Terri Hanson Mead
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Terri Hanson Mead

Three Days in Paris: SFO-CDG

If I had only three days in Paris, I know exactly what I would do (assuming everything was open on these days…check the websites for hours of operation and other restrictions).

Day 1: Flying in from California and arriving at CDG at 10 AM, the first stop is always lunch (after dropping bags at the hotel) to eat, begin to get acclimated, and attempt to stay awake.

Photo courtesy Cafe Marly website

Le Cafe Marly is the perfect place to start because of it’s location on Rue de Rivoli with a view of the Louvre. People watching is fantastic and the food / service are good.

After a leisurely lunch, take a walk in the Tuileries Gardens towards the Musee de l’Orangerie which houses the Monet Water Lilies. Each time we visited, it wasn’t crowded plus it’s nice and cool if the weather is warm outside.

Walk a little further up to view the Place de la Concorde (we call it the circle of death) and then had back down Rue de Rivoli to Hotel le Meurice for a glass of bubbly and a nibble as you muster up some energy to keep going. If you flew in on the SFO-CDG overnight flight, you may be struggling to stay awake and need some sustenance to keep you going.

We can’t afford to stay in the hotel but the bar is an oasis in the center of Paris.

Then it’s time to head back to the hotel for a quick shower before heading out Sacré-Cœur to watch the sun set and people watch. Take a quick tour of the cathedral and enjoy the architecture and stained glass windows before walking down to the Barbès — Rochechouart Metro station.

Hop on the 4 to the Chatelet stop and switch to the 11 to get off at the Rambuteau station putting you right in the Marais. There are lots of restaurants in the area so pick one and enjoy another leisurely meal until you can’t keep your eyes open. Get back to your hotel and hopefully sleep through the night.

Day 2: Your first morning in Paris requires a cup of coffee and a croissant seated outside, facing the street. Enjoy the people watching as you savor a truly French experience.

Head back to the Marais to the Picasso Museum. The museum was reopened after renovation in 2015 and is absolutely fascinating. This is a must see in Paris.

After visiting the museum, walk toward Place des Vosges, enjoying the architecture and gardens along the way.

I love to stop in multiple random patisseries or chocolateries for a single macaron or chocolate.

Navigate your way toward the Jardin du Luxembourg, stopping at a cafe for lunch along the way.

Head back to your hotel for a quick nap / shower before heading to Bateaux Parisiens for a dinner cruise on the Seine. The cruise starts near the base of the Eiffel Tower and allows you to see a lot of the Paris attractions (including Notre Dame and the French Statue of Liberty) while enjoying a lovely meal.

Prior to your dinner cruise, walk to the base of the Eiffel Tower to enjoy it up close (depending on what barriers are up).

After dinner, walk back across the river to take a spin on the Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel. From this spot, you can see the Eiffel Tower that lights up at night.

At this point, you are probably exhausted so head back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep before enjoying your last day in Paris.

Day 3: this is where you need to decide if you are going to the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay. If you choose the Musée d’Orsay, you can add the Musée Rodin.

Start your day with a croissant and coffee in the cafe of your choice.

Option 1: the Louvre. Île de la Cité. Notre Dame. Sainte-Chapelle.

I love the Louvre but it is huge and takes days to see it properly. It’s better to spend a few hours each day over the course of a week rather than try to do it all in one day. Pick a wing and explore. When you are saturated, head towards Île de la Cité.

Find a place to have a late, leisurely lunch and then walk around the Île de la Cité. Walk through the Conciergerie, by Sainte-Chapelle (go in if you have time) and Notre Dame.

As for dinner, find someplace close to your hotel as you are going to be exhausted.

Option 2: the Musee d’Orsay, Rodin gardens, Napoleon’s Tomb, des Invalides, Champs Elysees.

While in the d’Orsay, make sure to get a pic in front of the famous clock window. I love the Toulouse-Lautrecs on the lower floor but you can easily see the entire museum in a few hours.

Walk through the neighborhoods, toward the Rodin Museum, stopping for lunch along the way. After walking through the gardens (I wouldn’t bother with the house itself), walk toward Napoleon’s Tomb.

After walking around the building and seeing the tomb, continue walking toward the Seine by the Musee de L’Armee and through Hotel des Invalides. This will bring you to Pont Alexandre and the Seine. Keep going along Av. Winston Churchill and you will eventually hit the Champs Elysees.

At this point you will definitely need some more sustenance. While this is a bit touristy, it’s worth checking it off your list. Find a place with an open table and enjoy an apertif as you decide on what to do for dinner.

Enjoy!

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