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oyou want sun and sea, served up with style, and you want it for less than a grand for two? No problema. First, go in May, June or september, not in high season, which is hot, crowded and expensive. second, look for self-catering cottages and villas, and smaller, family·run hotels. Third, when the herd turns right, you should turn left to find the remoter beauty spots. The fourth rule is to be as dogged as a bloodhound in your pursuit ofa hargain, and the fifth rule is to forget aD of the above, because we've done it far you.

distillery in the loirely town of St Jean d'Angely, you'll find the recently renovated Le Gite du Puits. We picked this one from dozens of deals offered by Pure Holiday Homes (0844 249 8090, pureholidayhomes.com) because it has a pool and a spa bath, and, crucially, because it's cheap - just £364 for any week up to July 2. Decor is in the French style known as "rope¥", but the area. enjoys the second·highest number ofsunshine .hours in France, so the sofa won't be an issue. Returns to La Rochelle start at £20 with Ryanair (0871246 0000, ryanair.com), and Europcar (0870 607

5000, europcar.com) has car hire from £184 - total damage just £588.

unless stated, pricesfor package holidays arefor two people and include flights from London and transfers. Independently bookedflight prices were correct at the time ofgoing to press :~

CANNES The French tour operator Pierre &

Vacances (0870 026 7144, pv·holidays. com) has self-catering flats for £510 per week in July at the Residence villa Francia, on a hillside in La Croix des Gardes - 10 minutes' walk from the centre of cannes. There are great views of the hay, the lies de Ikrins and the red rocks of the Esterel, especially from the infinjty pool. Returns to Nice start at £46 with

EasyJet (easyjet.com), and car hire is £181 with Argus Car Hire (0844 330 2581, arguscarhire.com). Total: £783. Sf JEAN D'ANGELV An hour inland from La Rochelle, in the grounds of a former coguac

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VALENCIA To make the most of this most nocturnal of Spanish cities, you'll need somewhere comfy to recuperate during daylight hours. We've found it - a funky, retro-styled second·floor flat in a typical Valeociano building that's just five minutes from town, a stroll from the Hipica pool, in the Jardines del Real, and a tram ride from the beach. It costs just £362 for any week from July 1-look for property 83483 on homeaway.co.uk. with returns to Valencia going for £57 in early July with EasyJet (easyjet.com), that's the holiday for £496. ANDALUSIA Casa Olea (00 34 696 748209, casaolea. com) is a boutique B&B in a traditional cornjo, deep in the undiscovered Sierras subbeticas. It's shamefully self·indulgent - aD big beds, strong

wine and rich, local food (the jamon is superb). You can hike the sierras, bike the Via Verde "olive trail" - a reclaimed railway line - or loafby the pool. The price for the week is £528; flights to Malaga in July start at about £45 with Ryanair(0871 2460000. ryanair.com); car hire starts at £187 with Holiday Autos (08714n 5229, holidayautos.co.uk). Total cost: £803. IBIZA On Ibiza's peaceful north coast, five minutes from the delightful coves around Portinatx, lies the lovely Casa vilda Marge (00 34 971333234, casavildamarge.com), afive-room hostal rural with a swimming pool and a tapas bar, in grounds shaded by almond, orange and carob trees. Aweek here between J1,1Ile 14 and July 4 costs £5n. Flights start at £44 with Ryanair (0871246 0000, ryanair.com). Car hire is £146 with Holiday Autos (08714n 5229, holidayautos.co.uk). Total: £806. EBRO The Ebro delta, where the mighty river meets the Med, is one of Spain's best-kept secrets - a vast wetland of paddy fields, canals and wild, dune·backed beaches populated by more than 300 species of birds, including flamingos, herons and egrets. Inntravel (01653 617000, www.inntraveLco.uk)hasa week in the Delta Cottages, thatched former fishermen's homes in the heart of this watery world, complete with orgardc gardens that you're welcome to plunder. The price is £736, including car hire - flights to Reus start at £98 with Ryanair (oan 246 0000, ryanair.com), making a total of£932.

ITALY UMBRIA Down the lane from the bar in the village of Orgia. just outside Siena, youll find II Gelso, a fairy-tale medieval cottage formerly owned by Little Red Riding Hood. Picture open fireplaces, beamed ceilings, distant views ofsiena and long afternoons swimming in the clear, shallow waters of the nearby river. The high-season cost is £602, through Invitation to Tuscany (020 84449500, invitationtotuscany.com). Returns to Pisa start at about £7S with EasyJet (easyjet.com). car hire is £150 with Europcar (0870 6075000, europcar. com). Bottom line: £902. LEMARCHE It's prettier than Umbria, with tastier cuisine than Tuscany, so if you're up for exploring the Adriatic region of Le Marche, book yourself into casal dei Fichi, a farmhouse converted into six self-catering apartments, set high in the hills. Expect luxurious bathrooms, designer kitchens, beamed ceilings and a smaD pooi in a garden sun trap. A week up to June 30 is £625, booked through Real Holidays (020 7359 3938, realholidays.co.uk). Returns to AnCODa start at f38 with Ryanair (08712460000, ryanair.com). car hire is £124 with Expedia (0871226 0808, expedia.co.uk). Total cost: £825. LAKE GARDA

Month: June. Temperature: 25C. Hours of sunshine per day: nine. Water temperature: 21C.

Crowds: zero. Wine: drinkable. Accommodation: the Nettuno

apartments, in Peschiera del Garda

(make sure you get a lake-view room). Departure date: June 5. Price: £908 per couple, including flights and car hire, through Crystal Lakes (0871231 5661, crystaDakes.co.uk). SARDINIA If we had to pick just one deal-for-two this summer, it would be the fabulous Casa Teulada, about 40 miles by spectacular coast road from cagliari and a 2O-minute drive from sa Tuerredda beach, considered to be one of the 10 best on the island. The house is a thick·waDed, rose-washed, rustic-beamed jewel that regularly features in the Italian interiors magazines and has its own YouTube video (bit.ly/dd3196). It costs a paltry £687 for the week beginning July 8, booked through Holiday Lettings (holidaylettings.co.uk). Add flights to Cagliari at £76 each with EasyJet (easyjet.com), and car hire at £159 from Auto Europe (00800 223S SSSS, autoeurope.com), and the total is £998.

MALTA GOZO . It's Malta in miniature, and admittedly that makes it very, very small indeed, but nevertheless there's room for more than SO generously domed churches, Europe's oldest temples and some of the best dive sites on the Med. Original Travel (0207978 7333, originaltravel.co.uk) recommends the thoroughly modem three-starSan Andrea hotel, which has a spectacular location overlooking beautiful Xlendi Bay, and a rooftop terrace to ensure you can enjoy those views to the max. A week costs £880, B&B, in May.



The Sunday Times Travel - March 21st 2010