I may slump into incoherence in the middle of this post. We’re doing some heavy physical stuff around the lakes at the moment, and I’m shattered! However, we need to press on while the lakes are frozen as it makes cutting back all the overhanging branches and trees and then lugging them to a convenient point on the bank a zillion times easier than they would otherwise have been. We have another week probably but there’s still plenty left to do.

And I’m skiving off in the middle of it. This weekend I’m take Caiti up to Paris to the _Journée Portes- Ouverte_s (open day) at the university she’s interested in. It’s the Université Pierre et Marie Curie.

I began planning the trip yesterday. After a couple of hours I was beginning to think the Creuse masons’ approach of walking there was a very sensible one. It’s taken time and ingenuity to organise a budget-friendly trip to the big city.

First I checked out public transport, since this is always my preferred means of travel. Coach travel is usually the cheapest, and by chance a coach goes from Guéret, where Caiti is at lycée, to Paris. OK, it takes four hours but we both have Kindles. However, the times weren’t the greatest and it would still cost us €56 euro each. That seemed steep, but maybe I’m out of touch. We’d also be delivered to central Paris and would have to find two nights’ accommodation which would be pricey.

OK, train next. The fastest route was from Chateauroux, an hour and a half north-west from here, but it was dear, over €80 each. Montluçon to Paris? Montluçon is fifty minutes’ drive to the east from here. It would be a three and a bit hour journey and was not much cheaper than Chateauroux to Paris. The only vaguely affordable train route at around €35 each was from Limoges, an hour and three quarters south from here i.e. the wrong direction. There was the bonus here that we could call in and say a quick ‘hi’ to Benj, but at very antisocial hours which he wouldn’t appreciate. And for all the train routes we’d have the central Paris accommodation premium to pay on top of that. Plus quite a bit of diesel expended in getting to the station in the first place.

Eventually I decided on driving since this was orders of magnitude cheaper. Sorry planet. And it also means we can stay out of town and so avoid expensive Paris hotel prices. I’ve booked a room at Formule 1 hotel for €35 per night (we’ll stay two since Caiti’s do is on the Saturday afternoon and I didn’t fancy driving home pretty much all the way in the dark). Formule 1’s are cheap and cheerful and I love them. We’re near an RER (light railway) station so we can get into the city easily and quickly. I shall buy day travel tickets that allow you unlimited public transport travel within a certain number of zones in the city. This will be about €15 for me and €4 for student Caiti, which seems very reasonable.

So we’re more or less sorted. I just need to print out timetables and maps and panic, and we’ll be ready. I love travelling but I do get stressed by it these days. I’ve become a bit of a country bumpkin, cocooned away here in quiet rural France. But don’t worry, I shan’t wear my wellies to Paris. I know where to draw the line. (I’m fairly certain they’re banned there anyway!) I’ll polish up my walking boots, sew the missing button back onto my ‘going out’ coat and make my daughter proud of me. Or at least not cringingly embarrassed!

We’ll have Saturday morning to sightsee so my next job is to draw up a list of unmissables. The Eiffel Tower of course, although we’ll just look for now, not go up it; Montmartre; Marks and Spencers; the shop that sells Eiffel Tower shaped cookie cutters  … I must go and browse through Mary Kay’s posts on her wonderful blog. She visits and blogs about all the interesting places in Paris and they’re all so tempting …