Hi there, we love taking long weekends in Paris, so hopefully some of the ideas listed below will appeal to you. Remember that although the city is very compact 3 days is still only just going to get just underneath the surface, but hopefully be enough for you to get a feel for the city.
First let's put the standard tourist warning ..... Paris like every European city has many very skilled pick pockets, most of them on the Metro, Gard Du Nord is particularly hot, as this is where the Eurostar from the UK & Northen Europe pulls in to. If anyone tries blocking you getting on or off a metro tram, don't worry about them pushing, just think where's my wallet !!
Okay now that I've mentioned the metro, other than walking this is probably the easiest way of travelling around Paris. You but tickets (billets) & use them to gain access to the platforms. The network is very clean, frequent, and easy to follow (see map on http://www.ratp.info/orienter/f_plan...f=metro&fm=gif
). The name of the front of each train shows the LAST station on the line so it's easy to check you are heading in the right direction.
You can also buy a block of ten tickets (Carnet) which gives you ten tickets but for roughly the price of 6. You can share the tickets out between the family.
There are most likely family day tickets, but we have never needed these.
Also Tour uses are available which will take you to all the most popular tourist traps.
As for places to visit ignoring the ones that will be advertised all over, we can reccomend Jardin du Luxmebourg (See Metro map), this is great for taking a relaxing break from walking, it is almost soley used by the locals so isn't overcrowded & you can always find plenty of bench spaces for watching the Parisiens walk by.
Between here and the Notre Dame / Seine is an area called the Latin Quarter. By day it has little of interest, but at night it has some wonderful bistros where you can enjoy a 3 course set meal (Plat du jour) at very reasonable prices - 2 useful phrases for here are "Pichet du l'eau" jug of water, and if you like meat well done (not running with blood as the French do) "Bien Quiche" should see you OK.
Strolling up & down the bridges over the Seine during sunset can be amazing as all the golden buildings ligkt up in the low sun rays. Our favourite bridge is the Pont des Arts, which is a wooden pedestrian bridge (with ample benches) leading into the courtyards behind the Louvre. You can then stroll through this courtyard to the Louvre pyramid and along the gardens to the Place de la Concorde at the begining of the Champs Elysees.
You have a couple of choices if you want to take a ride on the Seine, both are best started from just underneath the Pont d'Iéna by the Eiffel Tower. The first are the tourism boats which give you a running commentary on the buildings & bridges as you go but can be expecsinve. The second are the BatoBus boats which are more like a hop on hop off bus service, there are 8 stops along the route so you can explore both from the water & ashore and they follow exactly the same route as the tourist boats. An adult day pass is around €12 and €6 for children under 16.
I could go on for hours, but as we set off on Oriana tomorrow & need to get to the packing, please feel free to PM me or post more messages but be aware that we are not back for a couple of weeks, so will not be able to reply until then.
I'll sign off now hoping that this is a useful start for you.
Alan & Katrina