Travel: Three stunning French islands

Chris Carter explores three idyllic French islands, from French Polynesia to the Mediterranean.

Tetiaroa French Polynesia


Tetiaroa: Marlon Brando loved the islands so much he bought them

If you're a luxury-seeking castaway, this is the French island adventure for you. "No island spa is more exotic than the Brando", says Jo Foley in Spear's. A luxurious eco-resort, which opened last summer, located on Tetiaroa, an atoll of 13 islands ("motus") in French Polynesia, 30 miles north of Tahiti.

For more than 30 years, film star Marlon Brando lived on the atoll, which he bought after falling in love with it while on location for his 1962 film, Mutiny on the Bounty. Brando was committed to preserving the islands' eco-system, and the resort has kept up with his wildlife-friendly initiatives coconut-oil biofuel supplements the solar panels that produce the resort's power, for example. Visitors can even go on excursions to the eco-station, where scientists still study the environment and its marine life.

The resort offers 35 villas and two restaurants (Les Mutines and the Beachcomber Cafe), overseen by Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin. The Varua spa specialises in a range of traditional Polynesian therapies, using local ingredients such as coconut oil and papaya, carried out in spacious suites. For the ultimate spa experience, choose the Birdhouse suite, Fare Manu, built six metres up in the trees.

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Prices from €2,400 per day, all inclusive, for one villa in low season, based on two people sharing (

L'le d'Yeu Atlantic

Take a walk along the shoreline: if it weren't for the sun and the gentle breeze, you could easily think you were in Cornwall. "It's the light here that leaves such beautiful memories", says Anne Bodescot in Le Figaro. Port Joinville, a harbour town in the north, gleams with the colours of fishing boats and white houses with blue, red and yellow shutters.The locals (affectionately) call the tourists "crabzingues" after the black crabs that run between the rocks on the beaches in the north of the island.Meanwhile, the Cte Sauvage, the island's wild south coast, is spectacular it inspired the Tintin comic book adventure, The Black Island, notes Delphine Paillard and Fiona Khalifa in Le Monde.

End your day with a drink at the Bar de la Meule, situated in the port of the same name that resembles a pirate's cove. The bar's terrace is pretty, says Demetz in L'Express, and "the fish is good". The best place to stay on the island is the two-star Htel L'Escale in Port Joinville. The rooms may be simple, but the hotel more than makes up for it in charm. You can also hire out bicycles for e11 a day to better explore the island.

Rooms for two people start from €79 in high season. For more information, see

Porquerolles Mediterranean


For a sunny trip away with the family, Porquerolles lies just 20 minutes by boat off the Cte d'Azur in southern France. "If St Tropez is Bardot in a bikini, Porquerolles is Jeanne Moreau in a fisherman's jumper and espadrilles", says E Jane Dickson in Cond Nast Traveller. The island's "genteel horror of showing off" extends to local hotel, Le Mas du Langoustier.

"Fans of five-star luxury may prefer more attention to finish for their money", but the swimming pool is family-friendly, as is the hotel restaurant, La Pinda. The tasting menu is "flawless", featuring seven dishes from "a crisp, lacquered croustillant de langoustine with ginger and caramel, to sea bass flecked with pistachio foam, truffled beef and a show-stopping pudding with strawberry caviar'".

Doubles from about £155 (00 33 4 94 58 30 09;

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.