Paris is an ultimate travel destination, a fashion capital, a shoppers dream, an art lovers fascination, a foodie paradise and much more making it difficult to choose the top things to do in Paris. We start getting goosebumps on the mere mention of the sparkling Eiffel Tower – the gorgeous Iron Lady. It was our first time visiting the majestic city of France and we were in sheer ecstasy. Little did we know that this tryst with the ‘City of Love’ wasn’t ending here. We would be coming back to this beautiful city to explore more of France on day trips from Paris. Is it your first time in Paris and wondering what to do in Paris, we got you covered with top things to do in Paris in 3 days.
We were based out of Geneva, Switzerland which made the trip to Paris much easier thanks to the high-speed TGV trains (bullet train) from Geneva to Paris which takes little more than 3 hours. The train starts from Geneva at 6.15 in the morning and reaches Paris at around 9.30 am. One can also take flights to Paris from Geneva which takes around an hour. Though day trip to Paris may sound possible but may not be feasible as there is so much to see and do in Paris which cannot be covered in a day. It was our first time traveling on a high-speed train which turned out to be a superb experience.
Where to Stay in Paris?
We booked an apartment at Sejours & Affaires Creteil Le Magistere. The apartment comes with a kitchenette and was on outskirts of the city but very well connected to the city center, the nearest metro was just 5-7 minutes walk away. The apartment comes with a spacious room equipped with TV, WiFi internet connection, microwave, and fridge. The attached kitchenette in the room helped us prepare food for Chhavi who was just a year old.
The check-in time was late afternoon which is the case with most of the apartments and hotels in Europe. Hence we decided to cover a few attractions before we checked-in to our rooms.
Paris Pass is a kind of pre-paid pass valid for the different duration of 2,3,4 and 6 days. Depending on the duration the pass will have a credit which will provide free access to prominent museums and attractions of Paris. The Paris Pass also comes with an ultimate Paris travel guide with information on Paris attractions, fast-track entry to museums and art galleries and 1 day hop on hop off Paris tours.
Gare de Lyon
The terminal station for our train from Geneva was Gare de Lyon which is one of the prime railway stations in Paris and one of the busiest in France. The station has frequent train services to major cities in France and International train services to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Barcelona in Spain. The station also hosts Paris metro lines which make it easy to travel within Paris. There are several ticket machines in the station where you can buy metro train tickets. Each of the tickets is valid for a single journey, be careful not to swipe the ticket onto wrong entrance which cannot be undone.
Places to Visit in Paris – Day 1
Arc de Triomphe
Our first stop was ‘Arc de Triomphe’ we took Metro line 1 from Gare de Lyon to station Charles de Gaulle Etoile. The Charles de Gaulle Etoile station exit leads to the pedestrian path with an imposing vista of the colossal Arc de Triomphe. The arc with its stunning architecture was built as an honor for those who fought and died for France. The inner and outer walls of the arch have the names of the fallen soldiers of war. Below the vault of the arch is a ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ where an eternal flame burns in the memory of the dead soldiers.
And while you are here you may want to check out the most popular street in Paris. The 2 km street of Champs-Elysees in the 8th arrondissement of Paris running from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde is lined with Boutique shops, cafes, and theatres.
We boarded the hop on hop off bus from Arc de Triomphe to continue our sightseeing. On board, we plugged in the headphones for the recorded commentary of the Paris tourist attractions while the map provided in bus highlighted the attractions and their respective stops.
Grand Palais and the Petit Palais
Our first stop on the hop on hop off was the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. The imposing building of Grand Palais is a complex of art galleries and museums. Opposite to the Grand Palais is the Petit Palais which houses the ‘Fine Arts Museum’. We did not visit any of the places just walked around the palace and took some pictures.
Pont Alexandre III
At a walkable distance from the palaces is the Pont Alexandre III one of the top Paris points of interest. The remarkable arch bridge is dotted with elegant Art Nouveau lamps and several stunning statues. The gilded sculptures at either end of the bridge and the massive ‘Nymphs of the Neva’ relief are striking features of the bridge. We spend some time watching the ferries move under the bridge and headed to our next stop.
The garden of Trocadero offers a splendid view of Eiffel Tower which is the most photographed spot of Eiffel tower. The ‘Fountain of Warsaw’ in the garden of Trocadero with an array of large and smaller fountain rising from lush gardens create a spectacular vista with Eiffel tower in the backdrop. Opposite the palace of Trocadero is a large relief ‘Monument to the Glory of French Armies’ commemorating the fallen soldiers of WWI.
We were now exhausted and hungry too. We took a break from sightseeing and headed to our apartment to freshen up and get ready for the most exhilarating evening rendezvous. After lunch, we took Metro line 6 to the station Bir Hakeim which is the nearest station to the Eiffel Tower.
Eiffel Tower was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel who was the man behind the magnificent structure. Eiffel tour or la tour Eiffel as locals call it invariably tops the things to see in Paris. The walk from the station to the Eiffel Tower was the one filled with lots of enthusiasm and zeal. We were all eyes for one glimpse of the ‘Iron Lady’. Once there we took loads of pictures to the heart’s content and got into the queue for the Eiffel Tower tickets. Though the queue was long it was quick and we were done in no time.
The ride to the upper floors of Eiffel offers one with incredible vistas of the city. One can either take an elevator or climb 700 steps to the second floor of Eiffel. From second floor there is another lift to the third and topmost floor. The breathtaking panoramic view of the white city from the top of the tower, the bridges running on the river serene, the sailing cruises and the cool breeze, all left us in awe.
The garden of Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower. If you are in for more excitement plan a romantic dinner at Eiffel Tower restaurant on the first floor of the tower.
After an amazing time taking in the wonderful vistas it was time to get down for the cruise over the Seine. Once down we were enquiring for the boarding spot for the cruise company we booked when everyone started screaming and flashing their cameras. We turned around to see sparkling Eiffel tower flooded in golden light. The Eiffel tower sparkles every hour for five minutes which is a stellar sight to behold. This incredible moment of Eiffel Tower at night will forever be etched on our hearts and souls.
Seine River Cruise
The Seine River cruise was yet another awe-inspiring experience. All the wonderful Paris attractions looked even more beautiful inundated with golden lights. We cruised past several enchanting bridges and monuments, which made the City of Lights’ Paris look more alluring than ever. We were spellbound by the fabulous city.
We finished with our cruise tour and got back to the Eiffel Tower. There was something about this structure, which would not stop to mesmerize us. With a heavy heart, we bid our goodbyes to the ‘Iron Lady’ and called it a night.
Places to Visit in Paris – Day 2
Our day 2 in Paris started with the splendid Luxembourg gardens. We took Metro line 4 to station Odeon which is the nearest station to the Luxembourg gardens. The Luxembourg gardens or Le Jardin du Luxembourg is a large garden of the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg). The garden is home to hundreds of statues, fountains, gorgeous flower beds and is a great place for spent time with kids for the lush open space, orchards, and puppet theatre. Chhavi was the one to enjoy the most running around on the green lawns.
Notre Dame De Paris
Notre Dame de Paris or the Notre Dame cathedral is a medieval cathedral around a km walk from the Luxembourg gardens.
The entry into the interior of the Notre Dame is free but be advised that there is always queue lined up. There is a separate line for access to the bell tower for a fee, climbing up the 422 steps offers with panoramic views of the city of Paris. The impressive facade of the cathedral has three arched portals flanked by two striking bell towers. The grandiose cathedral interior has several remarkable sculptures and colorfully stained glass windows.
Love Lock Bridge
When visiting Notre Dame its worth to visit the arch bridge of ‘Pont de l’Archeveche’ the narrowest road bridge in Paris is loaded with hundreds of beautiful love locks. Though we saw lock several bridges later on, one in Cologne in Germany and Ljubljana in Slovenia but Paris was our first time and we were awestruck.
Louvre Museum is one of the finest art galleries in the world with its architecture epitomizing the history of the glorious city with over 30000 exhibits. We walked around admiring the marvelous architecture of the Louvre Palace and taking pictures with the famed Louvre pyramid. We skipped visiting the museum for it would require a dedicated day.
Do not miss ‘Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel’ a beautiful Corinthian style triumph arch opposite the Louvre Palace.
Museum Orsay is another prominent art museum of Paris exhibiting important paintings and sculptures and is housed in an abandoned Orsay railway station. The entry to the museum of free on first Sunday of every month. The museum offers group tours of the museum with an option for guided tour guides.
The Palais Garnier is a opera house built in the 19th century and is an iconic landmark of Paris. Explore the history and heritage of the architectural masterpiece on your own or on one of the guided tours.
Hop on hop off bus has an advantage that we get to see a lot more sights than if we had decided to walk around to each of the individual landmarks. We had not visited the inside of museums, we did not get down at Place de la Concorde and Les Invalides due to lack of time and took pictures from the bus.
Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is a public square dominated by two gorgeous fountains. The fountain features figures of tritons the mythological Greek gods holding fish spouting water. In the center is the granite column ‘Obelisk of Luxor’ transported from its original location of Luxor Temple, in Egypt.
Les Invalides or Hotel des Invalides
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings housing several museums dedicated to the military history of France and Dome des Invalides which is a church housing the tombs of war heroes including the Napoleon Bonaparte.
We completed our day 2 Paris tour with the last glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the bus and headed to Gare de Lyon to take the train back to Geneva.
Places to Visit in Paris – Day 3
We visited Paris for the weekend but revisited the city to explore more of Paris and beyond on other weekend trips. If you have another day in Paris then plan a visit to Catacombs of Paris and the beautiful Montmartre Paris Neighborhood.
The tour of Paris Catacombs may sound like one of the unusual things to do in Paris but is definitely worth it if you are in for some spooky eerie tour. The maze of underground ossuaries which are believed to house remains of over six million people. Audio guides are provided with the entry tickets and the complete tour of the catacombs would take you around 2 hours.
Montmartre Paris Neighborhood
Montmartre is a hill and a historic art district in Paris. When in Montmartre do not miss a visit to the iconic landmark Basilica du Sacre-Coeur a Roman Catholic church other popular highlights being Musee de Montmartre showcasing famous paintings, Montmartre Cemetery where several great artists are buried and attending a show at the Moulin Rouge, a well-known cabaret in Paris.
The ‘City of Love’ is dressed up in its best and exuding a dazzling glow at night. Here are some magical pictures of Paris by night to inspire you to add one of those amazing Paris night tours to your bucket list.
Day Trips from Paris
Disneyland needs no introduction. Located 32 km from Paris the Disneyland Paris tops the fun things to do in Paris with kids and is one of the great family day trips. Choose from several Disneyland tours which include entrance to the theme park and transportation from Paris.
A well-connected rail network makes visiting a myriad of places around Paris an easy day trip. If you have more time in Paris and are already done with the must-see Paris sightseeing and top tourist attractions in Paris then head to one of these fantastic places on a day trip from Paris. If you are looking for more places to explore in Paris apart from the touristy ones then you should read through this wonderful post on hidden gems of Paris.
Tip – Visitors to Paris need to beware of pickpocketers and careful of their possessions. We have heard many instances of people being robbed of their belongings.
Do you think we covered all the eminent attractions or did we miss something? Do share with us in comments.
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