Not only did we find much cheaper accommodation outside Paris but we discovered a whole new area to explore
Plus four more ideal towns for ‘commuting’ to European capitals
We wanted to pack a lot into our few days in Paris: Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay (until 14 July), and, for my techie husband, the new Maison Poincaré maths museum near the Sorbonne (monoglot polymaths can relax: it’s bilingual). We’d been too late to book for Serge Gainsbourg’s house on the Left Bank (already sold out for 2024!) but the new Quai de la Photo floating contemporary photography museum was showing work by the late Jane Birkin’s daughter, Kate Barry. We also wanted to wander round galleries in newly arty Rue Béranger in the Marais and maybe catch Franco-Gabonese artist Myriam Mihindou at Musée du Quai Branly.
We had a shock, however, when we looked for somewhere to stay. Paris hotels are now so expensive: €300 a night is not uncommon. Then we hit on a cool solution: stay outside the capital, but on a fast train line. The small town of Chantilly is known for whipped cream, horse racing and fine handmade lace, and is less than half an hour (about €5 each way) from Gare du Nord.