A hedonist's guide to Montpellier
Sète, a 15-minute train ride away from Montpellier, is an authentic town on the Mediterranean, and the rough diamond in its crown. It hosts a large number of festivals and has a good selection of bars. It has some of the best and least-known beaches in France and is almost entirely surrounded by water. It has some excellent restaurants too and is alive even in the relatively cold, winter months.
La Grande Motte – which this journalist decided to go to instead, because Sète was "too touristy" – is an ugly new town comprised of a random assembly of Sixties-built apartment blocks. Its beaches are crammed with tourists all through the summer and the place is empty, soulless and dead for the other nine months of the year. Sète is for the discerning traveller. La Grande Motte is for those cursed by a crippling lack of ambition.
Mandela's South Africa
Interesting tour. But for those thinking of visiting South Africa today, don't expect to see a country without apartheid. The attitudes of many whites have seldom been challenged. The result has been a seamless continuation of the vast discrepancy of wealth and living standards. Whites and blacks still live separately, are educated separately and rarely come into contact with each other. Apartheid is still very much in place.
Connecting Devon and Cornwall
Reviving the Dartmoor Line (while retaining the Dawlish route) is an excellent plan. It will open up Dartmoor to public transport and should remove traffic from Devon's roads. The estimated cost of £100m sounds a lot, but is considerably less than the money the economy of Devon and Cornwall lost through closure of the Dawlish route this year.