Garish pink and silver curtains drew open, drums rolled and out came the dancing girls. A moment later Phillipe, the compere asked the audience (in French) 'anyone here from Pas de Calais?' Hands went up accompanied by cheers. 'Étrangers bienvenus' – welcome strangers – he chuckled.
Strangers? We were enjoying a dinner/cabaret spectacle at Le Prestige Palace, av du People Belge, (think mini Moulin Rouge) in Lille, located in the Nord Pas de Calais region of Northern France bordering Belgium.
It only opens today, yet half of Britain is already geared up for Alice in Wonderland fever. The new film has inspired catwalk creations, and now it's hoped it will also inspire tourists.
Everyone knows the fictional Alice dreamt of her surreal world while napping by the Thames, but director Tim Burton's wild interpretation of Lewis Carroll's book was based on locations in Devon and Cornwall, while the Carroll trail itself starts in Cheshire.
The Swiss mountain village of Wengen - home of the famous Lauberhorn downhill race - hit the headlines at the end of last year in the worst possible way.
A 23-year-old British man, Myles Robinson, disappeared in the early hours of the morning after a night out in a local bar. His body was found a few days later at the bottom of steep, icy slope, but no one has come up with a convincing explanation as to how it got there.
Astonishingly, when Jane Austen was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral in 1817, only four people attended the funeral. Today thousands would line the streets in homage. And 200 years on, there's no let-up in the commemoration of the nation's favourite literary daughter.
A swaying palm tree, the gentle lapping of the waves, warm sunshine, dazzling blue sky - in the dark days of British winters, these are the images we conjure of the perfect escape.
If the Caribbean region has written the book on the must-have holiday ingredients of sun, sea and sand, Antigua and its sister island Barbuda - which boast 365 beaches between them - have perfected the formula.
With average temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to mid 80s in winter, these are the sunniest islands in the eastern Caribbean.
Day one in Los Angeles had been full of surprises, not all of them pleasant. On the debit side, an unremitting downpour and the discovery that there is more nightlife in Frinton than in parts of downtown LA.
For our 20-year-old daughter, there was compensation in initial retail therapy (we did not chance on LA’s three Urban Outfitters branches until later in the trip) and for us both, an evening of glorious spectacle watching the LA Kings ice hockey team at the Staples Centre.
The Parisians know a thing or two about romance. But when you live in the most romantic city on earth, you need other options for a whirlwind weekend. So if Valentines Day in Paris feels tired and clichéd, do like the Parisians, and flee the city in favour of Versailles.
It’s been 20 years since the fall of the Berlin wall, yet the east-west divide is still inescapable. Each side has its own shopping, restaurant and bar districts. In fact, the city has two of everything — even two cultures and this is what makes Berlin an outstanding cultural city break.
The architecture in the east may be a little grungy, but a warehouse doubles beautifully as a bar and a disused factory is perfect as a disco. In the west, it’s more about elegance. Trendy youth live and work in the east, but migrate to the west once they reach 30(ish) to bring up their kids.
Going to the dentist may sound an odd thing to do on holiday, but not for those obsessed with improving their smile. Malta’s innovative Fortina resort has added cosmetic dentistry and cut-price crowns and veneers — as well as laser-accelerated bleaching — in a state of the art clinic for about half the price of Britain.
And crowns can be milled on the spot, so what is a two-step treatment at home can be done in Malta in one. I watched a movie while waiting for my teeth to lighten painlessly, something I couldn't do it Britain.
Five years after the Emperor Vespasian’s forces razed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the legion he once commanded in England moved to pacify the population of another small country: Wales. The military camp it set up in Caerleon on the River Usk may have been bad news for the locals, but it left some of the finest Roman remains in Europe, including the most fully excavated amphitheatre in Britain where you can still make out the pens where fighters were held before they entered the arena.