An outing to Paris? Nothing simpler. It’s only 2 hours 10 minutes by train from Dieppe or by car on the motorway.
But a warning. It’s impossible to park in Paris, the fast roads are now open only to walkers and cyclists. You could park at the station in Rouen and take the train the rest of the way, or seek out the car parks on the outskirts of Paris www.paris.fr/pratique/stationnement/carte-des-parkings which will help you to keep calm by taking the bus and metro (www.ratp.fr ), or by self-service bike of which there are various, changing services on offer. Cars and scooters are also available (autolib and vélib), by riverbus on the Seine or even by scooter. parisbyscooter.com
If you have a smartphone download the parkme or parkopedia apps.
But, given the millions of tourists who come every year you really do need to book. Log into the Paris tourist office www.parisinfo.fr to find out about and book visits to monuments, shows or lodgings, and read their newsletter.
For those arriving by train the renovated Gare Saint Lazare, a temple to shopping, is a mine of curiosities with the chic brasserie Lazare and queues in front of Burger King. If you are tempted by department stores (on foot from the station in Boulevard Haussmann) try late-night shopping on Thursday on your way back. Check out also evening opening at museums at www.quefaire.paris.fr when visiting is quieter, and most have a café which is worth a detour (the Petit Palais, the Musée de la Vie Romantique, the Musée Rodin…)Of course, by following parisinfo you will visit the Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, l’ile Saint Louis, Montmartre, the Invalides, the Louvre (late opening on Fridays), the Champs Elysées (the Fondation Vuitton is three stops away) or climb the stairs up l’Arc de Triomphe. You can get another outstanding viewpoint from the top of the Pompidou Centre (M° Chatelet/Rambuteau) or from the l’Institut du Monde Arabe (M° Jussieu).
See the Seine from the Vedettes , which leave from the charming garden of the Vert Galant (M° Pont Neuf) or the Bateaux-Mouches by the Alma Bridge. Admire the Eiffel Tower, besieged at all times, from the Architecture Museum in the Palais de Chaillot across the Seine (M° Trocadéro). You can visit the museum at the same time. Don’t miss the twin museums of Modern Art with terrasses and views over the Seine, or the new Philharmonie at the Cité des Sciences (M° Porte de la Villette). If you like looking for antiques or brocante see the Village Saint Paul (M° St Paul), or the fleamarket (puces) at the weekend (M° Pte de Clignancourt).
You want to stay in Paris? Hotels, guest houses, Airbnb proprietors and youth hostels welcome you with open arms. In the Marais district join the Mije association who will put you up in hotels particuliers (historic town houses) www.mije.com/particulier
There’s another hotel particulier which is chic but expensive in Montmartre www.hotel-particulier-montmartre.com or there are charming hotels such as l’Hôtel, rue des Beaux Arts, M° Odéon. Very trendy and not too dear is the Mama Shelter designed by Philippe Starck (M°Gambetta).
If you can spend two days, you’ll begin to discover Parisians’ Paris and the villages of the French capital.
The Ourcq Canal with cinémas, café-terrasses (le Pavillon des canaux…), barges and rowing centre. And also the 104, immense multicultural vessel (M° Stalingrad/Riquet)
Canal Saint Martin for picnics on its banks on Sundays, shops galleries and organic restaurants (M° République/ Louis Blanc)
Place d’Aligre and its famous market, secrets passages, the workshops of the faubourg St Antoine and the l’Arsenal harbour (M° Bastille)
Bercy village, the park, terraces and more barges (M° Bercy)
Le Marais district with the marché des Enfants Rouges rue de Bretagne and the Carreau du Temple Shops, bookshops, galleries, design, junk shops and the Gaité Lyrique (M° Temple)
Les Abbesses and Théâtre de l’Atelier, wine shops, gastronomy and painters’ studios (M° Abbesses) and not far off clubbing at Sopi (= South Pigalle…)
Marché Saint Honoré, not far from the Opéra. No cars here, café terraces and nearby the chic galleries of the Palais Royal or the shops of the Place des Victoires (M° Pyramides/ Etienne Marcel)
Grands Boulevards with Paradis/Poissonnière, a new fast good food quarter and trendy bars, the Panoramas, Jouffroy covered arcades (M° Grands Boulevards) or the arcades of the faubourg Saint-Denis, (Petites Ecuries, Prado, Brady) and their Indian restaurants. M° Bonne Nouvelle.
Les Buttes-Chaumont with famous DJ nights in the greenery of the Rosa Bonheur club (M° Buttes Chaumont).
Tolbiac, a new quarter with musical barges café terraces, deck chairs, DJs (M° Grande Bibliothèque)
La Mouffe -rue Mouffetard- famous street market with old-fashioned bistros (M° Censier Daubenton)
Saint Germain des Près, clubs (Castel, Montana) and bars in rue de Buci, bookshops and galleries in the rue des Saint Pères (M° St Germain/ Sèvres Babylone). And, still on the left bank for shopping and nice products the charming rue du Commerce (M° Commerce).
A little Parisian tip: theatre only 10 € on Tuesdays for under 26s. Seats at 50% at the kiosk theatres (Madeleine…) For more good ideas and a very Parisian programme see www.timeout.fr , www.mylittleparis.com, www.pariszigzag.fr or www.parisbouge.com