NOW TRY PORQUEROLLES, FRANCE

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

The sky is huge, the sea blue. Notre-Dame plage, maybe the finest in France, ex­ists, just a ferry-hop from Hyères on Porquerolles. This is the French Riviera be­fore it be­came “The Riviera”: car-free, forested and lit­tle de­vel­oped (bar the vil­lage, winer­ies and the re­cent, bril­liant Fon­da­tion Carmignac art gallery). The south­ern coast rises wild and ragged. Other fine beaches fringe the north­ern side – but Notre-Dame is loveli­est, least pop­u­lated and best de­signed for idylls.

Fly to Toulon or Mar­seille, bus to Hyères, ferry to Porquerolles, check into the Villa Sainte Anne (sain­teanne.com; dou­ble rooms in June from £134).

BEST FOR UNSPOILT BEACHES

Set in the val­ley be­tween St Lu­cia’s pair of land­mark Pi­tons, Sugar Beach is a 100-acre es­tate dis­tin­guished by its arc of blind­ing white sand (im­ported from Guyana). While this is the is­land’s most mem­o­rable stretch of sand, when you tire of loung­ing on the beach or un­der the al­mond trees of the beach­front bar, the snorkelling and div­ing in the bay (a pro­tected ma­rine reserve) are ex­cel­lent. A week in March at Cas­tara Re­treats (cas­tararetreats.com) – close to En­glish­man’s Bay – costs from £438 a head. BA and Vir­gin At­lantic fly in from Gatwick.

GREEK GIFTTake a step back in time on Stafi­los Beach, Skope­los, top; Capri, right, re­mains an is­land of glam­our

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