I can confidently assume that a visit to Paris is on everyone’s bucket list… as it should be. This city is home to some of the best museums in the world, countless famous landmarks, delicious food, and luxurious shopping. Planning a trip to this city can be overwhelming at first, so I’ve put together the perfect itinerary for a three day trip that covers all of the must-see sites and must-have experiences.
Begin your first day in Paris by visiting its most notorious landmark: the Eiffel Tower. The lines to climb the tower can get very lengthy as the day goes on, so arrive early to buy your ticket. There are two types of tickets offered: one that allows you to visit the second floor look out and one that will bring you to the top. I recommend going all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower to get the best views. Student discounts are offered for both tickets and there are elevators to bring you to the top.
Once you’ve checked climbing the Eiffel Tower off of your bucket list, walk less than a mile to the Arc de Triumph. This famous arch is located in a very hectic traffic circle. If you are brave enough, you can cross the busy road and get a picture in front of the monument from a pedestrian standing area in the middle of the street. From here, proceed down the stairs that will bring you through a tunnel to the arch. If you show your student visa at the ticket counter, you can climb the arch for free, which I highly recommend doing since the view is astounding. I personally think its even better than the one from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The Arc de Triumph is conveniently located at the beginning of the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées, so take a stroll down this road next. It is full of luxurious shops and bistros, making it the perfect spot for lunch. My friends and I treated ourselves to tea and macroons in Laduree’s famous tea room- an experience that made us feel like royalty.
From here, take a taxi or uber to the Montparnasse neighborhood. This area of Paris is so charming and is where you’ll find the most authentic cafes and shops. This is also where the Sacre Coeur Basilica is located, which is definitely worth the visit. It sits on a hill, providing visitors with a breathtaking view of the city. My friends and I arrived here at sunset and were blown away by the view and the live music that was being played. After you go inside of the church, walk down the hill into the quaint streets of the neighborhood. Any restaurant that you find in this area will serve traditional French cuisine, such as escargot, and be perfect for dinner.
The Moulin Rouge theater, home to the can-can dance, is only a short walk from the Montparnasse neighborhood. It is lit up nicely at night and is marked by a spinning windmill.
A trip to Paris isn’t complete without visiting the Palace of Versailles, located about 50 minutes outside of Paris in Versailles, France. I ubered from Paris to Versailles which I found to be easy and surprisingly inexpensive. The palace was home to Louis XIV during his reign and was later expanded and has been used for various events throughout the centuries, including for one of Beyonce’s private parties. Today the rooms are a part of a historic museum, in which visitors walk through at their own pace with an audio guide, or pay an additional fee for a guided tour. Since the palace is so expansive I chose to walk through it at my own, faster pace. The rooms of the palace, with the most well-known being the Hall of Mirrors, are very ornate, yet crowded. I recommend touring Versailles in the morning before it gets too busy and setting aside about 4-5 hours to do so.
Once we finished walking through the rooms, we took a break at Angelina’s- a cafe located within the palace- to try their world famous hot chocolate. It definitely lived up to its expectations.
Once we were reenergized, we proceeded to the gardens of Versailles. These gardens are huge and have much more to see than I anticipated. We spent an hour wandering and probably saw only a quarter of the land. If you are determined to see as much of the grounds as you can, I would set aside 3 hours of time in the gardens. Also, golf carts are for rent to cruise around in if you are 24 or older!
At this point, you are probably famished. Head back into the city and try a traditional French crepe at a restaurant called La Creperie de Josselin. This authentic restaurant offers both sweet and savory crepes and its workers barely speak English- a good sign.
After a late lunch, walk the short distance to the entrance of the Catacombs. Just like most attractions in Paris, buy tickets for this ahead of time. The experience begins by climbing 200 stairs underground and entering a series of tunnels that are the remains of old quarries. The Lourve was built out of the stone that was extracted from these quarries in the 1200s! During the 1600s, there were serious overcrowding issues in Paris among both the living and the dead. The king at the time decided to use the abandoned quarries to respectfully house the remains, forming one of the largest mass graves in the world- consisting of more than 2 million bodies, mostly those of women and children who died from the Bubonic Plague. The walk through the catacombs lasts about an hour and takes you on an eerie journey underneath the bustling streets of Paris. Once you exit the Catacombs, your bag will be checked at security to ensure that no human remains were stolen!
As a busy day 2 in the City of Lights comes to a close, return to the Eiffel Tower area for dinner. Walk towards the river in front of the tower where you will find countless dinner cruises. For 38 euro, I purchased a package at one of the booths where I could eat dinner at a restaurant right on the water and when I was done, board a Seine river cruise. I can garuntee that this cruise will be one of the highlights of the weekend. It will take you past Paris’s most iconic sights, all lit up beautifully for the night.
After the cruise, head up to Place du Trocadero, a platform that provides the perfect spot to view the twinkling Eiffel Tower, a show that occurs for five minutes at the start of every hour every night.
Begin your last day in Paris at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The inside of the church is just as astounding as the outside and this gothic masterpiece is definitely worth the visit.
From here, walk the short distance along the Seine to the Lourve. Have your tickets printed ahead of time and wait in line where the giant glass triangle is. I’ve seen countless photos taken in front of this sculpture and was surprised to discover that it is the entrance down into the museum. This museum is overwhelmingly large; there are hundreds of wings displaying art from all around the world. In my opinion, one of the most astounding features about the Louvre is that the building itself is a work of art. Since the museum is so large I would begin by following the signs pointing towards the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is the Lourve’s most famous work of art, and although the painting is quite small, it is covered in bullet proof glass and has its own massive display wall. The area is always swarmed with tourists. Once you check getting a selfie with Mona Lisa off your bucket list, the rest of the museum is yours to explore. My friends and I walked around for about two hours and I think we covered no more than 1/12 of the museum… thats how big it is.
Once you exit the Lourve, make your way to the nearby Pont des Artes, the oldest bridge in Paris which also happens to be the famous lock bridge. Every year, the city of Paris removes hundreds of locks from this bridge because it gets too heavy, but locals and tourists alike continue to show their affection by writing their names on a lock and securing it to the bridge as a sign of eternal devotion to one another.
The last must-have experience in Paris to wrap up the trip is a picnic on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. After three exhausting days of sightseeing, relaxing and just enjoying Paris for what it is is a necessity. My friends and I ubered to the Eiffel Tower and picked up some street baguettes, crepes, macaroons, and wine along the way. We sat and ate our food in awe of the view we had, while trying to avoid the pickpockets and scammers that often work in this area. Be aware!
The few days that I spent in Paris this past October were some of the busiest and best that I’ve had. I did a lot of research on the city before I arrived and I was able to make the most out of my time and see all that Paris has to offer. I hope that this itenerary gives you ideas about what to see, eat, and do if you are thinking about spending a weekend in Paris.
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Until next time,