Your Guide to the Perfect 3-Day Weekend in Paris

In a perfect world, you’d spend the rest of your life in Paris. You’d wander down every grand boulevard, sit in every café, drink all the Bordeaux and taste every last croissant. In reality, you have one week of vacation and ten European cities you’re dying to see. Voilà: The ultimate three-day itinerary to help you make the most of the City of Light.

25 Things You Must Do When Visiting Paris

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The Marais

10 a.m.: Try a Parisian BEC at Frenchie-to-Go
This little spot tucked away on Rue du Nil is the best place to fuel up before a long day of exploring. Pair your morning café au lait with the delightfully greasy bacon muffin, a Parisian take on the bacon, egg and cheese.

11 a.m.: Window-Shop in the 3rd Arrondissement
Wander the winding streets of the Marais. This historically Jewish neighborhood has quickly become one of the trendiest districts in Paris. You’ll find hole-in-the-wall creperies, tiny chocolatiers and boutiques selling everything from high-end designer dresses to antique tchotchkes. Explore the sprawling marketplace Marché des Enfants Rouges, then make a pit stop at Place des Vosges—a lush, tree-lined park where you can rest your legs.

2 p.m.: Grab a Bite at L’As du Fallafel
Don’t let the massive lines scare you—this beloved spot in the Marais is 100 percent worth it. Order a falafel sandwich overflowing with pickled vegetables, fried eggplant and spicy tomato sauce. Oh, and some napkins. 

3:30 p.m.: Embrace Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou
Even if you’re not a modern art fan, you’ve gotta see this museum for the architecture alone. The entire facade is made of glass, metal scaffolding and colored tubing. It’s also the largest modern art collection in Europe, with pieces by Picasso, Kandinsky, Duchamp and Warhol, NBD.

eiffel tower night

8:30 p.m.: Dine on Bistro Fare at Café Constant
At this friendly, no-reservations brasserie a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, you’ll feel like you’re eating a home-cooked dinner at grandma’s (well, if your grandma was a really freaking amazing chef). The dishes are simple, but after one bite of the poached cod with colorful seasonal vegetables, you’ll want to make it your last meal.

10 p.m.: Marvel at the Eiffel Tower After Dark
OK, we know it’s the biggest tourist spot in the world, but you can’t leave Paris without seeing la tour Eiffel. You just can’t. So here’s how to do it right: Skip the daytime crowds and go at night. Pick up a bottle of Burgundy, grab a seat on the lawn and you’ll understand the true meaning of the City of Light.

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The Right Bank

10 a.m.: Get Your Caffeine Fix at Café Oberkampf
Three words: All day brunch. Café Oberkampf may look like an unassuming coffee shop, but its small menu is outstanding. Order the shakshuka with traditional tomato sauce—or get adventurous and try the equally delicious “green eggs and feta.”

11 a.m.: Stroll Along the Seine
Want to nab a vintage copy of Les Misérables? Along the banks of the Seine River, bouquinistes sell used books and magazines in green metal stalls and street musicians play the violin. Walk until you find the Tuileries Garden and pop into the surprisingly peaceful Musée de l’Orangerie, home to Monet’s panoramic “Water Lilies” series.

louvre paris

2 p.m.: Devour Fancy Fried Chicken at Ellsworth
A spin-off of the super-popular Verjus wine bar, Ellsworth is a casual (and way less-crowded) alternative for lunch. Pop in for shareable plates like haute fried chicken or clams in white wine. FYI: The two-course, 20-euro lunch menu is one of the tastiest and best bargains around.

3:30 p.m.: Tackle the Louvre (with a Game Plan)
It’s possibly the most incredible museum on the planet, but it’s also the most overwhelming. Our advice: Go in with a strategy. Familiarize yourself with the floor plans ahead of time and give yourself a few hours to take it all in. You can also buy a Paris Museums Pass at the beginning of your trip, which will grant you prepaid access to all the museums you’re visiting without the killer lines.

9 p.m.: Stuff Yourself at L’Ami Jean
There are a lot of solid bistros in Paris, but L’Ami Jean is in a league of its own. Expect a tiny, noisy room; enormous portions that could feed three; and a delicious, pork-centric menu featuring modern twists on classic French dishes. The potato-cheese soup could very easily be the best dish you eat in Paris.

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Canal Saint-martin & The Left Bank

10 a.m.: Order a Short Stack at Holybelly
In Paris, petit dejeuner used to mean a baguette and jam. But thanks to restaurants like Holybelly, that’s totally changed. Take a seat at this cozy café for a stack of hearty pancakes topped with fried eggs and bacon (because maple syrup just isn’t enough).

11:30 a.m.: Meander Along the Canal
Canal Saint-Martin, a bohemian neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, is one of best places for an aimless stroll. As you pass the serene canal surrounded by trees, you’ll feel worlds away from the touristy Champs-Élysées. And don’t let the graffiti fool you—it’s a community of artists, not the wrong side of the tracks. Explore minimalist design stores and artsy boutiques, then grab a mid-morning pain au chocolat at lat legendary boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées.

2:30 p.m.: Share Small Plates at L’Avant Comptoir
This standing-room-only wine bar in the 6th arrondissement is the best spot for Basque-inspired small plates. Ooh, ham croquettes, heaping plates of charcuterie, oysters and pâté. We’ll have two of each, please.

3:30 p.m.: Roam to the Rodin
You’ve already seen the Right Bank: Now it’s time to experience the city on the other side of the Seine, called the Right Bank of rive gauche. Start at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral, then walk south to the green, manicured Luxembourg Gardens. Then, make the Rodin Museum your last stop. Most of the exhibit is outdoors, located around the 18th-century mansion and gardens where the sculptor once lived and worked.

9 p.m.: Have the Meal of Your Life at Septime
Deciding on a restaurant in Paris is like choosing a single truffle in a huge box of chocolates: There are just too many options. But Septime, a minimalist space serving modern, seasonal French dishes, is an absolute must-try. Feast on crab soup with foie gras, then try the sea bass with egg yolk. Make your reservation early, because it’s always packed. 

11:30 p.m.: Get a Nightcap at Le Mary Celeste
At this cocktail-and-tapas bar, you really can’t go wrong—everything on the menu is a total winner. We’re fans of the playful cocktails like “la Venus Stéatopyge,” made with vodka, passion fruit, Sichuan pepper and tamarind. We’d like to propose a toast to the most perfect weekend in Paris ever.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

From 2015-2017 Hannah Loewentheil held the role of Editor covering entertainment, food, travel and all things nyc.