How long can I stay in Paris

A weekend in Paris: program for 3 days

Would you like to spend a weekend in Paris and make the most of your time on site? Our Paris expert Meike presents her tried and tested program for 3 days in Paris. You can use it to prepare your short trip perfectly.

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Paris is a wonderful destination for a long weekend.

Paris, packed with sights, museums and history, does not always make it easy for visitors to decide what should be part of their own program.

If you want to take with you all that Paris has to offer, then you should spend around three weeks in the city of love.

Since this is seldom possible, but mostly a long weekend in Paris is on the plan, you will find my program suggestion for three days here.

I have put together the program in such a way that the really big highlights are of course included, peppered with some of my favorites, and with the shortest possible but attractive paths in between.

If you are spending more than three days in Paris: Excellent! The longer the better. Just take a look at my article about the 22 best sights in Paris, or my Paris insider tips. There you will find many suggestions for the fourth, fifth and sixth day in Paris.

Here you can find an overview of all my Paris articles

The ideal preparation for your weekend in Paris

Before I start the program, I would like to give you a few tips and information for preparing your short trip.

The better you have planned everything, the more intensively you can use the time on site.

# 1 How many days should you plan for your trip to Paris?

A weekend in Paris is the bare minimum that you should plan. But a long weekend would be better, it actually makes a big difference.

If you live in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, you can get on the first Thalys train very early in the morning and you'll be in Paris a little after ten. It works the same way from Frankfurt, there with the ICE or TGV.

There are also very early flights to Paris from many cities, which are ideal for a weekend.

These options are also available for the return trip in the late afternoon or evening.
I have tailored the program suggested here to these arrival times so that you can make the most of your time between the early outward journey and the late return journey two days later.

My advice: If you have the opportunity, it is better to extend your weekend by a Monday instead of Friday. You are swimming against the current, as it were, there are far fewer tourists in Paris on Monday than on Fridays.

# 2 The accommodation

For a weekend in Paris, I recommend that you book an accommodation that is as central as possible.

If you book your hotel far away, you will simply lose too much time on the metro.

I have written a detailed guide on how to stay overnight in Paris, in which I recommend various hotels in all price ranges:

Where to stay in Paris My hotel tips.

If you don't want to read through the article, here are three recommended mid-range hotels in good locations that are very suitable for a short trip:

Hotel Ducs de Bourgogne - Central hotel with elegantly furnished rooms
Hôtel des Arts Montmartre - Nice hotel in the bohemian district of Montmartre
Le Relais Saint Honoré - Nice hotel near the Louvre

# 3 Buy tickets for attractions and museums online in advance

Especially on weekends and especially around public holidays, Paris is more than filled with visitors. Of course, the top highlights are on almost everyone's to-do list.

At the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, for example, waiting times of four hours are not uncommon in summer.

If you order your tickets online in advance, you still can't just walk through the door of the Louvre, but you only have to wait about 30 to 60 minutes instead of four hours. So you can significantly reduce your time in queues with online tickets.

Wherever this is possible, you will find the link to the online tickets in the following program.

The following table gives you a quick overview of the tickets you can book in advance:

There are also various city cards for tourists. Such a Paris Pass is not financially worthwhile for the program proposed here. If you still want to know what which pass offers you, take a look at my Paris Pass comparison.

# 4 Metro tickets

The 10 Carnet package is best suited for this program. With this you can buy ten single tickets for 14.90 euros, which you can use gradually over several days.

Unfortunately, it is currently not yet possible to buy these tickets online in advance, they are only available in the metro stations.

However, since the metro's ticket system is currently being changed and mobile phone tickets are to be available in the near future, this will hopefully soon be an option.

You can find more information on how and where you can get the metro tickets and what other ticket options are available in my article on public transport in Paris.

Metro Paris: tickets, information and alternatives

My advice: If you are traveling to Paris by Thalys and need a metro ticket to get to the hotel, you can buy individual tickets in the Thalys on-board bistro. This is very practical, as the queues for metro tickets in the train stations are sometimes as long as those at the Eiffel Tower. So you can first drive to the hotel and then get your carnet at another station without queuing.

# 5 The equipment

The absolute number one rule for visiting Paris: comfortable shoes! It's best to take two pairs of comfortable shoes with you, so you can outsmart your feet for a few more kilometers.

On my tours in Paris I have guests with pedometers with me every now and then. The current record is 28 kilometers in one day. But that's actually a lot, usually you run around 15 kilometers a day, which is not a small amount.

Otherwise, you should have a small umbrella or rain poncho, sunscreen, your booked tickets, your ID card and a bottle of water in your day luggage. Even in summer, a cardigan or something similar can do no harm in the evening hours.

Danger: Leave your pocket knife at home, no matter how practical it is. There are security checkpoints at almost all museums and attractions where your good Swiss Army Knife will be taken from you if you want to go in. It is not kept until you come out again, but goes straight to the trash.

You are now perfectly prepared for your weekend in Paris. Now let's look at the program for the three days.

Program for three days in Paris on one card

For a first overview, you will find all program points per day clearly marked on a map.

You can also download the map and save it on your mobile phone or computer.

Click here to download the Paris program map as a PDF.

day 1

After taking the first train or flight to Paris, you should be at your hotel by noon at the latest.

The rooms are usually not available that early, so make sure when booking that you can store your luggage in the hotel so that you can start the program straight away.

A good address for this program is the Holiday Inn Notre Dame. This hotel is easy to reach when arriving by train or by plane, as the Saint-Michel metro station is just a few meters from the hotel door.

You can get through to Saint-Michel with metro line 4 from Gare du Nord or Gare de l’Est without changing.

All program items for the first day at a glance:

  1. Saint Chapelle
  2. Bouquinists
  3. Hotel de Vill
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Roof terrace of the Montparnasse tower

But we will start with a stopover: Since you are probably hungry, stop by the Boulangerie Saint-Michel (31 Rue de la Huchette). At this bakery you can get sandwiches or toasted panini. Ideal for a snack in between.

Well strengthened, you can finally start sightseeing.

# 1 Saint Chapelle

The Gothic masterpiece with its huge, colorful windows is only about 400 meters away from the hotel. A very special atmosphere awaits you inside the hidden church.

From the street you can't see the church at first, only the security check. Look for the signs “Saint-Chapelle”. After the security check you stand in the courtyard right in front of the Gothic beauty.

You only need your ticket when you want to enter the church. Here it is worth ordering the ticket online beforehand.

You should plan around 60 to 90 minutes for the Saint-Chapelle.

Buy ticket for Sainte Chapelle online

Stop for a coffee:

If you stand on the street again after your visit to the Saint-Chapelle and look to the left, you can already see the Café Le deux Palais on the other side of the street on the corner.

For a café creme in between and to experience the Parisian café flair for the first time, this is an excellent place. Unfortunately, food is very expensive here, but you should be fairly full of the baguette beforehand anyway.

Are you in Paris with your significant other? Also take a look at my Paris tips for lovers.

# 2 bouquinists

From the café, continue across the Pont au Change bridge to the other bank of the Seine. Then go to the right and stroll along the bouquinists towards the Hôtel de Ville.

The bouquinists are dealers in antiquarian books who have had their stalls on the banks of the Seine for centuries. With them you can stock up on the somewhat different souvenirs from Paris.

In addition to antique books, you will find, for example, pretty reprints of the poster of the opening of the Eiffel Tower.

# 3 Hôtel de Ville

The town hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in this district. Unfortunately, you cannot visit it, as there is actually work going on here. Nevertheless, the town hall is a great photo opportunity!

On the square in front of the town hall, there is always something offered to the visitor and the local. Sometimes there are exhibitions, in winter you will find an ice rink and in summer the place is filled with sand and beach volleyball tournaments take place.

# 4 Notre Dame

If you look at the town hall and turn right, you will walk exactly towards the bridge that leads you to Notre Dame.

After the fire on April 14, 2019, the interior of the cathedral will not be open to visitors for a long time. Of course, you can still see it from the outside, and it's definitely worth a visit!

My advice: From the bank of the Seine, right next to Notre Dame, you have an excellent view of the 800-year-old rose window, which incredibly survived the fire unscathed. It's best to go down to the quay, from there you can take the most beautiful photos.

Stopover: dinner

Next to Notre Dame, in the area around Saint-Michel, there is a collection of small streets in which one restaurant after the other is lined up.

This area is super touristy and the quality of the restaurants is very different. Some are really just bad.

But I can absolutely recommend one restaurant: Le Marmiton de Lutèce at 6 Rue Saint-Séverin.

There are classic French dishes, such as Boeuf Bourguignon, as well as fondue and raclette in a rustic ambience. The price-performance ratio is great, especially if you order a menu.

# 5 Roof terrace of the Montparnasse tower

If you don't fall from your chair because of tiredness, you can still enjoy Paris at night from above.

From Saint-Michel, you can get to the Montparnasse tower in a few minutes by metro without changing. The metro station is called Montparnasse-Bienvenüe.

In summer the tower is open until 11:30 p.m., in winter until 10:30 p.m. Last admission is half an hour in advance.

At a height of 210 meters you stand on the roof terrace of the skyscraper with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower at night. An excellent way to end the first day.

Order your ticket for the Tour Montparnasse online

day 2

Hopefully you slept well and had a delicious breakfast and are now in Paris for the second day.

All program items for the second day at a glance:

  1. Eiffel Tower
  2. Boat trip on the Seine
  3. Trocadero
  4. Triumphal arch
  5. Montmartre

# 1 Eiffel Tower

It starts directly with the landmark of Paris: the Eiffel Tower.

If you want to spend as little time in line as possible, get up early. The Eiffel Tower opens at 9:00 a.m. in summer and 9:30 a.m. in winter.

You should definitely buy tickets here in advance, as the queues are often very, very long.

There are different ticket options. I would like to recommend the guided tour of the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. With a German-speaking guide you climb the stairs to the tower.

The elevator continues from the second floor to the top. There you can enjoy the view over Paris.

Buy your ticket for the Eiffel Tower online

You should expect three to four hours to explore the Eiffel Tower in detail.

Have a look at my detailed article on visiting the Eiffel Tower. There you will find a lot more important information about visiting the steel lady and other ticket options.

Information and tips on visiting the Eiffel Tower

# 2 boat trip with Vedettes de Paris

Directly at the bridge at the Eiffel Tower you will find the stairs down to the boat docks.

I recommend going down to the left with the Eiffel Tower at your back.

There you will find the boat tour operator Vedettes de Paris, who in my opinion have the nicer boats.

Since you've probably spent a lot of time on the Eiffel Tower, it's definitely time for a snack again.

Fortunately, there is a booth with crêpes, panini and pizza at the jetty.

So you are well prepared for the one-hour cruise on the Seine. After an hour, the tour ends where you got on.

Are you looking for more ideas for special city tours through Paris? Check out my article on this:

Also read my article on 11 special city tours in Paris

# 3 Trocadero

After the boat ride go over the bridge, away from the Eiffel Tower and just straight ahead towards Trocadero. From the platform you have the very best view of the Eiffel Tower and the city.

Photo tip: On the sides of the platform are large, golden statues that are great for taking photos of the Eiffel Tower.

# 4 Arch of Triumph

It is only 1.5 kilometers from the Trocadero to the Arc de Triomphe via Rue Kleber.

Alternatively, you can take the six metro line to travel three stations to Charles de Gaulle - Étoile, which only takes about 5 minutes.

The triumphal arch is impressive just standing under it. Do not try to get to the Arc de Triomphe via the eight-lane roundabout, but use the underpasses. You can find it on the corner where the Champs-Élysées meets the roundabout and in the street just opposite.

You can stroll around for free under the triumphal arch. To climb the triumphal arch via the stone spiral staircase inside, you need a ticket. As is so often the case, it makes sense to order this ticket online beforehand.

If you want to climb the roof of the triumphal arch, you should expect 60 to 90 minutes for this visit.

Book tickets for the Arc de Triomphe online

# 5 Montmartre

A visit to the artists' quarter of Montmartre is a good idea in the evening.

You can take line 2 from the Arc de Triomphe to Blanche without having to change trains. There you stand right in front of the Moulin Rouge. A photo of the red mill shouldn't be missing.

Then go to the right of the Moulin Rouge up into Rue Lepic, right in the middle of the artists' quarter.

Since there is definitely time to eat again, head for Le relais Gascon (13 Rue Joseph de Maistre).

The relais Gascon is a bit away from the big tourist hustle and bustle and is also quite popular with the locals, which is always a very good sign. You can also sit outside here when the weather is nice.

There is French cuisine and, above all, gigantic salads, which are also called that: Salade Géantes. I can highly recommend the Salade du Bernaise. Delicious!

Then you can walk past the Liebesmauser at the Place des Abbesses and then a little further up the hill to the Place Émile-Goudeau.

In this idyllic corner of the world you will find a café with a terrace, where you can enjoy a great view of Paris with a glass of wine.

Then walk briefly over the Place du Tertre with its artists before you make your way to the Sacre Coeur.

From May to September the basilica is open until 10:30 p.m., unfortunately only until 5:00 p.m. in winter. Entry is free, you just have to go through a security check before you can enter the basilica.

On the stairs in front of Sacre Coeur you can end the evening with a view of the city.

Day 3

And the last day of your weekend in Paris begins.

All program items for the third day at a glance:

  1. Louvre
  2. Petit Palais
  3. Champs-Élysées

So that you don't have to interrupt your program in between to vacate your hotel room, it is best to check out in the morning and put your luggage back at the reception.

# 1 Louvre Museum

The Louvre opens at 9:00 a.m. If you've been able to organize your trip to Paris so that your last day of travel is a Monday, you don't necessarily have to get up that early again.

But if your third day falls on a weekend, I recommend planning the Louvre as early as possible in the program. On Saturdays and Sundays there is really something going on at the Louvre from 10:00 a.m.

Either way, you should definitely order your ticket online beforehand, preferably with a fixed time. You will come to the Louvre half an hour before the specified time.

You should expect at least about three hours to visit the Louvre.

Order tickets for the Louvre online

What you have to see in the Louvre and what you have to pay attention to at the entrance, I have written down in my detailed article about the Louvre:

Information and tips on visiting the Louvre

# 2 Petit Palais

After so much art, it's time for a coffee and a snack.

Walk from the Louvre through the Tuileries Gardens and across Place de la Concorde into the Champs-Élysées.

After about 400 meters you will see the Petit Palais on the left.

The Petit Palais is home to the Fine Arts Museum and entry is free.

But that's not why I recommend the Petit Palais, but because there is a surprisingly cheap café hidden in the inner courtyard of the palace.

This little green oasis is the perfect place for a break!

If you haven't had enough of art after visiting the Louvre, you can of course also take a tour of the museum.

# 3 Champs-Élysées

Regardless of whether you just want to go for a walk or go shopping at Sephora, Louis Vuitton, H&M or Adidas, a foray on France's boulevard should not be missed at the end.

Quite high up, just before the triumphal arch, you will find Brioche Dorée on the right side of the street. There are filled baguettes and many other delicacies here.

Unfortunately, it is probably time too soon to think about the return journey. But what the heck, Paris isn't that far away. Just come back again.

Conclusion and further information

This 3-day Paris program is primarily designed for a first visit to the City of Love.

If you have already been there and have already visited the Eiffel Tower or Louvre, then simply replace these points with other sights, or even an insider tip.

However, you shouldn't pack more points per day into your daily planning than in my program proposal. Otherwise your trip will be very stressful.

I hope you now have a good overview of what you can do in Paris and in what time. All I can say is: Bon Voyage!

Take a look at my other articles about Paris, in which you will find a lot more information and tips for your short trip to Paris:

Overview of all tips and articles about Paris
The 22 best sights in Paris
14 real insider tips for Paris
My hotel tips for Paris

Do you have any questions about your short trip to Paris? Or maybe you have a good tip for a weekend in Paris yourself? We look forward to your comment in any case.