This area of marshland on the Provence region's Mediterranean coast is a wild corner of France. Teeming with wildlife, it boasts pink flamingoes, native Camargue bulls and also native Camargue rare breed grey horses, manned by troupes of traditionally dressed "gardiens" (much like cowboys). Book in to the Mas de la Fouque hotel for an impressive stay in stylish surroundings, right in the heart of the wetlands.
Immortalised by Proust in his seminal work "À La Recherche du Temps Perdu", this elegant 19th century hotel was also home to the writer for several months. Originally a casino before it welcomed overnight visitors, today guests can luxuriate in splendour in any one of the 70 rooms on offer, with sweeping views across the Channel.
Les Jardins du Casino, 14390, Cabourg
Google map: bit.ly/NdY1zU
If you want to spend time outdoors in Paris, you can't go far wrong with some lounging in the sun along the Canal St Martin. Hang out with the beautiful young things along the cobbled walkways next to the water and admire the green wrought iron swing bridges as the boats go past, or take a turn with a promenade around the quartier surrounding the Rue de Lancry. The boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées (open Mon-Fri) on Rue Yves Toudic has delicious picnic fare, and if you want a post-fun apéritif the Verre Volé wine bar on the Rue de Lancry serves delicious wine and light bites, or Chez Prune café on the Quai de Jemmapes by the canal's edge is great for people watching.
Canal St Martin, 10th arrondissement
Google map: bit.ly/MhEIre
Juri's tea room is, in every sense of the word, a charmingly quintessential English tea room in the lovely Cotswold village of Winchcombe - almost. The beautiful scones, indulgent cakes and pots of loose leaf tea served up inside the wooden-beamed tea room, or in the conservatory with patio overlooking the Cotswold hills are in fact proudly provided by the Cordon Bleu-trained Japanese owner Juri Miyawaki. Go for a cream tea with a pot of Earl Grey for a truly mouthwatering experience.
This is a sweet little café overlooking the harbour in the pretty hollyhock-lined island village of Ars-en-Ré. We sat on one of the tables on the outdoor terrace last summer and watched the world go by in a very leisurely fashion - the Île de Ré is completely flat and so is known for its cycle paths and lack of cars. Their coffee is fantastic, but if you really want to push the boat out, order a plate of the local oysters fresh from the sea just metres away from your table.
This is a warm and friendly French bistro that we found by accident when walking away from the tourist crowds through the back streets of Montmartre (we almost walked past the wooden frontage of the restaurant!) It's a lovely little spot with a great atmosphere, reasonably priced and very tasty classic dishes (around 15 euros for a main course). The wine list has a good unpretentious selection of wine too. Make sure you try the chocolate parfait for dessert! We went around 9pm when it was quite buzzy, and it seemed to go on until quite late - we loved it as the clientele were pretty much all French with the odd tourist dotted around (presumably they had got lost and found it by happy accident like us!)
Leominster is a small market town in Herefordshire, and it's a hidden gem when it comes to antiques. Try Broad Street for Teagowns and Textiles, a lovely vintage shop with a great selection of men and women's clothing plus a selection of table linen in the back of the shop. Broad Street also boasts the Leominster Antique Market, a veritable treasure trove set out over three floors that houses small rooms let out to individual traders. There's so much in there, you can spend hours wandering around, it's like the Tardis inside! They have vast amounts of pottery and china, so if you're looking for a set or are trying to find a replacement piece then you may well find it here. Corn Square, where the market is held, is home to The Old Merchant House, which operates on a similar basis to the Leominster Antique Market - it's a little less ramshackle and their wares are laid out with more care, so it's more expensive, but definitely worth a look. They also have a lovely cafe downstairs.
This is a 'brocante' (antique/flea market) that is not to be missed. It's medium-sized and takes about an hour or so to wander up and down, and it has the most wonderful selection of goodies. There's all sorts of classic antique French tableware including stunning linen and lace, as well as homeware objects and furniture set out alongside old posters and adverts on old weatherbeaten enamel panels. The last time I was there I picked up a huge one and a half metre high neon-lit 'Tabac' sign (I was there with my car, admittedly!) for just 60 euros. There are food stalls at either end so you can stop for a coffee and a croissant, and if you're feeling cultural there's also the Muséum Naturelle d'Histoire de Toulouse next door on the edge of the equally impressive Jardin des Plantes. It takes place the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month from around 8am until lunchtime.
Allée Jules Guesde, Toulouse (next to the Muséum Naturelle d'Histoire de Toulouse in the Jardin des Plantes). Nearest métro stop: Carnes / Palais de Justice
Google map: bit.ly/y9eyzz
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