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Paris 3-day Itinerary

Hello! I'd love your input on the itinerary below. A few disclaimers... if choosing between a slow and relaxing vacation or a busy but full one, we prefer the kind of vacation where you experience lots of sights and sounds and then go home and need a vacation from your vacation. Ha! Also, we're happy to walk OR take metro/buses.

Day 1 (Saturday in May)
* Versailles (Be there when it opens.)
* Back in Paris, take the Bus 69 loop (no hopping off)
* Walk from Louvre down Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe
* Go up Eiffel Tower at night

Day 2 (Sunday)
* Morning market and wandering in Marais (Marche Bastille market OR Marché couvert les Enfants Rouges) Which is better?
* Boat ride back down to Eiffel Tower (don't go up in the tower because we hopefully did that the night before)
* Montmartre wandering
* Sacre Coeur

Day 3 (Monday)
* Louvre (have tickets for 9:30)
* Historic Paris Walk (Rick Steves’ book) - includes Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame
* Could we go to Luxembourg Gardens also?

Are there any must-sees that I'm forgetting? I know the Orsay will probably be suggested, but we have 15 days after this of Lisbon and Italy, and we're traveling with two teenage girls. I'm thinking Versailles + the Louvre + Orsay might be a bit much, especially knowing what will still be ahead of us in the way of museums.

THANK YOU! I welcome any and all tips and feedback!

Posted by
6107 posts

If you really want to go to Versailles (understandably!), you probably need tickets in advance, and you need to allow 3/4 of the day. So, you would not have time for bus 69 (no big loss IMO), but from Versailles you could go to the Champs Élysées then up to the Arc de Triomphe (just take RER C to Invalides and walk up) then head to Eiffel Tower by metro to Trocadéro (again, do you have tickets?! I hope so!). If you do not have Eiffel tower tickets, then perhaps you could do a night/ evening Seine cruise instead.

On day 2, Enfants Rouges is not really a food market, it is more of a food court these days. For a proper market experience, Bastille is a better choice. And this is the day I would choose for a walk through historic Paris after the market: you can easily walk through Place des Vosges, then on to Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle (sometimes the line is long there, beware), Latin Quarter and end up at Luxembourg.

Day 3 is the day when you could go to Montmartre : once you are done visiting the Louvre, walk down the lovely Tuileries, and Montmartre is a direct metro ride away from Concorde.

If you do not have Versailles tickets and cannot secure them by now, I would reconsider Versailles altogether, because I am not sure how long of a wait to expect without pre-purchased tickets. Maybe others have more fact-based input here.

Posted by
30 posts

I would do the Seine boat ride at night - check to see which departure is late enough to see the Eiffel Tower light up.
Do include the d’Orsay - it’s not as overwhelming as the Louvre. My 35 year old daughter thanks me now for making her go to museums when she was a teenager.
The Marais has good shops to wander in and out for the girls. Also, be sure to take them into Galeries Lafayette, the department store.
Walk down Avenue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg St Honore for window shopping - these streets have all the famous high end designer brands.
Also, have some “no phone” time as you’re walking around - they will want to take pictures of everything, but it is also great just to look.

Posted by
100 posts

I would skip the Marais for this short of a trip. Luxembourg Gardens are great and can extend your walk. Consider timed entry into Chappel. Once inside you can stay as long or little as you like.

Posted by
3410 posts

Just an FYI - We were just there in April when we walked down to the river bank the boat ride we wanted was sold out, had to wait around, only 1/2 hour, for the next one. You might want to make a reservation. May might be more crowded.

Posted by
169 posts

If you cannot (or do not want) get into the Versailles palace, consider just wandering through the immense gardens - they are worth a trip. Peter

Posted by
2 posts

I would also suggest that when you do get into Versailles that you take advantage of the "Little Train" which is basically a shuttle that will take you around the grounds. There is a fee for this. It was super hot the day we went, and I am so thankful that my husband suggested it. Versailles is massive! Have a great trip!

Posted by
3 posts

Friends, thank you so much for your excellent suggestions! You are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

I've read over your suggestions and made some great notes and adjustments. We DO have tickets for Versailles. We do NOT have tickets for the Eiffel Tower, but we're hoping that it will be less busy if we go at night. If not, we'll try again the next day.... and the next. We messed that one up! I had no idea that you needed tickets so very far in advance. Fingers crossed that it works out!

Posted by
6107 posts

Regarding the Eiffel Tower: I'm no expert (haven't been up in 10+ years...) but I've read on here that some tours do include Eiffel Tower tickets. Sure, you'd pay more, but it beats "crossing your fingers", let alone doing repeat visits in the (vain IMO) hope that one day would have a shorter line.

Posted by
75 posts

A couple of thoughts. The Tuileries is a construction zone these days. I believe it’s a makeover in anticipation of the Olympics.

Don’t give up on Eiffel Tower tickets. They release a large block of tickets about a week out, If I were you, I’d start checking ten days out and watch carefully and often.

Posted by
268 posts

I would never presume to say that my must-see should be your must-see, but for me, The Musée de l'Orangerie is one of my favorite spots, and it's unique to Paris because Monet painted those works specifically for that space. It's also small, manageable, and not a big time commitment (we love it and I think the max we've ever spent there is 1.5 hours, you could absolutely do it in 1 hour or less). I'm not sure where you'd fit it in - maybe in between getting off the boat at the Eiffel Tower and heading up to Montmartre?

But your trip sounds amazing as-is, so if your girls aren't feeling another museum, that's absolutely valid too!