Enjoy a panoramic vista from the French village of St Cirq Lapopie, perched 100 metres above the river Lot
Click on photos to enlarge

Enjoy a hard day lounging by the pool of Corsica's Villa Paghjadi

Then in the evening dine out at one of the many picturesque restaurants in St Florent

Take a boat to the pretty Croatian island of Korcula and explore the walled town, which resembles a miniature Dubrovnik


New flights of fancy

31 MAY 2004
New air routes are opening up a whole world of travel destinations, meaning you don't have to have a celebrity-sized paycheque in order to book the sort of stylish weekends away enjoyed by the rich and famous.

Lot Valley, France
Groves of walnut and chestnut trees, juniper-clad hillsides and meandering rivers characterise the Lot Valley. Less known to British holidaymakers than the Dordogne, it shares its neighbour’s beautiful landscapes and tradition of fine food and wine. With its medieval bridges, quaysides and old quarter, the main town of Cahors exudes the languorous charm of the Midi while the surrounding countryside is littered with picture-postcard villages steeped in rural tradition.

St Cirq Lapopie has been colonised by artists, its little craft boutiques displaying a tempting array of leather goods, pottery, jewellery and carved wood. If you enjoy sightseeing, you’ll find chateaux galore, some in ruins, others boasting first-class restaurants or acting as spectacular venues for summer festivals. Vineyard owners will welcome you, happy to let you taste their wine wares without any obligation to buy.

Don’t miss: The region’s caves are world-famous; Grotte de Pech Merle is a natural wonder of stalactites and stalagmites, and home to some of the finest cave paintings, drawn more than 16,000 years ago. The descent into the spectacular vertical cave of Gouffre de Padirac has been described as a visit to Hades across the River Styx.
Where to stay: The Villa Esclauzels, which sleeps eight, is in Esclauzels, the perfect Lotoise village built of creamy beige stone. It has a terrace for alfresco dining, plus a large pool and garden.

Corsica, France
Not for nothing do they call Corsica the île de beauté. French holidaymakers have been keeping chic little resorts like St Florent, Ile Rousse and Calvi to themselves for years and as soon as you get there you understand why. Sleek yachts jostle for space along the quayside at St Florent, which is backed by cafés, restaurants and boutiques that seem to sell nothing but flip flops and swimwear. Visitors sip chilled rosé, linger over langoustine lunches and browse the wine cellars and delis in the alleys behind the harbour, stocking up on herbs, chestnuts, olive oil and terrines.

A sandy beach, La Roya, flanks the town and is a favourite with families, but the coastal stretch to be spotted on is the Plage du Loto, accessible only by private yacht, or Popeye, the boat that chugs over several times a day. Take a picnic and everything you’re likely to need for the day – once there you’re marooned and there are no sunloungers or cafés.

Don’t miss: Calvi is one of the great Mediterranean beauty spots. Behind the resorts, Balagna, with its medieval hilltop villages, is known as the Garden of Corsica.
Where to stay: Corsican Affair offers villas with pools around St Florent. Villa Paghjadi, built of local stone in the wine area of Patromonio, comfortably sleeps up to six.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Everyone falls in love with Dubrovnik. Richard the Lionheart paid for its cathedral, Austro-Hungarian royalty fell under its spell and Prince Charles even donated funds for the restoration of a Renaissance garden. George Bernard Shaw called it "the Pearl of the Adriatic" and diver Jacques Cousteau declared its seas some of the cleanest in the world. Walk around the honey gold 18-foot-thick walls that have girdled the city for 700 years and you’ll be a fan, too.

Above are the silhouettes of the domes, spires and belltowers of 37 churches, below is a patchwork of tiny gardens brimming with roses, jasmine and fig trees. Dubrovnik was built in a neat grid system divided by the Stradun or high street, which looks as if it gets polished nightly, and hums with bustling markets, lively cafés and summer concerts.

Don’t miss: Mlini is a tiny, pretty resort nearby, while the islands of Korcula and Mljet are just a short ferry ride away.
Where to stay: The Tabo apartment, for four, takes up the upper floor of a villa close to Dubrovnik airport and has its own pool and steps down to the sea.


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