The journey through to the small port town of Fierzë takes three hours, during which the shy locals smoke and watch with evident pride as backpackers wander the narrow prow of the boat taking photographs. On arrival more minibuses – the workhorse of Albania – are there to convey us to Valbona, which is reached via a succession of twisting, unsurfaced roads that run alongside rushing mountain rivers.
Travel to Albanian Riviera with this guide and you’ll be all set, because Albanian beaches are amazing. I promise. Totally empty white beaches with crystal clear turquoise water, fresh seafood, baklava and local wine, and prices so low they make Thailand look expensive – isn’t southern Europe just wonderful?
The best way to navigate the labyrinthine network of airlines and routes is to use a travel fare aggregator such as Skyscanner to find the cheapest option. But do beware that the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best one – look out for lengthy stopovers, second-rate airlines, dodgy bucket shops (look for the Atol code to know you’re protected) and, in many cases, outrageously indirect routings. While your wallet may thank you for flying four hours in the wrong direction, the environment almost certainly won’t.
Luxembourg Gardens provide ample green space for relaxing, sun-soaking in Paris and people-watching. When the city bustle becomes too overwhelming, meander around the paths and formal gardens, or just relax with a picnic. Kids can float sailboats at the Grand Basin, ride ponies or take a spin on the merry-go-round. Adults might delight in the on-site Musee du Luxembourg, the first French museum that was opened to the public.