Life and Style Fatale attraction: Brigitte Bardot in her youth

As yet another book lauds women across the Channel, Gillian Orr looks at the truth behind Madame Parfaite: extreme dieting and fear of a pressured, fattist society

Deals of the week - Brockencote hall, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Barcelona

Less than £200... Brockencote Hall, a lakeside manor in the Worcestershire village of Chaddesley Corbett, has a two-night escape from now until 31 May for £155pp, based on two sharing for Sunday to Thursday stays. Cream tea is included on arrival, with one three-course dinner and breakfast. Brockencotehall.com

Eurostar profits double on surge for the Olympics

Olympic teams plus millions of holidaymakers flocking to London by Eurostar for last summer’s Games saw the Channel Tunnel train service’s operating profit more than double to £52.3 million in 2012.

On board for Aix: St Pancras to Provence

Hidden Europe

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: How can I find out about train travel in Europe?

Q I'm having real trouble trying to find any useful websites for train travel in Europe! I only want to know how much, roughly the individual tickets will cost me compared to buying a rail pass. but I just can't find any websites that will help me. Can you recommend anything?

Alice Robeson

Danny Rogers on PR: Pay day for other golden Olympic stars

Still glowing from their plaudits and New Year's honours, the marketing and communications executives behind the London 2012 Olympics are starting to find new jobs.

Simon Calder: The deep south (of France) by train

The man who pays his way

Train fire halts Channel Tunnel services

36 lorry drivers on board were evacuated after train was driven out of the tunnel

Ski News

Austria's highest gondola opens

The new highest lift in Austria, which ascends to 3,440m, has just opened at Pitztal (00 43 5414 86999; pitztaler-gletscher.at). The Wildspitze gondola (above) takes skiers and boarders more than two kilometres in under six minutes up to the Hinterer Brunnenkogel, where Austria's highest café is located. From here there are also breathtaking views of the Wildspitze (at 3774m, Austria's second-highest mountain) and more than 50 other 3,000m-plus peaks. Pitztal itself has already been open for nearly two months for autumn glacier skiing, with more than 27km of piste available. Around 60cm of fresh snow arrived at the start of the month.

Eurotunnel gets Olympics boost

Horses competing in dressage events at the Olympics plus teams of athletes from Uzbekistan, France and Sweden all travelled to London by Eurotunnel in the third quarter, seeing revenues on the under-the-sea train line rise 13 per cent to €275m (£225m).

London's conquering heroes head home as Paralympics prepare for another sell-out

They came, they saw and many of them conquered. But all good things must come to an end. Yesterday Britain began bidding farewell to the 10,000 athletes who had called Stratford their home as organisers began the herculean task of readying the Olympic Park in time for the Paralympics.

French head off early for an Olympic summer closedown

The French have embraced the London 2012 Olympics by starting their traditional summer closedown early and heading off on holiday, according to Eurostar.

MPs warn taxpayers could be left with huge bill for HS2 high-speed rail link

Taxpayers could be left with a huge bill for the planned high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham unless lessons are learnt from costly mistakes over the Channel Tunnel link, MPs warned today.

Deals of the week: Jamaica, Paris, Seville

Less than £200... Enjoy Paris with Cresta, which is offering three nights in the City of Light for £185pp. The price includes Eurostar Standard Premier travel, departing London St Pancras on 16 July and B&B at the Montcalm hotel. Crestaholidays.co.uk

Beaten track: Eurostar runs 18 trains a day each way between London and Paris

Eurostar off to a high-speed start with healthy sales figures

Increased demand from leisure travellers resulted in Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar enjoying a good start to 2012.

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier

Brussels: 'If you decide to go on a diet, leave'

There's more to Belgian cuisine than waffles. Lena Corner takes a culinary tour of the capital as it hosts a 12-month food festival

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine