Take the train to those Parisienne walkways

THE Grand Hotel Doré, a bijou place in the little-known Parisian district of Daumesnil, is a fantastic find.

Characterful and welcoming, well-priced and beautifully modernised, it's a friendly, family-run, old-established hotel in a lovely tree-lined suburb.

And, despite being slightly off the well-beaten tourist track, the hotel's location only steps from a Metro station means you can be at the centre of anything in 15 minutes.

Descend the steps to the underground, decide where you want to go - the Louvre, madame? the Moulin Rouge? perhaps today the Latin Quarter? - and, minutes later, pop up again at street level at the destination of your choice.

And that means you can complete your entire French getaway, from Sheffield all round Paris and back again, solely by public transport.

We arrived at our hotel, by Metro, from the train station Gare du Nord, where we'd landed aboard the Eurostar from St Pancras in London.

The Eurostar's new base at the restored St Pancreas means, for Sheffielders especially, the fabulous French capital has never been easier to get to. We locked the front door in Sheffield just before 7am UK time and were turning the key in the door to our hotel room at 2pm French time.

Admittedly there were a few transportational troubles along the way. Our Sheffield to London leg was chronically delayed, unbelievably, by the headlights having been attached to the wrong end of the East Midlands Train, and we had to hastily change services in Chesterfield to make sure we got to St Pancreas in time.

As it turned out we needn't have rushed - the Eurostar, too, was delayed!

But all in all it was a pretty easy trip and, after inspecting our en-suite room at the Dor and unpacking our things, we headed out for our first afternoon in Paris, hopping back onto the Metro to the Eiffel Tower.

By the time we arrived daylight was fading and our first glimpse of the tower - illuminated alternately by a golden glow and crazy fast flashing lights - was breathtaking.

We joined the snaking half-hour queue of fellow tourists to take the elevator to the top, and watched the City of Light below us turn from dusky purple to velvety black, the car headlamps swimming beneath us.

Back at the hotel, on and around Avenue Daumesnil, there are lots of places to enjoy a Parisian dinner.

Across the road was a pleasant brasserie and around the corner we found Au Trou Gascon, an elegant place run by one of Paris' most acclaimed Michelin-starred chefs, Alain Dutournier.

The food was magnifique, and with wine worked out at only 40 a head for four courses. Less of a success was our visit to a traditional French restaurant down the road, where the intriguingly-named Andouillette AAAAA caught my eye on the menu.

The restaurant owner told me, in broken English, that it was pork, and he was sort of right. I have since learned it was in fact a speciality tripe sausage made from the colon of a pig which, naturally therefore, smells of faeces!

The stench - only slightly masked by an overpowering smell of pepper - was so repugnant the sausage was inedible and I spent half an hour trying to hide its uneaten contents beneath a pile of potatoes. Be warned.

The next day we headed to the Louvre, an immense place almost offputting in its enormity.

You can’t hope to see it all, and it would have been an idea to book a place on one of the walking tours to be escorted around the highlights.

But instead, armed with a museum map, we picked out a dozen or so exhibits we really wanted to see - the Mona Lisa of course, the Venus de Milo, and the 2,000-year-old Hellenistic sculpture The Winged Victory of Samothrace - and found our way slowly to each of them.

The throngs are everywhere, and there's a lot of walking to be done, but the museum itself and its famous central glass pyramid are spectacular.

Once we'd had our cultural fill we headed back to the Metro and caught the underground to Notre Dame, then on to the Sacre-Coeur and to the artists’ area, Montmatre, stopping en route to browse the lovely boutiques nearby. We ate lunch in Chez la Mere Catherine, an old restaurant on the square, before wandering to the Moulin Rouge.

We were too early for the show, which starts at 9pm and 11pm each night and costs 99E each, but it was interesting just peeping inside the theatre and looking up at the famous red-painted windmill.

None of our Metro journeys were as unpleasant as the London tube can sometimes be, and the Parisians were far more friendly than they're reputed to be, making room for new passengers in crowded carriages, and offering their seats to older travellers.

And even some of the many Metro stations we came across were tourist attractions in their own right. The green arched wrought-iron station in the Place des Abbesses near Montmatre is one of the few original Art Nouveau stations still standing, and is a beautiful piece of architecture in a tiny, peaceful park.