Simon Calder finds five holidays you cannot book at the major agents

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The Independent Travel
Yesterday, the Association of Independent Tour Operators launched its 1996 brochure, featuring holidays from more than 200 smaller companies - many of which sell only direct to the public.

Trot through the Provencal countryside featured in the new film The Horseman on the Roof. The Heart of Provence ride from Inntravel (01653 628811) includes three days in the hoofprints of Juliette Binoche through southern France. The one-week holiday costs pounds 998, including flights from Gatwick to Marseilles. Other equestrian options include Andalucia and the Lothian Hills.

Pedal over the sea to Skye, using a ferry rather than the newly opened bridge, on a two-week ride from Cambridge with Bike Tours (01225 480130). The journey starts on 20 July and takes in Lincoln, Appleby and Arran. You pay pounds 490, plus a few pounds more for transport back from Skye. When you get home, you will be just in time to set off for the Prague to Venice fortnight in August.

Barge through Burgundy

on an Arblaster & Clarke wine tour (01730 893344). The good ship Penelope takes tipplers around Auxerre and Clamecy, with Chablis vineyards among the ports of call. A low-season voyage costs pounds 845, excluding transport to the embarkation point. Or you could just spend the Easter weekend devouring beer and chocolate in Bruges, for pounds 375.

Dive in Bonifacio, Corsica, with training provided for beginners. Corsican Places (01424 774366) can organise a diving course on the French island for pounds 295 (flights and accommodation extra.) Rafting, paragliding and hiking are also on offer.

Soar to lunch at 60,000ft

to celebrate Valentine's Day or Leap Year (29 February) aboard Concorde. Goodwood Travel (01227 763336) will sell you a supersonic seat for pounds 545.

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