This small fishing port on the Italian Riviera draws the big names—and the big boats—of the beau monde.
The best beaches are accessible only by sea, but if you won’t be chartering your own yacht, take a half-hour ferry ride or a two-hour clifftop walk north to the bay of San Fruttuoso. There, a stunning, thousand-year-old Benedictine abbey sits on a stretch of golden sand.
More than a few VIP’s (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Catherine Deneuve) have signed the visitors’ book at Hotel Splendido (16 Salita Baratta; 800/223-6800 or 39-0185/267-801; hotelsplendido.com; doubles from $1,229, including breakfast), a 16th-century monastery situated on a cliff over Portofino Bay.
For handmade pappardelle with pesto and prime people-watching, reserve an outdoor table at Ristorante Puny (5 Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta; 39-0185/269-037; dinner for two $230), in the main square.
Head to the terrace at Splendido Mare’s Chuflay Bar Restaurant (2 Via Roma; 39-0185/267-802) for a cocktail under the stars.
A thriving club scene only camouflages the wild, craggy Spanish island’s raisons d’être: private azure coves, sleepy inland villages, and one-of-a-kind shopping.
Rent a car to best enjoy the haute-hippie pleasures that attract regulars like Elle MacPherson and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Stop at Cala d’en Serra, a rocky inlet dotted with sunbathers, and Las Dalias (Km 12, Crta. San Carlos; 34/97-132-6825; lasdalias.com), an outdoor market with vintage jewelry and boho-chic beach linens.
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A restored farmhouse on a traditional estate, Can Curreu (Km 12, Crta. Sant Carles; 34/97-133-5280; cancurreu.com; doubles from $337) has 12 cottages as well as endless orange, pear, and apple groves.
The seafood is excellent and the setting romantic at Restaurante Plaza del Sol (7 Plaça del Sol; 34/97-139-0773; dinner for two $150), on a hidden stone terrace in the Old Town. •after dark Go barhopping near the port; don’t miss the sangria at Rock Bar (14 Calle Cipriano Garijo; 34/97-131-0129).
Île de Ré
Well-heeled Parisians spend their summers barefoot on this idyllic Atlantic island, which is called the Hamptons of France.
62 miles of hollyhock-studded bike paths crisscross poppy fields, vineyards, and oyster farms. Ride to Relais Thalasso (Port Notre-Dame, Ste.-Marie-de-Ré 33-5/46-30-22-44; relaisthalasso.com) for seawater treatments. Or go swimming at a duned beach off the south shore village of Le Bois Plage-en-Ré.
A smart base is L’Hotel de Toiras (1 Quai Job Foran; 33-5/46-35-40-32; hotel-de-toiras.com; doubles from $380), a typical whitewashed, low-slung 17th-century house turned hotel in St.-Martin-de-Ré, on the north coast.
For regional seafood dishes, try Le Chat Botté (20 Rue de la Mairie, St.-Clément; 33-5/46-29-42-09; dinner for two $125).