Want to enjoy the sport of kings but not pay a king's ransom? Then head to Paris on the first Sunday in October where you'll experience a sporting extravaganza, with a difference.
Racing reaches its pinnacle at Longchamp where the focus is the richest prize in Europe, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe. But Arc day is much more than a day at the races. The Paris fashionistas compete as fiercely as the horses. So what would you expect to pay to rub shoulders with racing's elite in the world's style capital? How about £5 and that includes your racecard!
When visiting Paris, if you want a real taste of the city and the French way of life, there is a tiny theatre called Theatre de la Huchette.
This place hasn't changed since it was created in 1947 and has performed the same play La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco for 50 years. It is a real experience that is worth enjoying but get your tickets a bit before the performance as it really is a tiny place.
I went to see the play twice after I was told about it. It's like being thrown in the Paris d'apres guerre. Amazing experience! The theatre is at "23 rue de la Huchette" in the Latin quarter. You can even enjoy some pancakes from Brittany in a restaurant nearby afterwards.
23 rue de la Huchette, in the Latin quarter.
Forget the queues and the disappointments at Wimbledon, head to Roland Garros, home of the French Open. It's on the outskirts of Paris, easily accessible using the Metro, and with less competition for tickets, you can book a seat on Philippe Chatrier Court and a day return on Eurostar for the price of a Centre Court ticket (and a few glasses of Pimm's) at Wimbledon.
Worth it for the change in atmosphere (and lack of braying Brits on Henman Hill).
Traveling with kids to Paris? Need a place to let them burn off steam between the bateau-mouches and the Louvre? Then hit the trampolines and carousel in the Tuiliieres gardens.
After they get thirsty head to Angelina's (Angélina 226, rue de Rivoli) for chocolat chaud. Do this before the crowds arrive here and at the Louvre.
Another tip for children is to head to Sacre Coeur for the farmers' market on top of the hill on weekends, jugglers on the church steps and the carousel at the bottom.
Need a new children's shirt to replace the one covered in hot chocolate? There are some good bargain department stores on your way back to the Metro station.
For a very cheap way to entertain the kids while watching the world go by, go to the large fountain in the the Tuileries Garden where a Parisian with a wheelbarrow hires out large sailing boats and sticks. The boats sail from one side of the fountain to the other and then the kids use the sticks to turn them around and they sail the other way. In the meantime, you can have a coffee.
If you want an authentic French cabaret experience, not quite the Moulin Rouge more like Jacques Brel with sequens, try Au Lapin Agile in Montmatre. It will be an unforgettable evening!
You will be ushered into a room and sat on a milking stool, given cherry liquer and treated to a few hours of French chanteuse cabaret. Everyone but you will know the words, you will blush but clap along and pretend to be singing along too. On the way out you will be offered CDs by local Parisien singers of dubious origin. It's an amazing, and amazingly french, experience not to be missed!
The grounds of Parc du Chateau de Versailles are beautiful and particularly worth a visit during April through to September when they are host to different spectacles.
The events are a true feast for the senses and lie only a 20 minute RER journey off the typical tourist route. An unforgettable experience.
For a special whimsical evening try Chez Raymonde. It is unclassifiable - an "alternative" mix of cabaret and musical hall.
Friday and Saturday evening feature classical ballroom dancing and cabaret on a postage stamp size stage.
Reservations are essential.
Contemporary art gallery with great exhibitions - opens from noon to midnight and has a nice bar and restaurant and a great book shop. In summer there are seats outside and you can sip beer and look straight across at the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes bongo-players and fire blowers converge provide impromptu and frantic dancing opportunities.
Nearest metro: Iena
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