3 days is never enough to fully explore a city and Paris is no exception. With a week here you would have just enough time to see the main attractions and if you spent longer than this you could start to experience the real Paris. With so many tourist attractions and 18 arrondissements there is plenty to keep you occupied. If you are coming from outside Europe purely to see Paris I would recommend more than 3 days. However with Paris being so easily accessible from Ireland and with cheap flights from Ryanair a weekend escape to this beautiful city is hard to pass up. You could fly out on a Friday morning and back on a Sunday evening taking only one day of work/ college. Its not the cheapest city but if your on a budget Paris is still a good option. If you’re a student bring your student card for some discounts. If your under 26 and European bring your passport/ driving licence for reduced/ free entry into some attractions like the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel tower…
How to get there?
Paris has 3 airports, Beauvais, Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Charles de Gaulle is the biggest and is an international airport, there is an RER train direct to the centre which takes about 40 minutes and costs €10. Alternatively there is a bus service “Le bus direct” which takes you from the centre to CDG and costs €17. This is a good option if you have a lot of bags, but can take longer as there is always the possibility of heavy traffic.
Ryanair fly to Beauvais which is a very small airport but so easy to get to. There is a direct bus from the centre of Paris that leaves 3 hours before every flight. It takes about 70 minutes and costs €15 (one way if you book online). It really is no more difficult to get to than CDG. Ryanair is as usual a great option for budget travellers and there are always great deals to Paris.
Where to stay?
Air Bnbs are your best option. Hotels in Paris are definitely on the pricier side and are in high demand. We found an Air Bnb in the 17th arrondissement close to metros and easily walk-able for €100 for 2 nights. The only issue we had was that we had booked another Air bnb which cancelled so had to book this one last minute (it ended up about €20 more expensive).
As to which arrondissement to stay in its very much down to personal preference. We loved the 17th it was relaxed and cool and over the right side of the city for exploring the main attractions. Depending on your budget you could stay in a more central location closer to the Eiffel Tower etc.
What to see?
Having been to Paris twice before this time I was less pushed to see all the attractions and so we had a relaxed few days. Of course we still managed to fit in the main sites (gotta get those insta pics :)). Here’s an itinerary of how we spent 3 days in Paris:
Day 1: Ok so Day 1 for us was a bit difficult, we had just flown over night from Brazil and so were a bit (very) exhausted. Trying to get from CDG to our Air bnb with 60kg of bags in 35 degrees heat was a challenge to say the least. However after a power nap we dressed up loaded on the sun cream and faced the day.
Our first stop was lunch, if you want lunch in Paris make sure you go between 12 – 2 after that it can be a challenge to find somewhere open. After a quick sandwich from a boulangerie we set out to find the Chanel boutique in Place Vendome. I really wish I had been making that trip to buy a bag but for the time being the door was all I needed to see. After seeing Retro Flame (Erika Fox) and Life of a Lady Bear (Michaela O’Shaugnessy) invest in Chanel bags this year its definitely a goal of mine to come back and get my hands on a Chanel quilted handbag someday.
Place Vendome is beautiful, home to the Ritz Paris, Dior, Chanel etc. its a one stop shop if you have an ‘I just won the lotto budget’. If like me you’re on tighter purse strings its still a beautiful place to stroll around. Even the security guard at Chanel had no problem moving aside to let me take some photos.
From Place Vendome we made our way along to the Eiffel Tower stopping first in the Jardin de Tulleries. From here you can visit the Louvre or as we did keep walking along the River Seine up to the Eiffel Tower. The River at this time of year is buzzing with activity with lots of boat tours and pop up bars. We stopped for a drink at Rosa Bonheur sur Seine where we had a great spot for people watching and admiring the Pont Alexandre III.
We kept going on our journey until we reached the Eiffel Tower, our first view of it was from a side street and it truly is breathtaking. Seeing it from this angle was wonderful as it was unspoilt by tourists. We took lots of photos but decided not to take a tour up (we did this on the last day).
For dinner we had planned to go to Le Bouillon Chartier, a famous french restaurant in the centre of Paris. I had been before and wanted to bring my boyfriend back to it. If you go expect queues which can be quite long. We got lucky as there was only the two of us we got seated quickly. Its a huge restaurant but if its a romantic dinner you’re after, this maybe isn’t the place, we were seated at a table between two other couples, it was cozy but entertaining as we listened (easedropped) to one of the couples talk about their engagement. It is however the perfect place to try french food for really budget friendly prices. Escargot and steak tar tar with chips are on the menu but there are lots of options. To start we got Avocado stuffed with prawns in a seafood sauce and it was delicious. I choose the roast chicken and chips for main while himself got the cow tongue (a strange option but it was good nonetheless). We also got a bottle of wine and our total came to €34 – for two starters, two mains and a bottle of wine its amazing value.
Day 2: Day 2 started with a typical french breakfast of a croissant and coffe from our local boulangerie. I have lived in France for two years and this combination never gets old!
Feeling very french we strolled up along to the Moulin Rouge on our way to the Sacre Coeur and Montmarte. I love the Moulin Rouge and can’t help but think of the movie every time I see it. I’ve never been to a show but was interested to see how much the experience would be – about €200pp – that’s more than I spent on my flights and accommodation! Content with seeing just the outside we wandered up through the street – if you know this area you’ll know its a little quirky to say the least. The last time I was here it felt very shady but this time the atmosphere around the place was so much better.
Take the Rue de Steinkerque up to the Sacre Coeur. If its reaching 40 degrees heat (like it was for us) there is an air conditioned pret a manger on that road. (Yes I know its a chain but air conditioning is rare and essential). There’s also a chocolate shop which has amazing sculptures made of chocolate, again air conditioned, so again welcomed.
To get to the Sacre Coeur you’ll need to take a lot of steps but the view while you are walking is fabulous. (Word of warning there are lots of scammers to watch out for – don’t sign surveys and don’t let anyone put a bracelet on your wrist. They will either take the opportunity to pickpocket you or force you to pay for the bracelet). The Sacre Coeur though is really beautiful and the view of the city below is spectacular.
When you’re finished seeing the church walk down behind the Sacre Coeur the the Artists square its very cute and your transported back to old Paris.
We spent a lot of time walking in Paris but you can easily get between places by metro. Our next destination was the Louvre. On our walk we stopped for lunch in Colombus (a french coffee chain – it was 3pm and the only place serving lunch with air conditioning. I actually really like this coffee shop, they do amazing muffins). I had heard that the rooftop cafe in the Printemps (an upscale shopping centre) has amazing views of the city. Unfortunately after a long walk to it, we found out it was closed.
We eventually made it to the Louvre in the evening. We had both been twice before so decided to give our tired feet a break and not go inside. The Louvre museum is a fantastic place though, the art is beautiful. Although the Mona Lisa is a little disappointing and the queues are extremely long.
The 21st of June in France is la fete de musique and so all day we saw lots of musicians along the streets and the atmosphere in the city was electric. This was especially true in the Latin Quarter which is full of bars and was packed. I would like to come back to this area on a quieter day as the crowds got the better of me and I became a bit overwhelmed. There’s lots of Happy Hour bars and dinner cheap menus. On a busy summers day it can be a bit much.
Day 3: Croissants or Pain au Chocolats for breakfast again are a must, pair with freshly squeezed orange juice and a coffeee and you have the perfect petit dejeuner.
For our final day we decided we would attempt to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was another hot hot day of up the 37 degrees and so when I say attempt I really mean it. We got the metro to Bir Hakeim (to save our energy) which is right beside the Eiffel Tower.
To get to the top there are two options – take the stairs to the 2nd floor and then the lift, or take the lift all the way to the top. The lift alone costs €17 and the queue was very long. On the other hand if you are aged between 12-25 you can get a ticket ‘Combine’ which for €11 allows you to take the stairs to the 2nd floor then the lift to the top. I would recommend this option. There was no queue for the stairs and so unlike everyone queuing in the sun for the lift we weren’t stuck standing out in the heat. Honestly the stairs wasn’t that hard, if you are healthy and relatively fit it’s very manageable. We got to the 2nd floor no problem. Getting the lift then to the top was more difficult because of queues but once you are up there wow, the views are amazing. On the 2nd floor there is a cafe, the ice cream here is amazing and the location sitting in the Eiffel tower looking over the city below is an amazing experience.
Our last stop before heading back to the air bnb and making our way to the airport was for some pizza. The place was found was perfect, it was a small Italian restaurant still serving lunch at 4pm (we never did manage to eat our meals at french time), its called Il Grigio and the pizza was ‘trés bien’.
What you have to see and eat: The breakdown!
- Croissants, pain au chocolats (anything from a boulangerie really)
- Macarons – Laudaree is the obvious choice.
- Crepes – french crepes are drool worthy – my recommendation would be a sweet crepe with caramel beurre salée (you can thank me later!)
- Menu du Jour – every french bistro does a menu du jour at lunch time, so if you’re looking for a good french meal but money is limited go for lunch not dinner
- Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe
- Champs Elysée
- Grand Palais
- Louvre Museum
- Jardin de Tulleries
- Moulin Rouge
- Sacre Coeur
- River Seine
- Centre Pompidou
This list could really go on forever…
Paris is a city I can really see myself living in, I’d love to spend more time here to start to get to know the real Paris. The side that you don’t see as a tourist. I’m working my way through French cities and Paris would be a dream. Although like most capital cities the pace of life is a lot faster. While the south of France is laid back and relaxed the north is fast passed and more stressful. That being said it has so many opportunities, endless events and is a buzzing beautiful city.
Have you been to Paris? What would you suggest seeing? Can you imagine yourself living here?
As always I would love to hear from you 😊