Spending three days in Paris

paris, galeries lafayette, galeries lafayette terrace, eiffel tower, three days in paris

Bonjour everyone! Now I will be sharing our last leg of our European trip, which is en route to three days in Paris. And I will be sharing with you how to spend those three precious days, hitting some of the main attractions that you cannot miss.

Our time in Paris

Now, this was Cecilio’s first-ever trip to Paris (and Europe in general), but my second. I first went in July 2013 with my mom and sister and it was much warmer. So it was interesting coming back during the cooler season and seeing everyone trading in sundresses for peacoats.

Unfortunately, we both got insanely sick during this part of our trip. The cold hit us pretty hard, and it was raining a lot. I started getting a mild sore throat back in London that only got worse on the day we had to leave for Paris. Seriously, my voice was almost gone. And I had a bit of pink eye too. My eyes would get milky with yellow gunk (ewww!) randomly, and they would swell and get red.

Cecilio was fine on the first day in Paris, but the cold got him hard on the second day. It was so bad that he could not taste any of the foods, and we ended up eating the blandest foods eventually. It was a disappointment for him because he LOVES French cuisine and was looking forward to trying all the delicious dishes. But it just gives us the motivation to come back in a few years 🙂

That said, we actually pushed ourselves to check out all the sights and didn’t have much time to rest. That made us sicker in the long run, but we have no regrets. We actually did the most touristy things in Paris you could think of (yes, we even went inside the Eiffel Tower), but it’s a bit hard to go to the off-beaten path when you only have three days and when you’re sick.

If you do have more days in your next itinerary, I urge you to check out these hidden gems in Paris to venture along with the top tourist spots 🙂

Disclaimer: This post uses affiliate links through GetYourGuide and Booking.com, which means I make a commission if you book through this post. If you do decide to purchase using my links, thank you so much for your support!

Know before you go

Airports

  • Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY) are the two international airports in Paris. The Paris Aeroport website is home to both of them.
  • Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA) is located in the City of Beauvais, about 2 hours away from Paris. It’s smaller than the other two, and is the hub of budget flights

Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord is the Eurostar train in Paris. We rode the Eurostar from London St. Pancras International to Nord, which was a 2-hour ride. We departed London at 9:15, but arrived in Paris at 12:30-ish (Paris is one hour ahead).

Nord is one of the busiest train stations in the world, with other European stations leading servicing there. This includes London, Amsterdam, Brussels, and major cities in Germany.

While Nord is not the only major station in Paris (there are six stations, or gares), it is the most well-known, especially for foreigners.

Booking.com

Where to stay in Paris

We stayed in Hotel Regents Garden, owned and operated by the Parisian chain hotel company Astotel. It’s located in the 17th arrondissement and a 10-minute walk to the Arc de Triomphe. We were also right next to a pharmacy, a market, the restaurant MoM (which we didn’t go to), and a patisserie.

We hit the jackpot here because it was a 4-star hotel with 3-star prices! Seriously, it is tough finding a nice hotel nestled in a good location within your budget. Paris is an expensive city, but we managed to find an affordable luxury stay. We had impeccable service too. The front desk workers helped us get situated and they were really kind to us. So much for the “snobby” French stereotype!

Our room was super cute too! It was also large by European standards. I loved the kitschy decor and our window had a view of the garden. It was such a shame that we didn’t get to hang out in the garden because it was raining. (That would’ve made for some pretty Instagram photos!)

hotel regents garden paris
hotel regents garden paris

We also had toiletries from Nuxe, a Parisian natural skincare brand.

hotel regents garden paris
hotel regents garden paris

The hotel also had a breakfast buffet which consisted of eggs, toast, crepes (I loved eating it with Nutella), waffles, fruit, sliced meats, cheeses, and yogurt.

The best activities for three days in Paris

Checking out the Arc de Triomphe

As I said, our hotel was a stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’ iconic monuments. It is located at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle and was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon for those who died in the French Revolution. We walked for about 10-15 minutes and took some photos. There is an underpass leading to the entrance for those who wanted to climb to the top. We ended up not doing so, but we eventually did go on top of the Eiffel Tower on our last night.

I’ve heard the views from the Arc de Triomphe are MUCH better than from the Eiffel Tower. If you had, let’s say, only 24 hours in Paris (or less!), then you need to prioritize visiting the Arc de Triomphe!

arc de triomphe

Walking along Champs-Élysées

Located southeast of Arc de Triomphe is the world-famous avenue in the 8th arrondissement. Champs-Élysées actually means “Elysian Fields”, which translates to the streets being Heaven on Earth. It is filled with high-end shops, restaurants, and nightspots. Even if you don’t go into any of the stores, it’s nice to stroll around and people-watch. Cecilio loved the pace of Paris and how everyone was walking slowly and enjoying themselves, in contrast to being pushed around in London where people were constantly in a hurry.

champs elysees
Cartier store champs elysees

Exploring the Louvre

Although I got to visit the Louvre back in 2013, Cecilio wanted to go there more than anywhere else. Did you know that the Louvre is the largest and most visited art museum in the world, and attracts 10.2 million visitors per year?

Lourve in Paris

We got picked up by an Uber driver and arrived around 1 p.m. I know that October is considered “shoulder season” for Paris, but there were still a ton of people queuing up! We waited a little bit, but it was worth it to go inside. Of course, the first thing we looked for was Mona Lisa, which is located in the Denon Wing on the first level. It was like a maze looking for her. We weren’t in a complete hurry though, so we got to enjoy the other artwork and artifacts. When we found Mona Lisa, we saw a huge crowd lined up among the stanchions. I even overheard a fellow tourist exclaiming, “Wow, she has her own paparazzi!” We were able to go off to the side to get a closer glimpse.

Mona Lisa in the Lourve

After getting our Mona Lisa fix, we slowed down and rested on the benches to take in the other pieces of art. We saw English, Spanish, French and Italian Paintings from the 15th-18th centuries. On the lower level of the Louvre are sculptures and artifacts from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America.

Walking along the Seine

This is where “Our Last Summer” by ABBA gets stuck in my head. Walking along the River Seine is a romantic experience, even if it was dreary. There’s nothing like cuddling up with your lover on a bench when it rains intermittently. It was too bad we didn’t get to picnic along the Seine like we planned, complete with cheeses, baguettes, sliced meats, and wine. As I said, that’s something we will do next time we come back!

River Seine in Paris

Scoping out the Notre-Dame from afar

My favorite Disney movie was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I remember first seeing it in theaters with my dad, and how he would go to Burger King almost everyday so I can get all of the Hunchback toys from the kid’s meal. I must have watched it a few dozen times after that. And of course, I received an Esmeralda doll on my 7th birthday. So it was a real treat when my mom, sister and I got to go inside the Cathedral in 2013. I was so saddened when I heard that the Notre-Dame got caught on fire this past April. It meant that we could not go inside. I had planned for us to climb to the top to see the views, the belltower, and the gargoyles.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris destroyed from the fire
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris destroyed from the fire

The Notre-Dame is completely blocked off right now, but you can still see it afar from different angles and take photos of it. As you walk to the side, you will see that it’s now covered in scaffolds and in the process of reconstruction. Politicians in Paris are debating whether Notre-Dame should be restored exactly how it used to look or if it needs to have a more “modernized” look. President Emmanuel Macron approved a bill for the Notre-Dame to be restored, and it might happen before the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Sniffing at the Musée du Parfum

One of the lesser-known attractions in Paris is the Musée du Parfum. Yes, a museum dedicated to fragrances! Specifically, the Fragonard perfumes. It is located in the 9th arrondissement across the street from Galeries Lafayette. It is free, and you have to go with a tour guide. There is a tour every 30 minutes, one guide is in English and another is in French. Both do the tour simultaneously. The guides take you to the lower level, which shows you how the perfumes are made and the history of the perfumes themselves. The guide takes you back to Ancient Egypt where using perfume was a way to please the gods. They also touch on the fact that perfumes were used back in the day to hide the fact that people didn’t bathe.

musee du parfum

The tour guide then takes you back to the ground level, but this time to their boutique. She spritzes the most popular Fragonard fragrances onto a paper sample for us to sniff. Cecilio and I could barely smell anything due to our stuffed-up noses, but I was able to smell some of the fragrances they sold at the boutique. I wanted to get the rose and lavender perfumes but ended up empty-handed! Even though the museum is free, they do entice you with the goodies at the boutique toward the end.

musee du parfum

Window shopping and taking in views from Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette is Paris’ ultimate luxury department store, similar to Harrods in London. They have the cutest French clothing brands that are totally my style, but I had that “womp womp” sound in my head whenever I checked the price. There were also some American brands like Michael Kors, but why would you go all the way to Paris for that?!

Dome of the Galeries Lafayette

Also, the 7th floor of Galeries Lafayette is La Terrasse, the rooftop area where you can get a 360° view of Paris for free! It was stunning, and it made our struggles from being sick from this trip melt away. Let’s just say it was epic seeing the Eiffel Tower stand out.

Hispanic man on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette in Paris overlooking the Eiffel Tower

And of course, we could not leave Paris without having some macarons from the food hall!

Macarons from Paris

Saving the best for last: Tour Eiffel

It was a given that we were going to go to the Eiffel Tower on the last day, and it was just magical seeing it lit up at night, twinkling every stroke of the hour for a few minutes.

Eiffel Tower twinkling at night

All of a sudden, it was Cecilio’s idea to go to inside all the way to the top. I was down for it! We decided to just take the lifts though, no taking the stairs. It was 25 euro each. We stopped at the first and second floors and got to see some nice views. Then, we took another elevator to get to the top. It was epic seeing the view of Paris, and oh-so-romantic! Even with nonstop coughing and losing our voices, there is no one I’d rather climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower with.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Married couple standing on the top part of the Eiffel Tower

Sure, our itinerary in Paris turned out to be different from what we expected due to being sick. It was also made worse from me having that time of the month! I think I may have broken down and cried one night in the hotel. We were that afflicted by the cold. It was just frustrating and unpleasant being sick and having menstrual problems!

But to this day, we are talking about our trip nonstop. I look back and smile with no regrets, and I look forward to the future memories I have with my love. And our experience gives us the motivation to come back in a few years. I’m thinking next time, we’ll be healthy and try all the best restaurants. We would go to the Palace of Versailles, Tuileries Garden, Sacre Coeur, see the catacombs, and have a picnic by the Seine! In addition, I’m thinking we can also go to Amsterdam and Brugge.

If you have more time for your next Paris trip, check out the coolest spots in the Montmartre neighborhood!

Read about our London trip and our day trip to Stonehenge and Bath!

Have you been to Paris or London? Which city do you like more?

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Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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