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A family cycling holiday in Normandy: flat, easy and the trail all to ourselves

Amelia Gentleman finds a family cycling break in Normandy surprisingly relaxing – provided the kids are well-fuelled with sugary treats

It is crucial to remember, when cycling with children, that their good mood and enthusiasm depend entirely on how long it has been since they last ate. It is also vital to know that in small French towns there is no point arriving for lunch at 1.57pm and expecting anywhere to serve you.

Turned away by the local bar, and hungry after cycling 20km, we dashed into the boulangerie in Mêle-sur-Sarthe three minutes before closing time and bought what they had left: two baguettes and a €7 box of petit-fours – tiny strawberry tarts, rum babas and coffee eclairs. These made a memorable lunch on the wall in front of the war memorial as we watched teenagers whiling away the afternoon, smoking and circling the square on their scooters.

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Local’s guide to San Francisco’s coolest neighbourhoods

San Francisco’s neighbourhoods were shaped by industrialisation, urban revivals and earthquakes. Each has its own feel, and their highlights include Michelin-starred restaurants, renowned galleries and vintage shops

San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake damaged the Central Freeway so much that it was eventually torn down. The development attracted shops, bars and restaurants to the urban jumble around Hayes St, west of Van Ness. New greenspace along Octavia St added to the area’s appeal. Now you can check out the shipping container food pop-ups at Octavia and Hayes or hop on a bike tour with Streets of San Francisco. Not far away, you can choose from events at the new SF Jazz Center ,or more traditional symphony, ballet or opera performances.

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