Particularly if you are visiting with children make sure you take a trip on Metro line 14. This is a new line from St Lazare to Olypiades and the trains are driverless. If you get in the front carriage you can sit right up front and pretend to drive! It is great.
If you are tired of traipsing around the Louvre and Quai d'Orsay head for the Rodin museum and garden.
Have a good look around the main house museum then head out to the lovely gardens. At the very bottom you will find some shaded sun loungers where you can catch your breath and even be sketched by the life drawing class that goes there most afternoons.
Visit the Deportation memorial on Ile de la Cite behind Notre Dame. It is the most poignant, peaceful place imaginable and cannot fail to bring me to tears that in the middle of such a beautiful city there is a reminder of the horrors that cleaved Europe in the 20th century. Everyone should visit, sit and think.
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.
I love this place, they always have some crazy exhibition going on, the shop is full of silly postcards and amazing art books. And the café is definitely worth a visit, go to the terrace outside for fantastic views over the Seine and the Tour d’Eiffel. They also organise special events with DJs and live bands.
Slightly off the beaten track, the Grand Mosque at the 5th Arr. has a large, sunken garden, fountains and a 33-metre high minaret.
The internal courtyards, lined with Andalusian mosaics, are offset by dark eucalyptus and cedar trim. The mosque's adjoining cafe and restaurant, serves excellent north African cuisine such as couscous, tajine and sweet mint tea to all.
This youth hostel is widely regarded as one of the best in France. The shared rooms with bunk beds allow you to get to know other guests really well. The breakfast is good and the park around the hostel is good for recreational activities. Quiet despite the busy main road to the A31 motorway directly in front of the hostel.
1 allée de Metz Plage
Take bus no 3 or 11 from Metz train station and ask for the Pontiffroy stop.
The city centre is a 15 min walk away (pleasant once you get off the busy main road outside the hostel)
This modern and safe hostel has all the accreditations from the French youth hostel association. The rooms are clean and adequate with comfortable beds. The staff are exceptionally helpful, kind and informative. There is a self-service restaurant with breakfast included, and there is internet and a laundry service. Game, TV and recreation rooms allow you to meet loads of people.
10 min walk from the cathedral.
20 min walk from Reims train station
Take buses B,N,H or K and ask for the 'Comedie' stop if you don't want to walk.
Our group had an excellent week in Chatel with Absolute Alps earlier this year and have booked again for next.
The beginners all conquered the blue runs and the experts found great thrills on the 'The Wall'.
Beautiful chalet, helpful and friendly hosts and what bliss to be cooked for so scrumptiously!
Tel: +33 (0)671856171
A no-star hotel in the front garden of Notre Dame Cathedral. The wallpaper is bizarre, there is no lift (five floors though), and the bathroom door (yes, we had an en suite) came away in my hand.
But the view from the window is breathtaking and the owner is friendly and helpful. Shakespeare Books is just across the street. Doubles from €60 per night.
4 rue St-Julien-le-Pauvre, Paris 75005
+33 (0)1 4354 1920
Even though for many people Calais is a place to bypass en route to Paris or Lille, this hostel is clean and safe with modern facilities (bar, library, games room) and is the only cheap hostel in the town.
The double rooms are satisfactory, though admittedly they are tiny. The staff kindly put me up for a couple of nights on a camp bed despite the fact that there were no rooms available and I was stranded with nowhere else to go.
Breakfast is provided. The hostel is only 5 mins walk from the beach, and 10 mins from the town centre and train station.
Av. du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 62100 Calais
Tél : 00 33 3 21 34 70 20
Fax : 00 33 3 21 96 87 80
Take the free bus from Calais ferry port to the main town square and go straight up the main road to the beach (going over a canal and passing a caravan site). The hostel is well signposted.
Even if you only have one day, you can see Paris in two completely different eras.
First, stop by Collette, a concept store for clothing, technology and food that is truly ahead of the times. Not planning to buy anything? You’re still sure to enjoy looking at the most stylish goods and people Paris has to offer.
Afterwards, visit Mariage Freres, the oldest French tea house which dates back to the 1600s. With over 500 different varieties to choose from, taste what’s commonly referred to as the best tea in the world or bring it back as the perfect souvenir.
Kids all cultured out? Take them to Aquaboulevard for the day (near metro Balard, southwest Paris) to let off some steam.
It's a great swimming complex with pools and hot-tubs, wave-machines, water-sprays, flumes you go down in inflatable boats, mini-golf, a "beach", and poolside cafes where you sit in your bathing-suit ... outdoor swimming is lovely and so are the outdoor hot tubs. It was the hit of our holiday.
After many stays in mediocre and cramped hotels we've finally found the one for us - Clos de Medicis in the 5th, just five minutes' walk from the Luxembourg RER station - itself 4 stops from Gare du Nord.
From Eurostar to hotel in half an hour. It's a great area too, many good restaurants and walking distance to the Ile de Paris, Louvre, Marais - well everywhere really. Very friendly and well designed hotel - just a gem.
A good place to ferret into the history of Paris is at the Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris, set in the heart of the Marais in the stately Hôtel de Lamoignon. A quiet spot to sample the delights of the library of Apollinaire and the papers of Cocteau - and free.
Juilen Aujeau and his wife Claire Barbier run the best wine shop I've ever visited in my life. They don't really have a 'passion' for wine, it is more like a joy which they feel compelled to share!
My wife and I spent over two hours there during our honeymoon (and my wife is only mildly interested in wine). Julien even gave us a bottle as a wedding present! Incredible people.
You can find "Julien Caviste" at 50 rue Charlot.
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