“Paris is always a good idea,” said Audrey Hepburn, and I have to agree. Whether for a whole week or just a short weekend, Paris finds a way to romantically sweep you off your feet! Spending 2 or 3 days in Paris is actually the perfect amount of time to explore the iconic landmarks that make the City of Light so eternal (also sweetly named the City of Love—for obvious reasons).
I’ve lived in France for years, my boyfriend is French, and I just recently spent a weekend in Paris myself. While I’m not a Parisian local, I love exploring places like one! This guide will whisk you through the top sights to see in Paris over a weekend including the must-see Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, Jardin aux Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, plus clue you in on the more off-the-beaten-path gems tucked away from Paris’s grandiose avenues.
While Paris isn’t perfect, this weekend itinerary is! Discover the unmissable things to do in Paris in as little as 2-3 days below.
The Perfect Paris Weekend Itinerary
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Here is a quick overview of all the must-see places and unique finds featured in this weekend guide. Feel free to skip over, snip, add or remove from this Paris itinerary to make it your own!
- La Tour Eiffel
- Arc de Triomphe & Champs-Élysées
- Jardin aux Tuileries
- Le Louvre
- Musée d’Orsay
- Statue of Liberté
- Grand Palais
- Pont d’Alexandre III & Pont Mirabeau
- Place La Concorde
- Île de la Cité / Notre Dame
Since you’ll be spending a weekend in Paris, your time will be extra limited and precious!
That said, I would highly recommend you save as much time as possible by grabbing skip-the-line entry tickets to popular museums and attractions.
You can easily purchase them online in advance before your trip via GetYourGuide. (The cost is the same, you just get the benefit of skipping the crowds.)
Getting Around Paris in a Weekend
Do you need a car for a quick weekend trip to Paris? To that, I boldly say no!
While you may need to rent a car in Paris for extended getaways or day trips, the city is extremely well-connected by public transportation—train, metro, and tram. Taxis or public ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Bolt are available in Paris as well.
Nowadays, you also have the hassle-free chance to safely bike around Paris using the grab-and-go Vélib’ bicycles which is what I would recommend you do to visit Paris over a weekend.
These self-service bikes radically change the way you can explore Paris—it’s fast and safe, saving hours of walking time and money spent on wasted metro tickets. The best part? It costs only €6 for 24 hours for the standard (green) bikes and €10 for e-bikes.
🚲 How Vélib’ bikes in Paris work:
- Unlock the bike with a code on your phone.
- Cycle to your next destination on marked bike lanes.
- Relock the bike at a Vélib’ docking station within 30-minutes to avoid fees (don’t worry—that’s actually plenty of time).
- Done! You are free to walk around the area, visit museums, gardens and eat out, before taking out a new bike to move on to the next attraction!
🌟 I will share our biking itinerary for Paris with you below, however, I will quickly say that I recommend sticking to the lower half of La Seine (also known by Parisians as the Left Bank or the “Rive Gauche”!). This itinerary does take you to the Right Bank at times, but most of the highlights you’ll discover in 2 days in Paris are concentrated in the Left Bank.
Where to Stay in Paris for a Weekend Trip
La Dameure Montaigne ($$$): Elegant Parisian hotel with 5* luxuries, ideally located near the heart of the city (8th arrondissement).
Le Grey Hotel ($$): A boutique hotel that one-ups its competitors with stylish, comfortable rooms. The metro station is 100m away and is well-connected to the city sights (9th arrondissement).
Palym ($+): One of the most popular and budget-friendly (budget for Paris, anyway lol), hotels located near the Le Marais district, Paris Chinatown, and Gare de Lyon train station (12th arrondissement).
When planning your weekend getaway, it helps to visualize Paris and its 17 quarters/arrondissements as a snail shell, spiraling from inside out in circular fashion from the 1st arrondissement to the 17th (counter-clockwise).
Map of Paris Arrondissements
The 1st–8th arrondissements are what I consider the larger heart of Paris—where you’ll find Le Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musée D’Orsay, Panthéon, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Arc de Triomphe, etc.
All of these landmarks are within a span of 6km (4mi), so relatively doable to visit across Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Paris.
The 9th, 10, and 11th arrondissements include Montmartre/Sacré-Coeur, theatres such as Le Moulin Rouge, boho shops, and an upbeat, eclectic atmosphere.
The 12th–17th arrondissements are the westernmost, southernmost, and easternmost sections of Paris (in order from right to left). These are still within Paris limits, but they are on the “outskirts” of the heart of Paris, as I like to call it. Here, you’ll find the Paris Catacombs, the Bois de Vincennes (west), Bois de Boulogne (east), Chinatown, and plenty of residential areas.
More specifically, take note of these quarters for a weekend in Paris:
- 1st arr. — Located on the Right Bank (Rive Droite), featuring Le Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Palais Royal, Place Vendôme, and more.
- 3rd arr. — Encompasses the northern part of the historic Le Marais area, ideal for art lovers.
- 4th arr. — Features Notre Dame, Île de la Cité, plus the southern Marais area.
- 5th arr. — The Latin Quarter, here you’ll find Sorbonne University, Jardin aux Plantes, and the Panthéon.
- 6th arr. — Includes the Luxembourg Gardens, Boulevard Saint-German, and Paris’s oldest church.
- 7th arr. ♥️ — The official heart of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro, Champs de Mars Gardens, Musée d’Orsay, Les Invalides, and the underground Egouts de Paris (Paris Sewer Museum).
- 8th arr. — Home to the Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, and Place de la Concorde.
WAIT, NOW. Before you think, “Holy sheet, how am I gonna see all this in one weekend?!” just know that a weekend in Paris means 2 or 3 days maximum and you won’t get to do everything. (I know, I know!)
That’s why, for this Paris weekend itinerary, you should narrow down your options and visit the most important landmarks (to you, of course!) located on the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and the Right Bank (Rive Droite). You could also focus on the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 8th quarters if you really want to see the most famous Paris landmarks in a weekend—up to you!
First (Half) Day in Paris
If you’re arriving in Paris for the weekend, you’re most likely getting in sometime that Friday. That was the case for us, at least. If you arrive on Saturday, you can tighten this itinerary by focusing on just a couple of arrondissements.
Go ahead and drop your luggage off at your hotel when you arrive. Either you’ve just crossed the Atlantic to see the City of Light, or you’re coming from another region in France (Lyon or Aix-en-Provence, maybe?).
In any case, this first day will be a little spliced up, so take it easy. Settle in, and use this Paris weekend itinerary to start planning your trip.
Depending on the quarter of Paris you end up staying in, I suggest using this day to visit your immediate surroundings before you venture directly to see the Eiffel Tower (don’t worry—you’ll get to see it!!). It helps to look at Paris on Google Maps and zoom in/out to see the icons of Paris marked in your arrondissement.
Day 2 in Paris — Left Bank by Bike!
As I mentioned above, the fastest way to see the best of Paris in a weekend is by bike. You’ll save yourself from achy feet, all while spending less time in the stuffy metro and more time enjoying the local Parisian life. It costs €6 for 24 hours of access to the self-service bikes and stations scattered around Paris.
Here is a map of our biking in Paris itinerary, which we did all day on Saturday. We got started a little late (10am) Saturday morning but if you have the full day, you’ll be able to see and do even more.
- André Citroen Park (an off-the-beaten path thing to do in Paris)
- Statue of Liberty Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- Champs de Mars
- Pont Alexandre III
- Les Invalides
- Musée d’Orsay
- Le Louvre and Jardin aux Tuileries at night (plus the Christmas market!)
This route takes you past the Paris Sewer Museum, which you can visit via an underground tour, as well as close to some other Paris highlights. Don’t worry, though. Everything on the Right Bank you can do on a separate day!
Not interested in some of the points on this route? Cut them out!
Note: if your weekend doesn’t include a full Saturday and Sunday, then you can easily do a mix of both in one day.
Highlights of this itinerary:
1. Parc André Citroen
This park is a glimpse of Paris off the beaten path. On an early weekend morning, you’ll find only locals here strolling and running about, getting in their daily exercise without tourist crowds.
What’s to see and do here?
You can float up above the buildings in a fixed, giant hot-air balloon for unhampered, panoramic views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.
2. Statue of Liberty Paris
Hop on your bike and follow La Seine.
At first, there’s not much to see but “local” Paris. After about 10–15 minutes, you’ll see a bridge and a familiar mint green Lady holding a torch, protecting the long islet in the middle of the river—L’île aux Cygnes. In the background is a beautiful view of La Tour Eiffel.
Keep following La Seine. If you are biking on the road, get down onto the quay (Quia de Grenelle). It makes for a much more pleasant ride! A Vélib’ station is located just further up, at the Pont de Bir-Hakeim where there is the Champs de Mars metro station.
From here, park your bike at the dock, cross the street, and head in the direction of the Eiffel Tower on foot following the pedestrian “Promenade d’Australie.”
Here, you’ll have magnificent first views of the Eiffel Tower and plenty of photo opportunities.
3/4. Eiffel Tower & Champs de Mars
Do I need to say more? Be amazed at the iconic Tour Eiffel, which you can climb to the top of. If you plan to visit, you’ll likely queue for 30 minutes to 1 hour or more unless you have Eiffel Tower skip-the-line tickets.
🍴☕️ After visiting La Tour Eiffel, you may want to get brunch/lunch around the area. It’ll be more expensive the closer you get to the tower, so be mindful of where you go. We went to Restaurant La Fleur just nearby, and it cost around €13 for a croque-monsieur and salad (€5 for a coffee or hot chocolate—ouch!). For anywhere more popular, you’ll need to reserve/call ahead.
Opposite the Eiffel Tower, across La Seine, lies the gardens and Place de Trocadéro. You can opt to visit this now or later, at the end of your 2 days in Paris.
To stay on this Paris by bike itinerary on the Left Bank, visit the Champs de Mars before taking out a new bike to follow La Seine, down to peep at Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides.
5. Pont Alexandre III
Often argued to be one of Paris’s most beautiful bridges, the Pont Alexandre III does merit a stopover (even a brief one) to marvel at its golden statues and elaborate architecture. Get here by following the “Voie Express Rive Gauche.”
6. Les Invalides (Army Museum)
Are you an art and history buff? If so, you can’t miss out on the Army Museum and Hôtel des Invalides, where you’ll find Napoleon’s Tomb.
It is a majestic building shrouded in history and worth a visit. You may not have time to tour it, but at least get a glimpse of its beauty from the outside while you’re in the area!
If this is a priority landmark you wish to visit during your weekend in Paris, carve out at least 2 hours for the visit and go ahead and book your entry tickets online.
7. Musée d’Orsay
As a French literature graduate (oui, I studied French for my bachelor’s degree), I have always been fascinated with the Musée d’Orsay.
I just LOVE the building, the neighborhood, the aroma of art in the air. Impressionism is also one of my favorite styles.
If you want to see works by the likes of Van Gogh and Renoir, then Musée d’Orsay is a must!
Lock your Vélib’ bike for the day at the nearest station and continue from here on foot.
For the last stop on this first day in Paris itinerary, head across La Seine in front of the Musée d’Orsay directly to Le Louvre and Jardin aux Tuileries.
8/9. Le Louvre (night) & Jardin Aux Tuileries
One of the greatest and most celebrated (and visited) museums in the world. A must-see on any Paris itinerary.
Le Louvre by night versus by day is like the sun and the moon—both fierce and feminine. ☀️ 🌙
I think Le Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens and estate (castle?) is my most favorite part of Paris. During our weekend, we always either started or ended our day at Le Louvre. Just to see it, photograph it, and bathe in its beauty.
I highly recommend you purchase tickets to Le Louvre—if only to get a quick glimpse of the Mona Lisa! (But honestly, that’s not the best part of the museum, by far.)
Finally, whether it’s summer or winter (winter in our case), ending the day in the Jardin aux Tuileries tops off any day in Paris with a special feeling! Along with the Louvre, it’s my favorite place to slow down and just *be* in Paris.
Tips: A quaint little crêperie and café sits just at the entrance of the park and is the perfect spot to grab a coffee, treat, or light meal! Also, metro stations are ideally located so you can easily get back to your accommodation.
Day 3/Last Day in Paris — Right Bank
Save the metro-hopping for your last day in Paris, when you want to just visit one localized area instead of strolling through the city.
If you are leaving on Sunday, your day might be cut short. But you’ll still likely have time to squeeze in some of the sights situated on the Right Bank or the Rive Droite.
If you have a full day to spare, even better! Here’s what you can see principally on the Right Bank with 2 days in Paris.
- Notre Dame Cathedral (from the exterieur, closed since fire damage from April 2019)
- Le Marais area in arrondissements 3 and 4
- Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur
- Le Moulin Rouge
- Arc de Triomphe
- Trocadéro & Eiffel Tower at night
Alternatively, you can spend your last day doing one main activity or museum + a fancy 3-course dinner cruise on La Seine (ya know, to top off the romantic weekend in Paris!!).
I would recommend following this itinerary for your second day in Paris:
- Start the day by heading to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame (metro line 4 or tram line B/C).
- Although you can’t tour Notre Dame Cathedral right now, you can still see it and visit l’Île de la Cité (1 hour).
- Stroll north (or take a bike) to the 3rd arr. to visit Le Marais discrict, including the Jewish Quarter, Place des Vosges and Hôtel de Ville (2 hours).
- Hop back in the metro (line 2) destination Anvers.
- Step out, pause for lunch, and explore Montmartre village and its crown jewel, Sacré-Coeur, atop its hill (2 hours).
- Walk (or take metro to “Blanche”) and visit Le Moulin Rouge.
- Metro ride to Place de la Concorde, visit, then walk down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées to visit l’Arc de Triomphe with a rooftop ticket.
- Take the metro one last time to finish the evening with a final view on La Tour Eiffel at night from the Place de Trocadéro (metro stop “Trocadéro”).
See how many places you can see in just one day in Paris? It’s amazing!
🌟 Time-wise, expect this day to last from 8am–6pm (so, quite a full day). Money-wise, a single metro ticket costs €1,90 so you can expect to pay around €10–11 to get around on day 2.
You can find all skip-the-line entry tickets, tours, and more activities to do in Paris here:
Last Tips for Spending 2–3 Days in Paris
A weekend in Paris is the perfect, albeit hurried, amount of time to check off your Paris, France bucket list. Even though a lifetime spent here wouldn’t even be enough time to fully explore everything, I truly hope that you can make the most of your weekend.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for how to make this weekend itinerary for spending 2 to 3 days in Paris even better, please do let me know! I would love to share more about the City of Light & Love with you. ✨
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