3 Days in Paris

Paris Travel Blog

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Okay, so this was an impulse trip. And a short one at that. 3-nights in Paris with an impossible itinerary (I was told). In three days, I plan on visiting the following:

Musee du Louvre
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe
Norte Dame
Musee d’Orsay
Musee Rodin
Musee National Picasso
Sacre Coeur
Place Vendome
Quartier Latin
Centre Pompidou
Jardin du Luxembourg

I have done very little research and know very little French. I am, however, armed with a Frommer’s Paris 2008 Guide Book, a Nikon DSLR camera, a Sony point & shoot camera, an iPhone with international roaming and a Paris Moleskine notebook (complete with street maps, train station guides and other useless information).

Can I do it? We’ll see.


Arrived at 8:10 in the morning, aboard a Continental flight from Newark. Immigration took about 5 minutes.

No stamp on my passport!

My bag was one of the first out. Wandered around CDG just to look around. CDG is a mess, old and check-in area appears crowded.

I found the Tourism office and bought a 2-day Paris Museum Pass for €30. Asked the lady at the information counter on how to get from the airport to Le Meridien Etoile. To my amazement, they understood my weird attempt at speaking French. Took the Air France Bus (Line 2) to hotel. The fare was €14 and the trip took about 40 minutes,

Early check in at Le Meridien’s SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) desk was smooth. I got upgraded to Club Floor, which basically means free access to the Club Lounge for complimentary breakfast, all-day drinks and hors d’oeuvres. I also asked for a bottle of wine as my SPG amenity.

Got to my room. Small, as expected from European hotels. Unpacked, then went to the Club Lounge for late breakfast (around 10:45 AM). I was promptly seated and asked for cafe au lait. There was a basket of assorted bread on the table. The croissant was buttery and flaky. I had a bowl of fruit to complete my breakfast.

Back to the room. Took a shower. Back out to the hotel lobby to see the concierge for directions. My destination: Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

I was told that I need to take the metro (train) to Basilique du Sacre Coeur. There is a train station a block away from the hotel (Line 1, station Porte Maillot). Also by the station was an SNCF office. Perfect, because I need to pick up my train ticket to Brussels. So, I did.

Next, I tried to buy a carnet of metro/bus tickets (10 tickets). It was near disaster. First, I couldn’t figure out how to get the machine to work in English. I must have looked totally lost because a kind passerby approached me and offered assistance. It would have worked, too, except that my credit card got declined! Can’t be, I thought. I called Capital One prior to my trip to advise me of the travel. Luckily I was given a phone number to call in case of emergency. Found a pay phone and made a collect call to Capital One. I was assured that my card is fine and it must be a merchant error. I took that in good faith and hung up. But to make sure, I went to the nearest cash machine and made a €100 withdrawal. Card is indeed good.

Got back to the station and found a manned counter and bought my tickets in cash.

It appears that I need to take Line 1 to station Charles de Gaulle Etoile, then transferred to Line 2 to station Anvers. Simple enough. Nope, I accidentally found myself exiting the station after I put my ticket through the machine. Damn, I just wasted a ticket before even taking my first train ride! I tried again and finally made it to Basilique du Sacre Coeur. Took some pictures and a leisurely walk around Sacre Coeur. Got tired and found a small boulangerie that makes crepes. Ordered a crepe chocolat for €3.50. It was big and tasty.

After that break, I walked up to the place in Montmartre where all the artists were. It was like a flea market for painters. I had no intentions of buying any arts, but decided to buy a couple of cheap prints for €1.60 a piece. Cheap! However, as I was going in and out of art galleries, I found some work that I really like. I was quoted €55.00 each. I walked out. Half hour later, I came back and haggled. I got 2 paintings for €50.00. Not sure if this is a good price, but I was happy.

From Montmartre, I took bus #30 to Eiffel Tower (last stop). The bus was extremely crowded. So crowded, in fact, that I was leaning on the inside of the bus door. When I tried to give my ticket to the bus driver, he pointed me to the ticket machine, to which I can never get to because of the crowd. Long story short, I got off at my stop without paying. Didn’t mean to, I swear. I guess that made up for the ticket I wasted at the metro earlier in the day.

The Eiffel Tower.... I was disappointed. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but I thought it was an aesthetically unappealing hunk of metal that serves absolutely no purpose, which is okay as most landmarks are. I must admit though that I may have hyped it too much in my mind prior to actually seeing it in person. Of course, that didn’t stop me from taking a bunch of photos and even found a couple kissing on the bridge, using the tower as backdrop.

I vowed to come back one night when the lights are on. I believe that would be a better experience and an even better photo opportunity.

I asked around and was informed that Arc de Triomphe isn’t too far of a walk from where I was. Armed with the city map from my Moleskine Paris notebook, I trekked my way to Arc de Triomphe. Took some photos and once again, vowed to come back one night to do some night photography.

The hotel is a short walk from Arc de Triomphe. I rested a bit in my room and opened my complimentary bottle of wine courtesy of the hotel. The wine also came with a box of caramel candies from Laduree. I’ll try the candies before going to bed. For now, I’m off to dinner.

I decided to just stay within the vicinity of the hotel. Lots of choices here (17th arrondissement). By law, restaurants here are required to post their menu outside the establishment. I looked around and decided on Bistro Saint Ferdinand. I tried their set menu for €36 (3 courses, plus wine and coffee). Good deal, I thought. Well, if U.S. Dollar isn’t currently in the pits.

Anyway, I requested a table outside, not to be Parisian but just want the ability to smoke. Just as I sat, I was immediately handed a glass of champaign and a menu. Thank goodness I was able to somewhat decipher the menu with my limited french (thanks to Brooke who just a few days ago gave me a crash course in basic french terms). First course was Tarthare de Thon Coriander, cebettes, huile d’olive de toscane et balsamica. Tuna tartare, basically, but the best one I’ve ever had.

Second course, La Piece de Charolais Grille, sauce bernaise, timbales de frite maison. In other words, steak with bernaise sauce and fries. Steak was good, bernaise was great. For wine, I asked for Bordeaux. Expecting a glass, but holy cow, I was given an entire bottle to consume by myself. I am not complaining, mind you.

Dessert was creme brulee a la vanille bourbon. The portion is smaller than I’m used to but it was done to perfection.

Dinner took 2 1/2 hours. Gotta love the French.


Woke up around 7:30. Quick shower, breakfast at the Club Lounge of the hotel. At 8:45, I’m already in the train headed for the Louvre.

The Museum Pass is a timesaver as it lets me cut to the front of the line (and the line was long!). Saw the Monalisa and Venus de Milo, of course. I also saw what I think may have been one of the pioneers in baseball.

Also, saw a few local artists copying some paintings found in the Louvre. Really good faux masterpieces, too.

Two hours into it and I’m getting an art overload from priceless work of art. I found the sortie (exit) and wandered around the pyramid area and took some photos.

Next stop, Musee d’Orsay, a short walk from the Louvre, across the River. Again, the museum pass let me get inside rather quick. Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Pissaro, Toulouse..... they are all here. Winslow Homer is here, too, representing the U.S.A.

Flash Photography isn’t allowed here. I also saw someone being told not to use his tripod.

Before heading back out on the street, I stopped by the museum’s gift shop and purchased a poster for the special Corinth exhibit for €5.50.

So far, I personally like Musee d’Orsay better than the Louvre (whatever little I saw of it).

From d’Orsay to Musee National de l’Orangerie was a short walk back across the river. The museum pass did its magic again. Inside is a wall-to-wall installation of Monet’s Water Lilies known as the Nympheas. The exhibition is under direct diffused light as intended by Monet.

And it was spectacular. 

I jumped on the metro (line 1, Concorde station) and out at Hotel de Ville station to get to Centre Pompidou. But first, I need some nourishment as it is already 2:45 in the afternoon and I have yet to have lunch.

Three major museums before lunch. This is a personal record for me.

The outdoor tables of Sous Rire were all taken so I settled on one inside. Prix fixe lunch was €22.00. Started with salmon salad, entree was roast chicken and finished off with a piece of chocolate cake. The chicken was tender, juicy and flavorful.

I was getting dehydrated so I ordered a liter of mineral water. Six euros! Apparently, wine is cheaper than water around this part of the world.

I was done with lunch after an hour and a half.

Five minutes was all it took to get from the restaurant to Centre Pompidou (museum of modern arts). The front of the museum was very crowded with portrait artists, street performers and people just hanging out. The lobby looks like a bad suburban mall and I was instantly confused as to where the museum was. I, again, wandered until I found out that I need to take the side escalators all the way up.

I am generally not a fan of modern arts museum because all the ones I’ve been to were disappointments. Centre Pompidou was no exception. One of the many “arts” on exhibit was a huge blue painting. While I’m no artist, I think I could have done that. I can even do that in green. Or yellow.

At 6 PM, I was out the door.

I am tired. I decided to go back to the hotel and take a rest before dinner. Back in my hotel room, I felt some fatigue from a full day of walking. I often hear that taking a long, hot bath is relaxing. Why not, I said to myself. Two minutes into the bath, I came to the realization that this wasn’t right. I’m a guy, for christ sake. There ended the bath experiment. I’m back to showers.

Rested up a bit after a manly shower, then off to dinner. Destination was Cremarie Restaurant Polidor. It came highly recommended due to good food and good value. The place was packed and line of about 15 people outside. I was able to grab a seat at a communal table.

The €22 prix fixe menu came with soup, entree and dessert. €4 for a glass of house wine. I had the creme de haricots paysanne (creme of beans with thinly chopped beef), bouef bourguignon (beef stew), dessert was bavorois cassis (no idea what it was, but it was good).

I decided against going to bars and just head back to the hotel, relax, sleep and get ready for my last, full day in Paris.


I’m up at 7:30. Shower. Breakfast at hotel lounge. The usual routine.

At 9 in the morning, I’m already in the metro on my way to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame isn’t anything special, in my opinion. Old church, bound for destruction only to be saved by the popularity of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. But I was curious to see it and now it’s done. I can cross it off my list of things to do/see before I die.

Sainte-Chapelle was my next stop. A short walk from Notre Dame. Tiny church with the most impressive stained glass windows of any place I’ve visited.

From Sainte Chapelle to the Pantheon was a nice 15-minute walk.

Pantheon wasn’t crowded which was a welcome change from the other tourist spots I visited.

Big columns adorns the steps leading to the entrance of this very neo-classical Pantheon. Walk around a good bit, took some photos. Then I’m back out on the street.

I asked a random local for directions to Jardin du Luxembourg. This young lady does not speak English, and I don’t speak French, but we managed to understood each other. She offered to walk with me to Jardin du Luxembourg as she is on her way there. We chatted (lots of hand signals) while we walk. Found out she lives in the 5th arrondissement.. She said something about tennis and pointed towards the Jardin. I thought she was telling me that Roland Garros (the site of the French Open) is nearby. But that wasn’t it. I still don’t know what she said. We said goodbye as we entered the Jardin du Luxembourg. I said merci for the help.

Lots of people hanging hanging out, lounging in the garden. Kids were floating rented boats on the man-made pond. I grabbed myself a chair under a tree and rested, read my Paris guide book and planned the next destination. 

It was 1:30 in the afternoon and I wasn’t really hungry but was craving for some macaroon (not the coconut kind). I know that Pierre Herme is closed on Sundays so I went with my second choice, Laduree.

Took the metro to station George V. As soon as I got up on the street level of Champs Elysees, I was facing the Louis Vuitton store. I walked inside the store to reconfirm that I can’t afford anything they’re selling. Yep, still true.

A couple of blocks away was Laduree. The restaurant section was full. The side section for pastries was just as crowded. Lots of tourists buying lots of pastries to bring back home. One family bought €300 worth of pastries. I bought 8 small, assorted macaroons for €10.

I consumed the macaroons in my room and they were delicious.

I took the metro back to the 7th arrondissement for dinner and to take some night photos of the Eiffel Tower.

Dinner was at Brasserie Ribe. Ordered a glass of vin blanc (€4.50) and a 3-course prix fixe for €23.00. Entree was soup d’oignon gratinee (french onion soup); plat was steack au poivre (pepper steak); and mousse au chocolat for dessert.

I highly, highly recommend this restaurant. Located just behind the Eiffel Tower. The french onion soup is by far the best one I’ve had. Good value, excellent food. In Paris, excellent food is easy to find. Good value, not so much.

Incidentally, there were 2 separate tables of American diners. One with 6 older ladies and they were extremely loud. The other (table in front of mine), a couple in their early 30s, perhaps trying to find their inner French, were making out like you wouldn’t believe. Not the tender kisses kind either. We’re talking full blown slobbering, with slobbering sound to boot.

Dinner and a show, all for under €30!

After dinner, I went straight to the Eiffel Tower for some night photography. Unlike my first impression of the tower 2 days prior, the tower twinkling at night, in combination with the hordes of tourists, is a magnificent sight.

Then at 11:15 at night, I was lying, faced down, in the middle of Avenue des Champs Elysees, one of Europe’s busiest streets. No, it has nothing to do with the alcohol I consumed with dinner. Rather, I was doing long exposure photography using a 6” X 2” box I found on the street as a makeshift tripod.

Cars and buses were zooming by on both sides of me, occasionally honking.

Then disaster strikes. Nope, I didn’t get run over. It was worst.

As I was trying to finish shooting, I noticed that my Nikon’s battery is near empty. The long exposures drained the battery faster than normal use. I immediately turned the camera off and switch to my back-up camera, a simple point & shoot camera. Two shots with my back-up camera and it is telling me that the battery is completely drained.

Now, I’m in panic mode because next day would be my one-day trip to Brussels before going home. Yes, yours truly didn’t bring any camera chargers or back-up batteries. Yes, he’s an idiot.

I walked back to my hotel and asked the concierge if, by chance, they have chargers on hand or know of someone who does. Nope.

My last desperation plan was to see if I can spot a guest in the lobby carrying a Nikon camera and then beg/threaten/bribe him or her to lend me a charger for even an hour. I saw people with Canon and a bunch of point & shoot that aren’t compatible with mine. C’mon, a bunch of tourists, each with a camera and none compatible with mine! Sonomagun!

I’m leaving early tomorrow for Brussels, therefore, I don’t have time to buy a charger. Depending on how bad my Nikon’s battery is, I may be down to using my iPhone as my main camera in Brussels.

In my room, I retrieved a voicemail from the hotel’s deputy manager thanking me for my patronage and for being a loyal Starwood Preferred Guest member. Nice touch, I thought. But where’s the help from the Concierge when I really needed it, huh?!?

I packed my bags (one duffel and one backpack) for my trip to Brussels. I am in bed at 1:15 in the morning.

Last meal in Paris, a breakfast, courtesy of Le Meridien Etoile.

Au revoir, Paris. A bientot!


First, I would suggest going on a longer trip next time.

Paris is a walking city, and with the itinerary like mine, it was tiring. I had a good time. Saw priceless work of arts and irreplaceable landmarks. Ate some of the best food in the world. Interacted and met some friendly locals.

Okay, so I didn’t get to visit all the places on my preliminary list. Mainly, I didn’t get to see Musee Rodin, Musee National Picasso, Place Vendome and Quartier Latin. I was 11 out of 15. However, I did get to see Sainte Chapelle, which wasn’t on my list. So, 12 major places/sights in 3 days (more like 2 1/2 days since my first day started around noon) isn’t at all bad.

In spite of the dashing from one place to another, I did get a sense of what being in Paris is about, the cultural experiences that are available. I got the gist of it, which is all I was trying to accomplish in this trip. I think it gave me a better idea of what to expect for my next trip back.

Would I do it again? Yes, I’ll go to Paris again, for sure. And often. No, I will not cram as much stuff in my itinerary. Rather, the next time I’m in Paris, it would really be a leisurely walk to/from places. Spend as much time in cafes, people watching, instead of rushing to/from places.

And definitely, bring the camera chargers! Most definitely.
emmllerg says:
Enjoy your next vacation to Paris
Posted on: Jun 02, 2013
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photo by: Sweetski