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IF YOU'RE looking for material for kitchen worktops, granite is the answer. It has all the advantages: it resists great heat and cold, it's virtually indestructible, scratchproof and unstainable, it's decorative and lasts for ever. It's massively

I WAS sitting quietly at our village mediaeval banquet discussing philosophy with my friend Jean-Claude when a bread pellet thrown from three or four tables away struck me on the shoulder. Another followed a couple of seconds later, narrowly missi

SCENE: Montpellier, super-sophisticate among Mediterranean cities. Only Venice and Barcelona offer any challenge.

OCCASION: La Comédie du Livre, the annual 3-day Book Fair. It's called 'Comédie' because it takes place out of d

SUNDAY MORNING, early. Yawn, stretch, rub eyes, peer at watch in pink dawn light. 7 o'clock. Breathe in fresh morning air, a wonderful daily treat after weeks of stifling summer temperatures. Through the open window the angelus rings faintly, from

WELL, WHAT would you have done?

You'd have done what I did, wouldn't you? You'd have fetched the net and rescued the poor . . . but I'd best start at the beginning.

Water's such a precious commodity round here, especially in high sum

THERE DOESN'T seem to have been any lessening of the popularity of beauty contests in France. Maybe this isn't surprising in a country capable of running The Benny Hill Show as emergency fodder whenever French TV studio technicians go on strike, s

THERE'S A first time for everything, of course. Catching measles, eating oysters or spinach, riding a bike without stabilisers, baking an uncollapsed sponge, your first unassisted length of the pool, uttering a virgin merci or bonjour on your firs