Le Louvre – If there’s only one museum you make it out to, check out Le Louvre. See the Mona Lisa, the glass pyramid, and the nearby Jardin des Tuileries.
Personally, I’m not a museum person. Okay, I really dislike them. That’s because I prefer to be outside exploring the city but Le Louvre now offers a cool game of treasure hunt called ThatLou. Instead of aimlessly walking around one of Europe’s largest museums, ThatLou makes it much more fun!
Don’t miss: legendary chocolates at La Maison du Chocolat, 99 on rue de Rivoli.
Champs Elysées– Chic Parisian shopping on one of Europe’s most well-known (and expensive) avenues. Fortunately, you can now find a few chain stores that carry affordable top trends.Don’t miss: the famous macarons from Laudrée on the south side. At the end of the rue is the Arc de Triomphe centred on the most dangerous round-about in the world. I just love to stand at Place de l’Etoile and watch the cars whip around the circle (and random pedestrians who try to cross it and defy death). For €9 you can climb to the top of the Arc for impressive views of the five-point star intersection below, and the city.Cross the Seine to get to the left bank and the most visited landmark in France, the Eiffel Tower. If this is your first time in Paris, you’ll especially want to know the best way to experience this iconic site.
Where to Eat: Pack a picnic from the fresh street market on Rue Cler.
Don’t miss: Le Moulin de la Vierge for melt-in-your-mouth croissants, 64, Rue Saint-Dominique.
Day 2 – Latin Quarter
The 5th arrondissement is the city’s more youthful neighbourhood. Young students and single Parisians hang out at the cafés for people-watching during the day and at bars after dark. Stroll through the most charming rue in the 5th, rue Mouffetard. The bustling pedestrian street leads out to the quintessential French boulevard of Saint-Michel filled with small shops, cafés, and historic bookstores like Shakespeare & Co. Across the Seine is Pont Neuf with Notre Dame Cathedral in the centre of the city on Île de la Cité where you can climb the tower’s 444 steps to the gargoyles. Go for a stroll here at night. The Seine lights up and the boardwalk makes for one of the most romantic walks in the city.
Where to Eat: Take the winding roads behind Saint-Michel between St. Andre-des-Arts and Odeon. These tiny back streets are full of mom n’ pop shops with international cuisine and it’s a popular spot for Parisians on a budget. It’s like a whole other city back here!
At night, try the less-known le Cour du Commerce de St-André nearby with typical Paris lights and only 20 euro fixed menus. One of the restaurants here is Le Procope, founded in 1686 and claiming to be the oldest restaurant in Paris. Facing the fountain at Place St-Michel, look to your right for a small passageway. You can also enter from Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie.
Don’t miss: Berthillon for the best ice cream in Paris, 31 rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile.
Day 3 – Montmartre
In the artistic quarter, Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso once lived in the narrow streets here. In the daytime, walk through Place du Tertre and make the trek up the hilltop to the white church of Sacre Coeur for breathtaking views of the city’s colourful roof tops. In great weather, the indie musicians are a great treat when they come to play for the crowds on the steps of the basilica.
Tip: Watch for pick-pocketers at the bottom of the church and African men trying to force you to try on their bracelets. Unfortunately as beautiful as this part of town is, you need to be extra safe. Bring good walking shoes! The quiet and tranquil 18th arrondissement during the daytime converts to a vibrant nightlife when the sun goes down. Place Pigalle is the epicentre for cabaret shows at Le Moulin Rouge, endless bars, peep shows, and sex shops that stay open until the early morning hours as the popular red light district.
Tip: Like any party district wherever you travel to, the 18th is not safe for solo travellers and females at night. If you can group up with others from your hostel that would be best. Try to keep a low, non-touristy profile to avoid being overcharged for drinks.
Need more excitement? The Musée de l’Erotisme (or Museum of Eroticism) is filled with historic and contemporary erotic artifacts.
Tip: Tickets are €10 at the door but if you buy online you get a €3 discount.
Don’t miss: Les Petits Mitrons for the best tartes, 26 Rue Lepic.
Where to Eat: anywhere on rue Lepic
Have more time?
Travel Paris’ Underworld through Les Catacombs
Visit Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde at Père Lachaise
Discover Le Marais in the 4th
Take a day trip to Versailles