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'

The greatest wine sale ever known

The Tour d'Argent's cellar is one of the best in the world, but it is running out of space. So the Parisien restaurant has decided to sell off 18,000 bottles – and there are bargains to be had.

Chirac banishes 'dejected' dog

Anti-depressants fail to tame former president’s pet

Art in Paris: Big Sister is watching you

This weekend hundreds of immense pairs of eyes will be gazing at the river boats on the Seine. They belong to heroic women from the world's worst trouble spots. John Lichfield meets the artist

Australians rediscover the 'million dollar mermaid'

Annette Kellerman's design gave women the freedom to swim – but not without controversy. Kathy Marks reports

Trail Of The Unexpected: Tracing Paris's fortified past

Today the inhabitants of Paris begin their annual holiday exodus, happily surrendering the city to foreign tourists. It was different 800 years ago, when King Philippe Auguste was off to the Crusades: he was so concerned that the likes of Richard the Lionheart might visit the capital during his absence that he ordered the construction of a stone wall nearly five miles long, close to 30ft high and 10ft thick at its base, with watch towers every 70 yards or so.

Landmark Parisian bookshop to close

Another Paris landmark is no more. Brentano’s, an American bookshop whose customers have ranged from Ernest Hemingway to Johnny Hallyday, has been forced to close by exploding rental demands.

Corot to Monet, National Gallery, London

The world's most famous school of painting has a political history that is satisfyingly explained in this clever show

Travel By Numbers: Normandy

As D-Day is commemorated, Ben Ross counts the ways this French region can provide inspiration for the visitor

Brighton Festival, Various venues, Brighton<br>Giustino, Trinity College of Music, London

In Brighton, 'Giovanna d'Arco' was performed next to Anish Kapoor's sculpture of dismemberment

Elizabeth Nash: Journey into the underworld

Madrid Notebook

Books of the Year: An all-star line-up of writers give their verdict on 2008's best

It's cold outside, so warm up with our red-hot recommendations of the year's best reads. Our critics and favourite writers pick the fiction and non-fiction that will stand the test of time

Monet's green fields are no more

A sprawling industrial town stands where 'Les Coquelicots' once grew. John Lichfield returns to the scenes that inspired Monet &ndash; and finds a country rediscovering its past

French Socialists at war after leadership vote

Royal vows to challenge result as Delors' daughter claims victory by just 42 votes in poll of 130,000 members

Phyllis Thom: Nurse imprisoned by the Japanese during the Second World War

As a nurse taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Second World War, Phyllis Thom witnessed a Japanese soldier grind his foot on her patient's wound. She herself, when seriously ill, had to line up twice a day out of doors for the "tenko", or roll call. She noted: "Every hour a Japanese guard tramped through our block and seemed to take delight in hitting our shins with the butt of his rifle."

Paris mayor to challenge Royal for leadership of divided Socialist Party

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, has revealed that he will run for the leadership of the French Socialist Party, setting the stage for a showdown with former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal.

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Independent Travel
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
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

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Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
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Say it with... lyrics

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Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

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Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

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