This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
All great weekends away need a crowning moment — an activity that forms the heart of the trip. It could be an exhibition, a hike, or a night at the opera, but why not put your taste buds first? Europe is full of iconic restaurants, with menus bursting with creativity; these are the places to save up for and plan a short trip around. Here’s our pick of the best.
Best known for haute cuisine at his Michelin-starred restaurants in Monte Carlo and London, Alain Ducasse showcases a different side to his culinary repertoire at La Bastide de Moustiers. Surrounded by fragrant Provençal herbs and flowers, with olive trees providing shade, this was Ducasse’s home before it became a restaurant with rooms. While the atmosphere is homely, the menu of hearty French dishes prepared by chef Adrien De Crignis, such as local venison with vegetables from the garden, is more than worthy of its Michelin star. In the morning, baskets overflow with perfectly flaky, buttery croissants. Five-course menu: €95 (£84).
Where else to eat: Moustiers is in a rural area, so dining options are limited, but the main village — roughly a 20-minute walk away along hilly country lanes — has a clutch of restaurants catering mainly to tourists visiting the Verdon Gorge. Of these, La Part des Anges Moustiers, with enviable views downhill, and La Grignotière, in the heart of the village, both serve Provençal favourites in casual surroundings.
In the area: Tourists have long made pilgrimages to Moustiers to admire the large gold star that hangs on a 443ft chain between the two cliffs that bookend the village. Local legend says it dates back to the Crusades, although the iteration we see today is 50 years old. The headliner, however, is Verdon Gorge, where active travellers come to hike, climb and raft. For those with a head for heights, paragliding and bungee jumping are also popular.
How to do it: Eurostar connects London St Pancras with Paris, from where you can catch a train onwards to Marseille. Ryanair, Vueling and British Airways fly from the UK to Marseille, around 90 minutes’ drive from Moustiers. La Bastide’s doubles start at €225 (£198), room only. QX
A collaboration between chef Gert De Mangeleer and sommelier Joachim Boudens, Hertog Jan at Botanic Sanctuary received two Michelin stars just seven months after its October 2021 opening. Hardly surprising, given this is the third iteration of Hertog Jan, and both predecessors held the full three stars. This is a place devoted to precision and culinary perfection. To that end, the restaurant is supplied by its own greenhouse, herb garden and beehive, and doesn’t accommodate any dietary requirements — because even a small change would throw the precise, seasonal menu off balance. Even so, opening for just two weeks each month and with only five tables, the waiting list is extensive. Reservations open six months in advance. 11-course tasting menu: €345 (£304).
Where else to eat: For casual dining, the veg-centric restaurant at Graanmarkt 13 has a green Michelin star thanks to its clever sourcing of ingredients from urban farmers, including from the garden and beehives behind the building. Beer-drinkers can’t come to Antwerp without trying the local specialities: De Koninck’s amber pale ale is better known, but don’t miss seefbier, a malty blonde ale that originated in the city. Not into brews? Try Elixir d’Anvers, a canary-yellow herbal liqueur created in 1863 as something of a cure-all. La Pipe d’Anvers serves all three, alongside a casual food menu.
In the area: The majestic art nouveau train station is just a taster of Antwerp’s architectural beauty. More can be found at Grote Markt, around which are the historic town hall and grand guild houses, each topped with a gold statue. Over 80% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp; for an insight, try a guided tour through the diamond district or a visit to the DIVA Museum.
How to do it: Eurostar offers rail travel from St Pancras to Antwerp, via Brussels. Alternatively, Brussels Airlines flies from Manchester and Birmingham to Brussels, half an hour by train from Antwerp. Botanic Sanctuary, the luxury hotel that’s home to Hertog Jan, offers doubles from €325 (£286), room only. QX
Ophelia, Konstanz, Germany
The elegant Riva hotel sits on the German shore of Lake Constance (a 40-mile stretch of water bordering Germany, Austria and Switzerland), and its restaurant, Ophelia, is more than worthy of the setting. Under the direction of Dirk Hoberg, Ophelia won its second Michelin star just two years after opening in 2010. The menu is largely inspired by the area: most of the vegetables come from the nearby island of Reichenau, and fish options, such as roasted whitefish, come from the lake. Pair your meal with something local from the lengthy, well-chosen wine list. Five-course menu: €215 (£189).
Where else to eat: It’s a 15-minute walk into the university town of Konstanz, which has an impressive cathedral and a food market. It’s also home to an ancient winery, Spitalkellerei Konstanz, where there are delicious pinot gris and müller-thurgau varieties to try. Alternatively, jump on a train to the Swiss wine town of Weinfelden, where you can hike between the vines on the six-mile Wine Trail, sampling from the vineyards’ wine stocks as you go, before enjoying a hearty meal at Gasthof Eisenbahn.
In the area: Towards the southern end of the lake, the 110-acre garden island of Mainau spills over with a stunning display of lush, semi-tropical plants in the summer months. It also has a baroque palace, built in 1746 for the Grand Duke of Baden, complete with a cafe. Alternatively, tackle part of the 45-mile network of trails that circles Lake Constance at varying distances from its shores, using the scheduled White Fleet boats to get you into position.
How to do it: Konstanz can be reached by train from St Pancras with two or three changes, including in Paris. Alternatively, Swiss, British Airways and EasyJet all fly to Zurich, which has a train to Konstanz. Hotel Riva’s doubles start at €220 (£193), B&B. FS
Playful and inventive, Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana riffs on classic Italian ingredients to create plates of delicious modern art — like the now-infamous ‘Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart’, in which yolk-yellow lemongrass gelato, lemony zabaglione cream and spiced pastry are splashed onto a plate, Jackson Pollock-style. The intimate restaurant has just 12 tables, with the constantly evolving tasting menu led by the seasons and innovations in the experimental kitchen. Bottura may once have received hate mail for ‘adulterating’ Italian cuisine, but he’s clearly doing something right — the restaurant holds three Michelin stars and has twice topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. 12-course tasting menu: €320 (£282).
Where else to eat: Modena is home to two Italian staples: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar — and there’s nowhere better than the centrally located Mercato Albinelli to shop for them. Grocery stalls dominate the 1930s market hall, but a handful of counters also offer the chance to sample fruity lambrusco and a toasted panini. Elsewhere, Trattoria Pomposa al Re gras is the place to go for tagliatelle al ragu, one of the region’s signature dishes.
In the area: Don’t miss the UNESCO-listed cathedral and its equally impressive statues. The building, including its bell tower and surrounding piazza, dates back to the 12th century. And while the food in Modena tends to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, the city’s motor racing pedigree is rather more pacy, thanks to its famous son, Enzo Ferrari. Car fans can visit the two Ferrari museums — in the Old Town and in nearby Maranello — to admire a host of striking vehicles and motors.
How to do it: British Airways and Ryanair serve Bologna. Hotel Cervetta 5, in the old town, a five-minute walk from Osteria Francescana, has doubles from €145 (£128) a night, room only. QX
Turrets and ornate chimneys peak through a line of oaks on a quiet lane as you approach the handsome stone gates of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a Belmond Hotel. This is Raymond Blanc’s sumptuous homage to Anglo-French cuisine, which has gained increasingly ecstatic reviews since it opened in 1984, picking up two Michelin stars and a green star in the process. Seasonality and sustainability are very much on the agenda here, and you can forget formality, as this is one of the friendliest luxury hotels you’re ever likely to experience
— a style honed by Blanc over the decades. The 11 gardens are the stars of the show, especially the kitchen garden, and there’s even a gardening school, with day courses covering such topics as how to grow edible flowers. Their produce is used in the exquisite, delicate dishes, and there are — unusually for most fine-dining establishments — full vegetarian and vegan menus. Seven-course evening menu: £230.
Where else to eat: In nearby Oxford, Raymond’s Brasserie Blanc serves French classics, while Arbequina has an excellent Spanish tapas menu. For gastropub dishes, The Magdalen Arms knows how to slow-cook a lamb shoulder, while the market town of Marlow — a 25-minute drive away — is home to various Tom Kerridge establishments, including the relaxed yet refined pub The Coach. The Oarsman, meanwhile, is a locals’ favourite.
In the area: Spend some time exploring Oxford’s honey-coloured libraries, colleges and chapels. Wobble down the waterways in a flat-bottomed punt, hired from the boathouse under Magdalen Bridge, grabbing a glass of Pimm’s at the stand next to it for courage. Don’t miss the vast collection of curiosities on display at Pitt Rivers Museum. And sit among scholars over a pint in the 17th-century Lamb & Flag.
How to do it: Haddenham & Thame Parkway is 10 minutes’ drive away, with rail connections to London, Birmingham and Oxford. Doubles at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons start at £890, B&B. For a more budget-friendly alternative, DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry is just a six-minute drive from the restaurant, with room-only doubles from £84. FS
The serpentine roads leading up to the hillside glass palace that is Azurmendi make for a truly spectacular arrival, and a journey of another kind takes place in the three-Michelin-star restaurant. The culinary experience starts with a picnic of amuse-bouche in the lobby before diners proceed to the greenhouse, where more morsels are hidden among the vegetables. By the time the trail reaches the dining room, Eneko Atxa’s approach to sustainable dining — food waste recycling, rainwater reuse, solar panels, etc — will have become apparent, not to mention the level of imagination that goes into something as simple-sounding as a truffled egg (a yolk injected tableside with a syringe of truffle broth). 30-course tasting menu: €300 (£264).
Where else to eat: Dining in the Basque Country is dominated by pintxos: often slices of baguette topped with slivers of ham, cheese, fish and anything else in season, all held together by a skewer. Bilbao’s Casco Viejo (‘old quarter’) is the location of local favourites such as Bar Fermin and Restaurante Cafetería Pentxo. Thirty miles south east of the city, Asador Etxebarri offers top-notch wood-fired cooking — chef-owner Victor Arguinzoniz’s menu is filled with signature smokiness.
In the area: The Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is an architectural masterpiece, encompassing twists and turns of titanium against glass and limestone. Guarding the exterior are Jeff Koons’ flower-adorned Puppy, and Louise Bourgeois’ Maman, a 30ft-tall metal spider. More traditional works can be found at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, while another architectural highlight is Azkuna Zentroa; the facade, which combines elements of a former 1909 corn exchange with 1970s additions, contains a multipurpose leisure complex with an edgy interior redesigned by Philippe Starck.
How to do it: Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth to Bilbao, while Vueling and Air Europa fly from Gatwick. Azurmendi is a 15-minute drive from the city. Hotel Miró, opposite the Guggenheim, has doubles from €82 (£73) a night, room only. QX
You can’t talk about Girona’s cuisine — or Spanish gastronomy — without mentioning El Celler de Can Roca. This landmark restaurant has three Michelin stars and has twice been voted the world’s best. Run by the Roca brothers, with Joan the executive chef, Josep on wine and youngest brother Jordi on pastry, it’s a slick operation where even the humblest ingredient is elevated to an eye-popping level. The tasting menu includes dishes such as pickled Girona green pepper served with charcoal-grilled melon, prized Palamós prawns marinated in rice vinegar and head juice and served in a seaweed velouté, and a cloud-like mushroom-based dessert that’s patted around the air above the table. 15-course tasting menu: €215 (£188).
Where else to eat: At Girona’s covered market, you’ll find highly prized L’Escala anchovies, and botifarra, a sweet sausage made with pork and candied peel. Sample Girona’s revered xuixo pastries (like sugar-dusted cronuts filled with lightly sweetened cream) at Oriell, and try nutty raw milk cheeses at Cal Formatger cheese restaurant in the medieval Jewish quarter. There are also plenty of restaurants, including newly opened Sinofos, where chef Marc Ramos Barranco serves dishes such as locally picked ceps covered in nutty lardo to a Jimi Hendrix soundtrack.
In the area: While Barcelona to the south is groaning with tourists, laid-back Girona cruises to a different beat — much of the magic lies in the narrow, cobbled streets that weave through the medieval Jewish quarter, dotted with cafes, bakeries and craft shops. Make time to walk the restored city walls, gazing at the Pyrenees in the distance. Plus, don’t miss the multicoloured houses on the banks of the River Onyar, where you’ll also find the Gustave Eiffel-designed bridge, Pont de les Pescateries Velles.
How to do it: Airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2 fly to Girona from the UK. Alternatively, fly to Barcelona and catch the 38-minute train from Barcelona Sants. Hotel Nord 1901 has a restaurant headed up by ex-Jordi Cruz chef Pau Viella, and room-only doubles from €100 (£88). FS
Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
With its cookery school and annual 17-day showcase of visiting global chefs called, fittingly, Obsession, Northcote is a gourmet getaway with knobs on. The handsome 26-room luxury country house hotel sits in the heart of Lancashire’s picturesque Ribble Valley, with far-reaching views across to the Forest of Bowland. As executive chef, Lancashire-born Lisa Goodwin-Allen trumpets her passion for all things local in her regular TV appearances. And, at her Michelin-starred restaurant, expect appealing dishes such as slow-cooked Cacklebean egg with Jerusalem artichoke chips, and venison loin with maple, whisky, celeriac and apple. Five-course tasting menu: £115.
Where else to eat: There’s plenty on offer here to justify the Ribble Valley’s top-notch culinary reputation, starting with Mrs Kirkham’s legendary lancashire cheese, which you can try before you buy at the farm shop in Goosnargh. Then there’s the microbrews at Bowland Beer Hall and Brewery, in Clitheroe, which has one of the UK’s longest bars, not to mention the array of local produce on offer at the neighbouring Bowland Food Hall. Meanwhile, the region’s must-try cheese and onion pie is best enjoyed at the Black Bull inn in Old Langho.
In the area: Sign up for Northcote’s newly launched Artisan Food and Drink Trail with savvy tour guide Katie Wilson from Bowland and Bay. Bike along the 29-mile Ribble Valley Villages Cycle Ride. Explore the 400-year-old, Grade I-listed Stonyhurst College, one of the oldest Jesuit schools in the world. Bag a permit and try fishing in angler’s paradise the river Ribble for sea trout and salmon. Or simply walk from Northcote up to Dean Clough Reservoir, following in the footsteps of Cumbrian great Alfred Wainwright to work up an appetite before dinner.
How to do it: Northcote is a 30-minute taxi ride from Preston, which is connected by rail to Manchester and Lancaster, but a car is needed to do the area justice. An overnight stay at the Northcote, with dinner and breakfast, costs from £490 for two. FS
Slippurinn, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Slippurinn opens for just four months a year, to take advantage of the short summer season on the tiny island of Heimaey, in Iceland’s Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. During this time, head chef Gísli Matt picks, pickles and preserves foraged ingredients from the land and sea, from lemony sorrel to umami-rich seaweed, pairing them with the catch of the day and whatever else he can source locally. At the heart of it all is a desire to preserve Icelandic traditions. Seven-course tasting menu: ISK 11,490 (£67).
In the area: Heimaey is a summer nesting ground for puffins, and more than a million birds come between May to September – most settle along the coast but the chicks are known to wander into town, too. Orcas and dolphins swim off the coast. Back on the mainland, the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara and Vik, and Skógafoss waterfall are all within driving distance.
How to do it: EasyJet, Icelandair and Wizzair fly from the UK to Reykjavík, a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the ferry at Landeyjahöfn. The crossing to Heimaey takes 30-40 minutes. Doubles at Hotel Vestmannaeyjar from ISK 22,050 (£129), B&B. QX
This legendary restaurant with rooms sits in a lochside spot on the Isle of Skye. Head chef Scott Davies’ menus make the most of the island’s bounty, with innovative dishes such as Loch Dunvegan crab, almonds, ginger and yoghurt sauce, and Armadale Estate red deer, sausage, salt-baked celeriac and elderberry sauce. Four-course menu: £95.
In the area: Hike up the Old Man of Storr or swim in the Fairy Pools before warming up with a wee dram at the Talisker Distillery or a pint at the Isle of Skye Brewing Company. Then, tuck into one of the excellent pies at Skye Pie Cafe or oysters and chips from The Oyster Shed.
How to do it: Euston, Crewe and Edinburgh have rail links (including sleepers) with Inverness. From there, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Skye. The Three Chimneys’ The House Over-By has suites from £295, B&B. FS
Set in a neatly manicured garden, Michelin-starred Inter Scaldes looks more English manor house than Dutch restaurant on reclaimed land. Under chef Jannis Brevet, the unfussy menu speaks volumes of the abundant seafood found just off the coast of this man-made peninsula. Local lobster often features, as does caviar. Five-course menu: €190 (£168).
In the area: Zeeland is one of the Netherlands’ most sparsely populated regions, with much of the land used for agriculture. Most people come for the beaches but the perfectly flat landscape also makes cycling a breeze – the circular Zilte route is a good starter. Seafood is king at most restaurants; try local lobster, oysters and mussels at Oesterbeurs in Yerseke.
How to do it: Take the train from St Pancras to Antwerp (via Brussels) — Inter Scaldes is a 40-minute drive or 2.5-hour cycle. Inter Scaldes has doubles from €360 (£318) a night, room-only, for guests with a restaurant reservation. QX
When Myrtle Allen bought Ballymaloe House in 1948 with her husband Ivan, her aim was to offer the best Irish country house cooking, and that’s still the vision today. Head chef Dervilla O’Flynn prepares dishes like Ballycotton pollock with Gubbeen bacon and cherry tomato sauce, and Ballymaloe Farm pork, porchetta-style, with gremolata and glazed carrots. Five-course menu: €95 (£84).
In the area: In the nearby fishing village of Ballycotton, you can walk the cliffs and enjoy a pub lunch at The Blackbird. Ballymaloe Cookery School offers various courses. ballymaloecookeryschool.ie
How to do it: Stena Line ferries sail from Fishguard to Rosslare, two hours’ drive from Ballymaloe. Or fly to Cork (25 minutes’ drive away) with Ryanair, Aer Lingus or British Airways. B&B doubles from €295 (£259). FS
The simple, hearty food of the Ladin people — an ethnic group from the Tyrol — forms the backbone of the menu at Michelin-starred La Stua de Michil. But chef Simone Cantafio’s stint in Hokkaido means there are also Japanese flourishes — tortellini, for example, might be served with a dashi stock. The decor is all wood-panelled walls and candlelight, while the 30,000-bottle wine cellar is well worth a tour. Five-course menu: €165 (£146).
In the area: Corvara is in the heart of the Dolomites, so ski season is by far the most popular time to visit. There are gentle slopes for beginners, while more adventurous types have access to one of the largest ski areas in Europe, Dolomiti Superski. The region is also a big producer of wines, and the annual Wine Ski Safari encourages visitors to slalom between mountain huts for tastings. In summer, meanwhile, the hills offer excellent hiking.
How to do it: easyJet serves Innsbruck, a two-hour drive from Corvara. Hotel La Perla, in which you’ll find La Stua de Michil, has doubles from €479 (£425), half board. QX
Self-taught chef Ana Roš has been credited with putting Slovenia on the culinary map, having appeared on Netflix’s 2016 series Chef’s Table and led Hiša Franko to the nation’s first Michelin star. Her cooking centres around innovative takes on Slovenian flavours — especially local cheeses and pastas, and greens and herbs grown or foraged nearby — as well as incorporating influences from Italy, just a few miles away. The once-humble inn now has an expanded dining room and a second star. 15-course tasting menu: €225 (£198).
In the area: Pine-covered peaks shape the Soča Valley, in the Julian Alps, where hiking, rafting, fishing and mountain biking are all on offer. The waters of the Soča River produce particularly prized trout – a regular feature at Hiša Franko – and you can also drive about an hour south to the Vipava Valley for some of the best wineries in Slovenia, including Posestvo Burja and Batič.
How to do it: EasyJet and British Airways both fly from the UK to Venice and Ljubljana, each about a two-hour drive from Hiša Franko. Doubles from €150 (£133), B&B. QX
Ynyshir, Machynlleth, Powys
Arrive with your mind open, instructs Ynyshir’s website. Sound advice, given you can’t peruse the menu beforehand, nor do you get a choice of dishes at Ynyshir. Instead, everyone sits down together, taking four hours to work through the 31 courses to a DJ-curated soundtrack. It’s chef-owner Gareth Ward’s way or the highway. And while he’s inspired by his surroundings — the two-Michelin-star restaurant is set between the Welsh coast and Snowdonia National Park — Ward likes to add a Japanese spin with dishes such as black cod, miso cured. 31-course menu: £350.
In the area: Ynyshir backs onto an RSPB nature reserve, so bring your binoculars. There’s also hiking in the national park, a steam train ride through ancient woodland on The Vale of Rheidol Railway and gin-tasting at Dyfi Distillery. Head to Aberystwyth for open-fire cooking at chef Nathan Davies’ SY23 restaurant.
How to do it: Machynlleth train station is 10 minutes’ drive away, with rail connections to cities including Birmingham and Aberystwyth. Dinner, bed and breakfast from £495 per person. FS
Open for less than half the year, Kadeau Bornholm is the Michelin-starred summer restaurant of chef Nicolai Nørregaard, housed in a simple beach hut. The seafood-centric menu — using ingredients sourced from the island where possible — includes a signature dish of salmon smoked twice (hot and cold), served from a fillet at the table. Eight-course tasting menu: DKK 2,300 (£274).
In the area: With seaside villages, sandy beaches and forested cliffs, it’s no wonder Bornholm is a summer hotspot for Danes. It’s a place more about relaxing than doing, but for those keen on sightseeing, there’s Hammershus – the ruins of the largest Mediaeval fortress in Scandinavia – and extensive Bronze Age petroglyphs at Madsebakke and Nordbornholm.
How to do it: Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian, British Airways and Ryanair fly from the UK to Copenhagen; DAT flies onwards to Bornholm. Melsted Badehotel is a 30-minute drive from Kadeau, with doubles from DKK 1,349 (£161), B&B. QX
When it comes to Michelin stars, Anne-Sophie Pic is the world’s most decorated female chef, holding a constellation of 10 across her restaurants. Three-starred Maison Pic, in Valence, is the flagship, where she combines French flair with international inspiration to create a menu that changes with the seasons — although you can always expect to see signature dishes such as berlingots, Pic’s homage to ravioles de Romans, a moreish local cheese pasta. 10-course tasting menu: €380 (£334).
In the area: At the southern end of the Rhône Valley, Valence is a place of smart boulevards and squares, plus an old town with great food shops and restaurants, such as Flaveurs. The market on Place des Clercs is famous for white asparagus and white peaches – and don’t leave without trying Saint-Marcellin cheese.
How to do it: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris, from which SNCF rail connections are available to Lyon and onwards to Valence. easyJet and British Airways both serve Lyon from the UK. Doubles at Maison Pic from €270 (£237), room only. FS
Under, Lindesnes, Norway
Striking architecture and gourmet food meet at Under, a subterranean restaurant on the southern tip of Norway. The building thrusts into the North Sea at a jaunty angle, with the entrance above the waves and the dining room 18ft below sea level, complete with shoals of fish swimming by. The tasting menu features seafood, seaweed and berries in abundance, but chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard is up front about not catering to vegans or vegetarians. 15-course tasting menu: NOK 2,450 (£200).
In the area: The Mandal River is one of the best places to fish for wild salmon in Norway, with a short season between June and August (a permit is needed). Alternatively, try canoeing further upstream, where you may spot elks among the pines, and experienced divers can explore the 60 shipwrecks off the coast.
How to do it: Norwegian, SAS and Widerøe fly to Stavanger, a two hour and 40 minute drive from Under. Doubles at nearby Lindesnes Havhotell from NOK 1,650 (£139), B&B. QX
Great produce has always been integral to chef Simon Rogan’s approach — and at L’Enclume, which recently gained a third Michelin star, its farm is an extension of the restaurant, growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, with delicate plates reflecting the seasons. A glut might mean last-minute additions — say, beans and peas picked just before service, flash-cooked and served simply with miso butter. Guests are can also take tours on request to gain further insight into the farm-to-table ethos. 15-course tasting menu: £250.
In the area: The village of Cartmel is a great base from which to explore the Lake District, including Windermere, Helvellyn and England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. There’s also a 14-mile circular trail to Grange-over-Sands, from which the tidal flats of Morecambe Bay are visible on a clear day.
How to do it: The nearest train station is Grange-over-Sands, which connects to Lancaster and is a short taxi ride from L’Enclume. Doubles from £270, B&B, with dinner reservation guaranteed. QX
On the edge of the North York Moors, the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead is owned and run by the Banks family, who have lived and farmed here for generations. Chef Tommy Banks takes inspiration from the ingredients he grows and forages locally, and you can expect lots of fermenting, pickling and prolonged ageing in the form of dishes such as beef with fermented carrot and Stichelton. 13-course tasting menu: £170.
In the area: The ruins of Byland Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey are both short drives away, as is Castle Howard (of Brideshead Revisited fame). For more dining, try Banks’ other place, Roots, in York, or head to Helmsley, where Mannion & Co does a good brunch. The town of Malton, meanwhile, has excellent food markets.
How to do it: Oldstead is a 20-minute taxi from Thirsk train station, on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. Dinner, bed and breakfast at The Black Swan from £330 per person. FS
Born in Nantes, chef Philippe Leveille has lived much of his life in northern Italy, where he’s headed up the two-Michelin-star Miramonti L’Altro, on the outskirts of Brescia, for the past two decades. His Italian wife Daniela runs a tight ship front of house while Leveille cooks up a French-Italian storm, from reinventing carbonara (with oysters instead of pork belly) to weaving in Asian influences, always using the best local produce and copious amounts of Brittany butter. As the son of an oyster fisherman, Leveille’s strengths lie in fish and seafood, as evidenced by his elegant take on the Venetian dish sarde in saor (sardines marinated with onions and vinegar). Mains from €40 (£35).
In the area: The Franciacorta region produces some of Italy’s most elegant fizz, with its dynamic wineries well worth visiting. There are also fabulous places to eat, such as Dispensa Franciacorta in Torbiato, which has a region-led wine list. Beautiful and compact Franciacorta is ideal for exploring by e-bike, and a boat ride on Lake Iseo is highly recommended.
How to do it: Ryanair and EasyJet fly from the UK to Milan Bergamo, while British Airways and ITA Airways serve Milan Linate. Both airports are under an hour’s drive from Franciacorta. L’Albereta, a country pile with its own vineyard and stylish restaurant, offers doubles from €342 (£300), room only. FS
São Lourenço do Barrocal is first and foremost a 200-year-old organic farm, spread across 2,000 acres close to the Spanish border, where vines, olives and cattle vie for space. The rustic cooking, featuring dishes such as grilled octopus and fish from the nearby lake, is paired with Barrocal’s own zippy whites and fruity reds. And almost all the fruit and veg is sourced from the estate. Four-course menu: €75 (£65).
In the area: Visit in autumn for grape and olive harvesting, or most other times for beekeeping sessions. Barrocal sits within the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, and a nearby observatory is open for stargazing. Visit Herdade do Esporão, a 15-minute drive from Barrocal, for elegant dining.
How to do it: Airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet and TAP fly to Lisbon, a two-hour drive from Barrocal. Doubles on site start at €400 (£350), B&B. QX
Mirazur, Menton, France
Mauro Colagreco shot to fame in 2019 after his restaurant, Mirazur, won its third Michelin star and topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He has a zero-waste policy, ingredients are foraged or fished locally or grown in one of five nearby kitchen gardens, and there are sweeping views over the Mediterranean. 10-course menu for €380, including service.
In the area: Mirazur sits on a hilltop above Menton, on the Italian border — the only place in France that can ripen bananas. It was transformed by the Brits in the 19th century from a simple fishing village into a smart health resort, with belle epoque palaces galore and fine botanical gardens. Colagreco has a few restaurants in town, including Pecora Negra, a Neopolitan-style pizzeria, and Casa Fuego, an Argentinean wood-grill restaurant that reflects his roots. Also try the popular Le Petit Port for cod-stuffed courgette flowers and the art nouveau food hall Marché Les Halles for Menton’s fragrant lemons and pichade (tomato and anchovy tart).
How to do it: Eurostar travels from London St Pancras to Nice, with a change in Paris. Alternatively, EasyJet, British Airways, Wizz Air, Ryanair and Jet2 all fly from the UK. It’s less than an hour by train or taxi to Menton. Stylish seafront Hôtel Napoléon offers doubles from €97 (£85), room only. FS
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