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Best for sun and sea: Province

Whether it’s aniseed-scented Marseilles pastis, the glorious sheltered calanques (creeks) of Cassis, or that catchy tune ‘Sur Le Pont d’Avignon’, Province, the region whose luminous landscapes inspired artist Van Gogh, is the place to head when you’re seeking sea and sun.

In France’s second largest city you can wander for days along cobbled streets discovering Roman ruins and eclectic museums, shopping in the old city’s bustling bazaars, supping traditional Bouillabaisse fish stew in one of the cafes along the old port, or just lazing on one of the glorious beaches in nearby La Ciotat.

When it’s time to flash that tan, make your way to the celebrity-studded beaches of St Tropez, or join crowds wandering along La Croisette in famed film festival venue, Cannes. Once you’ve had enough of those madding crowds, ride a bike into the wild and wonderful Camargue region, where you can spot pretty pink flamingos and white horses, picnic in the dunes or swim from some of Province’s best beaches.

What else?

If you want to duck out of that sizzling sun for a while, soak up some culture in the museums and sites of medieval Avignon. On weekends you should make your way to Isle sur la Sorgue to pick up some cool shades and other vintage bargains in the city’s vast marché aux puces (flea market).

Best for foodies: Wine Country

From Bordeaux to Burgundy and Champagne, France is famed too for its guzzle-worthy grape juice - and in a country famed for its gastronomy there’s plenty of good food to go with those fine wines.

Boasting more than five dozen different appellations, Bordeaux is an ideal destination for wine lovers. Hire a bike to get around this pancake-flat city and make a beeline for the Musée du Vin et du Négoce to learn more about the city’s long wine history. Next, pedal over to Quartier St-Pierre and sample local specialities such as lamproie à la Bordelaise (lamprey eels in red wine sauce) and esturgeon à la Libournaise (sturgeon in a white wine sauce) in one of the cafes on this lively central square.

Party in one of the hip wine bars close by, then get up early and head out of the Route de Médoc to sample some of the region’s celebrated wines. Alternatively, head north to Burgundy’s medieval capital Beaune, where vines have been grown along the banks of the river Saone for several millenniums. Here you can see winemakers’ tools and learn about local traditions in the Musee de la Vigne et du Vin then head out on a walking tour of the surrounding villages to sample some of those dry red wines made from Pinot noir grapes and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes in local farms.

What else?

When you’ve supped enough wine, make a beeline for Cognac, home of fine brandy since the Middle Ages, where you can visit the ancient Cognac houses, learn how the brew is made, then sample some of that heady brown stuff in cafes and restaurants along the cobbled streets of this picturesque town beside the Charente river.

Image credit: Thinkstock


Destination guide: France
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