The first time I came to Paris I was fresh out of high school and on my first sans parents backpacking trip with my best friend. These were the days before everyone had smart phones, when you had to use calling cards or Internet cafes every few weeks to let family or friends know where you were. Perhaps I’m glorifying these days (a sign of getting older!?), but I remember Paris being absolutely magical!
We took photos underneath the twinkling Eiffel Tower at night (that I’m pretty sure we uploaded to MySpace once we were home), romantically rowed boats at Versailles, and ate all the croissants a girl could ever desire. Many years later I’ve since been back to the City of Light a few times, and it’s always just as magical – with a million more things to see, eat and do around every beautiful Parisian street corner!
Here are my favorite spots for 72 hours in Paris:
My favorite spot for breakfast and why I love staying in Montmartre is the cute little boulangerie, Pain Pain. My favorites to eat at Pain Pain are the chouquettes, glorious eclairs, croissants and the croque-monsieur. But really just head here a few mornings and try as many things as you can, they are all incredible!
After filling up on pastries and Café Crème head to the Pompidou Museum (14 Euro entry fee) – their modern art collection is one of the bests. The museum also has really interesting architecture that sits in stark contrast to the rest of the city, and from the top of the building there is a great view across Paris.
From the Pompidou head to Le Marais neighborhood – spread out across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. It’s a great spot to get a crepe at La Droguerie and then wander around the various cute boutiques and cafes. A few friends have also recommended the falafels at l’As du Falafel, where you can get a quick, cheap and good meal in Paris.
My absolute favorite thing to do in Paris is to have a picnic and champagne underneath the Eiffel Tower, and it’s something I have done every time i’ve visited. Rue Cler is a cute nearby street where you can pick up some picnic essentials – La Fromagerie for Cheese, Davoli for meat, any of the bakeries for a fresh baguette, and 3 Euro champagne at any supermarche along the cobblestone street. There is also a nearby Carforre supermarket, if you want to pick up some cheaper picnicking supplies.
Tip: Always carry plastic champagne glasses, and a plastic knife in your bag/purse. There are so many spots to spontaneously pick up a baguette, some cheese and wine and sit in a park or along the river. And you’ll be happy to have a glass and cutlery with you!
After a few hours of picnicking, wander across the River Seine to a few other viewpoints of the Eiffel Tower as the sun sets.
For dinner, a great spot to have traditional French steak & frites is at Le Relais de l’Entrecote (26 Euros). They don’t take reservations and the line can be long, but it tends to move fast and is well worth it!
Wake up before the rest of Paris and wander the quiet streets – the Sacre-Coeur and the view across the city are especially beautiful on an early hazy morning.
Another great spot for breakfast (my favorite meal in any city!) is at Hardware Societe, which is a two-minute walk from the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre. I really enjoyed the scrambled eggs and chai latte, but the entire menu looked amazing! We didn’t have a wait here, but we were up so early and there by 9:30 when they opened.
Spend a good part of day two walking Paris. Start at the Arc de Triomphe and wander straight down the famous Champs-Elysees to the Jardin des Tuileries and lounge next to the fountains (and maybe have an ice cream!), until you eventually make your way to the Louvre.
The Louvre is perhaps one of the most famous museums in Paris, or really the world for that matter, but I actually prefer the nearby Musee de l’Orangerie. The room filled with Monet’s Water Lilies is possibly my favorite spot in Paris – it was designed to be a quiet escape from the city, and it is certainly that.
After a bit of museum wandering you could walk to the Palais-Royal, which is just around the corner from the Louvre and is a fun spot for pictures.
After a long day of walking, have another picnic and more champagne (of course!) but this time along the River Siene at dusk.
On day three, spend much of the day at the Palace of Versailles, which is just outside of Paris by train (7 Euros). It can be quite busy on the weekends, so I would try to get there early or go during the week. The chateau is amazing; especially the hall of mirrors, but exploring and lounging around the gardens is my favorite thing to do at Versailles. I’d bring a book and a picnic (more champagne even?!) – which is a much cheaper alternative to the food available inside the grounds.
After a long day outside of the city, have some (deadly) cocktails at the divey student bar, Le Crocodile. I can’t remember what I had to drink, but we spent quite some time there drinking and playing cards.
If drinking isn’t your thing, head up the Eiffel Tower at night while it twinkles. And even if drinking isn’t your thing, have some champagne at the top because, well, it’s Paris!
Where to Stay
I’d recommend staying in an Air BnB, which you can easily find for 60 Euros a night in Paris. I personally love staying in Montmartre, which tends to be a little less expensive than the more central neighborhoods of Paris but still has so many cute shops and restaurants to explore. This time we found a great little flat in Montmartre by the Sacre Coeur, which had an incredible view!
Let me know what some of your Paris favorites are in the comments below!
Read Next: Video: A Weekend Away in Paris
Check out my other video post of Paris here.