Following is a suggested sightseeing itinerary for 3 days in Paris.
As this is a guide for visitors with limited time this suggested sightseeing itinerary includes many of the popular 'must dos'. No trip to Paris is ever complete, no matter how long, but no one should visit without seeing the main attractions in this suggested itinerary - and we've also included a couple of quirky ones!.
One of the tricky things with Paris is timing. You could spend a week in the Louvre and not see everything but any longer than an hour or so up the Eiffel Tower would be overkill. But that's a great place to start, so let's start there...
Pickpockets & Scammers
Tip. Be very aware of pickpockets and scams in all major tourist areas in Paris... a modern blight. They are everywhere.
Men. Keep your wallet (preferably don’t carry one and use a money belt) in your inside front pocket of your pants. Ladies, MAKE SURE you carry your handbag slung diagonally across your shoulder and not just carry it in your hand. Better still wear a money belt. Cameras - be very careful - especially big expensive SLR digital cameras - and again sling the strap right across one shoulder to the other or hang the strap around your neck. Cutting camera straps and also cutting into the back of backpacks is easily and often done...
Mobile phones - the same. Be careful where you pull them out/use them in public. They are easily snatched from your hand. If withdrawing money from an ATM watch out for anyone approaching you whilst at the terminal and trying to distract you. You could lose your card AND your money and the thieves could also have memorised your credit/debit card pin number.
Our suggested Paris Itinerary: 3 Days/2 nights
Plan a day of walking, exploration and orientation. Head to the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) around 9:00 - 9:30am. If there are huge queues for the lift and you're feeling fit, take the stairs to the public levels, however the stairs do not take you to the top of the tower - this is by lift only. Be warned, the lift rises quickly and as it goes up the floor seems to drop away and if you are a little bit apprehensive about heights, it can take some getting used to. Seriously!
Once at the mid level of the tower, (or go to the very top of the tower - worth the wait in the queue at the mid level for the top tower lift - the view is awesome!), and looking down on Paris, you will get a bearing on the city and your day ahead - the Seine, the Statue of Liberty, the Palais de Chaillot, the Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame. Back down, soak in the atmosphere of the Champ-de-Mars before heading across Pont de l'Alma towards the Arc de Triomphe.
Perhaps take time to check out the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Avenue du Président Wilson, even if only from the outside as there will surely be some interesting exterior exhibit.
After checking out the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe, head down the Avenue de Champs-Elysées. It's about now you should start to feel decidedly 'French'. Most guidebooks will tell you to avoid cafés and restaurants here because they are pricey and there are better ones just a croissants throw away but, hey, surely it's worth a leisurely half hour at a sidewalk café to observe the passing parade on arguably the world's most famous boulevard?
By now, it is late morning, but remember the French eat a little later than in other parts of the world. To get into the swing - breakfast (petit déjeuner) around 8:00am, coffee and a snack late morning, lunch around 2:00 - 3:00pm (many French make this the main meal of the day, with wine) and dinner from 8:30pm onwards.
After your café au lait, continue down to Place de la Concorde and skim past the Jardin des Tuileries (you'll be back here tomorrow!).
Cross the Seine at Pont de la Concorde and head left to Musée d'Orsay (if art is your thing), or right to Hôtel des Invalides (Napoleon's tomb and Musée de l'Armée) with the magnificent Musée Rodin nearby.
From here, the destination is Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité, but you may like to detour to Montparnasse for a bite to eat first.
Cross the delightful Pont Neuf to the Ile de la Cité. Apart from Notre Dame, you'll also find Saint Chapelle (exquisite 13th Century stained glass) and the Conciergerie (former Royal Palace, prison and torture chamber). There are lovely spots for a picnic here - perhaps a plan for Day 3 - a baguette, some fruit, a bottle of vin rouge ordinaire and a sit by the Seine? Allow a couple of hours for Notre Dame, inside and out.
Evening falls (Notre Dame usually closes 6:45pm weekdays and 7:45pm on weekends). Head back across the Seine to the Latin Quarter. Incidentally, it was named Quartier Latin because professors and students communicated entirely in Latin here before the revolution. It's still a 'student' area and is home to the Sorbonne University. For a meal, head to Rue Mouffetard for lively atmosphere and plenty of choice. Alternatively, if your budget runs to somewhere special, the famous La Tour d'Argent may beckon, opposite Pont de la Tournelle to Ile Saint Louis. (Note: Bookings are usually required up to 4-6 weeks in advance!)
You may not know a lot about art, but you are sure to find something you like! There's more art than you can point a brush in the Musée du Louvre and yes, it will probably be crowded, but for good reason. Day tickets allow you to come and go as you please so, if the crowds get a bit daunting, head out the Jardin des Tuileries and perhaps the also rewarding galleries, l'Orangerie and Jeu de Paume.
In the Louvre you may find the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo a bit disappointing (after all, you've seen countless pictures of them) but there is so much more. A day really isn't enough, so the tip is to choose a period of art you like, or one section of the building and don't worry about what you have missed out on, (think of the tree falling in the forest - if a painting is hung in a room you don't enter, does it really exist?).
And to the evening - what about some more culture - depending on your taste, either the Opera or a traditional high-kicking cabaret to look up a few local lasses, so to speak. There are a number of cabaret choices - not cheap, but highly memorable.
By now you'll be wishing there was a Day 4 - but today's goal should be to capture some real personal memories to make the folks at home jealous!
In the morning, head up to Montmartre for the views and the atmosphere (a very different atmosphere by day, if you happened to sample the Moulin Rouge last night). The Basilique de Sacre Cœur is a tad gloomy but the view from the dome is worth the visit alone. Fans of Surrealism should visit Espace Montmartre Salvador Dali.
In the afternoon - perhaps something a little different?
Musee des Egouts de Paris (the Paris Sewers)...
Musee de l'Erotisme (erotic art, ancient and modern)...
Or, for the more macabre Cimetière Père Lachaise (tombs of the rich and famous) or the Catacombes (resting place of the not so rich or famous)?
Ahhh Paris - there are only a few hundred other attractions, not to mention day excursions like Disneyland, Versailles or Chateau de Fontainebleau - but they'll have to wait till next time... n'est pas?