If you want to bask in the warm Mediterranean sea, but hate the crowds that fill much of France’s coastline, head to the vibrant, chilled out port of Marseille.
Get up early to soak up the sights and smells of the Vieux Port fish market. When the shouts of the fishermen trying to get rid of their sea urchins grows too much, take a navette (boat shuttle, €2.50 for a 40 minute journey) to Pointe Rouge, a sandy beach with great views across the harbour. Then take a stroll along the coastal path towards Callelongue, stopping off at whichever calanques (rocky coves) take your fancy, for a swim in the turquoise waters.
When you’re ready to head back to the bustle of the city, catch a number 20 bus to the end of the route and then switch to number 19. End the day with a bowl of bouillabaisse (Provençal fish stew) and a glass- or two- of pastis (anise-flavoured liqueur).
A perfect day out from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence is a trip to the beach followed by ice cream. But these aren't just any beaches and ice creams. The bay of local choice is the little fishing village of Carry-le-Rouet, 20 miles from Marseille. Happily spend a day on the beach, nestled at the bottom of burnt orange cliffs, with the garigue and pine trees providing a pretty backdrop or a great place for a shady stroll. When the sun becomes too much, head for the hilltop town of Miramas le Vieux and the most amazing ice cream parlour, Le Quillé, to enjoy the warmth, views and flavours of Provence.
Le Quillé, Chemin de Miramas Vieux à Lunard, 13140 Miramas, France
+33 (0)4 90 50 18 18
Google map: bit.ly/HKdYip
A rather surprising new, albeit temporary, addition to a previously bland building, the café on the ground floor of Veletrzni Palace seems more of a science laboratory than a traditional cafe. Large bowl-shaped test tubes and gargantuan funnels and filter papers combine to offer up fresh filter and siphon coffee brews. (From 70 czk for a filter coffee).
An incredibly modern cafe frequented by tourists and Prague hipsters - the perfect place to rest gallery-wearied feet.
Offers tea, coffee and a small range of sweet snacks.
Open throughout summer 2012.
Dukelských hrdinů 47, 170 00 Prague 7
Google map: bit.ly/HYoRvw
* Helen is our Been there local for Prague. Her page is here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-helen-ford.jsp and she has her own blog here: czechingin.wordpress.com/
This wine and tapas bar is absolutely fantasic! The owner is generous and interested in pleasing anyone who shares her love of food and wine. She plays flamenco from her record collection, serves up yummy tapas, some of which she makes herself, and has a small but excellent range of Spanish wines that she thoughtfully combines with whatever tapas you want. I left myself entirely in her hands and had two blissful wine/food experiences. The atmosphere is also memorable with tasteful decorations and thoughtful touches like linen table cloths that she puts out on the bar before you begin. If I could make this my regular wine bar I'd be in heaven!
Tendillas De Santa Paula No 4, Granada, Andalucía
Google map: bit.ly/HKg39Y
We have had breakfast and lunch here, essential to book. Quality food and laid back atmosphere.
A must but be prepared for a lot of yummy mummies and kiddies.
Chippy opposite Lobster Hatchery. Fish and chips and you have to queue for ages.
The fish is good, but the chips are quite anonymous.
Jimbaran Bay is famous for its many seafood cafes. Bawang Merah restaurant is at the northernmost section of Jimbaran beach and therefore offers a unique view over the bay, amazing! We dined at a table on the beach, enjoyed our grilled seafood and the magnificent sunset there. An unforgettable dinner next to the ocean.
Kelan Beach at Jimbaran Bay, Kelan 80361
Perched on the end of its own promontory off the from the unspoilt Gargano Peninsula, this ramshackle eaterie faces the sea on three sides. The real draw is its awesomely fresh fish, some of which is caught from the restaurant’s own trabucco, a Puglian contraption that drops nets into the teeming waters below. Ask the friendly staff for specials off the menu.
The short walk from the train station to the beach takes you past a variety of shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture. On arriving at the beach you will find at least three miles of golden sand propped up by many hip and trendy bar/restaurants. A day trip to Viareggio complemented our stay at the stunning nearby city of Lucca, which is easily accessed only 40 minutes away by train.
Google map: bit.ly/HKzSNa
We've been to half a dozen Michelin starred restaurants but this one has to be one of the best if not the best we've visited.
We went for the tasting menu which effectively amounted to 10 courses (including various amuse bouche) costing €140 in total including two glasses of wine each.
Service was very friendly and very relaxed.
The chef Nikos Karathanos won the Michelin star for the restaurant in 2009 and it from our experience will hold it for many years to come!
Interesting bar/cafe in the bohemian Exarchia area of Athens.
The Exarchia area has drawn intellectuals and students into it from the 19th century onwards and the area was headquarters of many left wing organisations.
This establishment on the square looks straight out of 1960s eastern Europe with every piece of furniture actually from the 1960s itself. Relaxed easy going crowd pitch up here.
A very popular fish restaurant on the shore that people keep coming back to. Always a good mix of locals and tourists. There is a bar area where locals come in for a pint or even a glass of champagne.
Had the fish platters and they did not disappoint!
Great quality fish as you come to expect. For two platters, bottle of house white, chips and glasses of port it set us back only £83.
In recent years while we were there we have seen the actor Stellan Skarsgard, cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw, Tom Kitchin (Michelin starred chef) and Celebrity Masterchef winner Nadia Sawalha to name but a few.
Decent food quickly at very reasonable prices.
We had two mains, one Coke, two bottles of beer for £12.80. It should have cost £15 or so but there was an automatic 20% discount (which seems to occur frequently).
This place serves decent Asian food and not surprisingly given the student population in the area is always busy.
It is quick and cheap and while it will not be garnering any Michelin stars it is somewhere we often go back to when in the area.
Don't believe they do reservations and you can always get a table though you might have to wait a few minutes.
45 South Bridge, Edinburgh , EH1 1LL
Google map: bit.ly/IL8nH4
As the name suggests, the only food sold here is pork. In the window is a whole hog from which the staff take shredded pork.
The pork is served on rolls (three different sizes) with the choice of stuffing and apple or chilli sauce for extra flavour. That is in essence the menu!
The pork is absolutely amazing!
Some seats on the premises though a lot of people just take away.
Great bar on the Shore area of Leith in Edinburgh.
Extremely friendly and efficient staff. Feels like a French bar with dark wood and a fire in the corner.
This bar also has a separate eating area though you can eat in bar as well. We had a great fish pie (£8.50) and a steak and kidney pie (£9.50).
The bar, unlike some on the Shore area, is kids friendly.
3-4 The Shore, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QW
+44(0)131 554 5666
Google map: bit.ly/HEVn49
A really decent pub.
This is part of the Belhaven chain and has a very good value drinks menu. Additionally the food menu is very reasonably priced and very tasty - a step above a lot of pubs.
In the less busy times of the week, there are great deals to be had on food and drink.
They even have a 'Man V Food' challenge on Tuesdays!
The pub is situated on the popular Shore area of Edinburgh (Leith) and feels like a pub that should be in a port with all the nautical memorabilia on the walls.
This seaside restaurant is the best I have eaten at in 11 years of travelling around Italy. Fresh fish, stunning scenery, it is Sicilian dining at its best. We were taken here by Sicilian friends, a testament to its excellent reputation.
The first thing that hits you is the view. Located overlooking Isola Bella, a lush island nature reserve below the chic resort town of Taormina, Il Gabbiano makes the most of its setting with several beautiful terraces.
Specialising in "frutti di mare" - fruits of the sea - Il Gabbiano serves up anything your seafood-loving stomach desires. We ate king prawns, sardines, squid, and beautiful fresh fish baked over charcoal and filleted at our table, served with fresh lemon, olive oil and herb dressing.
The service is delightfully attentive, but the atmosphere is completely relaxed. It typifies what I love most about coastal Italy: great food that is simple, plentiful and found in unassuming, roadside restaurants which hide stunning seaside views.
Via Nazionale n. 115, Taormina, Isola Bella, Sicily
+39 (0)942 625128
Google map: bit.ly/ImqaR7
It can be easily reached by car from the motorway, or on foot from Taormina centre via the cable car down to the beach. It is located 100m from the cable car station.
Nearest train station: Taormina-Giardini Naxos (taxi or bus to Isola Bella)
Among the burgers and burritos that dominate much of Austin’s eating out landscape, the Whip In’s Indian food with a Texas twist is a welcome alternative. The Whip In is ominously located just off the interstate highway that dissects the city, but the service station exterior should not put you off from experiencing the imaginative dishes and remarkable range of drinks on offer. Creativity and fresh organic ingredients combine to make the many mouthwatering offerings available on the menu. At six to seven dollars, the vegan rice bowls are not only a bargain and an escape from the meat centric diet of Texas, but they are also palate pleasing mixtures of intricate spicy Indian flavours that will fill you up too – I particularly recommend the Zambian corn and pepper masala in
spicy coconut curry. The combination of Chutneyfied eggs, corn tortilla, black bean masala and spiced basmati rice that constitute Mumbai migas offer the visiting breakfaster an unusual Indian- Mexican dish, which is very tasty and a great way to start the day. Indeed a core aim of the Whip In’s new chef, Claudia Alarcón, is to “Whip Indianze comfort food classics” and her curried ratatouille builds upon the project started by the general manager Dipak Topiwala, the inventor of such delights as the South Asian Frito Pie: Beef, beer-curried chili, fritos, black bean masala, shredded cheese, sour
cream, and cilantro chutney. I must stop myself from further lyrical waxing about the food, because the Whip In is much more than just a place to eat. Run by the friendly and ever present members of the Topiwala family, the Whip In has been evolving since day one, back in 1986: starting as a convenience store and gas station the space now remarkably accommodates a café, pub, liquor store, music venue, and grocery market selling organic locally produced ready meals and other snacks. They have over 60 beers on tap, but if none of these satisfy your curiosity then just wander to the open fridges and select something exciting from the astonishing number of beers and wine available in the store (they will open it for you at the counter). The interior café is intimate and comfortable with a small stage for music, wooden bar stools line the length of the extensive bar, and there is also a large outdoor seated area, which gets packed on Friday and Saturday nights as people gather to relax, chat, and be entertained by bands playing on the Mariposa Music Garden stage. The number of services offered at the mighty Whip In makes it a nightmare for a reviewer to condense – unbelievably an onsite brewery is being added in 2012 - but the sheer diversity also serves up something for everybody in a lively, relaxed and extremely fun atmosphere.
1950 S Interstate 35 Austin, TX 78704
+1(512) 442 5337
Google map: bit.ly/HkXIWo
* Mark Sheaves is our Been there local for Austin. You can read his profile and about Austin here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/austin-local-mark-sheaves.jsp and you can follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/MarkSheaves. Check out other locals here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp
Just an hour from Nice in rural Provence lies the beautiful village of Villecroze. Blink and you miss it but situated on the main street is 'La Cascade'. Every lunchtime and evening, Martine cooks quietly in view of her lucky customers. Delivering Salade de Chevre Chaud, Daube Provencale, Creme Brulee and Tarte aux Pommes. Complimented by wine from the local vinyard 'Valcombe' not a mile away. Welcomed with a cold aperitif on a summer evening and waved goodbye apres cafe, you just can't get more French than this.
Rue Ambroise Croizat, 83690 Villecroze, France
+33 826 10 69 06
Google map: bit.ly/HJmJtU
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