The Masons Arms is a what people hope for in a Lake District inn, it’s a quaint old building full of character with dining available in lots of nooks and crannies. They sell an excellent range of beers and offer a full menu with lots of traditional favourites alongside some more unusual options such as ale and cheddar rarebit. In good weather the great range of light bites make it the ideal place to stop for lunch; sit outside on the terrace with the birds singing and take in the fantastic views over the valley.
The Brown Horse is situated in the heart of the Lake District, but slightly off the beaten track in an unspoilt area with great views over rolling fields. The inn has a welcoming rustic atmosphere with wooden beams, a flagged floor and a real open fire. Much of the delicious food is grown onsite or sourced locally, with regional specialties such as Cumberland sausage and Lakeland lamb on the menu. Wash your meal down with a pint of real ale; the pub brews its own and has a great selection on tap.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue is a pretty town built around the river Sorgue, it’s a colourful place filled with flowers. The town is a haven for antique lovers with 300 specialist shops; from gold laden cherubs to rusty horseshoes, there is something for everyone. Irresistible deli’s sell fresh bread and local produce – great for a picnic on the riverside.
Google map: bit.ly/ONuKil
Saint-Paul de Vence is a picturesque village perched on top of a hill, the little streets are filled with quaint shops selling homemade soaps and lavender from the nearby Abbey Senanque. There are fantastic restaurants on every corner, sit outside among the fragrant flowers and enjoy the local cuisine then visit the Fondation Maeght art gallery; striking pieces set in beautiful gardens.
Hvar town offers visitors the perfect mix of island relaxation, great food and cosmopolitan nightlife. Spend the days basking in the sun on the shores of the turquoise Adriatic, or wander through the fragrant lavender fields the island is famous for. Enjoy fresh fish sat outside in the town square then visit the fairy-lit harbour, sip cocktails and watch the jet set arrive on their mega yachts.
Google map: bit.ly/KCtLBz
A pretty town, set against a stunning mountain backdrop, it’s easy to fall in love with Split on arrival. The centre is built around the striking remains of the Diocletian’s Palace and contains a warren of stone paved streets filled with interesting shops. Visitors can take a walk round the coast to the beach or join the evening promenade down the palm lined harbour, for a great meal try the local’s favourite, Sperun.
Sperun 3, Split, Croatia
+(385) 21 346 999
Google map: bit.ly/Ng2Bwu
With eclectic décor, wonderful service and fantastic food, The Dwelling House is a little slice of bygone Britain in the centre of Fowey. The amazing array of cakes and scones are freshly cooked in the homely kitchen and served on vintage crockery in the quirky tea rooms. The hardest part is deciding what to choose; but in the year of the Jubilee it’d have to be the scrumptious Victoria Sponge!
The warren of tiny streets in Alfama come to life after dark, covered with lanterns and streamers, makeshift restaurants spring up on every corner serving the local specialty – grilled sardines. There is a wonderful friendly atmosphere and the air is filled with live music and fragrant smoke. The freshly grilled sardines, served simply with bread and salad are delicious. Then wash them down with sangria or a beer, get lost in the crowd and dance the night away.
West of Palermo on Sicily’s northern coast, picturesque Scopello is the ideal place to soak up the atmosphere of Sicilian village life. Enjoy the evening sun in the fairy lit walled square, surrounded by olive trees. Visit the beautiful ‘tonnara scopello’ set on the edge of the turquoise sea in an isolated bay covered with fragrant oleanders. The more energetic can walk in the stunning Lo Zingaro nature reserve or explore the rugged coastline by boat.
The ‘brocantes market’ in beautiful Aix en Provence is held on a wide boulevard shaded with trees and surrounded by fragrant flower displays.
The locals set out stalls under bright coloured umbrellas and hours can be spent wandering from one to another, enjoying coffee and pastries at the street cafes along the way. There is a wonderful eclectic mix of antiques from extravagant chandeliers and glamorous jewels to dusty books and agricultural ironwork.
The market has a lovely relaxed air; visitors can soak up the atmosphere created by the sunshine and chatter of the locals whilst searching for a little piece of treasure.
Place de Verdun: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Google map: bit.ly/H2XobA
The cosmopolitan city of Berlin is a great place to spend Christmas. Wrap up warm and set out in the snow to explore this fantastic city with its mix of ancient and modern history. Call in at the Christmas markets in Potsdamer platz, see the beautiful Sony Centre lit up in blue lights. Try an alternative Christmas dinner – the Berlin classic currywurst (a curried sausage) and a beer then join a million people for the famous New Year's Eve party at the Brandenburg gate complete with a fairground, live music and the midnight fireworks - Fröhliche Weihnachten!
The snow filled cobbled streets of Salzburg are the perfect location for a Christmas market. Every stall is packed with festive treats, from soft and chewy iced gingerbread and hundreds of varieties of marzipan to Amaretto flavoured mulled wine. The air is filled with the aroma of Christmas trees and gluwein, wrap up warm, listen to the choir singing Christmas carols and treat yourself as you wander through the fairy lit streets of this magical place.
La Zucca Magica is a little vegetarian haven on the French south coast in Nice, not a country noted for veggie restaurants! It’s a quirky place, every corner is filled with pumpkins, fairy lights and newspaper clippings of the larger than life chef - Marco. The restaurant is quite small and the tables are close together so it’s full of atmosphere and very sociable.
The restaurant only offers a set meal of five courses - you don’t see a menu, you just sit back and enjoy the ride! The selection changes daily as the chef creates inventive and tasty dishes from the fresh produce available with favorites including delicious soups, home made pasta and stuffed peppers, all full of flavour from the addition of local cheeses and fresh herbs.
The meal lasts all night, the service is good and many diners are greeted with a kiss by Marco. The meal isn’t cheap and booking is essential as its always full, but it’s a great choice for veggies and non-veggies alike, a real dining experience!
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