Stay: Le Boutik Hotel: Benoît and Delphine Lange have converted a 19th-century residence into a 12-bedroom hotel set amid terraced gardens. Rooms are individually decorated with items from the couple’s design boutique.
Lunch: Brumes Café: This speciality coffee shop excels in lattes and a daily-changing three-course lunch menu featuring seasonal produce.
Dinner: Clos des Sens: The focus of chef Laurent Petit’s restaurant is on regional ingredients, with seafood sourced from Lake Annecy and herbs grown on site.
Drinks: Le Nid du Merle: Local Savoy tipples and charcuterie boards feature on the menu at this wine bar in the old town. For a Sunday aperitif try the oysters washed down with a glass of biodynamic white.
9 Rue de la Gare
Buy: Boutique Opinel: Opinel knives are sold at retailers worldwide but the Savoy-based coutellerie only has one branded store. The Annecy flagship stocks Opinel’s signature foldable knives, peelers and special models.
Grooming: Barber Papa: The tattooed barbers at Barber Papa specialise in old-school methods, from hot-towel razor shaves to clipper beard trims. The shop also hosts in-store gigs by local bands.
Visit: Musée du Film d’Animation: About 10 minutes’ walk from the Château d’Annecy, the town’s animated-film museum tells the story of the cinematic genre through an enticing collection spanning more than 4,000 works.
Stay: Chez Laurence Du Tilly: French designer Laurence du Tilly relocated from Paris and converted this townhouse into three holiday apartments. Hidden in the vaulted cellar is a common space complete with a library, fireplace and bar.
Breakfast: Keys & Co: A buzzing corner shop where you can always find a nice window seat, a steaming cup of coffee, homemade sweets, buttery croissants and hearty brunch dishes.
133 2 3134 6083
Lunch: Gloriette: A design boutique-cum-bistro serving creative dishes and great vin naturel by the glass, in a handsomely decorated and relaxed environment. Brands that are showcased include Normann Copenhagen and Leff Amsterdam.
Drinks: La Môme: This convivial bar has a sun-speckled terrace for warm spring and summer days. It serves good local beer and fine wine, accompanied by homemade snacks.
133 9 8172 9091
Buy: C & Chou: Treats in the form of pastries, from delicate eclairs to savoury choux puffs made in the onsite bakery, are available in this pâtisserie.
Buy: Memoranda: A treasure trove of secondhand books (including a small English section), with a café and open kitchen set within the first floor of the shop so that you can enjoy a tea while you read.
Culture: Cinema Lux: An independent cinema that shows an eclectic mix of films (including English titles) in a complex that’s home to a café. There’s also a shop that specialises in films, offering everything from collectibles to DVDs.
Visit: Caen-Puces: This monthly marché à la brocante (flea market) set up along Quai Vendeuvre in the harbour of Caen is not to miss. Head here to pick up some rare finds at reasonable prices.
Stay: Five Seas Hotel: With 45 bedrooms and a private beach, Five Seas offers a more boutique alternative to the town’s grand hotels. The rooftop terrace is a popular spot for poolside aperitifs.
Coffee: Noisette: Tucked away in a quiet street in the heart of Cannes, this family-run Italian café is renowned for its frothy cappuccinos served en plein air or in the pastel-coloured dining room.
Lunch: Soccannes: A visit to the region wouldn’t be complete without trying a socca: a pancake-style snack made from chickpea flour. Soccannes at Marché Forville cooks up the best in town.
Dinner: La Table du Chef: Cannes is rich in Michelin-star establishment; but for understated provençal cooking, this 20-cover spot has the answer. Chef Bruno Gensdarme concocts menus according to what’s available at the market.
5 Rue Jean Daumas
Drinks: Au Pot de Vin: With its 1930s-inspired interior and setting in a former garage, this intimate wine bistro seems miles away from the extravagant cocktail bars lining the Croisette boardwalk.
Buy: Marché Forville: Away from the glitz and glamour of Cannes’ main shopping arteries lies this neighbourhood market hall. This is where locals come to stock up on olives and provençal cheese.
Visit: La Malmaison: Housed in the tea room of a former luxury hotel, this arts centre showcases 20th and 21st century art. Recent exhibitions have included Max Ernst and Alberto Giacometti.
Stay: Okko Hotels Lyon Pont Lafayette: Overlooking the banks of the River Rhône, this 85-room hotel is in a stunning 18th-century building with contemporary interiors designed by Patrick Norguet.
Lunch: Le Café du Peintre: The spot to come for a leisurely lunch, this family-run bistro serves regional specialities such as escargots, veal ragout and sautéed pork cheeks, all in a friendly atmosphere.
Dinner: Paul Bocuse Restaurant: As the hometown of the late Paul Bocuse and his nouvelle cuisine (conceived for the maiden flight of Concorde), dinner here is a prerequisite. Truffle soup (created for the French president in 1975), scallops of foie gras and fricassee of Bresse chicken are just a few of the items on the menu.
Drinks: The Monkey Club Cocktail Bar: This bar has quickly made a name for itself since opening. It offers a wide selection of cocktails, including signature concoctions such as the Absinthe Sour.
Buy: Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse: This historic market hall, dating from the 19th century, offers some 50 stalls selling the finest French produce, from fish to fromage.
Culture: Musée d’Art Contemporain: Lyon’s premier contemporary-art museum, designed by Renzo Piano, recently launched its new programme. It includes shows featuring artists such as young Brazilian Maxwell Alexandre and the late David Tudor, whose sound piece “Rainforest” is one of the institution’s most recent acquisitions.
Visit: VDC|B: This boutique at the Village des Créateurs, a creative business incubator, showcases the products of dozens of Lyonnaise designers who have their workshops within the complex.