France

The low down:
Bordeaux makes smoking sexy again. Maybe it’s the sunlight, but everything in this city has that continental “je ne sais quoi” that makes you almost ashamed to be British. It’s not hate, but jealousy that leaves us enthralled in a self-loathing love affair with our closest neighbours, which this city will turn into an obsession.

Getting there:
Flights with Easyjet from £60 return to Bordeaux.

Where to stay:

The cheap and cheerful Hôtel Studio (€28.56 private twin with en-suite, pp/pn) is in an excellent location.

Three of the best:

>> Rise late and indulge yourself in the most chic meal of the day, brunch, at Pain & Cie, for only €19 for two. It arrives with a delicious selection of pastries, croissants, chocolate spreads, jams, cured meats, salads and juice.

>> Wander through this Escher painting-esque architecture, a triumph of mathematical design and symmetry. Sip an iced tea in the Place Pey-Berland and meditate on the sombre Cathédrale Saint-André. Find the golden virgin cradling her baby on its top, Michael Jackson style, against the blue sky.

>> La Cale Sèche rum bar is the perfect proof that there is more to Bordeaux than wine. The pirate style tavern will shiver your timbers with flavoured rum for €2 per shot, poured from multi-coloured balloon shaped containers.
Gina Heslington

*****

The low down:

The capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice showcases the architecture of the Baroque era in a vibrant cosmopolitan city centre. The climate is warm all year round, with a sea breeze keeping the city pleasantly cool even in summer. Although it’s the fifth largest city in France, Nice retains a distinctly village feel due to its fairly small size.

Getting there:
Flights with Easyjet from £60 return to Nice.

Where to stay:

Hotel Normandie – £170 per person per week (double room & breakfast), 18 rue Paganini

Three of the best:
>> The food, unsurprisingly, is divine. Le Barque Bleue, a superb little seafood restaurant on the port, is just one such example. Watch your food being prepared in front of you by the French owner.

>> Ville Franche is a 20 minute bus ride along the coast, a tiny town with beautiful buildings, a discreet beach and great cuisine. It costs €2 for a return bus.

>> Monte Carlo is another ten minutes down the road – home of the Grand Prix. It is so grand and ostentatious – even the outside of the casino is imposing.
Lucy Coleman

One comment

  1. I’d be very impressed by anyone who can get from Nice to Monte Carlo in 10 minutes. It’s around a 30 minute drive, and can often take longer due to bad traffic.

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