NOW TRY PORQUEROLLES, FRANCE
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