I’m often asked for recommendations of things to do, see, eat and where to stay when visiting Paris for just a few days. The sample itinerary I’ve put together below is based on places that I personally love and return to time and time again. It is based on having three full days, aiming to give you a good overview of the city.
Friday: see this map I’ve prepped in Google Maps
– Breakfast at one of the suggested breakfast places – list here.
– Louvre (Museum Option 1)
– Musee D’Orsay (Museum Option 2)
– Pont des Arts (scenic bridge crossing the Seine)
– Polaine - for a snack. They are renowned for their bread!
– Saint Germain (explore the area at large, visiting streets like Rue du Four and Boulevard St Germain, world famous cafes Deux Magots and Café de Flore)
– Lunch at Chez Marcel
– Luxembourg Gardens
– Latin Quarter
– St Michel fountain
– Shakespere and Co
– Visit the Eiffel Tower at night and cross over to Trocadero to see the view from across (go back by metro or uber)
– Dinner suggestion: Le Servan or Aux Deux Amis and Le Perchoir (rooftop bar) for a cocktail
– Montmartre & Sacre Coeur. There are windy, beautiful streets leading up to Sacre Coeur (this is the path I would suggest you take to make sure you see special spots. The top of Montmartre is like a little village where artists during the Belle Epoque lived. You’ll walk through the Place du Tertre, the square with artists painting and see La maison Rose which is often photographed.
– Reference this map for the latter half of the itinerary
– Brunch at Buvette
– Muse Gustave Moreau (Museum Option 1)
– A la mere de famille – oldest chocolate shop on Paris. Pick up some delicious chocolates
– Passage des Panoramas (Passageway 1)
– Galerie Vivienne (Passageway 2)
– Le Moulin de la Vierge – a beautiful square with one of my favourite bakeries. Get a treat or sandwich if hungry, you can also sit down and be served outside if you want to rest your feet, ideal for a coffee and pastry
Passage du Grand Cerf (Passageway 3)
– Le Palais Royal (can sit down for a coffee at Café Kitsune)
– Tuileries Garden
– Musee de l’Orangerie (Museum Option 2)
– Dinner suggestion: Frenchie’s / Frenchies wine bar
Sunday: see this map I’ve prepped in Google Maps
– Start the day off with a pastry at Du Pain et des Idees (pistachio pain aux raisins) or Dupain
– Merci concept store
– Marche Des Enfants Rouge – have a snack here
– Walk along the heart of the Marais via Rue des Rosiers and Rue Vieille du Temple
– Lunch: if you like falafel, a *very* popular option is L’as du Fallafel in the Marais. There is always a long queue – you can get takeaway and eat your falafel as you wander in the Maris. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to sit down, Breizh Café is a lovely and traditional crepe restaurant specializing in authentic Brittany crepes and cider where I’ll go to get my crepe fix.
– Place des Vosges (get a coffee at iconic Carette)
– European House of Photography (Museum/art gallery option for photography lovers)
– Hotel de Ville
– Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
– St Chapelle (Option 1)
– Notre Dame (Option 2)
– Dinner suggestion: Chez Janou and drinks at Little Red Door, Candelaria and/or Moonshiner
If it’s not your fist time in Paris, or perhaps you have more time to visit, I have summarised some more of my tips and ‘must-do’s’
See/Visit Landmark classics:
Paris offers so many magnificent landmarks and museums to visit. Limiting it to just a weekend is torture, so I’m also including a fuller list if your schedule should allow. If I had to limit it to 3 landmarks, I would choose Montmartre, St.Chapelle and Musee d’Orsay
Understandably, people want to see the Louvre, but here are some other museums that warrant a visit:
– Musee d’Orsay: was a former train station, the inside is exquisite and has a beautiful impressionist collection such as Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’herbe, and Cezane’s unfinished portrait of Gustave Geffroy). Location: the 7th (left bank) 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007
– Musee de L’Orangerie: where you can see Monet’s water lilies murals. Location: the 1st (within the Tuileries Gardens)
– Maison européenne de la photographie - gallery for photography lovers. I used to have a membership here and loved going often. Exhibitions change. Location: the 4th (5/7 Rue de Fourcy, 75004)
– Musee National Gustave Moreau: Moreau was a French Symbolist painter. The museum was actually his house and now inhabits all his paintings. The house is beautifully decorated, making this a great spot for those equally appreciative of architecture as paintings. Location: the 9th (14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009)
– Marmottan Monet Museum: a mini chateau museum with a beautiful collection of Monet’s work. Location: 16th (2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016)
– Maison de Victor Hugo: it is surreal visiting this literary legend’s former home. Location: the 4th (6 Place des Vosges, 75004)
On a rainy day, exploring Paris’s exquisite arcades/covered passageways will keep you occupied. They feature various antique shops, charming boutiques, restaurants and cafes. There are nearly 20 of them, but these are my favorites:
– Galerie Vivienne: 4 rue des Petits-Champs, Paris, 75002
– Passage des Panoramas: 11 boulevard Montmartre, Paris, 75002
– Passage du Grand Cerf: 145 rue Saint-Denis, Paris, 75002
– Passage Verdeau: 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière, Paris, 75003
– Marche des Enfants Rouge – food stalls in the Marais with a range of innovative food. Oldest covered market in paris. Open Tues-Sat 8.30am – 7.30pm and Sunday 8:30-2pm
– Marche de Puces: massive flea market (11am-5pm on Mondays, 9am – 6pm Saturday + Sunday)
– Be sure to visit Tuileries, Luxembourg (on summer days, hunt for a spare chair and enjoy a good book), and parc Monceau (I used to run in this park when I lived in the 17th – it’s a lively park, with a carousel and often busy with children and their nannies!)
– Champs Elysées is very popular and you might to visit (the Arc du Triomphre is remarkable), but you’ll find much better shopping in my opnion at the Galeries (a beautiful department store) and also in the Marais –– you’ll come across plenty of beautiful boutiques while wandering.
– For a taste of french haute couture and window shopping in trendy places (faire du lèche-vitrines as they say in France), you should go to Place Vendome and Rue de la Paix which is near the Opera, or Rue St.Honoré which is near the Jardin des Tuileries and is beautiful.
– Merci: concept shop with a used bookstore and lovely cafe adjacent
– My favorite French clothing brands include: Sezane, Sandro, Art du Basic (everything is black or white. Go here for great tailoring and beautiful basics), A.P.C, Cos and Tabio for my socks and tights (this brand is actually Japanese and they have stores in Tokyo and London but I love their French store in the Marais)
– Vintage/second-hand: Troc en stock – fav second hand store where I’ve found beautiful agnès b leather loafers. When I was a student I was patient enough to browse through the mass of vintage goods at the Kilo shops – you pay by the kilo and can find some nice things. Free’P’Star is another vintage store – I still use a leather purse I found there nearly 10 years ago.
– For first time visitors, I recommend staying in an airbnb in the Marais or St Germain is also very beautiful – it’s a more sophisticated/wealthy area. If you want to go the hotel route, it all depends on budget as there are many exquisite hotels, but I’ve heard great things about the Hoxton from friends.