If camping, use the Pont d'Avignon campsite. Not only is it situated on a beautiful island in the centre of the Rhone, but there is a free ferry service to the city from 10am-5pm daily ... a great way to travel to the city.
The best things about Avignon are not in Avignon! Take the hourly 205 bus to the unbelievable Pont du Gard aqueduct, and watch the daredevil French kids diving headlong off the upstream cliffs, as they have done for 2000 years.
Catch the next bus on to Uzès, a magical little town on the edge of the Provençal wilderness. I had a college friend who stayed in a hillside hamlet beyond Uzès and cycled, when he could be bothered, to University in Avignon. One night we found him asleep on a park bench nursing an empty wine bottle. Only in Provence!
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Avignon, a bus ride away and a great base from which to explore the area.
Avignon is a beautiful. Not to be missed, though, is a journey to the Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard and also the amphitheatre in Nimes. When we visited, a bull fight was being staged and people were streaming in to watch the slaughter; the matadors could easily have been gladiators.
At the La Mirande hotel, in the Cardinalice room adorned by a Brussels tapestry, you will experience culinary art beneath a Renaissance ceiling. The food is absolutely amazing. Chocolate mousse and teas are complimentary. Menus from €35.
If you need to change rail stations in Paris (e.g. Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon), you can buy your Paris Metro tickets from Rail Europe, either online or at the London office in Piccadilly - thus saving you queuing time in Paris.
Les Cavaliers des Étoiles means Stars Riders because they use to watch stars with telescope. South France's deep sky is amazing.
It's near the medieval village of Mirepoix (10km).
Horse treks from two to several hours on local trails. Horseriding trips and riding holidays for adults and children of all levels of ability, including beginners, from a farm near the Pyrenees.
Les Cavaliers des Étoiles
09600 Dun France
The new downhill track at Vallorcine is a brilliant addition to the area - the top twists through the high meadow before heading down via a fast section with a jump to a long rooty and rocky descent through the trees, finishing off with some heart-pumping hairpin bends.
The lift is only open until August 19 for this year (2007) but hopefully the success will lead to a longer season next year.
Starts at the top of the Vallorcine lift, finishes at the bottom. You could also access it by riding across from the Col De Balme lift at Le Tour.
Fondation Vasarely - a little down on its luck, but so worth visiting -for the building and the art, and the shop. Just a short bus ride from central Aix, by the Bus 4 and 6 - stop Fondation Vasarely.
A little B&B for two in south Normandy (Le Perche). It's in a really cute little stone building next to the main house.
What makes it special is the lovely ambiance, and the care the owners took restoring it. We also had our first go on a compost toilet! The owners are very laid-back and friendly and the views over the garden are nice.
You can wander down and visit the chickens while drinking your coffee in the morning! Breakfast was all home-made and delicious!
02 33 83 34 57
A fine Indian restaurant with a €11.50 set lunch (not Sundays) and lovely decor. Something different from steak frites - and in a country where Indian restaurants are still a rarity, well worth finding.
Rue de la Clouterie, Chartres - old city centre, 5 mins walk from the cathedral
A truly excellent find - perfect for a stopover when driving to southern France or Italy from the UK.
The view from the clean, airy and beautifully decorated bedroom is of Chateau de clos Vougeout, and vineyards as far as the eye can see.
Fantastic continental breakfast, with everything beautifully displayed on platters. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Equidistant between Dijon and Beaune on the N74 (exit No 1 on the A31).
There is a fantastic secondhand clothes shop on Rue de la Verriere.
The shop is packed full of stuff mainly from the 1970s/1980s but also earlier and priced between EUR5 and EUR30.
Well worth a rummage.
Rue de la Verriere (between Rue du Reynard and Rue du Temple)
Nearest metro: Hotel de Ville
Rudechalets are a chalet company based in Morzine. I stayed last year with them. Their staff, food and chalets are awesome.
The only place I have stayed with PS2s in all bedrooms, a hot tub, a 42" plasma screen and a ride snowboard test centre!
www.rudechalets.com rudechalets, Morzine, France
The Cloitre St Louis is a very affordable four-star hotel located in a former 16th-century monastery.
The rooms are quiet, spacious and very well decorated in a modern minimalist style and the breakfasts keep you going all day.
The hotel was an ideal location for non-car users, being a stone's throw from Avignon Centre railway station (not Avignon TGV).
Hotel Cloitre St Louis
20 Rue Du Portail Boquier
Avignon, FR 84000
I challenge anyone not to relax in Collioure, an historic coastal town just south of Perpignan and sandwiched between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
You can wander the narrow streets, ponder the meaning of life in a seafront café or march into the rugged hills and vineyards behind, where you’ll get a great panoramic view of the town below.
Seafood lovers should sample the famous Collioure anchovies. For foodies generally, Café le Vauban serves a never-ending platter of regional delicacies that redefines the term "bargain".
Collioure can be a great base to explore up and down the coast too. A train line runs through several towns, but be aware that all trains cease between around 1pm and 3pm, as is the Mediterranean way.
Where to stay: a good value hotel is Le Triton. Breakfast by the sea …
30mins on train from Perpignan.
A laid back, small town in the Roya valley hard up against the border with Italy.
Easily accessible by train from Nice and surrounded by beautiful hills perfect for exploring by foot or cycle.
Great entry point to the Mercantour National Park.
The town has its share of interesting buildings including an ancient bridge and the baroque Saint Michel cathedral set in an impressive town square.
With plenty of places to eat well Sospel is a peaceful haven away from the hectic coastal area.
Having been to many Michelin restaurants, I've never met an English-speaking sommalier so passionate or with such incredible depth of knowledge.
Further, she was delighted to recommend superb wines for €25/bottle.
Food was also first class.
Book in advance.
A 16th-century chateau set in beautiful grounds with a wonderful restaurant.
In the summer you eat on the terrace beneath linden trees.
Elegant without being pompous.
Set behind the shopping/commercial estate of les Milles just outside Aix off the Marseilles road. You go through the grand gates and into another century.
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