72 Hours in Paris

Here is a three-day itinerary for Paris, France. This guide includes 20+ places to fill your time in France’s capital city. The list includes major landmarks, as well as less well-known spots to enjoy.

This guide is organized by general neighborhood area to cut down on the amount of time and money spent on taxis and trains. The itinerary also assumes three full days, meaning you should arrive and depart Paris on days outside of the suggested itinerary.

Related: How I Travel on a College Student Budget

Day One

Your first day is a good time to indulge your inner tourist and visit many of the iconic Paris locations. Most of today’s locations are south of the Seine River, while Day 2 and Day 3 are primarily on the north side.

Start your day with a light breakfast either at your hotel or somewhere nearby. There are also many cafes nearby your first stop, the Eiffel Tower.

From there head for the Eiffel Tower. You have the option to queue to go up into the tower. Here you’ll see an impressive view of the cityscape. The ticket price will depend upon whether you go to the top or the second level. You can book to use the elevator in advance. Booking to use the stairs is limited to a few weeks in advance and is generally cheaper. Because of the options, your ticket price can range from roughly 10 to 50€.

If you are tight on time or money, I think you still get a romantic experience seeing the tower from the ground. There are lots of different places throughout the city to capture beautiful pictures and views of the tower.

If you are looking for a budget option, stick to the ground and look for some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, to include some of the most photogenic locations to capture a picture of you and the Eiffel.

Alternative option: You could do the day one itinerary in reverse and end at the Eiffel Tower to watch the sparkle light show which occurs at the top of every hour after dark. It is popular to bring snacks and drinks to the grassy mall in front in the tower for a romantic picnic. On one hand the lights are great to see, but on the other hand the crowds and hawkers selling trinkets can kill the tranquility of a picnic.

Heading east of the Eiffel Tower, next stop by the Tomb of Napoleon. This site is at Les Invalides. This large complex supports military history and war veterans. There is also a museum here called the Musée de l’Armée. The tomb holds the mortal remains of Napoleon Bonaparte, famous for his military and political role during the French Revolution.

Optionally, you could include a visit to the Catacombs of Paris after the Tomb of Napoleon. It is a bit out of the way, but this is the closest you’ll come to the landmark on this itinerary. Built to alleviate the overflowing cemeteries of Paris, the catacombs contains the skeletal remains of more than 6 million people.

Afterwards, you can grab lunch at the famous Cafe Flore or its neighbor Les Deux Magots. Both are known for being two of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris. Furthermore, they have been popular among prominent writers, celebrities, and intellectuals. Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Julia Child, James Baldwin, and Alburt Camus are among the notable individuals to patron the cafes.

You’ll finish off your day with a view and possible tour of Notre Dame. However, since the fire in 2019, the cathedral has been closed. The neighborhood around Notre Dame has no shortage of restaurants. I recommend Soho Trattoria for great pizza and pasta, pictured above.

You could also try La Favorite Saint-Paul for dinner. It is noteworthy for its bright pink floral exterior. It is within a 15 minute walk of Notre Dame.

Day Two

Today’s theme is museums. There are two particularly famous museums worth your time in Paris: the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. In fact, there are many great museums in Paris, but given the limited 3-day itinerary I would focus on these two.

Buy your Louvre ticket in advance. You should budget 2-3 hours for the museum. The Louvre is of course famous for housing the Mona Lisa, but there are countless other incredible works to been seen as well such as The Raft of Medusa and Liberty Leading the People. Even if you buy a “skip the line” ticket, you should still expect a minor wait to get in.

After the Louvre is a good time to get lunch. There are plenty of restaurants in the area. After lunch, there is a short walk to the next museum.

You can buy your Musée d’Orsay ticket in advance as well, although the lines here are typically not as bad as at the Louvre. This museum is home to incredible art such as Olympia by Édouard Manet, The Gates of Hell by Rodin, Self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, Tahitian Women on the Beach by Paul Gauguin, and The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet.

The building is an old rail station built at the turn of the 20th century. I actually prefer this museum to the Louvre.

Related: Great Museums to See in Brussels

Finish off your day with a view of the Arc de Triomphe and a walk along the beautiful Champs-Élysées. This famous avenue is home to a ton of shopping and dining options as well. Along the avenue is a popular pastry shop named Ladurée. Here you can get great French macarons.

You could consider eating at Pinky Bloom Paris, known for its bright floral decor and photogenic setting. They are generally open late. It is a 15 minute metro ride and short walk from the Arc de Triomphe.

For a more upscale dinner in the area, consider MOJO or Verde. The latter would make a particularly good choice for drinks after dinner as well.

Day Three

On your last day you should head over to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery and do a self-guided, quiet tour of some of the famous individuals laid to rest. Please keep in mind this is a cemetery that is still in use and that there will likely be people there mourning recently lost loved ones. This cemetery draws in visitors due to its immense size and notable historic figures buried here. Chopin (Polish composer), Delacroix (French artist who painted Liberty Leading the People), and Oscar Wilde (Irish poet and author) are just a few of the famous names you may recognize.

The cemetery is located within Paris, but it is the furthest east location on this itinerary. I recommend good walking shoes for this day especially as not only are the cemetery cobblestones challenging at times, but it is also hilly.

After you explore the Père-Lachaise, you’ll take the metro for a 30 to 40 minute ride to the north. From here you’ll see the famous Moulin Rouge. Afterwards, you can walk the beautiful Montmartre neighborhood where the crown jewel of the Basilica de Sacre-Couer sits at the top of the hill.

Many artists lived or worked in Montmarte throughout the past centuries. Some of the most famous include Renoir, Picasso, Monet, and Degas. It continues to be a home to artists, as many galleries and a Dalí Museum can found here.

On your way to the basilica, stop for lunch at La Casquette for a quiet, tasty meal. This place is a bit of a hidden gem if you like to escape the crowds and relax in a cozy, airy atmosphere. It is highly rated online, and the prices are fair. It offers tapas style plates that will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Other spots for a bite include the famous La Petite Maison Rose and Le Consulat. Even if you don’t dine here, they are worth seeing as you wander the charming neighborhood. Montmarte is an often favorite of visitors as it contains narrow streets and quirky art around every corner. Like the cemetery though, it is also quite hilly.

For one of the most picturesque streets in Paris, head east of La Petite Maison Rose for Rue de l’Abreuvoir. Go down the hill and then turn around facing west. This view and street are commonly used in shows and movies featuring Paris. You may recognize it from the Netflix show Emily in Paris.

While the Moulin Rouge is famous for its red windmill atop the building (Moulin Rouge is red windmill in French), there are other windmills in this neighborhood. As you wander, watch for Le Moulin Blute-Fin. This windmill is wooden and sits on a blue restaurant.

For dinner in the area consider the French bistro La Boîte aux Lettres. Reservations are available to book. They offer both outdoor and stylish, cozy indoor seating.

Other Ideas

Up for a speakeasy? Check out these cool bars in Paris:

  • L’Epicier (Fake grocery store. Watch their tagged reels to see how to open the door)
  • Lavomatic (Laundromat inspired, enter through a faux washing machine)
  • Little Red Door (creative drinks, accepts reservations)

Have more free time beyond this itinerary? Check out guided tours on Viator or GetYourGuide for a wide variety of immersive experiences. There are often last-minute deals available.

Related: My 10 Essential Travel Apps

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TAYTRUM TRAVELS
Santa Barbara, California
taytrumtravels@gmail.com