Five years ago, I made my first solo trip to Paris. There are many memories and pictures from the trip and I am glad to be sharing my three-day itinerary (and pictures). This itinerary is perfect if you are already in Europe and need a fun weekend trip or if you want to do an extended "layover" while flying through Paris (make sure you have the right travel documents for entry into the Country vs. airport tansit document). This was my exact itinerary from five years ago. It is light on food and shopping recommedation because I wanted to see a much of the sights as possible.
Fly into Paris CDG (or Orly). I took the the 6 a.m flight from Birmingham to arrive in Paris just after 9 a.m on Sunday morning. I did not take into account lengthy immigration lines at CDG. Take that into account when planning your day 1 itinerary. I chose to stay outside the city center in an area called La Defense. It was only about a 20 min train ride to Paris city center and the hotels were significantly cheaper than staying in the city. If you do something similar. Take into account when the trains run - if you are out late into the night - you may need to get on the bus to get back to your hotel. They run frequently and easy to navigate.
DAY 1 : SUNDAY
I started with a trip to Versailles on Sunday afternoon. Don't bother with van ride share from the city to Versailles or personal tour guides like I did. Save your money. The trains to Versailles are easy to find and frequent and the Palace is easy to navigate, if you plan ahead. I recommend 4 to 6 hours at Versailles to get the full experience - the main palace and gardens, plus Grand and Petite Trianon. I made it back to the city just after 6 p.m., stopped by a crepe stand for a quick dinner and before heading to the Eiffel tower for the night view - the view is completely different than the day.
DAY 2 : MONDAY
Day two started late morning at the Lourve . Keep in mind the museum is closed on Tuesdays. I recommend mapping out your visit, if not you can end up spending most of your day here. My favorite parts were the greek sculptures, Mona Lisa, exploring Napoleon apartment, people watching in the museum courtyard and exploring the area around the arc de triomphe due carrousel (not to be confused with the arc de triomphe) and the Louvre Tuileries gardens across from the courtyard. My next stop - the Eiffel tower . I pre-paid for my ticket to aceess the top level of the tower to avoid the long ticket lines. You get an amazing view of the city from the top level and the top level houses the office exhibit of the architect that designed the tower.If you are a sucker for amazing city scapes like me, the trek up 250 steps of the Arc De Triomphe is worth it for views of the Eiffel tower, Champ de Elysees and Paris. Before my final stop of the day, I hopped on one of the big bus tour buses for a quick-fire tour of Paris and ended the day with a dinner cruise on the River Seine.
DAY 3 : TUESDAY
Last day in Paris and although I got lost trying to get to Notre Dame - I was determined to enjoy every minute of my last day. I intened to climb the 387 steps to the top of the south tower to see the famous gargoyle up close and the bell tower, but I was running several hours behind my schedule. I scrapped the south tower (and Palais Royale and Luxembourg garden) from the itinerary. I walked around the cathedral before heading to the Latin quarter and the Pantheon. One of best ways to explore Paris is walking down quaint Paris streets past cafes and flower shops (and people watching as you go, of course !), so I did that in the Latin quarter before stopping at the Pantheon.
The Pantheon is best known for its incredible interior architecture and the crypt/burial place for famous french figures including, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Emile Zola, and others. After the Pantheon, I hopped on the big bus tour get to Montmartre. I bought the 24 hour pass and used it as my transportation as much as possible during that time. The bus dropped off in front of the iconic Moulin Rouge building. After snapshots of Moulin Rouge, I walked up the hill towards Basillica Sacre Coeur. The view of Paris from the basilica was worth walking up 232 steps. I spent some time inside the cathedral. It was quiet and solemn as people prayed and mediated. One thing I wish I did - pack a picnic and watch the sunset from the lawn of Sacre Coeur (maybe next time). I wrapped up the day with a stroll down Champs Elysees visiting several stores along the way including Louis Vuitton, Long Champ, and Cartier. The avenue is also home to several car showrooms. This car lover could not pass up the opportunity to see antique (and futuristic) car models. No trip to the avenue is complete without a stop at Laduree for macaroon nourishment and to pick up gifts for friends.