Domaine De La Baume, Provence, France

An hour's drive inland from the riviera, this sprawling elegant 18th-century hideaway is set in manicured gardens above a valley thickly forested with olive groves. Every room at Domaine de la Baume has been painstakingly designed to be unique: the furnishings blend ornate French country antiques with Provençal colours - deep blues and brick reds.

Your day might include a splash in the oh-so-elegant pool, glasses of exquisite French wine sipped under fairylights strung from tree to tree, and, of course, the food.


Each day begins in the garden with a lavish spread of fresh pastries served with homemade jam, vast bowls of cafe au lait and pungent local cheeses, over which it is tempting to linger so long that breakfast gradually lengthens into lunch. Later on, aperitifs are accompanied by plates of delicate ham and sun-ripened figs.

The main event, though, is dinner, a sumptuous, lengthy and thoroughly French affair that samples all the region's delights including goat's cheese tart that's made with sublimely flaky pastry; courgette carpaccio doused in olive oil pressed in the hotel's grounds; and a dark chocolate pudding created by the pastry chef, whose skills border on genius.

Days pass in a haze of blissful calm - the only worry is whether you'll fit into your jeans when you leave.

WOW FACTOR: Just a ten-minute stroll across the striped lawns takes you to some stunning hidden waterfalls. Perfect for walking off brunch.

GO: A double room costs from £332 per night, B&B;

FLIGHT TIME: 2 hours