The Côte d’Azur, the Mediterranean coast of southwestern France, is one of Europe’s greatest gems. With crystal clear seas to rival the Caribbean, terracotta orange rooftops, grand villas of  La Belle Époque, millionaire yachts, a balmy climate and an abundance of fine cheese and wine, it really is the ultimate driving holiday. The best way to see the French Riviera is by car, not least for the beauty of the ability to make unexpected stop offs and discover villages off of the beaten track en route, and Hertz were kind (or mad?) enough to let me loose on the roads in a large Toyota. 14,000km, 9 cities, an aqueduct, a vineyard, 2.5 tanks of diesel and a flock of flamingos later and I’m here to tell the tale…

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Big in France hosts hands on cookery courses like no other; nestled in the idyllic French countryside a short drive from the bustling harbour town of La Rochelle you’ll learn how to make beautiful dishes – both exquisite in flavour and in presentation – using locally sourced seasonal produce under the guidance of multi-award winning Scottish chef, Mark Greenaway. Indulge in a plethora of foodie delights whilst sipping on a glass of vin rouge…or two…before returning home with new friends, a full belly, a happy heart and a whole host of new kitchen skills.

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Los Angeles is the kind of city where you can do pretty much anything your heart desires. You want to eat shaved ice (a concept I will ~ never ~ understand) at 3am? Sure! Take your dog for a mani-pedi? You got it! Sip $30 smoothies surrounded by celebs at the Beverly Hills Hotel? Just call the concierge dahhhling. However there is so much more to this SoCal city that doesn’t involve a single swipe of your credit card…

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Disneyland isn’t often the first thing that springs to mind when you envisage your trip to California, so you can imagine my absolute delight when I was busy Pinterest-planning our various Los Angeles adventures and stumbled upon a photo of that icon pink castle. When you hear Disney in the context of the USA, you immediately think of Orlando, but as it turns out Anaheim in California is home to the original Disneyland, making it an absolute must if you’re planning a holiday there.

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One of Los Angeles’ most attractive features is the proximity (I do use this word lightly – nowhere in LA is quick to get to) of the city to sprawling California beaches. In the same day you can quite easily peruse the designer stores on Rodeo Drive or look for your favourite star on Hollywood Boulevard and then catch a wave on the Pacific Coast.

Santa Monica and Venice beaches are only a 30 minute walk from one another, connected by a boardwalk well beaten by cyclists, skaters and Cali surfer dudes dragging their boards behind them, though in reality each are very much their own separate worlds; one offering a cool coastal ‘lobster on the pier’ kind of vibe, the other selling medicinal marijuana and pet rocks.

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