It was a warm, sunlit day in the cathedral city of Reims, France's Coronation City, in the Marne region of Champagne Ardenne. But inside it was a cool 10 degrees with 85 per cent humidity, the lights were dim, Je t'aime - the song Radio 1 banned for being too sexy, remember? - was playing. Above me were a bas relief of frolicking naked cherubs, and at the bottom of the stairs was Silus, a Frenchman, waiting to take me into a room full of guitar-playing finches.
The Greeks knew a good thing when they saw it. Arriving on Sicily's lush eastern coast nearly 3,000 years ago, they settled, prospered and expanded until they had colonised most of this fertile island suspended between Europe and Africa.
Their spirit remains alive and well in what is today an exquisite holiday playground. The fact that the warmest welcome and loveliest hotels and villas are concentrated in the east is attributed by locals to the nous of the commercially-minded Greeks whose descendants are Sicily's congenial hosts.
It's just a little old inn perched at the top of a slipway in a tiny Cornish hamlet, but The Lugger at Portloe has somehow achieved iconic status. Perhaps because its owners have injected seaside simplicty with a measure of chic without adding an ounce of pretension. Or simply because its romantic harbourside location is unbeatable.
Tolstoy loved it, Queen Victoria did too, Wagner got through a chunk of an opera here and Mark Twain was on a positive high wandering the streets. Where is this? Lucerne: a postcard-perfect Swiss lakeside town, tucked into the Alps within easy reach of Italy, Austria, France and Germany.
Right now, it is home to the greatest music-makers in the world - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Riccardo Chailly, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Mariss Jansons and Claudio Abbado.
The Somme, in Picardy, is the spiritual home of First World War I tourism; a place where descendants of fallen soldiers go to find the graves of their father, uncle or grandfather, or parties of schoolchildren are taken on educational trips.
So entrenched is the Somme in its Great War provenance, that the area is an unlikely destination for holiday-makers in search of fun and frolics, but that doesn't mean it isn't a beautiful area of France to visit - even without the pull of history.
With its lack of handsome lobby, uniformed flunkeys or even a sign over the door, Soho House is the antithesis of Berlin’s imposing five-star hotels. Yet it is a five-star animal, albeit of a different breed.
This is the latest enterprise of the media luvvies’ empire, now owned by Richard Caring, which started as a private club in London. Part of its appeal is that guests become members for the duration of their stay, admitted to the fabulous 7th-floor bar, lounge and restaurant, and the rooftop pool and bar above.
You don't need to be a sleuth to figure out why Agatha Christie set so many of her crime novels in Devon. She was born in Torquay, fell in love there more than once and spent the happiest years of her life in a holiday home high above the River Dart with her second husband.
Can there be a city in the world whose centre has shifted as often as Berlin? We're not just talking pre- and post-Cold War here… at every one of my three visits since the Wall came down, I've found the hub of all that was happening marching relentlessly eastwards.
Blame it on the rich stock of buildings going for very low rents in the depressed east when this city of two halves was reunited in 1990.
Artists, designers and all kinds of other creatives felt encouraged to set up in the grim but affordable corners of what was already perceived as a buzzy and happening metropolis.
After a few days in the sun, there are three words guaranteed to bring you back to earth harder than a 747 with a blowout: Cold, Rain ... and Luton. The pilot told us to expect all three, in that order, as a wobbly budget jet that seemed to shudder in sympathy, broke through the clouds over Bedfordshire to the sound of trolleys being stashed and air crew strapping themselves in.
Ten minutes later, a handful of Brits and a few well-fed Italian families trudged their way against a spitty cross-wind smudging the mascara of the hostess trying to smile us through to Arrivals.
When any slice of Italy remains undiscovered by the demonstrably Italiophile British tourist, you have to wonder why.
And given the beauty and diversity of Basilicata, it can only be down to its history - which is strange and exotic. The Jews who first peddled their wares along the Appian Way in the third century CE are long gone (even from Naples, the nearest major city, which once had a substantial community), as are the stonemasons who worked the quarries before emigrating to build New York's skyscrapers.