Amelia Island, nuzzling up to the Georgia border at the Atlantic coast, remains one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. Settled since the Timucua Indians first arrived here a thousand years ago, no fewer than eight nations’ flags have flown over Amelia since 1562, while the island’s central town of Fernandina Beach boasts an array of lovingly preserved Southern Victorian architecture. Combine that with 13 miles of pristine beaches and countless hectares of nature reserves, along with a thoroughly contemporary approach to some classic regional cuisine, and you’ll see what sets this gracious Southern Belle apart. A one-of-a-kind island history Most will be tempted to sink into the molasses rhythms of the island’s calm, but curious visitors might want to dive into the region’s rich history, from early settlements to the first droves of vacationers encouraged by Standard Oil founder Henry Flager. The Amelia Island Museum of History is Florida’s first spoken-history museum. Permanent exhibits, including the fun-for-kids ‘Discovery Ship’ and ‘Timucuan Village’, introduce the island’s intriguing history, while docent-led museum and walking tours are a great way to get your bearings first-hand. From the museum, it’s a short drive to Fort Clinch State Park, one of the United States’ best preserved Civil War … Continue reading Discovering the modern Southern charm of Amelia Island

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If there’s one thing that rivals a Parisian’s obsession with food, it’s art. This passion for art, and culture in general, is reflected in the vast number of museums in Paris. According to the municipality there are 204 of them, one of the highest such counts in the world. Everyone knows the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay, but with so many others, you could come to Paris dozens of times and still see something new on each trip. Fans of Impressionism are no doubt familiar with the Monet collections at Musée de l’Orangerie or the Musée Marmottan; likewise, enthusiasts of Asian art will have almost certainly heard of the Musée Guimet des Arts Asiatiques. But hidden in the shadows cast by these older, more established cultural institutions are some surprising finds. La Pinacothèque, for instance, opened its doors in 2007 on place Madeleine, as director Marc Restellini stated, ‘with the aim of making art more accessible to the greatest number of people’. Its nonlinear approach to art history, with exhibits that range from Incan gold and China’s terracotta soldiers to retrospectives covering the work of Edvard Munch and Maurice Utrillo, have won over residents used to the more formal presentations … Continue reading The unsung museums of Paris

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Shopping in Paris has been a grandiose affair since the 19th century when its famousgrands magasins (department stores) opened on the grand boulevards. But what makes it so grand today is its brilliant mix of big stores, markets and boutiques specialising in everything from porcelain cats and delicate parasols to perfumed candles and haute couture hats. Each neighbourhood (arrondissement) has its own style. Global chains and France’s flagship haute couture fashion houses pack the glitzy Champs-Élysées and chic Triangle d’Or (Golden Triangle) in the 8th arrondissement (8e). Bookshops such as Shakespeare & Company are the essence of the literary Latin Quarter, while flea market fiends swear by northern Paris’ gigantic Marché aux Puces St-Ouen. Here’s our rundown of the best shopping spots to spend your euros. Le Marais Casual wear and street fashion are at the heart of shopping in the cool Marais district in the 3e. Young designers congregate in the northern Marais around rue de Turenne and rue Charlot: secondhand vintage specialists Violette et Léonie and eco-conscious designer Valentine Gauthier are standouts. Fashionistas spend Saturdays strolling the boutiques of rue Vieille du Temple, home to Parisian fashion-art collective Surface to Air and French Trotters (frenchtrotters.fr), a multi-brand store known for high-quality fashion … Continue reading Where to shop in Paris

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Cocktails in Paris have never been so hip. Cocktail bars are making a huge resurgence with glitzy spots and cool backstreet speakeasies mixing wildly inventive creations Parisians wouldn’t have dared to try a decade ago. So whether you’re after a traditional dry martini or an elaborate cocktail crafted from forgotten French spirits and local ingredients, Paris has you covered. Here are our favourite places to tipple. Best neighbourhoods For long-standing cocktail bars, explore around Les Halles in the 2nd arrondissement (2e). Harry’s Bar is a venerable establishment from 1911 where Hemingway, Sartre et other literati quaffed cocktails. Barmen here created the original White Lady in 1919, Bloody Mary in 1921 and Sidecar a decade later. At Jefrey’s, a gentlemen’s club with dandy leather Chesterfields, order a I Wanna Be This Drink (rum, strawberry juice, fresh raspberries and balsamic-vinegar caramel). Paris’ new generation cocktail bars tend to cluster in the well-established nightlife hot spots Le Marais (3e, 4e and 10e) and Bastille (12e). For new openings, watch increasingly fashionable south Pigalle in the 9e and the upcoming 11e. Best cocktail bars Begin at the Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC). This Parisian speakeasy pioneer was the first new-generation cocktail bar to open in the city in 2007 … Continue reading The best cocktails in Paris

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Paris is a sprawling global hub, but it somehow works on a scale that kids can comprehend. The urban canyons of Manhattan and ridiculous crowds of London are largely absent, and despite the Parisian rep for treating tourists with disdain, the French love kids! Having your offspring with you will defuse any big-city ‘tude. There are plenty of kid-centric spots in Paris offering a variety of things to do from treasure hunts and boat rides to science museums and –star of the show – Disneyland. Museums & art The best Paris museums for kids are the first-class Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum), home to the inventive Galerie des Enfants – a science museum for younger kids; the magicalMusée de la Magie; and the must-see Cité des Sciences, which has more hands-on science exhibits than your family has hands. On the arts front, the Centre Pompidou runs workshops for kids and teen events in a dedicated studio. And the buskers out the front are always worth a look. The excellent Musée en Herbe is a specialised art museum for kids, with engaging exhibits and workshops. At the Louvre, kids can go on an arty treasure hunt with THATLou. There’s also one at the Musée d’Orsay (THATd’Or) … Continue reading From Disneyland to art treasure hunts: top tips for Paris with kids

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Paris is loaded with literary sights and stories. Over the centuries numerous brilliant writers, French and foreign, have used the City of Light as their setting. In the 1920s the city sparkled as a centre of avant-garde; and post WWII, the literati hung out in St-Germain des Près. Take a day or two to transport yourself back in time with this stroll through Paris’ literary history. Cimetière du Père Lachaise Start in the world’s most visited cemetery, a one-stop shop for venerating many literary figures including French playwright Molière – who made his name directing theatre at Palais Royale (forerunner to theComédie Française), poets Jean de la Fontaine and Apollinaire, and writers Balzac, Proust, Gertrude Stein and Colette (who lived at Palais Royale next to the still fabulous restaurant Le Grand Véfour). Irish playwright Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) rests beneath a sculpted tomb, covered with a glass barrier to stop impassioned fans planting red lipstick kisses on the stone. Musée Carnavalet From Père Lachaise it is an invigorating walk or quick metro ride to engaging history museum Musée Carnavalet. Among its varied exhibits is the cork-lined bedroom from the boulevard Haussmann apartment where Marcel Proust wrote his 7350-page literary cycle À la Recherche de … Continue reading A literary stroll through Paris

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Skiing and snowboarding off-piste, away from the marked trails and into the great white wildness of the mountain, is one of winter sports’ greatest thrills – and the Alps is one of the best places to do it. When conditions are good, and you sweep seemingly effortlessly down great stretches of snow, fluffy powder flicking up from beneath you, nothing beats off-piste riding. Films of daredevils shooting down rock-lined gullies and off massive drops, disappearing in a puff of powder before re-emerging with a whoop, are everywhere. But while the extreme end of the sport makes for amazing theatre, it isn’t the whole picture. Anyone with a few weeks’ experience and an enthusiasm for exploration can tackle off-piste – rolling descents and meandering backcountry runs are just as much a part of the sport as wild cliff jumps. Unlike many North American mountains, where heading away from the pistes can result in a fine or even lift-pass confiscation, most parts of the Alps have a relativelylaissez-faire attitude to off-piste. But whatever you do, you need to be prepared – here’s our guide. We’ve focused on places you can ski without too much hiking from lifts, but for the determined or … Continue reading Backcountry basics: going off-piste in the Alps

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If you happen to be in France one July and wonder what all the two-wheeling is about – it’s the Tour de France. Let us put you in the picturesque picture. The purpose of the Tour de France was simple: to make supermen. The harder the race and the longer the course, the more public interest that it would generate. The more sensational, the better. That, after all, is what sells newspapers. And that was the intention behind L’Auto newspaper instituting the world’s most famous bicycle race in 1903. L’Auto editor, Desgrange, burst the boundaries of bicycle racing when he determined the first race’s course, around the perimeter of France, which would endure for five weeks. When only 16 riders entered, he halved the distance and waved a cash-carrot as incentive to attract more entrants – increasing the number of competitors to 60. These days, there’s close to 200 cyclists, each competing in teams of nine members. All riders in a team record the same time as their leading rider, with the overall winner of the tour determined by an accumulation of per-day times. The rider with the least accumulated hours wins. The course changes every year but a few things … Continue reading A guide to the Tour de France

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  If the words ‘family ski trip in the Alps’ conjure up images of ultra-chic families gliding by in the latest fur-trimmed ski gear, lift queues longer than the opening night of Frozen 2, and package prices that make your eyes water then we have good news for you — low-key budget trips are possible with a little know-how and choosing the right spots. They say skiing is a lot like parenting (you’re always skating that thin line between control and chaos) so when you combine the two in one holiday, it can be a tricky balancing act! Opting for more of a budget choice with runs suitable for the whole family is the first step; skiing in France doesn’t need to break the bank, and beyond the big names there are plenty of lesser-known resorts that are frequented more often by locals than the skiing jet set. Here are two great options where the skiing is both beginner-friendly, with challenges close by, and the setting is as authentic as the croziflette (traditional cheesy pasta bake) you just had for lunch. Haute Maurienne Vanoise Close to the Italian border and surrounded by France’s first national park, Parc National de la Vanoise, the picturesque Haute Maurienne Vanoise (en.haute-maurienne-vanoise.com) … Continue reading Family-friendly ski trips in the French Alps

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  A weekend in the south of France may conjure up thoughts of Cannes or St-Tropez, but if you’re looking to escape the hordes, Hyères is a unique hideaway. Located between Marseille and Nice, Hyères is considered the original French Riviera, with the aristocracy regularly retreating to its winter warmth in the 18th century, followed by the artistic (Leo Tolstoy, Rudyard Kipling, DH Lawrence) not to mention royalty (Queen Victoria). Today the French (comprising 70% of Hyères’ tourism industry) have been largely keeping it to themselves. Not surprising, given the picturesque panoramas, award-winning beaches, exquisite food, gardens and maritime national park. Sorry France, the secret’s out: here’s our guide to the perfect weekend in Hyères. Friday Afternoon/evening Amble up to Hyères’ medieval Vieille Ville (Old Town) in the afternoon to get your bearings. Admire the architectural grandeur of the Knights Templar Tower and the three concentric city walls. Weave your way in and out of the narrow streets, stopping for sustenance at delis, biscuiteries – try Délices Lamarque (deliceslamarque.com) – and wine bars. A good spot for local Provençal produce, particularly the addictive lemon-artichoke compote with truffle oil, is Cave Massillon (cave-massillon.com). It would be wrong not to indulge in a … Continue reading A weekend in Hyères: the original French Riviera

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The Auvergne wins admirers for its brooding scenery, a jigsaw of valleys, lakes and craters sculpted by ancient volcanoes. But this French region is rich in man-made beauty too, and its historic buildings are made all the lovelier by their setting.   Lustrous basilicas nestle among rough mountain ranges, medieval walls hug hilltop villages, and stained-glass windows catch the glint of sunsets dropping behind the Chaîne des Puys. Towers that serve as scenic lookouts speak to the Auvergne’s battle-torn history, and remarkable cathedrals were snatched from destruction during centuries of religious unrest. In a region resplendent with architecture, creating a shortlist is tough; but these splendid constructions marry architectural drama with nature and history, in the perfect introduction to this charismatic part of France. Basilique Notre Dame du Port The Auvergne’s most eye-bulging basilica smoothly combines elements that should feel out of place in a single building. Graphic monochrome patterns dapple its bulging chevet (headpiece), while weather-worn medieval reliefs jut from the south portal. Coral coloured tiles form a pleasing contrast with floral mosaics made from dark volcanic stone. For fans of Romanesque architecture – the medieval style known for sturdy forms, formidable towers and semi-circular arches – theBasilique Notre … Continue reading Six sublime historic buildings in France’s Auvergne

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There is no escaping the romance of Paris. In the early 19th century Paris revelled in the artistic and literary liberation of Romanticism, yet this graceful city has always inspired love. It permeates through the city where loved-up couples laze in its manicured gardens, get intimate in candlelit wine bars and stroll along the Seine arm-in-arm at sunset. The opportunities for romance are endless but here are our top picks of romantic things to do in the City of Love. 1. Take in the view from the Eiffel Tower It’s no surprise why the Eiffel Tower witnesses so many marriage proposals: scaling the three floors of the 324m Parisian icon to the sweeping panoramic views of the city is utterly romantic – and even more irresistible with a glass of pink Champagne in hand at the top-floor Champagne Bar. Rev up the romance stakes with an ascent after-dark when the tower sparkles every hour on the hour with 20,000 gold lights.  2. Say ‘Je t’aime’ in Montmartre Montmartre and its signature Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica) is a place of pilgrimage for romantics as well as the religious. Steep staircases scale the hillside to the basilica’s lofty dove-white domes, from where vistas of the city – from … Continue reading City of Love: romantic things to do in Paris

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  Paris might be timeless when it comes to iconic art and architecture but it is also a city constantly on the move – always hot on the heels of tomorrow’s trends and pushing the boundaries of architectural design and innovation. Inspired new projects are flourishing across the French capital this year from art gallery openings to hot new hotels. Here’s what’s new in Paris for 2015. Fondation Louis Vuitton This eye-catching contemporary art gallery is enjoying its first complete season in 2015. World-class architect Frank Gehry designed the shimmering white building to appear like a magnificent sailing ship moored between trees in the Bois de Boulogne. Twelve curvaceous sails are crafted from 3600 glass panels. Inside, a clever architectural walk treats visitors to unexpected vista after vista, culminating in panoramic views of business district La Défense and its skyscrapers from the sky-high Terrasse Haute. Admission includes neighbouring Jardin d’Acclimatation. The easiest way to reach the gallery is by shuttle bus from place Charles de Gaulle. Reserve a table for lunch at noon in its restaurant Le Frank, or be prepared to queue. Treasure hunts at the Louvre Inspirational THATLou tours with a twist at the Louvre have reached a new high: … Continue reading What’s new in Paris

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  Once a patchwork of farms and windmills, Edith Piaf’s old stomping ground and a staunchly working-class quartier (neighbourhood), brilliantly multicultural Belleville is now home to neobistros, coffee roasters and burgeoning art projects. And with some of the city’s best street art, panoramic views and a rising food scene, this is clearly a slice of northeastern Paris worth checking out. Street art Belleville’s rue Dénoyez sports Paris’ most dazzling street art. Everything on the short street, from rubbish bins and flowerpots to lamp posts and window shutters, is covered from head to toe in colourful art. Artist workshops line the street where local kids kick footballs around and street art ‘happenings’ break out on sultry summer nights. At the end of the street, break for an organic jasmine ice tea, homemade lemonade or glass of warm vanilla milk at Le Barbouquin, a mellow literary cafe with secondhand books, vintage armchairs and cultural events such as violin-accompanied poetry readings on weekends. Meet local artists From blvd de Belleville walk east along rue des Couronnes until you reach rue de la Mare, a plain unassuming street brightened with the odd splash of street art and hidden artist studios and workshops. Seek out ceramists, potters … Continue reading Street art, city views, coffee and markets: exploring Belleville, Paris’ hip new neighbourhood

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Paris is beautiful to explore any season. But spring is the time to soak up that special ‘April in Paris’ charm that Sinatra sung about so well: chestnut groves blossom, city parks burst into flower, plane trees sprout foliage over boulevards, and cafe terraces buzz with new-found energy as Parisians head outdoors to enjoy spring’s soft warm days. Here are our top 10 things to do in Paris in spring. Eiffel Tower No Parisian landmark embraces springtime blue skies so enthusiastically as the Eiffel Tower – its spire is frequently half-lost in fog in winter. On clear spring days, the 324m-tall tower is striking from any angle. And with the new glass flooring on the 1st floor – peer down at Paris beneath your feet – views have never been sharper. For a panorama of the city from the tower, lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel or Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne. For ringside views of the icon and its webbed ironwork imprinted on blue sky, consider Les Ombres or the more casual Café Branly. The Islands Romance oozes out of every historic nook and cranny of Île St-Louis and Île de la Cité, both perfect for a springtime stroll. These two islandson … Continue reading Top 10 things to do in Paris in spring

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In a city synonymous with iconic sights and world-class shopping, naturally  souvenirs abound. You’ll find plenty of budget-friendly Eiffel Tower key rings and Paris, je t’aime! t-shirts but thanks to the city’s artistic flair and craftsmanship heritage, you can also find richer pickings on offer. Here are our top choices for the perfect Paris mementos. Sweet treats There’s certainly no shortage of souvenirs for sweet-tooths in Paris. Pack chocolates in your checked luggage, not carry-on, to keep cool. Pralines, ganaches and fruit chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat or 44 flavours of chocolate from Alain Ducasse’s bean-to-bar La Manufacture de Chocolat are wildly popular. Or try artisan chocolates made with 100% cocoa butter (no milk, butter or cream) from Charles Chocolatier, otherwise pick up some miniature sculptures by chocolate artist Patrick Roger. Brightly coloured feather-light macarons from Ladurée or Pierre Herméare a favourite gift – note they are eggshell-fragile and must be eaten within three to five days of purchase. More practical to take home are candy and caramels from Paris’ oldest confectioner À la Mère de Famille(1761) or bijou jars of syrupy caramel au beurre salé (butter caramel) sold with a small spoon at Maison Georges Larnicol. Should you have fallen hopelessly in love with the decadent hot chocolate served at aristocratic 1903 tearoom Angelina, its adjoiningépicerie sells it … Continue reading Souvenirs from Paris: the best gifts to take home

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Fronting onto the Mediterranean and backed by the Pyrenees and the Alps, the south of France is a microcosm of the wider nation, with gorgeous beaches, photogenic medieval villages and hip cities. Throw in fortresses, Roman ruins, terrific wine (for mum and dad) and a laconic pace of life, and you’ve found yourselves the perfect family holiday destination. Head for the hills The Pyrenees track across southwestern France, separating Spain and Portugal from the rest of Europe. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region, these peaks are an ever present backdrop. Behind the other main chunks of the south – Provence and the Côte d’Azur – the Alps ascend to further snowy heights. The skiing here is legendary, but with kids involved costs can quickly head higher than Mont Blanc, and the Chamonix après-ski club scene mightn’t be their idea of a good time. Instead, check out the myriad little villages in the foothills, particularly the lovely Villefranche-de-Conflent and Céret in Languedoc-Roussillon. Nestled into a mountainside, Villefranche-de-Conflent is an 11th-century UNESCO World Heritage site: duck into a crêpe cafe off a cobbled laneway; explore Fort Liberia looming dramatically above the town; or ride higher into the mountains on the Train Jaune. In the … Continue reading Travelling with kids in the south of France

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Even by French standards, the Auvergne bulges with gastronomic flair. The region produces five protected-status cheeses, cured meats prized around France, plus an arsenal of wines and heady herbal liqueurs. Could something in the water explain this bounty? Locals think so, crediting the rich volcanic soil with the Auvergne’s verdant grazing meadows and fruit farms. Meanwhile visitors are drawn to its passionate but decidedly unpretentious food culture. Exploring blissfully quiet vineyards and meeting fourth-generation cheese makers feels like tapping into the Auvergne’s very lifeblood. This rural part of France lends itself well to road trips, and this circuit from Clermont-Ferrand, the Auvergne’s largest city, will whet your appetite with the best produce around. To break up the trip, sleep off all those glasses of Côtes d’Auvergne on an overnight stop in Salers or Le Puy-en-Velay. Bleu d’Auvergne, the region’s crowning cheese When in France, begin with cheese. Five cheeses in the Auvergne have been certified with ‘protected designation of origin’ (PDO) status, a stamp of approval that guarantees authenticity (and guards against dairy impostors). With dozens of dairy farms, you could enjoy an entire trip rolling between Auvergne cheese tastings (learn more about the cheese trail on www.auvergne-tourism.com/the-auvergne-cheese-trail). Most famous … Continue reading A gourmet road trip through France’s Auvergne region

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Beer. It’s not the first thing most people think of sampling on a trip to France. But France, like many places, is on the cusp of a beer moment. Breweries across the country are taking a nod from their Belgian neighbours, finding influence in American styles and hops, utilising their fresh and wonderful home-soil ingredients and even reviving a historic and uniquely French style of beer: bière de garde. Come with an open mind and thirsty palate and you might just find yourself preferring France’s beer to its wine. Or at least loving them both equally. Here is our guide to drinking beer in France, from sun-soaked brasseries to high alpine huts. French beer styles A lot of people make the mistake of thinking there is no such thing as truly French beer; that, at its best, French beer copies Belgian beer. In fact, France does have several unique ways of rendering beer, the most notable of which is bière de garde. Literally ‘keeping beer’, bière de garde was designed to be a drinkable and storable brew that farmers could brew in the winter (when yeasts were easier to control) and chuck into their cellars to ‘sup on for the … Continue reading Bière de garde: a traveller’s guide to beer in France

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Start an adventure among the whitewashed homes of the Île de Ré, before casting off on the waterways of the Marais Poitevin; sip your way through cellars of Bordeaux; choose between six perfect Atlantic beaches in the resort of Biarritz and see a whole new side to France in the Basque villages. Île de Ré Enjoy the relaxed pace of life in ‘the Hamptons of France’, a stylish island renowned for its seafood and beaches It’s not hard to see how Île de Ré became the bolthole of choice for summer holidaymakers fleeing the French capital. With its wide expanses of beach interspersed with pretty towns and villages, the island has a look of accidental perfectionism: a sort of Paris-on-Sea. Everywhere houses are uniformly cream, with terracotta roofs and shutters mostly emerald green but occasionally grey or blue, echoing the colours of the ocean. In season, the island comes alive, its fashionable visitors pedalling the many excellent cycle paths on sit-up-and-beg bikes, pedigree lap dogs peering from their baskets. Others, returning from market, are carrying freshly caught oysters, dainty new potatoes, and some of the island’s prized fleur de sel: salt harvested from the sea by hand and exported all … Continue reading Salt, spice and all things nice: five French Atlantic escapes

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France is the world’s top tourist destination and for good reason. There’s a lot packed into just one country – artistic and architectural masterpieces, remarkable museums and natural landscapes, and a history harking back far beyond the Romans. Top it off with fine wine, food and a culinary culture that permeates through every city and small town, and the only hard part is deciding where to go first. Paris France’s chic, sexy capital has to be experienced at least once. Mix picture-postcard icons with simple Parisian moments and you’ll truly fall in love with the city. Scale the Eiffel Tower then walk or cycle along the Seine, or cruise down it on a bateau-mouche (bateaux-mouches.fr). Venerate Notre Dame then grab a post-cathedral café atCafé Saint-Régis, ice-cream at Berthillon or super juice at literary café of mythical bookshop Shakespeare & Company. Hit the Louvre then collapse on a bench with a Pierre Hermé macaron in the Tuileries orPalais Royal gardens. Delve into hilltop Montmartre with a local Paris Greeter (greeters.paris). Escape to posh leafy Versailles and come back blown away by France’s most famous chateau. Loire Valley Stunning châteaux are scattered around the lush Loire Valley. Stand in awe of the … Continue reading First time France: where to go and what to do

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In addition to magnificent castles, prehistoric cave art and lush landscapes, the Dordogne is famous for its foodie traditions. Immersing yourself in its culinary culture is one of the best – and tastiest – ways to experience life in rural France. The region’s gastronomic goodies range from truffles and walnuts to fine wine and fresh produce. If you enjoy soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of a French market, Dordogne will be your heaven. Dive into the markets Local farmers crowd their stalls along the cobbled plazas and winding lanes of the Dordogne (also known as Périgord), selling seasonal treats such
 as cèpe mushrooms, chestnuts, duck terrines, foie gras and confit, walnuts and even truffes noires (black truffles). Browse towers of pungent cheese, arrays of creamy honey and heaps of the produce of the moment, from asparagus to strawberries. Summertime night markets are also fantastic: bring your own plates and cutlery and dine at tables set under the stars. The town of Sarlat-la-Canéda has a famous (and therefore touristy) Saturday market and a night market on summer Thursdays. Each village also has its own market day, and some of the top markets fill the winding medieval streets of fascinating … Continue reading Gourmet Dordogne: how to make the most of one of France’s top foodie regions

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Nowhere does French art de vivre (art of living) quite like the Dordogne. This quiet Garden of Eden is stitched from dreamy chateaux, medieval towns and walnut groves; gourmet village bistros and Saturday-morning food markets, where sweet Gariguette strawberries and seasonal black truffles are as common as muck. For travellers following the increasingly hip ‘local produce, homemade’ mantra, this foodie region – sans the crowds of Provence and 100% au naturel – has never been so alluring. Prehistoric Cro-Magnon man trailblazed world-class cave art here in the Vézère Valley. Grotte de Lascaux is the region’s ace, and the new augmented-reality animation at Le Thot and a brand new prehistoric-themed mirror maze in Le Bugue sur Vézère are tiny tasters of the hi-tech high jinks promised at Lascaux 4. Little wonder British Airways is starting direct London City-Bergerac flights this May.

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