The blue hues of Nice
With the unmistakeable blue of the Mediterranean, the captivating fragrance of its vegetation, beautiful homes and prestigious hotels, the French Riviera is the stuff of dreams the world over. So, with summer just around the corner, but holiday-makers not yet there in their droves, enjoy this time to discover or rediscover Nice and the Baie des Anges. You are probably familiar with the famous Promenade des Anglais which you will never tire of strolling along and the equally famous five-star Le Negresco hotel which welcomes international stars come to savour the sweet Mediterranean life.
Nice also has a bustling historic centre alive with a culture and spirit all of its own. Explore its pretty streets and wander along Cours Saleya; its markets at this time of year overflow with fruits as colourful as they are delicious, and the profusion of beautiful flowers is a sight to behold. A simple but genuine pleasure. On the cafe terraces, regulars put the world to rights under a brilliant blue sky.
Your day continues with a swim before you decide to explore one of the city's countless museums. The Masséna Museum housed in a stunning Belle Epoque villa catches your eye. Through its rooms, the museum traces the history of Nice down through the ages.
The weather is nice; the days are long. An aperitif is enjoyed on a terrace. A moment of peace and quiet to round off a day of wonderful exploration as colourful as the city itself. If you are lucky enough to be in town on Sunday, 30 June, join in with the Festival of Saint-Pierre. Every year, fishermen gather together to honour their patron saint; they organise a procession to the Ponchettes beach where a boat is symbolically burned. This highlight in the city's calendar demonstrates the vibrancy of Nice's cultural heritage and traditions.
You end your day by sampling the fish and shellfish on offer at La Réserve de Nice, located in a stunning residence overlooking the sea. The ‘large prawn hanging around with a courgette' is a real treat for the taste buds.
65 rue de France
+33 (0)4 93 91 19 10
La Réserve de Nice
66 boulevard Franck Pilatte
+ 33 (0)4 97 08 14 80
The golden hues of Rio de Janeiro
In June, Brazil is bathed in a gentle light and air. With average temperatures of 25°C, how can you resist the lure of Rio de Janeiro? For your summer trip, why not choose a relaxing, luxurious break to experience all the magic the city has to offer? The doors of the Belmond Copacabana Palace open into a world where splendour blends with lush and peaceful indoor courtyards and gorgeous swimming pools. After a session in the spa, you are ready to start your Brazilian adventure with a revitalised body and soul.
For another dose of serenity, head out to Ilha de Paquetá, a small island a few kilometres off the coast of Rio. With wild, unspoiled beaches and small, colourful colonial houses, you will enjoy this peaceful setting that could have been lifted from an adventure story.
Hunger steers you through the doors of the Confeitaria Colombo. Its friendly atmosphere and stunning glass and gold ceiling make you want to linger awhile over your food. It is not surprising then that Queen Elizabeth II stopped off there on her visit to Rio in 1968. If she was to go again today, she could try a quindim, a flan made from eggs and coconut – an addictive, both creamy and crispy, sweet treat.
As evening falls, you go and watch the unmissable spectacle of the sun setting over Ipanema Beach. It is as if the artist Klimt, famous for his golden paintings, had repainted the landscape in amber hues. There is still time for another magical moment at the Theatro Municipal. This splendid building hosts many ballets and operas, a marvellous finale to your carioca experience.
Belmond Copacabana Palace
Avenida Atlântica, 1702
+55 (0)21 2548 7070
Rua Gonçalves Dias 32
Rio de Janeiro
+55 (0)21 2505 1500
Rio de Janeiro
+55 (0)21 2332 9191
The ochre hues of Marseille
Marseille stands out for a history and charm all of its own, which cannot fail to impress anyone who visits. You start your visit in the famous Vieux Port. Stroll along the quayside where fishermen unload their catch from their boats, which will soon be snapped up at the fish auction. It is a ritual that has gone on unchanged for centuries, punctuated by the cheerful banter of the fishmongers.
If you are starting to feel hungry, head to L'Hippocampe and enjoy its cool and shady terrace. This family restaurant is renowned for its 100% Marseillaise cuisine. So, what is on the menu? What about fresh fish, bouillabaisse fish stew or tasty aioli?
In this iconic part of town, watched over by the Fort Saint-Jean, first started back in the 12th century, the scene never changes. Pleasure craft set sail for other, sometimes distant, Mediterranean shores, crossing other boats arriving from Nice's Baie des Anges. Marseille lives to the beat of its port.
Do not miss the MuCEM, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, located near to the Fort Saint-Jean. The concrete building, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, is worth a detour in itself. This June, you have the choice of an exhibition on the work of painter Jean Dubuffet, another one retracing the Tunisian Revolution or another showcasing a collection of reliquaries. Just like the Phocean city itself, the museum is a mix of different eras, cultures and genres, and promises a stimulating and original visit.
Next, take La Canebière to delve deeper into the heart of the city. The most famous avenue in Marseille is lined with beautiful mansions and grand luxury hotels from a bygone age, now often converted into big-brand stores; one such example is the former Hôtel du Louvre et de la Paix, located at number 63, which now houses a branch of an international off-the-peg clothes store.
If you have time, leave the city behind and head to the coast with its rocky inlets known as the Calanques, closely guarded treasures by those in the know. There, you will walk in the steps of Cézanne, Raimu, Pagnol and so many other artists passed on to posterity.
1 esplanade du J4
+33 (0)4 84 35 13 13
14 quai du Port
+33 (0)4 91 90 88 38
The natural hues of Stockholm
With summer just around the corner, get ready to discover the kingdom of Sweden. On the agenda are long sunny days and very pleasant temperatures. Perfect conditions to enjoy the many charms of Stockholm.
Start by walking through the historic old town, Gamla Stan. The colourful facades take on a whole new glow in the sunshine. There are small shady squares around every corner, where cafes make the most of the return of fine days to put out their tables and chairs. Take a seat and enjoy a traditional fika coffee break.
Then, hop on a bike and pedal over to Strandvägen, an avenue running along the water's edge. It is great place for a bike ride surrounded by majestic buildings and pretty boats moored along the quayside.
Lunch time already? Perfect! The Strandbryggan restaurant, located by the bridge going over to Djurgårdens, welcomes you to its floating terrace. No need for sea legs to enjoy this gourmet break in the sun. But if the lure of the sea is too hard to resist, climb aboard one of the many boats offering trips around the archipelago. Sailing at this time of year is very pleasant and the green landscapes are well worth the trip.
Are you in Stockholm on 6 June? That is a lucky coincidence as you will be able to take part in the National Day of Sweden, also known as Swedish Flag Day. Blue and yellow take pride of place, even more so than usual. And since 2010, you can also enjoy a special 6 June cake, a strawberry roll decorated with the two colours of the flag. Later in the month, Swedes celebrate the festival closest to their hearts, Midsommar; this marks the summer solstice and is the equivalent of Saint John festivities elsewhere in the world. Think traditional dances and songs around a maypole, eating marinated herring with new potatoes, downing a glass of schnapps… this is the heart of Swedish tradition at its best.
Stockholm 114 56
+46 8 660 37 14
The pink hues of Perpignan
You have just got off the plane and next minute, you are in Perpignan for a thoroughly Catalan experience. Now your discovery of these lands, shaped by centuries of history, nestled between France and Spain, can truly begin.
The medieval city centre takes you back in time to an age when Perpignan was the capital of the kingdom of Majorca. Bearing witness to this golden age are the fortress-style Palace of the Kings of Majorca and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where you can admire the altarpiece on the high altar and the different artistic influences that have left their mark over successive centuries.
Do not forget to visit the Campo Santo, the adjoining funerary cloisters, the only one of its kind in France. Strolling in the sun, you continue your journey back in time, from the primitive church of Saint-Jean-le-Vieux to La Poudrerie, Vauban's gunpowder factory. In the pleasant springtime air, take time to stroll through the many gardens the Catalan city has to offer, such as Le Jardin des Remparts, famous for its blue palm trees and bald cypresses. Perfect for a bit of not doing very much at all!
Your trip then takes you inland. There, the vine is king, covering the surrounding hills in a green blanket. Admire this landscape patiently toiled by the hand of man, giving life to a delicious wine full of sunshine. Beautiful estates beckon you in to tell you all about the magic of wine-making and share their love of the terroir.
You have the choice of three Roussillon wine routes which are both a journey and a series of beautiful encounters. Traditional, organic and sustainable wine production… discover (in moderation, of course) the wealth of Muscat or Grenache varieties and appellations such as Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury and Collioure. Above all, make time between wine cellar visits to stop off at local producers: see orchards bursting with sweet fruit at this time of year, saffron and other quality or organic farm produce… You have everything you need to make up a picnic basket that is a pretty as it is delicious.
If you are pressed for time, the covered market at Le Carré Arago is home to many farmers from the region selling their fruit, vegetables, cheeses and much more… Or maybe you would prefer to dine at the Villa Duflot, a gastronomic restaurant set in the heart of stunning gardens with centuries-old olive trees.
For the full traditional Perpignan experience, have a go at the sardana. If you are around on the day of the Festa Major (23 June), you will see this dance everywhere you go; groups of people form a circle and merrily dance without a care in the world. At night-time, revellers pay homage to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Perpignan; there is one big party which everyone joins in, culminating with the famous fires. And a great time is had by all!
Palace of the Kings of Majorca
Rue des Archers
Le Carré Arago
+33 (0)6 79 53 62 33
Avenue Charles Deperet
Rond Point Albert Donnezan
+33 (0)4 68 56 67 67