowned for their opulent boulevards and high-end shopping, which includes the iconic Champs-Élysées Avenue. This area was once a fashionable residential district for the wealthy elite and is home to many opulent buildings and landmarks.

10th – 20th Arrondissements: Diversity and Vibrancy on the Outskirts

The remaining arrondissements (10th-20th) are located on the outskirts of the city and are known for their more diverse populations and vibrant street life. These areas are home to some of Paris’ best outdoor markets and many trendy cafes, bars, and clubs. The 10th and 11th arrondissements have become popular among young Parisians and expats in recent years. If you don’t want to be in the main area of Paris yet not too far away, I highly recommend Ile Saint Louise. You are still close to the center but away from the hustle and bustle.  It’s hard to find a place available so book early!

In every city I go to that has the Hop-on-Hop-Off option, I take it. It is the best way to get around if you want to hit the hot spots efficiently. Keep in mind you will have a few options to select from based on what you want to see.

Tips and Recommendations

Lines at the attractions are long and standing in line can put a dent in your available time to see Paris. I recommend you buy the skip-the-line tickets so you can walk past the crowd.

It’s always best to make reservations for dining. Paris is a food lover’s paradise, and they are always busy. You can even book before you leave home.

Paris is a big city, and you won’t find they have much tolerance for tourists who don’t follow a few simple cultural requirements.

In France, many native citizens speak French. This fact causes many English-speaking foreigners much anxiety, as the French have a long-held and rather unfair reputation for not liking to speak English. Plenty of French people, particularly in large cities such as Paris, speak English well and enjoy doing so. In general, French individuals do not appreciate foreigners addressing them in English without first inquiring if they speak the language. Address them with a “Bonjour!” and then in French ask them if they speak English. You will get a good response if you follow that guideline.

Story:

My daughter and I were lost in the metro and I walked over to a couple of security-looking people and immediately said “Can you help me find..” I didn’t even get to finish my sentence when he looked away and started to ignore me. I then said, “Do you speak English”. He said in perfect English “No, I do not speak English, I only speak French”.  Ahhh. Lesson learned. I stepped back and approached another with “Bonjour! Parlez-vous anglais?”  It worked!

French culture is based on living in the present and living well. The culture involves taking the time necessary – and maybe a little more – to enjoy moments. Eating good dishes and drinking good wine is an excellent example as the French love the experience that goes along with it: sharing and connecting with friends and family. So, slow your roll and enjoy every minute you are in Paris. Take it all in and collect loads of great memories!

Paris Itinerary

First Stop: Notre Dame

I would start out with Notre Dame. It is majestic and it instantly makes you feel like you’ve arrived in Paris. The architecture is incredible. If you are unable to go inside, it is still worth the visit. There are plenty of shops and booksellers on the roads immediately around the building.

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Second Stop: Go on a Seine River Cruise

Seeing the city from a boat that goes through the center of Paris is a great excursion. Exploring the sites along the river banks is a fantastic way to admire the fascinating architecture. Most cruises take about an hour, and they will speak English. You will see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and more. The cruise is a round trip, returning to the departure point. You can use two lines: the Vedettes de Pont Neuf and Bateaux Parisiens. If you have the Paris Pass, you can take the Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Cruise as part of the package.

Third Stop: Pantheon

The Paris Pantheon is an iconic church located in the Latin Quarter. You can’t miss it. Originally constructed as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it now serves as a mausoleum for the remains of esteemed French citizens such as Victor Hugo and Marie Curie.

Fourth Stop: Luxembourg Garden

This is my favorite! Jardin du Luxembourg, it’s called in French. The gardens are in the middle of the 6th arrondissement. It’s a great place to stop for a break or just to admire the gardens, fruit trees, ponds, and many other features of the 25 hectares of gardens. Sitting in the park, soaking up the culture and having a great cup of coffee is priceless. Spend as much time here as you can. It’s a nice break and will rejuvenate you. I could spend one of my 3 days in Paris right there.

visited paris, art museums, au vieux paris d'arcole

Fifth Stop: Rue Mouffetard Market

Parisians love food, and they will feed you some of the best. Take your appetite to feast at Rue Moffetard. The street is narrow but filled with an abundance of food. There are fruit and veg stands and loads of street food options, tourist shops, restaurants, bars, and crepe stands. Go hungry! You won’t regret it.

Your day should be winding down, and it’s time to head back to your hotel or apartment and rest up for your evening plans.  So many choices of places to have a lovely dinner. I stay in the first night and nibble on all the goodies I collected from Rue Moffetard.

First Stop: The Avenue des Champs-Élysées

I think everyone needs to see this avenue but then after that, I would not recommend spending a lot of time here. If you are a shopper, then you will be in a good place.  I can find many other places in Paris to shop and get more for my money. Experiencing the view down the avenue is a must-try as it is iconic.

Second Stop: Arch d’Triomphe

One of the most recognizable monuments in Paris, the Arch d’Triomphe stands proudly at the center of the Place de l’Étoile, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

One can take a stroll around the monument and admire the intricate carvings on its exterior. Additionally, it is possible to ascend to the top for a different perspective. Forty steps will get you to the top.

To get to the monument you can take the underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle.

Third Stop: Eiffel Tower

One of the main reasons people visit Paris is to see the amazing Eiffel Tower. Since Covid, they have changed the way you can navigate around the tower and that took away some of the charm but you can still go up and see the magnificent views of the city. A must see!

Around the tower is a lawn where you will find loads of people just hanging out and having a bit of bread and cheese. And don’t be alarmed if you see the ladies take off their tops and sit in their underwear to soak up the sun.

Eiffel Tower

Fourth Stop: Wine Tasting at O’Chateau

O’Chateau is in the 1st Arrondissement and is a place you may not want to leave. The place is cozy, friendly and offers an extensive wine list. It is the perfect spot to land after a day of sightseeing. You also have the option of a lovely dinner.

Vrbo

First Stop – Louvre Museum

Everyone must see the Louvre Museum. It is one of the most visited museums in the world. It’s also the largest art museum. It is where you will see the Mona Lisa, plus many other iconic pieces such as the Venus de Milo and masterpieces of the Renaissance. Arrive early and book in advance.

Second Stop – Tuileries Garden

My second favorite spot in Paris! The Tuileries Garden is located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st Arrondissement. It is full of sculptures, pathways, and places to relax. I could possibly spend one of my 3 Days in Paris right here.

Third Stop – Sacre Coeur Basilica

The tallest point in Paris features the Sacre Coeur Basilica. It was built in the 1800s and consecrated in the early 1900s after WWI. You will have a great view of the city from the area surrounding Sacre Coeur.

Just being on the sacred ground makes me feel good. It feels like I’m a little bit closer to God and I can whisper my prayers and He hears them a little easier.

 Montmartre

Fourth Stop: Montmartre

It’s one of the oldest and most interesting neighborhoods in Paris and has little streets for you to get lost. Skip the touristy shops and just look at the bones of the area.

FAQs

Q1: What are the must-see places in Paris for first-time visitors?

A: For first-time visitors to Paris, the must-see places include the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, and the Louvre. These iconic landmarks are synonymous with Paris and should not be missed.

Q2: How is Paris divided, and what are the characteristics of each arrondissement?

A: Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, each with its unique character and charm. The first four arrondissements (1st-4th) are in the city’s heart and are home to famous landmarks like the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. The 5th-7th arrondissements are known for their intellectual and artistic heritage, while the 8th-9th arrondissements boast opulent boulevards and high-end shopping. The remaining arrondissements (10th-20th) on the outskirts are known for their diverse populations and vibrant street life.

Q3: What are some tips for visiting popular attractions in Paris?

A: To make the most of your visit to popular attractions in Paris, consider buying skip-the-line tickets to avoid long queues. Making dining reservations in advance is also recommended, as Paris is a food lover’s paradise, and restaurants can get busy. When interacting with locals, begin with a friendly “Bonjour!” and ask if they speak English in French before proceeding with English.

Q4: What is a good itinerary for the first day in Paris?

A: On the first day in Paris, you can visit Notre Dame Cathedral, then take a Seine River cruise to admire the city’s architecture. Afterward, explore the Pantheon and spend some leisure time in Luxembourg Garden. Head to Rue Mouffetard Market in the evening for a delightful food experience.

Q5: What are some highlights on the second day in Paris?

A: On the second day, visit Avenue des Champs-Élysées for its iconic view, then head to the Arch d’Triomphe for a stroll around the monument or an ascent to the top. Don’t miss the Eiffel Tower, and consider ending the day with a wine-tasting experience at O’Chateau in the 1st Arrondissement.

Q6: What are the must-see places on the third day in Paris?

A: On the third day, visit the Louvre Museum to see iconic masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Relax in the beautiful Tuileries Garden nearby. Continue to Sacre Coeur Basilica for a stunning view of the city and finish the day exploring the charming neighborhood of Montmartre.

Q7: Is it possible to see Paris in just three days?

A: While three days is not enough to explore all Paris offers, it provides a good introduction to the city’s highlights. You can visit the iconic landmarks and get a taste of Parisian culture. However, there will be many more hidden gems and attractions to explore on future visits.

Q8: What are some recommendations for getting around Paris efficiently?

A: Consider using the Hop-on-Hop-Off option, which allows you to visit multiple hot spots efficiently. The Paris Pass can also provide access to various attractions and transportation options. Using the metro system is another convenient way to get around the city.

Final thoughts:

It’s hard to spend 3 days in Paris and see and do all you want but it is the best way to get a base for your next visit. This city has many layers that you need to experience.

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