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Alternatively, we propose an even simpler solution - A Tour of Paris and a cruise on the River Seine. You can leave Dieppe station at 8 a.m. and arrive in Paris at 10.10 a.m., changing trains in Rouen, but check the times on your chosen day. http://haute-normandie.ter.sncf.com

 

Leave the Gare Saint Lazare from the main entrance, turn right and walk about a hundred yards down Rue du Havre. Take the first left, Boulevard Haussmann where you’ll find the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores. Around 12 noon start to look for a restaurant – it’s best to be early.

Go back towards the station and try Mollard, one of the best-known brasseries of Paris, famous for its art nouveau décor of the belle époque and listed as a historical monument.  Alternatively find the 14 restaurants of the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet at 97 rue de Provence, four floors of food and fine wines at all prices and of all kinds. A feast for the eyes even if you don’t buy!

Visit the Café de la Paix, the most famous Paris café (but possibly also the most expensive) known for its mille feuilles and extraordinary ambience.

From the Place de L’Opéra pass the famous jewellery shops in Rue de la Paix and cross the Place Vendôme with the Ritz Hotel on your right, then turn left into Rue Saint Honoré.  If you haven’t had lunch yet a choice of two bistros, Le Rubis and Le Bistrot, face each other in Rue du Marché Saint Honoré, at the corner with Rue Hyacinthe. You’ll find a typical bistro atmosphere and affordable prices. Continue on foot to aid digestion, - it’s nicer and quicker, (but it’s also direct on metro line 14 from Saint Lazare).

Find your way to Paris City Vision, under the arcades in the Place des Pyramides with its statue of St Joan of Arc, from where you can take a coach tour of Paris to see the main sights. It lasts an hour and three quarters, returning to Pyramides, but there’s an option to be dropped by the Eiffel Tower for an hour-long river trip on the Seine. Return to the Eiffel Tower. Make your way back to Saint Lazare. On foot, going via the Seine and the Champs Elysées, it takes about 40 minutes. By taxi it takes 10-20 minutes.

By metro, including the walk to the station, you’ll need 30 minutes. Walk to the Champ de Mars station and take the RER, changing at Invalides for Saint Lazare. Use the app Visit Paris by Metro with an offline map.

Take your return train at Saint Lazare (change at Rouen, as always), arrive in Dieppe with just enough time to find a restaurant for dinner.

If you really want to visit Paris by car, choose a Sunday morning. Check in advance with the police that there are no demos planned.

Shopping in Paris - and taking in the views at the same time – couldn’t be easier. From the Gare St Lazare go on foot via the rue Royale, rue du faubourg St Honoré, avenue Matignon and avenue Montaigne. Then you can walk up the avenue des Champs Elysées.

From Boulevard Haussmann stroll through the grands magasins: Printemps, and Galéries Lafayette. The architecture of the latter is remarkable, especially the glass roof. Towards Christmas the windows are full of magic. 

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From Galéries Lafayette cross the Boulevard to step into the head office of the Société Générale. Another extraordinary glass roof, and a banking hall from former times. Go to the basement to peer into the vaults and security deposit hall. If it’s closing time, visiting children may be invited to help push the massive brass doors shut. Gringotts (Harry Potter’s bank) is pale in comparison.

 

Shakespeare in Paris. It can be tiring to get around in a town where almost everything is in a foreign language. But here, especially for British tourists, are three bookshops where things will be more familiar and restful.

La librairie Galignani, 224 rue de Rivoli, is a venerable institution set up at the start of the 20th century. The bookshop has a large glass ceiling and the decoration is worth seeing. You will find literary texts of course, but also many books on art, cooking and guidebooks to out-of-the-way destinations.

W H Smith Paris, 248 rue de Rivoli is also well stocked. A whole section is dedicated to English-language newspapers and journals.  There’s also a teashop.

 

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Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie. This famous bookshop is on the bank of the Seine with a magnificent view over Notre Dame. As well as being a bookshop it’s a veritable Paris institution which draws booklovers but also many tourists to enjoy its special ambiance.

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It was opened in 1951 par George Whitman and for decades provided a refuge to writers and students who worked and existed in the upper floors. It’s a sequence of labyrinthine, dark rooms lined with books. You go in as a stroller but emerge as a sort of poet or writer.  Not to be missed. There’s a small informal restaurant attached to the shop.