Nate & Kristen maximize their 3 days in Paris and try a French pastry cooking class, a river tour, see iconic Paris landmarks, and eat lots of macarons!
3 Days in Paris: activities
Day 1: eiffel tower
Our first of 3 days in Paris was spent walking around the city seeing the iconic sights. Definitely go to the top of the Eiffel Tower! We took the stairs (!) and it honestly wasn’t as difficult as it looks! Awesome views of the city. We didn’t get to picnic because it had rained that morning and the ground was wet. Definitely go back and see it lit up at night too – it really was magical to watch it sparkle.
Day 1: notre dame
Notre Dame Cathedral is beautiful! Built over 800 years ago, so it’s a must see! Admission is free and we walked right in without a line. Honestly you can walk through it pretty quick – 15-20 minutes if you have less time and are on a tight schedule.
Day 1: louvre
The Louvre is another iconic Paris tourist spot, but honestly…..if you have limited time, or don’t appreciate art, I would skip it. It was PACKED, which really took away from the experience. The Mona Lisa was awesome to see, but as I’m sure you’ve heard, smaller in size than you expect. We more so enjoyed walking through the Tuileries Gardens and along the Seine afterwards.
Day 2: sacre-coeur & Montmartre
Sacre-Coeur is another gorgeous church in the Montmartre area. Even if you’re not into churches, go see it, because you can walk through in 20-30 minutes. In my opinion, Sacre-Coeur was just as impressive, if not more impressive than Notre Dame. It’s on top of a hill with panoramic views of the entire city. It’s worth trekking up there, if even for the views from the front steps alone!
Montmartre, the neighborhood where the basilica is located, is cute. There is a square with artists sitting outside painting, called Place du Tertre. Some of the paintings are beautiful, and could make for a perfect Paris souvenir! The square is lined with beautiful 18th century buildings and outdoor restaurants. We had lunch in a cafe sitting outside overlooking the square.
Day 2: river cruise of the canal st martin and seine river
This 3 hour river tour, through Paris Canal River Cruises, started on the Canal St Martin, in the northern part of the city near Montmartre, and then ended on the Seine River, near the Louvre. There were several different locks we went through, where the water level was lowered so the boat could lower and go through the next tunnel. We liked the tour because it was really cool getting to go through the locks and tunnels underneath the city. It’s definitely something we never would have gotten to see any other way. My only complaint is that even though it was in English, our tour guide had SUCH a thick accent, we couldn’t really understand him/understand what we were seeing.
Day 3: french pastry cooking class
This was one of our highlights of our 3 days in Paris! It was a 3 hour class, through La Cuisine Paris, where we learned how to make breakfast pastries. My favorite food was the basic french croissant, but we also learned how to make jelly pastries, chocolate pastries and cinnamon buns. It’s a cute place, right on the Seine River. There were only about 8 people in the class, but it was very hands on and our instructor was great. We ate our pastries at the end of the class, and boy were we full the rest of the day. They turned out delicious! All classes are in English, and they offer other classes such as French macarons, baguettes, and other pastries.
Day 3: versailles
Versailles, the former home of the French royal family, is beautiful! We were there several hours and walked through most of the Palace, the gardens and Marie Antoinette’s estate. We’re not huge artsy/museum people, but we really enjoyed this. I was in awe over all the ornate details inside the Palace, in addition to how many rooms there are to walk through. It’s amazing to see the wealth and picture the royal families who lived there. It’s 45 minutes each way on the train, outside of the city, so plan on a solid half day. We left the city around 1, after our cooking class, and returned around 6-7pm. Even if you only have 3 days in Paris, make time for this!
Laduree is known for their awesome French Macrons – we went twice! There are a few different locations, but we went to the one in St Germain, as it was near our Airbnb.
We were not sold on the French food, so our favorite restaurant was actually a Swiss fondue and raclette restaurant we stumbled across one night called Le Marivaux. We loved it! Huge portions (rare for Paris!) of meat, potatoes, and bread to dip into an amazing cheese.
chez george’s in st germain
Chez Goeorge’s is a wine bar in an underground cave in the St Germain area. They have their own wine label. It was really cool and filled with mainly locals, but be prepared – it’s cash only.
One of our favorite activities every night was getting a bottle of wine and dessert from a cute café and sitting outside people watching. We loved just soaking up the city!
We stayed in an Airbnb in the St Germain du Pres area. We were fairly centrally located, in a great walkable area with a lot of cafes and bars nearby. I definitely recommend staying in St Germain. Airbnb is great option to find rentals when traveling. Here, you’ll find a large range of unique accommodations to rent in Paris, and most of the places on Airbnb are far better value for your money than traditional hotels. Though my favorite part about it is you really feel like a local when staying in a new city! Sign up here to get $40 off your first visit!
We took the metro or walked everywhere. The various lines are named numerically as well as color-coded, so the system is very easy to use and understand even if you don’t speak French. They sell the tickets in stacks of 10, and each is good for a one-way ticket anywhere, including connections. We took a taxi from the airport when we first landed because we landed so late (the metro stops running at Midnight!), but we took the train back to the airport when we were headed out and that was easy. Most taxis are cash only, so make sure and have cash on you.
Paris Travel Tips:
Voltage – You’ll just need a wall adapter for your phone charger -the little white box on the iPhone cable will convert the voltage for you. Most laptop charging cords have that black box that converters the electricity for you too. However you’ll need an adapter AND voltage converter for your hair appliances and other electronics.
Tipping – You don’t need to tip more than a few coins in restaurants and you’re not required to tip taxi drivers. (Which feels so hard to do, coming from 15-20% in the US!)
Packing – Regarding any European travel, pack lightly!! You will regret having to lug a big suitcase on/off trains, down cobblestone streets, up the stairs in hotels that don’t have elevators, etc. I LOVE my trusty Euro-backpack, but if you don’t have one, then I definitely recommend nothing bigger than a carry-on sized suitcase. You don’t need 10 outfit changes for 3 days in Paris!
Other travel guides you might like:
Paris, France – 4 Days in Paris: Discover the Art & Charm of Paris
Paris, France – 5 days in Paris: Explore All the Iconic Paris Sights
London, England – The Ultimate 5 Day London Itinerary
Oia, Santorini, Greece – Guide to Oia: Where to Stay in Santorini
Follow the rest of Nate & Kristen’s Europe trip here:
Cinque Terre & Rome, Italy – Hike in Cinque Terre and Explore Rome
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