Travel East meets west: the Bosphorus connects Istanbul’s two sides

'I loved the contrast in Istanbul – the call to prayer mixed with the European cafés'

Testicle-eating fish, the Pacu, found in Paris with fears it could be coming to the UK

Small piranha-like fish was found in European waters for the first time in August

Activists against same-sex marriage took to the streets in Paris

France: Huge gay marriage protest turns violent in Paris

About 400,000 traditionalists take to streets to oppose new law

Relief in Parliament contrasts with ugly street battles as right-wing protest turns violent after French gay marriage law clears last hurdle

Running battles developed after mobs turned on television crews and press photographers

Padlocks adorn the Pont des Arts in Paris

Valentine's Day: just don't say it with padlocks

Larry Ryan unpicks an odd trend

French fishermen pelt British boats with rocks and flares in a row over scallop fishing

British fishermen reported the attacks to the Marine Management Organisation, which said an estimated 40 French vessels and eight UK vessels were involved

Ile de la Jatte between Neuilly-sur -Seine and Levallois cities

Two little boys from a wealthy Paris suburb to meet once again

If you drive due west from Paris, heading for the skyscrapers of La Défense, you might not realise you have left the French capital. The Arc de Triomphe remains visible in your rear-view mirror. The broad avenue ahead of you is an extension of the Champs Elysées.

Traveller's Guide: Ile-de-France

France’s version of the Home Counties has a lot to offer – from the dramatic palace at Versailles to Disneyland Paris and a date with the Impressionists.

The best time to visit Paris? When all the Parisians are on are holiday...

They are pushy, rude and tiresomely chic. And soon the city's inhabitants will all be heading for the beach or the countryside.

How to beat the queues at the Eiffel Tower

When the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889, it was originally – like the London Eye – intended to be a temporary installation, the entrance to the Exposition Universalle in the French capital. Once the magnificently tapering structure was complete, it quickly became the biggest draw in Paris. Plans to dismantle it were overturned, and for the next 41 years it was the highest structure in the world (until superseded by the Chrysler Building in New York).

Business Diary: Shorting row is behind Wace now

This week's gala dinner organised by Arpad Busson, which raises so much money for his fabulous children's charity ARK, is also a shining example of how people can be rehabilitated.

Sarkozy sets date for his mega-canal but promises it won't touch war graves

France yesterday launched the most ambitious engineering project in Western Europe since the Channel tunnel, a scheme to link Paris to the North Sea by a canal as wide as a football pitch.

Paris in the springtime

Yes, now really is the best time to enjoy the French capital before the heat and the hordes of summer arrive. By Harriet O'Brien

Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire

English Touring Opera are on the road again, and as their Puccini double-bill demonstrates, are on top form. The curtain rises on a rusty, dusty, smoky quayside by the Seine, as the small orchestra does a fine imitation of a large one to evoke gently rocking boats and the palpitations of suppressed love. Thus does ‘Il tabarro’ – ‘the cloak’ – embark on its doom-laden course.

Why Van Gogh is entering his brown period

Paints in the artist's most famous works are losing their lustre, writes Steve Connor

Step carefully as you walk on the wild side

An active holiday amid fabulous scenery will draw even more of us to emerging Montenegro this year. Andy McSmith reports
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'