I had this post planned for later in April, but given the tragic fire at Notre Dame yesterday, I wanted to share.
Paris is a fascinating city. Full of history, full of museums, full of love-struck couples. If you only have three days in Paris, I recommend grabbing the Paris Pass to save yourself some time getting around the city. It gives you access to over 60 museums and attractions, and gives you the fast-track access which is CRUCIAL in order to save time and not have to wait in lines. It also gives you a one-day pass for Big Bus Tours which will keep your feet happy and get you to your chosen attractions much faster.
There’s a three-way tie for the top of the list of things to see: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame.
All of which are spectacular and offer amazing views of the city if you’re willing to go to the top of each. The Eiffel Tower is the only one that has an elevator. The Arc has A LOT of stairs. Notre Dame is a can’t miss but you won’t be able to go inside at this point. Luckily they were able to save some artwork and relics, and even confirmed at least one of the massive stain glass windows is still in tact but major renovations will need to occur before guests are allowed back in.
The line for Notre Dame looks impossibly long but it actually moves quickly and in an orderly fashion. Once you’re inside, everything is quiet and beautiful. If you go at 12:00, you’ll be able to hear the service.
The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe is spectacular. You can see what seems like all of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. There are a lot of stairs to climb but it’s worth it.
The Louvre is a MUST visit. You won’t be able to see everything, but if you allot a day or even half a day, you can make it through a lot. I read somewhere that it would take you like 16 days to get through the whole museum if you took just 30 seconds with each piece!
The Mona Lisa is in an incredibly crowded room and much smaller than you would think – so prepared to be close to at least 100 other tourists when you go to visit.
I’m a personal fan of the African section and the sculptures, including Michelangelo’s sculptures.
Doing a Seine River Cruise (part of the Paris Pass) is a great way to see the city from a different perspective, but not my favorite way. If you’re a huge fan of boats or river cruises, do it. It’s a great way to learn about the bridges. If I were to go again, I’d skip this part.
However, I would recommend doing a night time bike tour such as Fat Tire (here’s a coupon code FB1301). Seeing the city in the daytime is one thing, but at night, when it’s all lit up is another. The lights on the Eiffel Tower come on around 10 PM in the summer and it is a sight to see. As if it wasn’t already magical enough, the lights take it to a whole new level.
The metro is actually pretty easy to navigate and with the Paris Pass, you get a one-day ticket. It’s fast, clean and gets you where you need to go. Knowing a little French can be helpful, although you’ll find plenty of places with English on their menus. Speaking of menus, you should venture out and try escargot (snails) while you’re there. If you’re looking for safe foods, go for the steak frites (steak and fries). I had it multiple times and it was delicious everywhere. Also, they don’t serve a lot of water (you typically have to ask for it) or ice, so it’s always good to be prepared with your own or to order some.
Navigating Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport can be tricky, but most folks speak English there so you should be fine finding your gate. Arriving early is important to allow time to go through security.
Three days isn’t a lot of time to spend in this beautiful and historic city, but it is enough time to give you a taste. If you’re out the door early and exploring into the evening, you can cover quite a bit of ground. Take your camera, take your good walking shoes, take sunscreen if you’re going in the summer, and take water.
We stayed at a really convenient (and nice!) hotel but the AC can only be 20 degrees cooler than the outside air and there was a heatwave! So at 99 degrees outside, our room was at 79! Whew! Fortunately, that’s not typical weather (even in July!) but we did experience it and it made for sweaty days and nights in Paris!
What’s your favorite landmark in Paris? Other places to visit in France?