There’s a good reason my word for Paris is opulence. Every building, every meal, every statue is to the max and there’s so much! I was told there was no way I could see all I wanted in 3 days. Here, I detail how I did so you can too! This guide details how to plan a trip that will have you leaving Paris with some major highlights and great memories! Even better, this is all done on a budget! So, get your walking shoes on and get ready for the 3 day sampler of Paris!
Flights & Accommodations
To start with, I found a flight from Boston, Massachusetts to Reykjavik, Iceland for $320. In total, my round trip flight cost $435 from Atlanta to Paris with two layovers.
Atlanta —> Boston –> Reykjavik —> Paris
I took Delta round trip Atlanta to Boston and then WOW Air for round trip Boston to Paris. I left for Atlanta’s airport at 10:30am EST and arrived at 11am local Paris time the next day. I knew I needed to stay as close to the Eiffel Tower as I could for many reasons, including it was where my shuttle to Versailles on Day 3 would pick me up and the bus back to the airport. So, I booked at a hostel 1 mile from the famed tower at a place called 3 Ducks Hostel & Bar. It’s a real bar and quite a modern hostel with outdoor patio and free breakfast. In total, I spent $115 for 3 nights. Highly recommend.
Day 1 – Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, Seine River
I can’t explain it, as it hadn’t happened anywhere else, but upon touch down at Charles de Gaulle in France I started crying. Not just tearing up but actual falling tears. My heart was full, unlike my phone. I had no charging capabilities on the 3 hour WOW flight from Reykjavik to Paris! So once I deplaned, I stopped at Brioche Dorée in terminal 1, right at the gate, and proceeded to use French to order my first French meal, l’authentique poulet crudités (chicken sandwich).
This conveniently located delicious spot had an added bonus of a seat with plugs so I could charge and eat. After nomming up, I bought a round trip ticket to the Eiffel Tower on Le Bus Direct for $32. This is extra handy because it meant I didn’t need to worry about getting back to the airport upon departure. For now, I just needed to walk a few doors down, go outside and cross the 1 lane road to the pick up for Le Bus Direct. They even have a little waiting area where you can purchase tickets from a machine.
From there, you ride along about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. The first big site I noticed was the massive stadium. Still a good ways from where I was headed but exciting! Then there’s a long tunnel, most definitely the longest tunnel I’ve been in. Unfortunately on the day of my arrival it was a national holiday where the American, German, and French presidents were there to commemorate WWI veterans. Therefore, they could not drop me off at my intended stop of the Eiffel Tower. It was unfortunate but in some ways it wasn’t. It was for my feet because by the time I got to the hostel, I was thoroughly exhausted. To be fair, it was also drizzling, I had all my luggage, I was wearing a poncho AND coat, and I stopped along the way for photos. So, chances are you might not be as exhausted.
I had to walk several miles before I came upon my first TREASURED GEM – Arc de Triomphe! I have had a mini wall for years that serves as a headboard for my bed that has the Arc de Triomphe on it. I have pictures of the one outside the Paris hotel in Las Vegas. I have been thinking about this structure for quite a long time. Suddenly, here I am – IN PARIS – gazing upon it.
To be honest, this nor any photo can do it justice. It’s just magnificent. It was here I heard the Parisian sound of police sirens due to the motorcades driving through. I stood here in the light rain for quite some time ogling at the art. It’s so much bigger than you can get an idea of in this photo. So grand.
From here, it’s just over a mile to Eiffel Tower. The fun thing about the walk is this city is beautiful, the architecture… c’est magnifique. The funny thing about the tower is that you can see it from so far away, it always seems much closer than it is. More about that on Day 2. For now, I was just walking through and saw the top of the tower and got giddy, believing I was only a hop, skip, and jump away! Comical now but I have learned. Finally, I arrived.
Like with everything in France, this photo does not do it justice. After a lifetime of seeing it in photos and movies, this was just so much more massive than I could have wrapped my head around. Pure, raw joy.
I stood around with my luggage and taking photos until my phone died and I still hadn’t even made it to drop my stuff off at 3 Ducks yet. Let’s just say, I got in quite a bit of extra steps getting lost trying to make it there. I finally got checked in and made a friend from Australia whom was 1 of the young ladies I was sharing a room with. We went out and had a fancy French restaurant experience at Le Commerce, just a short walk from the hostel. This dish I got because in the description it said, “Softness of chicken,” which I had to find out about. They also had the Obama Burger, I definitely wanted to try but to no one’s surprise it was too American for this trip. Maybe next time!
Day 2 – Louvre Museum
One important part of planning a trip anywhere is to look ahead at what you specifically want to do/see while you’re there. Museums in Paris alternate days they are closed. Louvre is closed on Tuesday and Day 3 destination, Versailles, is closed on Monday. Also, research ALL THE THINGS about getting into a place, especially one that is as popular as Louvre. The best thing you can do to avoid waiting in lines is to buy your ticket from the Louvre website and pick a timed entry. They guarantee your entry within 30 minutes of the time on your ticket. Entry is through the pyramid, which is surreal. Anyway, I ubered there from my hostel, which was just under 3 miles. I walked right up at my time of 11am and waited in a 3 person line vs those who didn’t have a ticket and waited in a line of probably 75 people.
Once you enter, you go down the stairs and are pretty much free to pick 1 of 4 directions. Extra helpful is down by the info desk, to the right is a place you can store your belongings in a locker for FREE. Best advice for the Louvre is to get there early and plan to stay until closing. There’s multiple places to eat under the pyramid so you won’t need to leave for anything until you’re done. When I left, I was upset because there was still so much I didn’t see. My whole body hurt but I would have stayed all night.
As you can see in the photo, it was quite dark by the time I was actually out. When you leave from the Carrousel and walk across the lawn to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, you see a shining, shimmering splendid Eiffel Tower in the distance. I didn’t need a map, I followed the light there. It was a beautiful walk following the Seine River since it’s basically across the street, as is the tower. The walk gives you an opportunity to see more things like other museums and even a Thomas Jefferson monument.
Once you get to the Eiffel Tower, try to stay until the top of the hour. That’s when it starts glittering for 5 minutes and it’s quite the sight. Be very careful to avoid talking to the vendors unless you are genuinely interested in what they’re selling. There are independent people selling Parisian trinkets and bottles of wine everywhere but at the base of the tower they are especially in high numbers. I had a guy literally follow me back to the my hostel after I said I didn’t want to buy his wine. Thanks to 3 Ducks for helping me out of that situation.
Day 3 – Palace of Versailles, Trocadero, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame
As with the Louvre, I purchased my ticket the night before to start my day at the Palace of Versailles. Unlike with the Louvre, I didn’t purchase from their website but instead from their recommended vendor Versailles Express. I bought the ticket that gave me a full access passport to the palace grounds, a ride on the train there, and a WIFI enabled, double decker bus to and from the Eiffel Tower for $42. Again, like Louvre, I left in sadness not seeing everything even after being there since 10:30am. Words can’t describe the opulence – ha! – that this palace embodied. With hoards of people coming in, they make it easy for you to guide yourself through with a handset in your language provided upon check in.
Being at the palace was my favorite thing, similar feelings include…. falling in love, finally getting long awaited silence, cuddling your fur fam. So, I was basically dragged out in the end. They, like the Louvre, basically shut down 15 minutes before closing. Tip: do not wait until the end of the day to shop in gift shops. The Louvre’s shop is open for another hour after closing but at Versailles, it was closed before I was ushered out.
After I got back to Paris proper, I was set to meet up with someone from 1 of the Facebook travel groups I posted in after I bought the flights. She was so helpful and patient because it took me 2 lifetimes to figure out where to get on the train at to get to her at Sacre Coeur. I almost gave up and told her I couldn’t make it. I was, after all, so exhausted I couldn’t walk straight. I took every opportunity to sit down at both Louvre and Versailles. I mentally slapped myself with a reminder this was my last night in Paris so I needed to be out and about! First stop was Trocadero, which gives great Paris views.
It was also the home of the metro stop I needed to hit up the breathtaking, for more reason than one, church. My kind friend was nice enough to help a geographically dumb person get to her by detailing which train I needed and where to get off. Once I arrived, we began our ascent up the enormous hill towards the famed church that sits on top of it. When I first saw the stairs, which I wish I had of photographed now, I thought I could handle it. I mean, I had been walking non stop for days and I am a regular hours long walker back home. NBD, right? HAAAAAAAAA. I wish I could go back and tell naive me to take the lift provided. I had to stop halfway to avoid having a heart attack and this is from a person with legs of STEEL. LAWD, I have learned a lesson. However, reward came in the form of grandeur, Sacre Coeur.
I also took a walk around inside. I don’t think you’re *supposed* to take photos, as it’s an active site of worship, but I did. Coming up in future blogs when I write more detail about each place you’ll see how this place is beautiful inside and out. Interestingly enough, to the immediate left of this photo is another, much older church. The cemetery is only open 1 day a year, All Saints Day (November 1st). If you make it up this hill of a thousands steps, walk along the side road between the two churches and take a left down the cobblestone street. It’s like a whole world atop the hill. I was fortunate enough to be there late enough where most people had gone home but early enough to catch life in cafes, on bicycles, and down the street. 10/10 would live up there. A rather famous stop up next.
Ladies and gentlemen, Moulin Rouge. Also, can we take a second to enjoy the checkered road? -_- OK, back onto the metro and we’re headed towards Paris City Hall.
Right around the corner from here is a landmark probably as famous as the Eiffel Tower… Notre Dame.
I just could not get enough of all the details on this building. Notre Dame is part of a big square with antique buildings all around. All I could do is think about ALL THE THINGS that happened here during the 855 year history.
My body was not happy with me but again had to do more walking a mile or so to the bus stop to head back to the airport. It’s OK though, I had plenty of time to recuperate on the 12 hours ahead. I took almost 1k photos and videos and used my flight time to whittle it down to just under 700. Productive. The photo below is at the bus stop in the west end of Champs Elysees looking at the Arc de Triomphe for the last time this trip.
So, there you have it, how to make the most and see the most with 3 days in Paris! Stay tuned, there’s more Paris content coming while it’s still fresh! What are you most excited to read about? Follow me on Instagram or for a litany of photos coming up with stories and fun facts. Au Revoir!