As we head inexorably towards winter, it is pleasant to reflect on sunnier times just gone – as recently as last month, in fact. So it was that my wife and I went with one of our sons and his girlfriend to the South of France for a few days. October is very much out of season but we were very agreeably surprised to find out that the weather seemed to have other ideas.

An early morning photo of Valbonne, clearly taken before the customary throng of tourists have arrived to enjoy the charms of the village

Some aspects of a holiday at this time of year are mildly disarming. Such as: why are there now so many school kids in the supermarket at lunch time? Answer: because they’re buying food and in July and August they aren’t at school. And there was an obvious commuter route, much of the traffic probably emanating from the busy high-tech location of Sophia Antipolis, which tends not to happen in the summer for the same reason that the pupils are not in class – because everyone is on holiday at that time.

Lunch at a beach club just outside St Maxime…personally, I much prefer this scenario to actually sitting on the sand to eat one’s food

The meal shown above was distinctly French, even though there is a Japanese-influenced salad shown on the home page. (Served at a local golf club, in fact!) Eating out is one of the obvious joys of a holiday in France, whether on or near the Riviera or elsewhere, and this short break proved to be no exception in this regard.

An afternoon panorama from the villa with a view of the sea in the deep distance, out there somewhere far beyond the swimming pool

One of the best aspects of this holiday was the location of the villa. It was a 15-minute walk into the nearest village, the utterly charming Valbonne, and an 18-minute walk back home. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that the going in was very downhill; the coming back therefore correspondingly uphill. So although we were on holiday, the steps’ count on our mobiles was never in any danger of coming to a standstill.

Dinner one evening was had at this beautiful establishment close to our villa…outdoor dining in shirt sleeves in October!

Despite the intermittently recurring chaos at UK airports during the course of this year, which somehow has completely and thankfully passed me by, the flight home was on time and uneventful. Hey, we even managed to navigate our way out of Gatwick’s long-term car park. Maybe we’ll do it all over again next autumn?