Twenty miles west of Bordeaux, Villa La Tosca will be open for its first full season this year, and it’s modestly described by the villa agency Alternative Aquitaine (alternative-aquitaine.co.uk) as “the most gorgeous holiday rental we’ve ever seen”. Hype aside, they’ve got a point: on the beach at the Bassin d’Arcachon, it’s an extraordinary Italianate villa, built by local bigwigs a century ago as a summer retreat. The house is huge, elegant and serene, with eight ensuite bedrooms, a library, a home cinema and a naturally filtered eco-pool in the superb gardens. You can sail, fish, swim from the doorstep or just sit back and watch the otherworldly light- Toulouse-Lautrec used to paint it from the villa next door. Naturally the place is not cheap - but it's is between 16 of you. Airlines flying to Bordeaux include BMI Baby (bmibaby.com) and Flybe (Flybe.com).
Totally UK (China)