3 Days in Paris : for Returning Visitors
with Bonus Itinerary Download, available as PDF
If you are soon returning for three days in Paris, you might wonder how to best plan your stay. Like most visitors who already visited Paris in the past, you’ll probably want to spend your three days in Paris in a less touristy way than the first time.
The following suggested schedule aims at showing you a delicate balance between main landmarks and more hidden places, for a tour in the French Capital that would best suit visitors who already know it from a first visit. If you are afraid to miss some important sites, you might want to check this previous article, which is a more touristy 3-day-schedule suggestion for first time visitors.
Keep in mind that I took as a prerequisite the fact that you didn’t have to handle airport transfers during these three days. As I previously explained in this article, airports and transfers may block five to seven hours in your day. You should adapt your schedule by allowing yourself at least half a day at the beginning and at the end of your stay for airports.
DAY ONE – Central Paris : Morning
To begin your stay, I suggest you begin at the grandiose Louvre Museum. In my Three Days for First Time Visitors, I already advised for a visit at the most famous Parisian museum, but I then limited the visit to the main masterpieces. Touring the whole museum in detail would be a several-year-long adventure. If it is not your first time at the Louvre, why not go beyond the world-renowned artwork?
For instance, the North wing of the museum (Richelieu wing) displays decorative arts and reconstitutions of typical decors of the Napoleon III and the July Monarchy eras. It is usually much less visited and crowded than the Denon wing where the main artworks such as the Mona Lisa are. Two covered yard located in the Richelieu wing are also not to be missed with their majestic sculptures? Also, don’t miss the historical foundations of the old Louvre fortress in the basement of the Square Yard.
Exit the museum at the end of the morning via the Square Yard (Eastern exit) and walk towards the central hub of the city, the huge mall of Les Halles. North of the modern structure of wood and glass, you can enter the beautiful Saint-Eustache Church, well worth the detour, with its impressive vault, and its unfinished towers.
At last, finish the morning by enjoying one of the brasseries or Italian trattorias of lively Rue Montorgueil, nearby.
DAY ONE – Central Paris : Afternoon
Le Marais is the central and historical neighborhood of Paris’s Right Bank. The core of LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities in Paris, it is also an agreeable area, home to many mansions and hôtels particuliers, winding paved streets and small parks. Spend the afternoon there.
If you like modern art, the National Museum of Modern Art at Centre Pompidou is definitely the place to start your tour of Le Marais! In addition to the very rich collections, don’t miss a chance to spot the amazing view from the top floor.
Le Marais offers other rich museums. Among them, the Picasso Museum is an unmissable, and the Carnavalet Museum is a very good time-travel machine through Paris history. For a less common visit, the Museum of Hunting and Nature is also a good option.
Also, take the time to wander the streets. The beautiful Place des Vosges is a quiet royal square to see absolutely, in the heart of the neighborhood. It is lined with amazing identical red-brick mansions. At number six, you can even visit Victor Hugo’s residence.
The streets of Le Marais also offer many concept stores and typical boutiques making this neighborhood the vibrant and trendy heart of Paris fashion world. Fashion designers and young creators line up to display their art in a unique atmosphere.
If you want to taste Jewish food, you may head to small Rue des Rosiers, in the East. The Southern part of the neighborhood, especially along Rue du Temple, Rue Saint-Merri and Rue des Lombards, is where most of Paris LGBTQ+ nightlife can be found.
At last, if you want to try some of Paris’s best cocktails, many trendy bars open regularly in the historical streets of Northern Marais between Metro stations Temple and Filles-du-Calvaire.
DAY ONE – Central Paris : Evening
Finish your first day in Paris in the Opera neighborhood. With Garnier’s Opera House as the beacon of the district, the Opera neighborhood is a vibrant area at night with many restaurants. Should you not find what you are looking for, head towards the East of the neighborhood, either along Boulevard des Italiens or – if you like Asian food – Rue Saint-Anne.
Of course, I advise you also check the program for the Paris National Opera, here, for a night at the Garnier Opera House is always a memorable experience. As I previously explained, the Garnier Opera House has a tumultuous history and now displays a stunning architecture.
DAY TWO – Left Bank : Morning
For your second day in Paris, I take you to the Left Bank. As a first-time visitor, I once advised you to visit the Latin Quarter in-depth. During your second visit to the Left Bank, you will walk across the Latin Quarter again, but you will also enjoy other, much less touristy, areas.
Begin your day on Ile de la Cité. Enjoying a coffee and breakfast near Notre-Dame is always a pleasant experience. At 9 o’clock, you may visit the grandiose Holy-Chapel (Sainte-Chapelle), famous for its dazzling stained-glass panes. Book your ticket here. The visit is rather quick.
Still on the Ile de la Cité, you may head to the westernmost part, to enjoy a quiet walk on charming Place Dauphine, or in the Square du Vert Galant at the very end of the island.
Cross the Seine, and spend the rest of the morning in the Latin Quarter. You may find a complete guide of the neighborhood here. Since you probably already know some of the main sites of the area, like the Pantheon, you may also focus on the easternmost parts of this neighborhood, especially the Roman arenas of Lutetia, and the Botanical Gardens and Museum of Natural History. The famous Gallery of Evolution is worth the detour, and so are the Botanical Gardens. If you have some time, you may also have a look at Paris Great Mosque, nearby.
As a reminder, DiscoverWalks offers walking tours of the Latin Quarter, which you may book here.
DAY TWO – Left Bank : Afternoon
After a relatively touristy morning in the Latin Quarter, take the Metro towards Place d’Italie or Glacière, to spend a calmer afternoon.
From there, you will be able to reach the hill of Butte-aux-Cailles. The area offers no major landmark. However, it is quite interesting to see as it shows calm paved hilly streets and nice residential areas. Don’t be discouraged by the poor-looking dilapidated buildings, the jewels of the area reside in small alleyways. At dusk, the main Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles turns into a lively area with friendly small bars and restaurants.
Don’t miss the quite discreet Villa Daviel, and quiet charming Rue Buot and Rue Michal.
Slightly to the South West, you may enjoy a very nice walk in the Parc Montsouris, one of the parks created by Haussmann within the Paris city limits.
Right across the Jourdan Boulevard, you may extend your green time by visiting the quite unique campus of the International University City. The campus is home to 6,000 foreign students who live in buildings organized by nationality. Each nationality is represented by a building reminding of the main architectural feature of the country it represents – although quite in a cliché way. This is a nice walk to conclude your daytime visit.
DAY TWO – Left Bank : Evening
In the evening, head to the tall Tour Montparnasse, the tallest high-rise building in Paris. The tower is a very good alternative to the Eiffel Tower and offers the most stunning view from its rooftop at 210 meters above street level.
I explained, in this article here, why I believe the Montparnasse Tower is an attraction worthy of your attention, and why you should not miss it. The Montparnasse area is also bustling at night and will probably provide you the restauration you need. If your finances allow it, you may even have dinner at the tower top restaurant.
DAY THREE – Northern Boroughs : Morning
To conclude your three-day-stay, I suggest you take the day to visit the Northern Boroughs of Paris.
In the morning, you will climb the steep hills of the East. Take line 6 of the Metro to the charming park of Buttes-Chaumont. The small moon-crescent-shaped park is nested on a hill and is designed around a peaceful lake. The scenic Temple of Sybille, on the artificial peak, at the center of the lake, is a great point of view out to the Montmartre Hill. The park is especially nice at the beginning of a sunny, before the crowds storm its lawns.
Climb down the hill by taking the exotic Rue de Belleville. The steep street has no architectural interest but is lined with small shops. Most are food or clothes stores, held by tenants of various communities, most notably Chinese, North-African, Middle-Easterner, and Eastern-European communities.
The higher part of Rue de Belleville also offers a great perspective towards the Eiffel Tower.
Also, don’t miss at number 72 the birth house of singer Edith Gassion better known as Edith Piaf. The famous performer of La Vie en Rose and the Hymn to Love was born in the newly attached neighborhood of Belleville in 1915.
By the end of the morning take Metro line 2 towards Abbesses.
DAY THREE – Northern Boroughs : Afternoon
Spend your final afternoon around the Montmartre Hill. You may find some nice advices on how to best organize your visit in the iconic typical neighborhood, here. Montmartre is a perfect neighborhood to slow down your day and enjoy the state of mind of a Parisian neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to leave the beaten paths and wander the paved streets. Find the vineyard, where each year, Parisians gather for the Montmartre Wine Harvest. Eat an ice cream in the shadow of a wooden windmill. Walk the steps of movie icon, Amélie. Visit the Montmartre Museum and its gardens where Rodin used to work. Admire Dali’s work. Feel like an impressionist… These are all the things you can do at Montmartre to feel the traditional spirit of the area.
And when you are done with the hill, you may also go down to the Pigalle area. Pigalle once was a typical red-light district, selling sex and peep-shows. If the neighborhood still reflects this past, it has also been transformed into a new hype district, especially in the South – which Parisians now call “SoPi” for “South Pigalle”.
Also, don’t forget that DiscoverWalks offers tours of Montmartre, which you can book here.
DAY THREE – Northern Boroughs : Evening
After sunset, the nightlife along Boulevard de Clichy tends to accelerate. There is a lot of nice restaurants and bars where you can enjoy your last meal in Paris.
If you want to finish your stay in a spectacular manner, you may try to rekindle your Cabaret state of mind. Pigalle once was the heart of cabaret life. Whether you want to see the tiny cross-dressing 70s/80s shows at Chez Michou, or the spectacular displays at the impressive and world-renowned red cabaret of Moulin Rouge, you will surely find the one for you! Prices are quite expensive, but the shows at Moulin Rouge should be seen at least once in a lifetime. You may purchase tickets here.
After these three days, you should have a better understanding of the Parisian Way-of-Life. Indeed, I made sure with this unusual itinerary, that you’d both see some of the most iconic places, as well as more discreet areas where Parisians really live.
Feel free to DOWNLOAD this 3 DAY ITINERARY that fits on one easily printable page.
Of course, you should feel free to change this schedule based on your own preferences. Paris is an amazing city with so many things to see that you will never have seen it all. So never regret if you can’t see everything, for there will always be something else to comfort you.