“Respirer Paris, cela conserve l’âme.” – Victor Hugo
Paris is the City of Light, or City of Love, depending on who you ask. I have visited Paris many times, since I was not too far away living in Luxembourg, and it quickly became my favorite city. Follow my itinerary and drink as much wine as I did while there, and I guarantee that you will have a great time as well.
Where to stay: Hotel Brighton
My recommendation for a hotel is definitely is a little pricier but entirely worthwhile because of the ideal location in the 1st arrondissement. This hotel is walking distance to every major Paris attraction on my itinerary, has a view of the Eiffel Tower, and conveniently has a Metro station across the street.
View from the Hotel Brighton
9am: Start on the Île de la Cité, in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Take your time to look at each alcove, the rose windows of stained glass, and the buttresses that took 300 years to complete. I have been to the top of Notre Dame (looking for Quasimodo) and it is not worth the line or the cost, skip it for better views elsewhere.
10am: After Notre Dame, walk across the street to St. Chapelle. This chapel is made of stained glass and is famous for being built by King Louis IX to house the Crown of Thorns. The altar was raised high to display this relic, and the sun streaming through the stained glass makes you feel as though you are in a different world.
10:30am: Congratulations you religious son of a bitch, you’re going right to heaven! Reward yourself with a crepe and coffee at the picturesque island directly behind the Notre Dame Cathedral called Ile St. Louis. Ile St. Louis has cafes, cheese shops, boutiques, and my favorite creperie in all of Paris, Berthillon. Since you just spent the past 2 hours in churches, grab a seat overlooking the street and order some homemade ice cream with your crepe.
11:30am: After brunch, cross the bridge to the Left Bank. This area is also known as the Latin Quarter and is the home to Paris’ oldest university, La Sorbonne. Walk along Quai de Montebello for a fabulous view of Notre Dame as you head to Shakespeare & Company bookstore. If you are a bibliophile like I am, appreciate the fact that it was a hangout during the 1920s for literary icons such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
12pm: Continue further down the road to Place St. Michel, which has a giant statue of a muscled Arch Angel Michael on the facade. This bustling part of town is great for people watching. Choose one of the nearby cafes for your first glass of wine, and enjoy the scene.
12:39pm: Get up you drunkard, I said one glass of wine. Now lets continue down along the Seine to the Pont des Arts, or the love-lock bridge. If you are with your loved one, make sure you have your lock handy or buy one from the surrounding shops.
1:30pm: Heading away from the Seine into St. Germain area of Paris. It is full of beautiful streets, great shopping, and fabulous restaurants. I cannot let you leave Paris without eating at the restaurant where Picasso frequented, Les Deux Magots. Enjoy the wine, the square, the people watching, and the phenomenal croque monsieur.
3:00pm: From lunch, head to your first of three museums I am recommending, the Musée d’Orsay. It is one of the best museums in Paris focusing on the Impressionist period, and the building itself, an old railway station, could be considered a work of art. Take a few hours to meander through Monet, Manet, Cézanne, and Degas.
6:00pm: After having your fill at the Museé, walk through the beautiful Tuileries Garden to the hotel to prepare for dinner.
7:30pm: Head to the Avenue Montaigne for one of the best places to see and be seen in Paris, Restaurant L’Avenue. It is a spot frequented by the celebrities and staffed by models, and when I was there we sat next to Clint Eastwood. Besides the star-gazing and the view of the Eiffel Tower, the food is phenomenal. I highly recommend the tuna tartar and the creme brulée.
9:45pm: For an after-dinner drink near L’Avenue, head to Bar du Plaza Athénée for a cocktail in the most glamorous hotel in Paris. The illuminated bar and champagne cocktails are pricey, and one is enough to enjoy the vibes and feel like a celebrity to end your first night.
10:30pm: Today was a super long day, and tomorrow will be as well, so I would suggest heading to bed so you are not hungover while sightseeing. Take it from my own personal experience, being nauseous while waiting in line for the Louvre is next to hell, and Paris doesn’t have Bloody Mary’s anywhere. But if you are feeling frisky or are a glutton for punishment like me, recommendations for Paris nightlife are at the end of Day 3!
7:30am: Welcome to day 2 of your magical time in Paris. Did you follow my advice and go to bed? Good job! As a reward, I will suggest the best bakery in Paris which just so happens to be right next door to your hotel, Angelina. Angelina is famous for their le chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and Mont Blanc pastry, but their espresso and croissants are fabulous as well.
Pastries at Angelina
8:30am: After breakfast, walk across the street and through the beautiful Tuileries Garden to the Louvre to line up before it opens. Depending on the day, there may already be a line forming, and the earlier you arrive the better it is to get right in and through security.
9am: Pick up a map at the entrance and head directly to the Mona Lisa. This main Louvre attraction will become increasingly more crowded as the day goes on, so to get a shot of Ms. Lisa without 20 Asian
tourists with selfie sticks in your way, go directly to the 1st floor.
12:15pm: Since you just witnessed three hours of art, I know you must be starving. Go around the corner from the Louvre to Le Nemours Cafe for lunch. Bonus to this cafe, directly behind is the Instagram-worthy Colonnes de Buren.
1:30pm: After lunch, head straight through the Tuileries Garden to the Place de la Concorde. Admire the fountain from The Devil Wears Prada, check out the amazing view of the Eiffel Tower, and continue to the famous Champs Élysées. It is a beautiful walk to our next destination, the Arc de Triomphe.
2pm: Along the way, make sure you stop in Laduree, and buy the best macarons in Paris. Some people are Team Pierre Herme, I am Team Laduree. The macarons here are quite possibly my favorite thing, and it is a welcome stop on our way to the Arc.
4pm: The best view in Paris is at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and it can only be accessed by climbing 284 stairs. The unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower and Paris laid out below you is worth every euro and leg soreness to get there. Take your time, take pictures, and admire the sweeping panoramas and mesmerizing views.
5pm: After taking in the majesty, head underneath the Arc de Triomphe to the Metro station. Take the blue line from here to my absolute favorite part of Paris, and where I recommend you spend your evening, Montmartre.
5:25pm: Blanche metro station lets you out directly in front of the infamous Moulin Rouge, and the lights should be just starting to come on for a fantastic photo-op. Cancan and dinner there comes with a hefty price tag, and you will see the tourists piling out of busses to witness the show.
5:30pm: From the Moulin Rouge, walk down Boulevard de Clichy and check out Paris’ very own Red Light District called Pigalle, or Pig Alley. It is early enough that the debauchery is just starting, and the sex shops and bars are extremely entertaining. You will want to continue until you reach Rue de Steinkerque and up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica to watch the sunset. It is along Paris’ highest hilltop, and has stairs to sit and enjoy Paris before you.
View from the steps of the Sacré-Coeur
6:30pm: A block from the Basilica is my favorite square in all of Paris, Place du Terte. It was a haunt of the original bohemians like artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and now filled with aspiring artists and painters looking to make a buck. If you want your portrait done, ask for the gifted and handsome Maxim who is the best on the square and priced very fairly. La Mére Catherine is the best restaurant on the square, but I would not recommend dinner there. Have a few glasses of wine, maybe some cheese, and people watch after a long day of walking around.
8:30pm: Dinner will be a five-minute walk down the stairs and through the streets to La Cave Gourmande for traditional French dishes such as boeuf bourguignon. I happened upon this place during my first visit to Montmartre, and it was sensational. Enjoy the lively street music with rustic French dishes.
7:30am: Good Morning and welcome to your last day in Paris! This morning we are heading to the Eiffel Tower where the line is always extremely long unless you arrive before it opens at 9am. We will be taking the Metro to the Trocadero stop. The Trocadero is the best photo opportunity for views of the Eiffel Tower, so I would recommend pausing here to take some before tourists fill it later in the day.
9am: Hopefully the line was not too long, and you are entering the Eiffel Tower elevators as it opens. The best way to see everything is to head directly to the third level, because the line gets long here as the day goes on. The elevator ride to the top is not fun, extremely small, and is very claustrophobic FYI. Also, the altitude is so high on this floor that it is hard to make out much of the sights, so use the panoramic maps as a point of reference. Once you have had your fill, head back down to Level 2.
9:30am: Meander around the second level and take in the monuments that you have visited over the past few days. In my opinion, the views are best from here, and it is one of my favorite spots in Paris.
10:30am: Take the elevator when you are ready to the first level, where you are even closer to the sights. The first level just went through a major renovation, and now has a glass vision wall where you can peer down at the ground below. They have also added shops, a new restaurant, and interactive exhibits with information on the Tower.
11:30am: For some fun and to avoid lines, skip the elevator and walk down the stairs from the first level of the Eiffel Tower to the ground level. There are amazing views the whole way down, and it is something you
have to try.
12pm: Head to the 7th Arr. to the north of the Eiffel Tower and end at the quaint Rue Cler Market, Paris’ best pedestrian-only street. Here you can wander in and out of shops while looking for a baguette, cheese, and a bottle of wine for your picnic lunch in the Champs de Mars park. Don’t forget the wine opener!
1:30pm: Set up for lunch on the lawn in front of the Tower. This was hands down my favorite thing I did on all my trips to Paris, and there is nothing like a picnic on a beautiful day underneath one of the most iconic sites in the world.
3pm: After your leisurely picnic, head to the left of the Eiffel Tower on Ave. Octave Gréard and find the Vélib‘ bike station. The first half hour is free to bike along the Seine River back to the Tuileries. On Sundays in Paris, many major roadways are closed leading to ideal biking conditions and to take in Paris by bike is a lot of fun. There are large, bike-friendly paths down by the Seine below the street as well. Head to the Vélib’ station on 2 Rue Cambon to return the bicycle.
3:30pm: Your final museum in Paris, and my personal favorite, is the Musée de l’Orangerie. This smaller museum is most famous for housing eight Water Lilies paintings by Claude Monet. You will find yourself in an oval-shaped room to make you feel as though you are in Giverny, where Monet painted them. There are also works by Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir, and Matisse. After this beautiful museum, head back to the hotel to freshen up.
5:30pm: Dinner will be in the heart of Paris at Place Dauphine, a secluded and peaceful square that feels completely removed from the rest of the city. Fun fact: Johnny Depp has a townhouse on the square, and frequents the restaurants here. Grab a seat outside Le Caveau du Palais and enjoy the quiet of the square and a bottle of wine with dinner.
7:45pm: Walk to the edge of the square and across the Pont Nuef to your evening cruise at Vedettes du Pont Neuf. This hour-long tour takes you along the Seine to view Paris’ glittering lights from the Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower. Paris at night is truly something special, and cruising by the Eiffel Tower as it shimmers is something you will never forget. Bring a bigger purse and sneak on a bottle of wine to pregame your night on the town.
Sunset cruise on the Seine
9pm: Hopefully you are a bit buzzed after dinner and wine on the boat. Rather than huge clubs, Paris is known for its small bars and music venues. The Latin Quarter, which is to the east of where the boat tour leaves you, has lively bars filled with fun-seekers and students enjoying a cocktail and live music. I would recommend Place de la Contrescarpe, which is unpretentious and has cheaper beers in a city where a drink can cost 10euro.
12am: For late night fun, or if you want to get dressed up for something more than just a bar, I would recommend Showcase, under Pont Alexandre III. There is something undeniably sexy about entering a club in the shadows of the most ornately beautiful bridge in the city, and on weekends a popular DJ is usually spinning. This place closes at 6am, leaving you enough time to dance the night away and reminisce on the best three days in the best city in the world.
All in all, Paris is sublime, and whether you stay with my itinerary or wander from it, I hope you have the best trip of your life! Thank you for exploring with me. Au revoir xo Meghan