A seaside break in Dakar
The leaves of the palm trees sway in the sea breeze, while fishermen's dug-outs disappear into the rising sun. It looks like being another bright, sunny October day in Dakar. The amazing view of the ocean is a permanent fixture from the terrace at the Teranga. This contemporary hotel has touches of African decor, showcasing local art and design. In the lobby, you will be amazed by the imposing artworks of Omar Victor Diop, a young photographer who is highly sought-after on the international market. Then, you will just love the traditional fabrics with their sophisticated modern twist created by talented textile designer Aïssa Dioné; her items are also on sale in the hotel's concept store called Wao.
A stroll past the colonial houses of old Dakar will lead you to Kermel market. Admire this elegant hall with its brick and wrought ironwork, built in 1860, before browsing around the Senegalese traders' stalls, straining under piles of peanuts, hibiscus flowers, chilli peppers and more.
Head out of the city centre and go for lunch by the sea at Noflaye Beach. Tucked away in Les Almadies neighbourhood, this beach restaurant provides time-out in utter peace and tranquillity. Lulled by the waves, you will enjoy its prawn skewers in simple surroundings.
In the afternoon, a short ferry crossing reveals the magic of the island of Gorée, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a real joy to wander around its sandy lanes, admire its colourful limewashed facades and chat to the island's artisans.
Back on dry land, go and visit the Mosque of the Divinity, located right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, in Ouakam, one of the districts of Dakar. Opened in 1997, it is one of the five most remarkable Islamic buildings, and was built entirely by hand without the use of any machinery.
Finally, get ready for an enchanting night out on the town in Dakar. On Mamelles hill, the road climbs up to the city's oldest lighthouse. With its 360-degree panoramic views over the city, you will instantly fall in love with the Phare des Mamelles bar-restaurant. In the lounge area, an acoustic band provides the music, as the twilight-pink glow of the lights add to the magic of the place.
Pullman Dakar Teranga Hotel
10 rue Colbert
+221 33 889 22 00
Rue de Essarts
Route des Almadies
+221 33 820 30 32
Mosque of the Divinity
+221 78 433 98 24
Phare des Mamelles
Route de l'Aéroport
+221 77 343 42 42
Osaka – the extravagant city
On arrival at Osaka airport, a futuristic complex designed by illustrious Italian architect, Renzo Piano, you get the feeling that this is a contemporary city just bursting with energy. Prepare to discover a city where good humour and extravagance prevail.
For a sensational city break, book a room with a view, on one of the top floors of the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. Your ultra-modern hideaway is found in the Abeno Harukas, the tallest building in Japan. This glass giant is also home to the country's largest shopping centre, so you can shop everything you need. The garden terrace on the 16th floor reveals a breathtaking panorama over the capital of the Kansai region. But the most spectacular views are yet to come at the Harukas 300 observation deck which sits at the top of the tower. Head back down to the bottom floors, where a huge space given over to food outlets provides a feast for the eyes. There are crunchy puffed rice cookies, feuillages chocolate leaves from Morozoff – a famous brand which opened in Japan in 1930 – or even tasty tori-kawa, a typical snack of grilled and marinated chicken skins on skewers.
Osaka indulges in its many contrasts and has lots of unexpected places tucked away, such as the Keitakuen Japanese Gardens in Tennoji Park. Recharge your batteries by its waterlily pond, surrounded by sculpted age-old bushes. From there, it is less than a ten-minute walk to Shitenno-ji, the traditional beating heart of Japan and its oldest Buddhist temple. This was the first building to have been built in the Land of the Rising Sun, in the 6th century, at a time when Buddhism had not yet spread across the island. Accessible via four huge magnificent doors or a stone torii or gate, the complex is made up of several buildings, including a five-storey pagoda which you can climb up inside.
Immerse yourself in the riotous revelry of the Dōtonbori district with its fluorescent neon lights and traditional stalls. You will not believe your eyes as you walk along its large pedestrianised street crammed with the glaring rainbow lights of restaurant signs. Capital of Japanese street food, Osaka will get your taste buds tingling. Giant octopus gives you a clue as to one of the city's culinary delights – takoyaki. You absolutely must try these small and tasty octopus batter balls.
The most non-conformist city in the archipelago is also the stage and architectural laboratory of local boy, Tadao Ando. While visiting the city, soak up his poetic style at the Sayamaike Museum, located on the banks of Japan's largest artificial lake. The exhibition actually starts before you step inside the building: admire how concrete uses geometry and harmony to become one with the waters of the Sayama Pond. Inside, you will learn all about the history of this ancient dam on which the museum was built, giving you a real insight into Japanese water engineering.
In the evening, your Osaka exploration takes you to the small wooden houses of Kitashinchi. In this micro-village, a hot-spot for Osaka's bright young things, you can spend an evening strolling around trendy boutiques and dimly lit bars.
Osaka Marriott Miyako
2 Chome Ikejirinaka
In the South African bush
Enjoy springtime in South Africa before the rains arrive, usually at the end of October. Fly to Johannesburg where the temperatures remain pleasant, thanks to the altitude. How would you like to stay at The Satyagraha House, the former home of Gandhi and now a museum and guest house? This one-of-a-kind place immerses you in the spiritual universe of the great man. Your bright and simple room connects with the museum devoted to the Mahatma. You will enjoy vegetarian fare in accordance with Gandhi's principles on life.
The real reason for your South African sojourn lies five hours by car to the east. In the famous Kruger National Park, your wildest dream is about to come true as you set out in search of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, lion and leopard) in the heart of one of the country's most stunning private reserves. To experience this fabulous adventure at its very best, set your sights on the Lion Sands Narina Lodge as your base.
With its natural river-edge setting and chic Out of Africa ambience, the lodge has designed its suites with all types of travellers in mind, whether going solo or as a family with children. A wave of emotion engulfs you when you see the treehouse, perched high among centuries-old trees, looking out over the river, and included in your booking. A suspended walkway leads to your suite where you can watch the savannah's teeming wildlife at your very feet. Safely protected by the height of your shelter, you will discover to your greatest amazement, animals roaming freely between your luxurious refuge and the Kruger National Park.
You jump into a jeep and set off on a guided safari tour. The ranger who goes with you knows the bush like the back of his hand and will keep you safe and sound. You are in luck: at the peak of the dry season, the vegetation is sparse and the wildlife is concentrated around the rivers. Spotting them is child's play! A leopard comes into view, so your guide encourages you to get out of the vehicle so you can admire the big cat from even closer quarters. Man and beast live side by side to the great delight of one and the freedom of the other, whose way of life is preserved in the heart of the reserve. When evening comes, dinner is held in a traditional boma, a round enclosure protected by wooden fencing. With stars in their eyes, everyone recounts their day's adventures around the camp fire.
15 Pine Road
+27 (0)11 485 5928
Lion Sands Narina Lodge
+27 (0)11 880 9992
Sète – the original Mediterranean gem
Less than an hour to the south of Montpellier, the horizon opens up over the blue of the Mediterranean. In October, the holiday-makers have left and the gentle climate is just perfect for exploring the French coast's biggest fishing port. Sandwiched between the sea and the Étang de Thau lagoon, you will love Sète for its energy and vibrant cultural life. Stay at the charming family hotel L'Orque Bleue, in a pretty 19th-century building sitting on the side of the Royal Canal.
From this superbly situated home-from-home, step out and feel the soul of Sète which makes itself known through its sing-song accent and the salty sea smells in the covered market, tucked away in the heart of the town. In this lively quarter, watch as locals cheerfully call out to each other, then sit down to enjoy oysters from Bouzigues and a tielle – a local pie filled with octopus and tomato.
After this, take a stroll in the fresh air along the Royal Canal with dozens of colourful fishing boats bobbing alongside. Do you fancy a fish lunch? Find a table on the unassuming terrace of Oh Gobie restaurant. The menu at this laid-back eatery boasts tuna, cuttlefish, sardines and other divinely cooked marvels of the deep. Afterwards, there is nothing better than a stroll past the sailboats, yachts and catamarans in the old port to walk off your feast.
It is then time to go and explore Sète's lagoon environment on a two-and-a-half-hour walk with a state-registered nature guide. In his company, you will discover the secrets of the Étang de Thau, a wetland area so precious to the region's ecosystem. The flora and fauna are thriving and you are bound to see species such as pink flamingo, common shelduck, pied avocet, Salicornia and saltwort. And of course, you will learn something about the geological and human history of this fragile lagoon.
A breeze of creativity blows through this inspiring maritime town. Back in the centre, you wander along the canals or in the picturesque streets of the fishermen's Quartier Haut, noticing the work of street artists on the town's walls. Sète is certain to astound with its International Museum of Modest Arts, the MIAM. Housed in a former wine warehouse, this laboratory, open to artists from all walks of life, will amuse with everyday objects taking centre stage in themed display cabinets. Stock cubes, children's figurines and old posters are brought together to create a visual identity that harks back to our memories and the emotions they hold. Your Mediterranean break comes to an end on a highly original note.
10 quai Aspirant Herber
+33 (0)4 67 74 72 13
9 quai Maximin Licciardi
+33 (0)4 99 02 61 14
Thau Lagoon Discovery – Pink Flamingo Circuit
Kayak Med, Base Lagune
79 chemin du Château de Villeroy
+33 (0)6 95 63 12 75
International Museum of Modest Arts (MIAM)
23 quai Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
+33 (0)4 99 04 76 44