28th July 2017

New Caledonia

The first thing I see approaching the capital Noumea, in the darkness, is the golden arches of MacDonald’s. There are two lane highways, traffic jams and every sign of western civilisation.
26th July 2017

Wallis & Futuna

Highlights of Wallis Island are a fifteenth century Tongan fort, built out of volcanic boulders, and a giant crater lake with plunging walls. After Kiribati and Marshall Islands this one is positively lofty surrounded by a lagoon that is spectacular when the tide goes out, iridescent turquoise swirls in ultramarine dotted with palm bedecked islets.
6th September 2016

France – Gard

Work colleague Kate has made a bold decision and emigrated to France. Tina and I are going to visit, it’s a first outing for Thelma and Louise, a practice run for the Big Trip, in my mini convertible. We are going to be staying in the gites that Kate used to holiday in before she made The Decision
31st December 2014


My gorgeous little hotel is right on Grand Case Beach, a large turquoise bay, with views across to eel shaped Anguilla. Grand Case is renowned for its French restaurants- about 50 of them lining the waterfront. I have views across the bay from my balcony and a nonstop natural history documentary by my door.
31st December 2014

St Barthelemy

St Barthelemy (named after Columbus' brother) is another piece of the French West Indies and this time it's a replica of the Côte d'Azur. The capital, Gustavia, is full of high end shops- and beautiful people. Gustavia- as it was a Swedish colony in Napoleonic times. La Plage de St Jean has sand floored beach bars, plush hotels and the whitest sand, with water for which the word aquamarine was invented.
31st December 2014


Today's beach is Anse Crawen; there is a log to perch on, plenty of sand flies and some reasonable snorkelling round the headland.
13th September 2013

French Polynesia

The views from the air are sublime. This is a volcanic peak surrounded by a fabulous deep blue lagoon and scattered motu, with the turquoise shallows on the edge of the lagoon. The airport is on one of the motu, rather like the one in Gizo in The Solomons. But here the motu is part of the outer reef and the boats meeting us are all tricked out speedboats. I have joined the jet set and I have an overwater bungalow. How can you not
17th October 2010

French Guiana

Another bus, another river border, more shuttle canoes. This time it’s the Caroni River and it’s a short trip across to St Laurent, in French Guiana. This was the French equivalent of Botany Bay, a receiving station for new inmates bound for the notoriously brutal penal colony.
23rd May 2007


A day trip from St Lucia on a ferry; it’s a very choppy stretch of water. The Caribbean is very far from being a tranquil holiday paradise at times. There isn’t time to explore beyond the capital – Fort de France.
2nd December 1979

France – to and through

France has more tourists than any other country in the world and I’ve visited it more often than any other country in the world.