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!
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).
Imagine an authentic, reasonably priced, local French restaurant bang in the middle of the 1er, within a Wilkinson drop-kick of that concrete beast, the Forum des Halles.
Imagine such a place festooned in rugby memorabilia - permanently, and not just in Rugby World Cup year. Such a place exists. It's called Le Gros Minet (The Fat Kitten) and it's on Rue des Prouvaires (+33 1 42 33 02 62).
It's small, so book to avoid missing out on such treats as canard aux myrtilles. As any rugby fan would tell you, it's got to be worth a try!
Tennis lovers will want to visit Roland Garros – the museum is wonderful and you can often get close to French stars as they train. But Paris has a tennis secret, the Standard Athletic Club.
This sport and social club was set up by a group of young British businessmen in the nineteenth century; afternoon tea is still served under a picture of the Queen.
Along with swimming pool, squash and gym, the club has eight tennis courts (five clay) and a cricket pitch. Membership is easy to obtain and reasonable, but the club is also generous to guests. Members may invite you to play, and most weekends guests are welcome, by appointment, to try the facilities.
Route Forestière du Pavé de Meudon, 92360 MEUDON-LA-FORET, www.standac.com
For those travelling to Longchamp Racetrack on 'Arc de Triomphe' raceday, there are FREE shuttle buses to and from the racetrack from Porte d'Auteuil (RATP bus station), Porte Maillot (244 bus stop), and Pont de Sèvres (RATP bus station).
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