Many times when we travel overseas, we know we’re going to encounter a layover, somewhere. So while planning the trip, we often choose cities that are accessible for a quick day trip… and this time we chose Paris. Discover our Paris Layover trip in just 3 hours…
I’ve actually been to Paris a couple of times before, but never with my husband. So we thought a layover trip to the romantic city of Paris would be something fun to do. Fun? or Crazy! (in this case, I think the latter takes it.)
We landed in Paris at 9:30 in the morning. Since our flight out wasn’t until 5:30pm, we had about 8 hours to waste. Taking travel time to and from the airport (about an hour each way) and airport security (another hour) into consideration, we were actually looking at around 5 hours inside Paris. Add on to that, we were catching another international flight, so we had to be back to the airport at least 2 hours before our flight, leaving us only 3 hours inside Paris.
Though it wasn’t the ideal amount of time, it was better than sitting in the airport for 8 hours straight, so we went for it. And while I understand this type of travel isn’t for everyone, for anyone up to the challenge, I say “Go for it!”
TIP: Choose 3 things you really want to see. You won’t be able to see everything, so narrowing it down will help you eliminate moments of uncertainty. You don’t have any time to waste, so make your choices and go forward.
You could also rent a scooter or bike for the day, and this would give you the chance to see more of the city during your layover.
And to give you an idea of what you’ll be facing, here’s how it went:
Once we went through passport control, we immediately headed for the train (follow signs to the very end of the airport). It’s your cheapest (and quickest) way to the inside the city. You can take a taxi, but to be honest – it’s not worth it. You’ll pay 5x the amount and depending on the time of day, it isn’t even much faster. Grab a transportation map on the way to the train from the information booth. It’ll save you time and energy in the long run.
Train tickets cost 10 Euros each, making it 20 Euros round trip – Not too bad. We also put our heavy backpack in the storage center for an additional 10 Euros. With all the walking – and at times, running – this was totally worth it. The storage area is located in the train station section on the top level.
We had decided, ahead of time, to take the train all the way to the Eiffel Tower, and start there. It was about an hour, switching trains from the RER at the Notre Dame Station, and getting off at the Eiffel Tower Station. (Our route is in black.)
Upon finally reaching the famous tower, we grabbed our phones and started taking many pics (and of course lots of selfies too). The weather wasn’t the best, so going to the top of the tower wasn’t high on our list. The insane long lines didn’t help, and we had both already been there before. If it’s your first time, you might want to invest time in doing so, but just know that it definitely takes time. We took enough time to soak in the tower, but with only 3 hours in our Paris layover, we moved on.
We then made our way up to the Arc. Our route consisted on walking across the river, through the Trocedaro and up Kleber St. The Arc is just one of those monuments you have to see. Add to it the million lanes of circular traffic surrounding it, and I’m always reminded of that scene in European Vacation where the Griswold’s famously drove round and round, without being able to get out. (Mind you, it was in England, but it jumps in my mind each time.) Classic!
Now, what’s a trip to Paris without a stroll down Champs Elysees? Not only suited for the fashion-minded, there are stores for just about anyone! (Ask my husband how excited he was for the Mercedes-Benz store!) Not only for shopping-minded, but the beauty of the avenue – lined with trees and cafes – makes it incredibly special. Tip: If you do plan on a lot of shopping, make sure you have PLENTY of time!
We were into the descent of our Paris Layover in 3 Hours trip, making our way back to the train. As we had mapped out our journey beforehand, we planned it perfectly to pass all the greats as we walked back – taking more pics of course. Unfortunately, at this point in our day, it started to drizzle off and on, eventually with full-on rain showers. We were never planning on going inside – due to our time restraint – but the rain was even more of a deterrent. The last hour was a bit of a blur, but we still managed to see exactly what we set out to see… and who doesn’t want a picture in front of the Louvre Pyramid?!?
After dodging the rain and exhausting ourselves, we made it back on to the train (the Notre Dame station) and headed to the airport to catch our flight. And while we didn’t actually go into any of the buildings or museums, spending 3 hours in the city was a fun break from the norm and an escape from a day in the airport. So if you’re up for a bit of adventure and macro-viewing travel, you might want to consider trying Paris Layover in 3 Hours…. but I must warn you – it’s not for the faint traveler. Experienced travelers only need apply!
Here is our mapped-out Paris in 3 Hours Route:
Want to read more about Paris? Check out these additional Paris travel guides: