Eiffel Tower, Paris
When starting your first day in Paris, make sure to grab a croissant and coffee on the go. Many grocery stores sell fresh baked pastries such a croissants for usually around 70 cents or under so super affordable!
The first attraction on the to do list is of course the Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most famous landmark is best visited right at open time. This way you will avoid the larger lines that happen later in the day for the iconic structure. You can choose to either walk up the stairs for part of the way and then take an elevator to the top or you can choose the elevator straight from the bottom if you’re a little short on time. (Travel tip: I’ve done both and would probably choose the first option as you get to experience more than being crammed in the elevator the whole way with a bunch of other tourists!).
After spending some time here, walk in the direction of ‘Trocadero’, this area of town has lots of cafes to eat at so make sure to grab some lunch! (Travel tip: remember the farther you get from the Eiffel Tower the cheaper the restaurants commonly are, try to choose one on a side street rather than a main street as well!)
Next hop on the metro in the direction of ‘ Le Louvre’. The most visited museum in the world, has its fair share of tourists so visiting at any time is going to be busy. (Travel tip: Entry is free on the first Sunday of every month but keep in mind its bound to be more busy then). Recognize that you will unfortunately not be able to see everything in the Louvre, but also remember to visit other works than the ‘Mona Lisa’ as there are many fabulous art pieces here.
Grab some dinner and make your way towards ‘Champs Elysées’ and ‘The Arc de Triomphe’. My favourite time to visit the monument is at either sunrise or sunset. This way you will get to take beautiful pictures and have a nice warm ambiance for your visit.
Spend the rest of your evening touring this district, famous for its high end shopping and charming architecture. Make sure to get a good sleep as the next day will be just as busy!
Today I suggest taking a day trip out of the city. Visit the magical ‘Palace of Versailles’, located about a 40 minute direct train ride out of the city it is super easy to get to (and for under 10 euros roundtrip!). Versailles was the last palace that the kings of France lived, it is one of the largest palaces in the world and is a truly magnificent structure. (To learn more check out their website.) The gardens and other buildings on the grounds are just as beautiful, and depending on the day you visit you may even be able to see a water show at their many fountains! This excursion will take up most of your day as there is so much to see, (Travel tip: I recommend booking your ticket online in advance as you may be able to skip some of the lines).
Following your tour of the palace and grounds make sure to also explore the town of Versailles, there are lots of cute cafes and local boutiques to explore. Grab yourself a coffee and something to eat and board your train back to the city.
Once back in Paris, take the metro to your final stop of the day, the ‘Opera Garnier’. Compared similarly to the atmosphere of Versailles, this world famous opera house intrigues every visitor. The musical, “The Phantom of the Opera” takes its inspiration from this building. From the Grand Staircase to the hidden swimming pool in the basement, the ‘Opera Garnier’ has plenty to see.
Opera Garnier, Paris
Start your morning off right as you have lots more to see in the city of lights! On the final day of the itinerary I suggest you plan to start your day at ‘Notre Dame’. Of course once again, to skip the lines make sure you visit the cathedral as early as possible. The entry to the church is free but you can pay to go up the two towers attached (prepare yourself to climb stairs as there is no elevator!) This area of town has so many cute windy streets to explore, filled to the brim with little shops and cafes. If you visit on the right day you might even come across a little street market with local vendors.
Following this, head in the direction of the ‘Musee Picasso’, located in a neighbouring district. Like ‘Le Louvre’, this gallery is free for visitors on the first Sunday of every month. As in the name, most of the artwork is by the famed artist “Picasso” and shows a wide variety from when he started until when he finished his career.
Located in the 3rd arrondissement, this museum also has a very unique and cool neighbourhood to explore following your visit.
The other main activity that I highly recommend is to visit ‘Montmartre’. This white church has a beautiful interior. Plus its location on a hill gives an amazing view of this metropolis of a city. The church is also called ‘Sacré-Cœur Basilica’. It is situated in the 18th arrondissement and is a former artist section of the city. It has super cool street art everywhere and lots of cafes and little grocery stores to grab a quick snack!
No Paris excursion is complete of course without a view of the Eiffel Tower when it is lit up at night. I recommend that you visit the iconic tower one last time before leaving the city as it is truly momentous. Note that the tower only sparkles for the first 5 minutes of every hour so make sure you have a good view during this period! (Travel Tip: I suggest that you walk up to the tower through the park, “Champs de Mars” as you will really be able to understand the actual size of the landmark and get to see it from the perfect distance leading up to it!)
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris
Things to Note:
- The city is divided into districts called ‘arrondissements’, with 1 being the most central, working in a spiral outwards.
- France is part of the European Union, therefore they use the ‘Euro’ as their currency
- If going for coffee, sitting will always come with a much higher cost. Grab your coffee to go instead if you’re looking to save a few bucks!
Thanks for reading!
If you need further information or ideas on a Parisian itinerary, make sure to check out Lonely Planet’s wide selection of them.