72 Hours in Paris
Welcome to our 3 days in Paris itinerary! 72 hours is perfect to make the most of this city. Planning a trip is fun but time consuming, however with this Paris Travel Guide you won't have to spend much time thinking about what to see in Paris. Just follow our suggestions and we are sure you'll have an amazing time. Enjoy!
Paris is the capital of France – and arguably also the capital of romance, fashion, and tourism. With over 170 museums, 200 theatres, 460 parks and gardens, and literally tens of thousands of restaurants, one could spend a whole lifetime in Paris and still not cover it all.
If you have just three days in Paris, here are some suggestions on how to see the best that the city has to offer. Keep in mind that Paris is a geographically small city and very easily walkable, and public transportation is relatively cheap and efficient, so you can cover a lot of ground in a single day.
Start your first day in the city with one of the biggest hits: the Louvre. One of the most famous museums in the world, it becomes accordingly busy quite quickly so the best time to visit is between 9-10 am, right when they open.
When you enter, grab one of the free maps in the entrance hall: it lists some of the museum’s most well-known pieces, along with their location. Make your way to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, and whichever other artworks may fascinate you.
Obviously, you could spend all day in the Louvre, as there are so many treasures beyond these few mentioned. However, with only three days in Paris, time is of the essence and if you want to see the Louvre in just an hour or two, this is your best option.
From the Louvre, walk west towards the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel, which was built by Napoleon in the early 1800s. This will lead you into the eastern entrance of the Tuileries Garden. You can either walk through the garden, or on the street adjacent: Rue de Rivoli, one of the most recognizable streets in Paris. Here you’ll find Angelina, a café frequented by Coco Chanel and famous for its incredibly thick hot chocolate and mont blanc dessert. Stop in for a post-Louvre sweet snack before heading along Rivoli to its end, at Place de la Concorde.
Place de la Concorde is a large public square lying on the other side of the Tuileries Garden, and is one end of the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées. From here, it’s a straight 25-minute walk along the grand street until you reach the Arc de Triomphe (or four metro stops on the line 1, to Charles de Gaulle-Etoile). If you’re in Paris during December, you may also see the Champs-Élysées lined with Christmas market stands; otherwise you’ll pass many famous luxury brands and flagship stores along the way.
Once at the Arc de Triomphe, you can buy a ticket to make your way up the top to take in a beautiful view over Paris.
From there take the line 6 metro three stops to Trocadéro. Take the exit for the Eiffel Tower and there you’ll see the Iron Lady in all her grandeur. Walk through the plaza, down through the gardens, and towards the Eiffel Tower. Cross the river, underneath the landmark, and you’ll find yourself on the grassy Champ de Mars. In this short walk you’ll have viewed the Eiffel Tower from a variety of beautiful angles. Best of all, you’re now only a five minute walk to lunch.
Photos finished, make your way to Café Constant, one of three restaurants owned on Rue Saint-Dominique by renowned chef Christian Constant. Their set lunch menu changes daily, and is a steal for the quality at only 16 euro for entrée + plat or plat + dessert (starter + main or main + dessert), or 23 euro for all three courses.
After lunch, you have two options nearby: the Musee Rodin and Les Invalides. The former is set in a beautiful garden and features the works of famous sculptor Auguste Rodin, including The Thinker; the latter is a former military hospital and the burial place of Napoleon Bonaparte, and now houses several museums and monuments detailing the military history of France.
From either museum, take the metro line 12 up to Abbesses. You’ll be spending the evening in Montmartre, a neighborhood on a hill in northwest Paris. First stop is the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, where you can sit on the steps and take in the view, often with a busker or two nearby providing music or entertainment. You can also enter the large church if you so choose.
Around the corner is Place du Tetre, a square filled with artists painting on easels and buskers with guitars or accordions. Grab a crépe and take your time wandering around the alleyways – if you’ve seen the movie Amélie, many of its scenes take place here in Montmartre.
For dinner head to Pigalle, home of the Moulin Rouge. Although it has a seedy past and reputation, this district has been revitalized in just the last couple of years with numerous cocktail bars. Grab an apéritif any one of them before heading to dinner at Le Petit Canard, a restaurant that serves only duck (though they also offer a couple of vegetarian options). If you find yourself still in the neighborhood in the wee hours, Glass is an after-hours bar that serves up drinks and music until 4 am.
Start off your second day in Paris on the two islands in the center of the Seine: Île de la Cité, and Île Saint-Louis. The two are small and compact, so you can walk around them fairly quickly – if you’re there in the summer, you’ll notice that locals love to picnic along these banks. Take in the Notre Dame cathedral and the beautiful stained glass at the gothic Sainte-Chappelle before finishing with coffee or breakfast at Café St Regis.
From the islands, head south to the Left Bank and Latin Quarter, known historically as intellectual center of Paris due to the university students living in the area. First, stop at Shakespeare & Company, one of the most famous bookstores in Paris, which also houses a café next door. A few blocks down is the Institut du Monde Arabe – which is free to enter if you’re just going to the rooftop, which has a lovely view over Notre Dame, the river, and the islands. From there you can walk to the Panthéon, a mausoleum where famous French citizens such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie are interred.
Afterwards, if the weather is cooperating, you can pick up picnic supplies from local bakeries, butchers, and cheesemongers before heading to the Jardin du Luxembourg and eat lunch as the locals do, picnic-style. If not, or you’d prefer a restaurant, walk minutes further to Le Nemrod, a classic French café known for their croque madame, which uses bread from the famous Poilâne bakery.
Just a block away from Le Nemrod is Le Bon Marché, one of Paris’ oldest department stores. With beautiful architecture and chic interiors, even if you aren’t shopping for a nice French scarf or gift, it’s worth a peek inside.
Finally, swing back up through the Latin Quarter and visit the Musée d’Orsay, a gorgeous former train station that now houses one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist paintings, among other French artwork.
The Orsay closes relatively early (6 pm) so from there, take a long stroll along Boulevard Saint Germain, where you’ll find Café Deux Magots and Café de Flore: famous haunts of Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce.
Around 6:45 pm you should be on your way to Relais de l’Entrecôte, a no-nonsense restaurant with only steak and frites on the menu. Since they do not take reservations, make sure to be in line by the time they open their doors at 7 pm if you want to be seated quickly. After dinner, head to nearby Prescription Cocktail Club for a nightcap.
For your last day in Paris, you’ll be centered around the Marais, a historic district in the heart of Paris. Start at the Hôtel de Ville, the grand town hall of Paris. In the winters there is sometimes an ice rink in front of the building; during sports events (like the Euros or French Open), a giant screen to watch events live; and at other times various art installations.
From there, walk five minutes north to the Centre Pompidou, the national museum of modern art. If you are a fan of the medium, you can spend the morning walking around the exhibitions; otherwise you can ride the escalators up to the top floor and take in a view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower to your left and Sacré-Coeur to your right.
Afterwards, walk 15 minutes east until you reach Places des Vosges, the oldest planned square in the city and a favorite for locals to picnic. There, pop into the teahouse Carette for a snack of macarons with a view.
It’s time to head to lunch, for which you’ll want to walk 10 minutes north along Rue de Turenne. There are two locations to choose from: Breizh Café, or the Marché des Enfants-Rouges. The former is a well-known crêperie with Breton-style crêpes and cider; the latter is the oldest covered market in Paris and has a variety of food stalls, from Moroccan tajine to Japanese ramen to French burgers.
After lunch head over to République and Oberkampf, an increasingly trendy neighborhood just north of the Marais. Hang with the hipsters along Canal Saint-Martin, or even take a boat ride through the canal if you’re interested, before heading east to Père-Lachaise via metro line 2. The largest cemetery in Paris, this is the resting place of celebrities such as Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Isadora Duncan, and Frederic Chopin.
Continuing in the same part of town, for dinner walk 20 minutes south to Bistrot Paul Bert or East Mamma. Bistrot Paul Bert features classic French food in a cozy setting, while East Mamma is a chic Italian restaurant popular for its aperitivo and large portions.
To cap off your trip to Paris, there are two bars you can’t miss in the city: Red House and Pas de Loup. Red House boasts expertly mixed drinks at some of the best prices in town, and is the kind of unassuming bar where other bartenders go to drink. Pas de Loup is a stylish bar run by a seasoned veteran of the Paris cocktail scene, and their chef whips up original bar nibbles like duck confit banh mi and cauliflower pierogis.
Since it’s your last night in Paris, forgo the metro and walk back to your hotel or apartment, taking in as much of the City of Light as possible.