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‘The French Alps are among the most beautiful places on earth.’

So say the authors of incredible new book Wild Guide – French Alps (Wild Things Publishing). And they’ve got the stunning pictures to prove it.    

The tome has been written by Paul and Helen Webster, who have been visiting the French Alps for 20 years. It contains hundreds of photographs by Paul and reveals hidden mountain peaks, delightful hillside restaurants, fairytale villages, plunging waterfalls and pristine lakes. All there to be discovered and experienced.

The authors also urge readers to ‘step back into history to explore lost ruins, forts and caves and to wander where wolves still roam free’.

They write in the introduction: ‘We first visited the Alps as part of a 4,000-mile hike across the whole continent. It was… the start of a lifelong love affair. Wherever you decide to visit and whatever adventures you find there, we hope that your lives are as enriched by immersion in the landscape, nature, culture and food of the French Alps as our own have been.’

Scroll down to see MailOnline Travel’s pick of the compendium’s pictures, with caption information courtesy of the authors and GPS coordinates included so you can pinpoint your bucket list spots.  

LE BOUT DU MONDE, HAUT GIFFRE: Bout du Monde means 'end of the world', and the authors say a trip here 'is as evocative as its name suggests'. Coordinates: 46.1098, 6.8628

LE BOUT DU MONDE, HAUT GIFFRE: Bout du Monde means ‘end of the world’, and the authors say a trip here ‘is as evocative as its name suggests’. Coordinates: 46.1098, 6.8628

CHALET DU BORET, HAUT GIFFRE: The authors say that this chalet lies beyond Bout du Monde (the End of the World, featured in the previous picture) in the heart of a spectacular nature reserve, with the reward for the climb there being 'homemade tarte aux myrtilles and bubbling tartiflette'. Get Hubert the owner chatting, they add, and he might pour you a glass or two of his homemade herbal digestif. Coordinates: 46.1020, 6.8451

CHALET DU BORET, HAUT GIFFRE: The authors say that this chalet lies beyond Bout du Monde (the End of the World, featured in the previous picture) in the heart of a spectacular nature reserve, with the reward for the climb there being ‘homemade tarte aux myrtilles and bubbling tartiflette’. Get Hubert the owner chatting, they add, and he might pour you a glass or two of his homemade herbal digestif. Coordinates: 46.1020, 6.8451

GROTTE DE BOURNILLON, VERCORS: This cave's entrance porch (344ft high) is one of the largest in Europe, reveal the authors. To reach it you'll need to hike up from the Bourne river - and take a helmet and torch. The authors say that great care must be taken inside, warning that there's an underground lake that 'transforms into a raging river at certain times' and that water levels can change rapidly. Beyond the lake is a high bridge and on the right boulders and scree you can clamber up to discover hidden stalagmites. But venture no further without full equipment, the authors say. Coordinates: 45.0551, 5.4334

GROTTE DE BOURNILLON, VERCORS: This cave’s entrance porch (344ft high) is one of the largest in Europe, reveal the authors. To reach it you’ll need to hike up from the Bourne river – and take a helmet and torch. The authors say that great care must be taken inside, warning that there’s an underground lake that ‘transforms into a raging river at certain times’ and that water levels can change rapidly. Beyond the lake is a high bridge and on the right boulders and scree you can clamber up to discover hidden stalagmites. But venture no further without full equipment, the authors say. Coordinates: 45.0551, 5.4334

GRAND BALCON NORD, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: This viewpoint trail above the Chamonix valley from Plan de L'Aiguille to Montenevers takes in spectacular views of the Mer de Glace glacier, reveal the authors. They add: 'Detour to the Forbes Signal viewpoint for added wow factor.' Coordinates: 45.9319, 6.9175

GRAND BALCON NORD, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: This viewpoint trail above the Chamonix valley from Plan de L’Aiguille to Montenevers takes in spectacular views of the Mer de Glace glacier, reveal the authors. They add: ‘Detour to the Forbes Signal viewpoint for added wow factor.’ Coordinates: 45.9319, 6.9175

AIGUILLE DU MIDI, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: 'Whilst it's certainly no secret,' write the authors, 'the Aiguille du Midi offers a unique opportunity for non-mountaineers to enter the white, wilderness world of the true high Alps and to soak up the incredible panorama, taking in the peaks of France, Switzerland and Italy.' The summit station of the Aiguille du Midi can be reached by cable car from the centre of Chamonix. Coordinates: 45.8794, 6.8871

AIGUILLE DU MIDI, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: ‘Whilst it’s certainly no secret,’ write the authors, ‘the Aiguille du Midi offers a unique opportunity for non-mountaineers to enter the white, wilderness world of the true high Alps and to soak up the incredible panorama, taking in the peaks of France, Switzerland and Italy.’ The summit station of the Aiguille du Midi can be reached by cable car from the centre of Chamonix. Coordinates: 45.8794, 6.8871

CRETE DU TAILLEFER, LAC D'ANNECY: The view of Chateau de Ruphy 'jutting into the blue water of Lac d'Annecy' was immortalised by Cezanne when he painted it in 1896, the authors write. But this view of it from the Crete du Taillefer rocky ridge 'is arguably even better'.  The path to it is signed from Rue du Vieux Village. Coordinates: 45.8151, 6.1999

CRETE DU TAILLEFER, LAC D’ANNECY: The view of Chateau de Ruphy ‘jutting into the blue water of Lac d’Annecy’ was immortalised by Cezanne when he painted it in 1896, the authors write. But this view of it from the Crete du Taillefer rocky ridge ‘is arguably even better’.  The path to it is signed from Rue du Vieux Village. Coordinates: 45.8151, 6.1999

CHATEAU DE MIOLANS, NEAR CHAMBERY: 'Teetering on the edge of a high cliff and overlooking the vineyards of the Combe de Savoie, this ancient fortress is part ruin, part medieval herb garden,' reveal the authors. It's possible to explore the hidden dungeons, they add, where the Marquis de Sade was once holed up. Coordinates: 45.5801, 6.1855

CHATEAU DE MIOLANS, NEAR CHAMBERY: ‘Teetering on the edge of a high cliff and overlooking the vineyards of the Combe de Savoie, this ancient fortress is part ruin, part medieval herb garden,’ reveal the authors. It’s possible to explore the hidden dungeons, they add, where the Marquis de Sade was once holed up. Coordinates: 45.5801, 6.1855

REFUGE DE LA FLEGERE, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: 'Wonky wooden stairs, thick stone walls and dark rooms that bear the scars of numerous mountaineering expeditions make this a fun place to spend the night,' say the authors. They add: 'After the hearty, communal set meal, grab a blanket and one of the outside deck chairs and watch the alpenglow on the flanks of Mount Blanc.' It's situated a few steps down from the top of the Flegere cable car. Coordinates: 45.9600, 6.8870

 REFUGE DE LA FLEGERE, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: ‘Wonky wooden stairs, thick stone walls and dark rooms that bear the scars of numerous mountaineering expeditions make this a fun place to spend the night,’ say the authors. They add: ‘After the hearty, communal set meal, grab a blanket and one of the outside deck chairs and watch the alpenglow on the flanks of Mount Blanc.’ It’s situated a few steps down from the top of the Flegere cable car. Coordinates: 45.9600, 6.8870

L'ECOT, HAUTE MAURIENNE: The authors say they loved the 'hour-long walk beside the fast-flowing River Arc' to reach this ancient hamlet, where there's a 12th-century chapel and two tiny cafes to discover. Coordinates: 45.3796, 7.0866

L’ECOT, HAUTE MAURIENNE: The authors say they loved the ‘hour-long walk beside the fast-flowing River Arc’ to reach this ancient hamlet, where there’s a 12th-century chapel and two tiny cafes to discover. Coordinates: 45.3796, 7.0866

CHARMANT SOM, CHARTREUSE: 'This steep and prominent peak requires little effort but offers a great reward - an amazing viewpoint over the sharp limestone escarpments and mountains that characterise the Chartreuse hinterland,' write the authors. Coordinates: 45.3251, 5.7640

CHARMANT SOM, CHARTREUSE: ‘This steep and prominent peak requires little effort but offers a great reward – an amazing viewpoint over the sharp limestone escarpments and mountains that characterise the Chartreuse hinterland,’ write the authors. Coordinates: 45.3251, 5.7640

LE CHAZELET, OISANS: The narrow streets of this 'tightly knit hamlet' are 'bursting with ancient buildings apparently clinging to the hillside'. The authors add: 'Admire the tiny wooden balconies traditionally used to dry sheep manure, later to be burned as winter fuel.' Coordinates: 45.0536, 6.2869

LE CHAZELET, OISANS: The narrow streets of this ‘tightly knit hamlet’ are ‘bursting with ancient buildings apparently clinging to the hillside’. The authors add: ‘Admire the tiny wooden balconies traditionally used to dry sheep manure, later to be burned as winter fuel.’ Coordinates: 45.0536, 6.2869

PASSAGE DE L'AULP DU SEUIL, CHARTREUSE: 'This improbable gravity-defying route up the eastern wall of the Chartreuse massif has been used by shepherds for generations,' the authors explain. 'Look up from the bottom and you'll be amazed that you can get past the rocky bands and high ledges, but the route is secure and probably the most spectacular half-day walk in the Chartreuse.' Coordinates: 45.3581, 5.8969

PASSAGE DE L’AULP DU SEUIL, CHARTREUSE: ‘This improbable gravity-defying route up the eastern wall of the Chartreuse massif has been used by shepherds for generations,’ the authors explain. ‘Look up from the bottom and you’ll be amazed that you can get past the rocky bands and high ledges, but the route is secure and probably the most spectacular half-day walk in the Chartreuse.’ Coordinates: 45.3581, 5.8969

MONT GRANIER, CHARTREUSE. This 'huge wedge of rock' can be seen for miles around, the authors reveal. They continue: 'Still visible is the huge, light-coloured scar where a vast pillar broke off the north-west face in 2016. Some 70,000 cubic metres of rock tumbled down the hillside, eventually slowed by trees and stopping just short of inhabited houses.' It is now forbidden to reach the summit cross as a big crack has opened up between it and the main summit area - and even the easiest route up is 'challenging', the authors warn. Coordinates: 45.4648, 5.9251

MONT GRANIER, CHARTREUSE. This ‘huge wedge of rock’ can be seen for miles around, the authors reveal. They continue: ‘Still visible is the huge, light-coloured scar where a vast pillar broke off the north-west face in 2016. Some 70,000 cubic metres of rock tumbled down the hillside, eventually slowed by trees and stopping just short of inhabited houses.’ It is now forbidden to reach the summit cross as a big crack has opened up between it and the main summit area – and even the easiest route up is ‘challenging’, the authors warn. Coordinates: 45.4648, 5.9251

TETE DE PANEYRON: The authors love this vista, writing: 'At 2,785m (9,137ft), the Tete de Paneyron is the highest summit of a wide area, giving sensational views into the Queyras and Ecrins as well as over the great peaks of the Ubaye.' What's more, the mountain has a 'generally rolling character compared to the sharper, rockier mountains all around'. Coordinates: 44.5534, 6.7287

TETE DE PANEYRON: The authors love this vista, writing: ‘At 2,785m (9,137ft), the Tete de Paneyron is the highest summit of a wide area, giving sensational views into the Queyras and Ecrins as well as over the great peaks of the Ubaye.’ What’s more, the mountain has a ‘generally rolling character compared to the sharper, rockier mountains all around’. Coordinates: 44.5534, 6.7287

VIRAYSSE BARRACKS: This 'sprawling collection of fortified buildings' featuring 19th-century stonework, overlooking the Ubaye Valley, last saw action during WWII, reveal the authors. 'It must have been a harsh posting,' they remark, adding that it's a fascinating place to wander around. Coordinates: 44.4764, 6.8525

VIRAYSSE BARRACKS: This ‘sprawling collection of fortified buildings’ featuring 19th-century stonework, overlooking the Ubaye Valley, last saw action during WWII, reveal the authors. ‘It must have been a harsh posting,’ they remark, adding that it’s a fascinating place to wander around. Coordinates: 44.4764, 6.8525

PONT DU CHATELET. SAINT-PAUL-SUR-UBAYE: A 'gravity-defying stone bridge spanning a 100m- (328ft) deep gorge'. The authors say: 'Wipe the sweat from your palms and cycle, drive or walk over this very narrow structure and then immediately plunge into the twisty single-track tunnel beyond.' Coordinates: 44.5364, 6.7857

PONT DU CHATELET. SAINT-PAUL-SUR-UBAYE: A ‘gravity-defying stone bridge spanning a 100m- (328ft) deep gorge’. The authors say: ‘Wipe the sweat from your palms and cycle, drive or walk over this very narrow structure and then immediately plunge into the twisty single-track tunnel beyond.’ Coordinates: 44.5364, 6.7857

LE GRAND VEYMONT, VERCORS: 'Reach the dizzying heights of this summit and you'll be rewarded with huge views along the impressive limestone escarpment stretching north to Grenoble,' declare the authors. Coordinates: 44.8697, 5.5265

LE GRAND VEYMONT, VERCORS: ‘Reach the dizzying heights of this summit and you’ll be rewarded with huge views along the impressive limestone escarpment stretching north to Grenoble,’ declare the authors. Coordinates: 44.8697, 5.5265

CASCADE DE LA GOUILLE VERTE, HAUT GIFFRE: There are good picnic spots near this 'massive waterfall', reveal the authors, which is 'as green as its name suggests'. Another plus point? 'A refreshing plunge pool.' Coordinates: 46.1029, 6.8512

CASCADE DE LA GOUILLE VERTE, HAUT GIFFRE: There are good picnic spots near this ‘massive waterfall’, reveal the authors, which is ‘as green as its name suggests’. Another plus point? ‘A refreshing plunge pool.’ Coordinates: 46.1029, 6.8512

LES GORGES DU PONT DU DIABLE: The authors describe this as 'the deepest and most spectacular gorge in the Chablais massif'. It was formed at the end of the last Ice Age and 'showcases the immense power of water to carve bowls, channels and platforms from the rock'.  Coordinates: 46.3045, 6.6157

LES GORGES DU PONT DU DIABLE: The authors describe this as ‘the deepest and most spectacular gorge in the Chablais massif’. It was formed at the end of the last Ice Age and ‘showcases the immense power of water to carve bowls, channels and platforms from the rock’.  Coordinates: 46.3045, 6.6157

COL DE VERNAZ, CHABLAIS: 'This high point may be an ancient pass to Switzerland but from the top all eyes are drawn to the dramatic view of Mont Chauffe on the French side, a great hulk of rock rising like a shark's fin from the forest below,' write the authors. They add that this is a great spot for a picnic. Coordinates: 46.3236, 6.7983

COL DE VERNAZ, CHABLAIS: ‘This high point may be an ancient pass to Switzerland but from the top all eyes are drawn to the dramatic view of Mont Chauffe on the French side, a great hulk of rock rising like a shark’s fin from the forest below,’ write the authors. They add that this is a great spot for a picnic. Coordinates: 46.3236, 6.7983

COL DE COU AND COL DE BRETOLET, CHABLAIS: The Col de Cou, reveal the authors, is a high mountain foot pass linking France and Switzerland that was used to transport weapons and supplies to the resistance during WWII - and, they add, as a route for fleeing refugees. But there's more. The authors continue: 'A short walk along the border ridge leads to the site of an extraordinary annual wildlife spectacular. Between August and October thousands of migrating birds pass through the Col de Bretolet. Ornithologists use nets to catch and ring the birds before releasing them. They are usually happy to explain their work.' Coordinates: 46.1504, 6.7928

COL DE COU AND COL DE BRETOLET, CHABLAIS: The Col de Cou, reveal the authors, is a high mountain foot pass linking France and Switzerland that was used to transport weapons and supplies to the resistance during WWII – and, they add, as a route for fleeing refugees. But there’s more. The authors continue: ‘A short walk along the border ridge leads to the site of an extraordinary annual wildlife spectacular. Between August and October thousands of migrating birds pass through the Col de Bretolet. Ornithologists use nets to catch and ring the birds before releasing them. They are usually happy to explain their work.’ Coordinates: 46.1504, 6.7928

PIC DES MEMISES, CHABLAIS: This summit offers 'stunning' views across Lake Leman towards the Jura and Vaudois. The authors explain that a cable car leads up to the ridge from Thollons-les-Memises on the northern side and that from the station at the top it's just a one-kilometre walk to the summit. Coordinates: 46.3786, 6.7126

PIC DES MEMISES, CHABLAIS: This summit offers ‘stunning’ views across Lake Leman towards the Jura and Vaudois. The authors explain that a cable car leads up to the ridge from Thollons-les-Memises on the northern side and that from the station at the top it’s just a one-kilometre walk to the summit. Coordinates: 46.3786, 6.7126

AIGUILLETTE DES POSSETTES, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: 'One of the most breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc massif can be had from the straightforward ascent of this rocky ridge,' reveal the authors. Coordinates: 46.0181, 6.9403

AIGUILLETTE DES POSSETTES, CHAMONIX-MONT BLANC: ‘One of the most breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc massif can be had from the straightforward ascent of this rocky ridge,’ reveal the authors. Coordinates: 46.0181, 6.9403

DESERT DE PLATE, HAUT GIFFRE: This is a 'vast expanse of white limestone pavement criss-crossed by deep, water-eroded fissures'. And Mont Blanc in the background is 'just the icing on the cake'. There are a number of marked trails there, accessed by a ski lift. Coordinates: 45.9845, 6.7230

DESERT DE PLATE, HAUT GIFFRE: This is a ‘vast expanse of white limestone pavement criss-crossed by deep, water-eroded fissures’. And Mont Blanc in the background is ‘just the icing on the cake’. There are a number of marked trails there, accessed by a ski lift. Coordinates: 45.9845, 6.7230

CHAPEL OF NOTRE-DAME DES GRACES, SIXT-FER-A-CHEVAL, HAUT GIFFRE: 'This diminutive chapel has been squeezed between a rock wall and the banks of the fast-flowing River Giffre since 1675,' the authors explain. They add that the spring on which it was built is said to cure various skin disorders. Coordinates: 46.0568, 6.7481

CHAPEL OF NOTRE-DAME DES GRACES, SIXT-FER-A-CHEVAL, HAUT GIFFRE: ‘This diminutive chapel has been squeezed between a rock wall and the banks of the fast-flowing River Giffre since 1675,’ the authors explain. They add that the spring on which it was built is said to cure various skin disorders. Coordinates: 46.0568, 6.7481

PAS DU ROC, THORENS-GLIERES: This 'astonishing and vertiginous ancient pathway' is 'carved into the vertical rock wall', reveal the authors. They explain that there is a metal grab chain and wooden steps in places, but that 'you'll still need a head for heights'. Only attempt in good weather, they add, as the pathway can get very slippery when wet. Coordinates: 45.9725, 6.3012

PAS DU ROC, THORENS-GLIERES: This ‘astonishing and vertiginous ancient pathway’ is ‘carved into the vertical rock wall’, reveal the authors. They explain that there is a metal grab chain and wooden steps in places, but that ‘you’ll still need a head for heights’. Only attempt in good weather, they add, as the pathway can get very slippery when wet. Coordinates: 45.9725, 6.3012

AIGUILLE PERCEE, HAUTE TARENTAISE: 'This magnificent rock arch atop a mountain ridge is a prominent skyline landmark,' write the authors, who add that there are 'immense' mountain views from the ridgeline. Coordinates: 45.4832, 6.8933

AIGUILLE PERCEE, HAUTE TARENTAISE: ‘This magnificent rock arch atop a mountain ridge is a prominent skyline landmark,’ write the authors, who add that there are ‘immense’ mountain views from the ridgeline. Coordinates: 45.4832, 6.8933

GITE D'ALPAGE DE BELLASTAT, BEAUFORTAIN: You can enjoy 'simple set meals' here, according to the authors, and 'enjoy the snowy mountain view from one of the reclining deckchairs'. Coordinates: 45.7832, 6.5989

GITE D’ALPAGE DE BELLASTAT, BEAUFORTAIN: You can enjoy ‘simple set meals’ here, according to the authors, and ‘enjoy the snowy mountain view from one of the reclining deckchairs’. Coordinates: 45.7832, 6.5989

AIGUILLE VERTE, GLIERES-VAL-DE-BORNE: Apparently, 'only a moderate head for heights' is needed for the 'inviting challenge' of scaling the 'Green Pinnacle'. Once at the top there is enough room to 'sit and enjoy the vertical drop to Lac de Lessy far below'. Coordinates: 45.9823, 6.4327

AIGUILLE VERTE, GLIERES-VAL-DE-BORNE: Apparently, ‘only a moderate head for heights’ is needed for the ‘inviting challenge’ of scaling the ‘Green Pinnacle’. Once at the top there is enough room to ‘sit and enjoy the vertical drop to Lac de Lessy far below’. Coordinates: 45.9823, 6.4327

PLATEAU DES GLIERES, BORNES MASSIF: This high limestone plateau - 'a natural fortress with few entry points' - was a key French Resistance WWII stronghold, the authors reveal. Coordinates: 45.9653, 6.3342

PLATEAU DES GLIERES, BORNES MASSIF: This high limestone plateau – ‘a natural fortress with few entry points’ – was a key French Resistance WWII stronghold, the authors reveal. Coordinates: 45.9653, 6.3342

HOSPICE DU PETIT SAINT-BERNARD, HAUTE TARENTAISE: This hospice, 2,188m (7,178ft) up, was built in the 11th century by St Bernard of Menthon to shelter travellers using the high pass it's on between France and Italy, the authors reveal, adding that it's 'a privilege to spend the night within the walls'. You can 'bed down in a mix of private and dorm rooms and eat in a very comfortable beamed dining room'. Day visitors can view an extreme weather exhibition on the top floor. Coordinates: 45.6715, 6.8757

HOSPICE DU PETIT SAINT-BERNARD, HAUTE TARENTAISE: This hospice, 2,188m (7,178ft) up, was built in the 11th century by St Bernard of Menthon to shelter travellers using the high pass it’s on between France and Italy, the authors reveal, adding that it’s ‘a privilege to spend the night within the walls’. You can ‘bed down in a mix of private and dorm rooms and eat in a very comfortable beamed dining room’. Day visitors can view an extreme weather exhibition on the top floor. Coordinates: 45.6715, 6.8757

COL DE L'ISERAN, HAUTE MAURIENNE: Behold the highest surfaced road in the Alps, which has a peak elevation of 9,068ft (2,763m). Cyclists who tackle this route can pedal 'in the slipstream of legends', with the Col de l'Iseran having first featured on the Tour de France in 1938 and seven times subsequently. Coordinates: 45.4171, 7.0308

COL DE L’ISERAN, HAUTE MAURIENNE: Behold the highest surfaced road in the Alps, which has a peak elevation of 9,068ft (2,763m). Cyclists who tackle this route can pedal ‘in the slipstream of legends’, with the Col de l’Iseran having first featured on the Tour de France in 1938 and seven times subsequently. Coordinates: 45.4171, 7.0308

ROCHER DE BELLEVARDE: This 'imposing nose of rock thrusts out over the Val d'Isere valley with far-reaching views to snowcapped Mont Blanc'. To reach it take the free Olympic cable car from the centre of Val d'Isere and follow the signed path, then go up some metal steps. Coordinates: 45.4451, 6.9524

ROCHER DE BELLEVARDE: This ‘imposing nose of rock thrusts out over the Val d’Isere valley with far-reaching views to snowcapped Mont Blanc’. To reach it take the free Olympic cable car from the centre of Val d’Isere and follow the signed path, then go up some metal steps. Coordinates: 45.4451, 6.9524

AIGUILLE DE LA VANOISE, VANOISE: Yes, the climb up this peak is as challenging as it looks. The authors write: 'This awesome fin of rock requires rock-climbing skills and nerves of steel to summit - you can hire a guide in Pralognan. If that sounds like too much, the seven-hour circular walk around the base is a memorable experience.' Coordinates: 45.3958, 6.7815

AIGUILLE DE LA VANOISE, VANOISE: Yes, the climb up this peak is as challenging as it looks. The authors write: ‘This awesome fin of rock requires rock-climbing skills and nerves of steel to summit – you can hire a guide in Pralognan. If that sounds like too much, the seven-hour circular walk around the base is a memorable experience.’ Coordinates: 45.3958, 6.7815

REFUGE LES BARMETTES, VANOISE: 'This traditionally styled wood and stone refuge offers rustic charm, hearty meals and basic dorm beds,' the authors say. 'It's the perfect mini-adventure destination for families wanting to escape the bustle of the valley.' Coordinates: 45.3897, 6.7528

REFUGE LES BARMETTES, VANOISE: ‘This traditionally styled wood and stone refuge offers rustic charm, hearty meals and basic dorm beds,’ the authors say. ‘It’s the perfect mini-adventure destination for families wanting to escape the bustle of the valley.’ Coordinates: 45.3897, 6.7528

LE LAUZON, LA CHAPELLE-EN-VALGAUDEMAR: This small lake is a great place to watch for wildlife, the authors reveal. Le Lauzon is a popular watering hole for ibex and eagles and griffon vultures can be seen riding the thermals. Coordinates: 44.8447, 6.2735

LE LAUZON, LA CHAPELLE-EN-VALGAUDEMAR: This small lake is a great place to watch for wildlife, the authors reveal. Le Lauzon is a popular watering hole for ibex and eagles and griffon vultures can be seen riding the thermals. Coordinates: 44.8447, 6.2735

PIC DU LAC BLANC, BRIANCONNAIS: 'The scree-girt summit of Pic du Lac Blanc (2,980m/9,776ft) makes for a grand objective for those looking to climb a mountain from the Vallee de la Claree,' the authors say. Coordinates: 45.0680, 6.5709

PIC DU LAC BLANC, BRIANCONNAIS: ‘The scree-girt summit of Pic du Lac Blanc (2,980m/9,776ft) makes for a grand objective for those looking to climb a mountain from the Vallee de la Claree,’ the authors say. Coordinates: 45.0680, 6.5709

MONT-DAUPHIN, QUEYRAS: This 'ticks every box in the essential fortress check list', the authors say. They add: 'Cross the moat, complete with drawbridge, to explore the mini-town contained within the huge defensive walls.' Coordinates: 44.6707, 6.6247

MONT-DAUPHIN, QUEYRAS: This ‘ticks every box in the essential fortress check list’, the authors say. They add: ‘Cross the moat, complete with drawbridge, to explore the mini-town contained within the huge defensive walls.’ Coordinates: 44.6707, 6.6247

PONT-EN-ROYANS, VERCORS: 'Agile local kids vie with each other to free-climb the high cliffs under the houses and leap into the deep pools at this unique swimming spot on the Bourne river,' the authors reveal. There's also a sandy beach to relax on and a grassy area opposite the village square downstream that makes for a lovely picnic spot. What's more, we're told, it has a natural paddling pool for little ones to cool off in. Coordinates: 45.0605, 5.3452

PONT-EN-ROYANS, VERCORS: ‘Agile local kids vie with each other to free-climb the high cliffs under the houses and leap into the deep pools at this unique swimming spot on the Bourne river,’ the authors reveal. There’s also a sandy beach to relax on and a grassy area opposite the village square downstream that makes for a lovely picnic spot. What’s more, we’re told, it has a natural paddling pool for little ones to cool off in. Coordinates: 45.0605, 5.3452

CASCADE DE LA PISSE, QUEYRAS: This 280m (918ft) waterfall 'tumbles in two great leaps'. The authors suggest having a picnic at the foot of the falls or exploring a path that climbs up through the forest. Coordinates: 44.6483, 6.7921

CASCADE DE LA PISSE, QUEYRAS: This 280m (918ft) waterfall ‘tumbles in two great leaps’. The authors suggest having a picnic at the foot of the falls or exploring a path that climbs up through the forest. Coordinates: 44.6483, 6.7921

REFUGE DU PLAN SEC, VANOISE: The authors say that this refuge comprises 'three traditional chalets, lavishly decorated with flowers' that 'nestle against the hillside', providing 'an incredibly atmospheric place to stay'. Coordinates: 45.2572, 6.7309

REFUGE DU PLAN SEC, VANOISE: The authors say that this refuge comprises ‘three traditional chalets, lavishly decorated with flowers’ that ‘nestle against the hillside’, providing ‘an incredibly atmospheric place to stay’. Coordinates: 45.2572, 6.7309

FORT CENTRAL DU COL DE TENDE, MERCANTOUR ALPS: This 19th-century fort, which the books says was one of a line of defensive forts protecting the Col de Tende, was abandoned after WWII. 'These days the fort provides a goal for mountain bikers and summer grazing for sheep,' the authors add. Coordinates: 44.1512, 7.5694

FORT CENTRAL DU COL DE TENDE, MERCANTOUR ALPS: This 19th-century fort, which the books says was one of a line of defensive forts protecting the Col de Tende, was abandoned after WWII. ‘These days the fort provides a goal for mountain bikers and summer grazing for sheep,’ the authors add. Coordinates: 44.1512, 7.5694

MONT TRELOD, LES BAUGES: This is the authors' 'favourite viewpoint in the Bauges'. We can see why. Coordinates: 45.6927, 6.1961

MONT TRELOD, LES BAUGES: This is the authors’ ‘favourite viewpoint in the Bauges’. We can see why. Coordinates: 45.6927, 6.1961

PEONE, MERCANTOUR ALPS: Peone, 'set on the lower flanks of a series of improbable rock pinnacles known as the Desmoiselles' is 'a village straight out of a fairy tale', the authors say. There's just a single hotel here with a bar and restaurant, but plenty of twisting passageways to explore. Coordinates: 44.1167, 6.9069

PEONE, MERCANTOUR ALPS: Peone, ‘set on the lower flanks of a series of improbable rock pinnacles known as the Desmoiselles’ is ‘a village straight out of a fairy tale’, the authors say. There’s just a single hotel here with a bar and restaurant, but plenty of twisting passageways to explore. Coordinates: 44.1167, 6.9069

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The golden rule of successful investment is to align your portfolio with the level of risk you wish to take. 

But in 2022 this will be more than usually tricky. 

Stock markets face an array of challenges, with higher interest rates, surging inflation and the threat of new Covid variants among them. 

Geopolitical concerns include the possibility of full-blown conflict over Ukraine and tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, whose foundries supply the microchips on which the world depends. 

Yet Rathbones, the investment manager, points to ‘healthy household balance sheets and precipitous corporate cash piles’, adding that it expects returns on shares ‘to moderate, but not to disappoint investors’. 

Here are ways to make the most of your investments in the months ahead, whatever your appetite for risk. 

LOW RISK 

You might consider yourself to be sheltered from storms if you have a mix of deposit accounts, National Savings & Investments and only a small amount in shares and investment funds. 

But this strategy could be derailed if you are unknowingly exposed to areas that are more hazardous than they seem – and inflation can take a big toll on deposits. 

You should think about whether any funds you hold are still suitable for you. 

Online investment service Interactive Investor has a recommended list and fact sheets on funds, which you can use to check. Many UK investors have become over-reliant on the fortunes of US tech giants, like Amazon and Microsoft, without realising. The value of these ‘Big Tech’ shares – which is largely based on future profits – could be lessened if interest rates move rapidly upwards, providing richer rewards elsewhere. 

You may be uncertain about the prospects for Big Oil amid the de-carbonisation drive. 

But there is a global need for BP and Shell’s products, and these businesses also have the resources to spend on renewable fuels. Ben Yearsley of Shore Financial Planning suggests the Liontrust Special Situations fund as a route to these and other British stalwarts. 

And another big British name – BT – could be at the centre of bid excitement this year. If you are one of the 800,000 or so loyal small shareholders, why not keep the faith for a bit longer?

MEDIUM RISK 

A balanced portfolio is every investor’s aim. But in the past two years it was easy to be diverted by the gains on US markets. 

As a result, many have too little invested in the UK which Wall Street regards as undervalued. 

Tech stocks represent just 1 per cent of the FTSE 100, which is dominated by old-economy stocks, against 40 per cent for the S&P 500. 

The willingness of the British to splash out on property seems set to continue, which could be good news for housebuilders, along with Kingfisher, owner of DIY retailer B&Q. 

Shares in life insurers may be due for a reassessment in light of their profitability. Anyone holding Fidelity Special Situations and Fidelity Special Values has stakes in these sectors.

Yearsley says JO Hambro UK Dynamic may be a useful addition since it could be ‘a beneficiary of a recovering UK economy, increased dividends and takeover activity’. 

Popular: The willingness of the British to splash out on property seems set to continue

Popular: The willingness of the British to splash out on property seems set to continue

Inflation fears are perhaps exaggerated. Nevertheless, if faith recedes in the ability of central banks to control inflation, volatility could result. 

But if you can afford to be sanguine about market gyrations, a British name that’s part of a US group could be your 2022 flutter. Walgreens Boots Alliance would apparently like to sell Boots. 

Shore Capital says Sainsbury’s or Tesco may pounce. Also interested could be private equity groups Bain or Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which last year snapped up Morrisons.

HIGH RISK 

You may be inclined to shrug off inflation anxiety, but even some at the audacious end of the investment spectrum are looking for some safety-first holdings. 

Popular options in this zone are the Capital Gearing and Ruffer investment trusts which aim to protect your money through a mixture of index-linked bonds, shares and cash. Ruffer (one of my portfolio buffers) also holds BP and Shell. This could allow you to take a contrarian stance on tech stocks. So ingrained is technology in our lives that sections of Wall Street remain bullish about Amazon, Microsoft and T-Mobile. 

The clamour for microchips – which will be amplified by the growth in artificial intelligence, augmented reality and 5G – is good news for Marvell Technology and Nvidia, held by the Blue Whale Growth fund. 

If you own Tesla, Daimler would be another bet on electric cars, while Watches of Switzerland (pictured above) is a way to back demand for the luxury wristwatch. The most assiduous purchasers of such luxury goods come from Asia. Yearsley’s fund pick – Matthews Asia Innovative Growth – is a play on the spending power of these consumers. Investing for the long-term tends to make sense, whatever your readiness for a gamble.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Two years ago, the BBC gave the green light to 12 half-hour programmes in which I would make a journey from the top of Scandinavia, around central and eastern Europe, down the Adriatic coast and end up in a garden I’ve been working on for the past five years on the Greek island of Hydra. 

The purpose would be to visit gardens in places where we don’t normally look for them and to reveal hidden horticultural splendours.

Then Covid came to town and it was shelved for a year. But last spring we got production going again, although it was now three hour-long programmes covering the second half of the original journey – starting in Venice and wending our way down the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, through Greece and ending in Hydra.

We began filming in May, the day after travel restrictions were eased and the final filming trip was at the beginning of September just after compulsory quarantine was lifted for visitors to Italy.

We were very lucky; travelling under the shadow of Covid was stressful, frustrating and difficult, but the privilege of visiting gardens I would never have otherwise seen made it all worthwhile.

Monty Don (pictured) starts in Venice and travels down the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, through Greece and ending in Hydra in three hour-long programmes airing on the BBC

Monty Don (pictured) starts in Venice and travels down the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, through Greece and ending in Hydra in three hour-long programmes airing on the BBC

Although it was the last section to be filmed (in fact the whole thing was shot in reverse order), the story begins in Venice. Venice is, of course, one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on earth but few people associate either its beauty or romance with Venetian gardens. 

However, they do exist – by the hundred – although most are private and hidden away, often down tiny side canals and behind high walls.

There are some wonderful public gardens such as the recently renovated Giardini Reali just by St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) with its wonderfully harmonious planting of billowing cream hydrangeas spilling out under the shade of a long wisteria-covered pergola that runs the length of the site. 

The superb, subtle and yet invigorating planting is a model of using limited colours and textures to achieve a really dramatic effect.

It was the secret gardens that felt most special, such as the ‘orto’ or allotment created on an ex-rubbish dump at the base of a huge campanile (bell tower) or the swags of roses hanging over the balustrade on the Grand Canal of the Palazzo Malipiero which, after days of negotiations, we were allowed in to see from the inside.

Covid restrictions meant our planned visits to gardens of the Veneto (the region of which Venice is the capital) were limited to one garden – but what a garden!

Villa Barbarigo in Valsanzibio, near Padua, is a baroque gem, practically unchanged since it was made in the late 17th century with its original maze, fountains, scores of statues, a rabbit island and long hedge- lined avenues.

From Venice we travelled to Trieste, with the nearby gardens at Miramare castle created for doomed Maximilian of the Habsburg family.

Monty said planned visits to gardens of the Veneto were limited to one because of covid restrictions. Pictured: the Palazzo Malipiero in Venice

Monty said planned visits to gardens of the Veneto were limited to one because of covid restrictions. Pictured: the Palazzo Malipiero in Venice

Then we headed down the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, visiting a nursery run by an ex-DJ who was so in love with his plants that he did everything he could not to be parted from them, the impossibly stony island of Pag and the turquoise lakes and waterfalls of Plitvice.

Most Croatian gardens are focused on growing food but, gradually, flowers are starting to be cultivated as the privations of the terrible war in the Balkans in the 90s recede in memory, and I visited one of the best exotic gardens I’ve ever seen – on a housing estate on the outskirts of a provincial town.

Plants were brought in by mule – very efficient 

I ended this Croatian stage of the journey on the island of Lopud, a ferry’s ride from Dubrovnik.

There are no cars, its local population is dwindling but it’s favoured by wealthy Europeans and Americans who are creating superb gardens around the half-ruined hillside houses they’re restoring.

The third and final trip began in Corfu where I had special access to the Rothschild estate overlooking the narrow straits to Albania, with possibly the most glamorous swimming pool in any garden, as well as groves of huge olive trees pruned in the manner unique to Corfu.

Monty said he visited one of the best exotic gardens he has ever seen while travelling through Croatia. Pictured: a private garden visited by Monty in Croatia

Monty said he visited one of the best exotic gardens he has ever seen while travelling through Croatia. Pictured: a private garden visited by Monty in Croatia

I spent a day with Lee Durrell, widow of Gerald Durrell, who took me up into the mountains on the north of the island where we walked in wildflower meadows among ancient oak forests. 

Corfu’s climate is atypical for Greece – the rainfall is nearly twice that of London – so up in the hills it is lush and green and various plants prosper that could not survive on the mainland just a few miles away.

In Athens there was the incongruity of two gardens at opposite ends of the financial spectrum. 

One was the Niarchos Cultural Centre on the outskirts of the city, which houses the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece and includes a 50-acre park and a vast roof garden. 

The other was an allotment built on a car park in the centre of Athens, divided into 45 small plots for people receiving state aid. 

Every one of these plots was producing tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and beans to eat more than for horticultural fun.

Monty said Valsanzibio is a baroque gem, practically unchanged since it was made in the late 17th century. Pictured: the 17th-century fountain at the Villa Barbarigo in Valsanzibio

Monty said Valsanzibio is a baroque gem, practically unchanged since it was made in the late 17th century. Pictured: the 17th-century fountain at the Villa Barbarigo in Valsanzibio

Outside Athens, I visited the Mediterranean Garden Society garden at Sparoza which is filled with rare and indigenous plants, all chosen for their ability to thrive in the harsh Greek sun. 

But back in the early 1960s when Jaqueline Tyrwhitt bought the land, it was so stony she used dynamite to create planting holes for the cypresses that were to act as a windbreak.

But my favourite garden was the last, on Hydra. I have a deep personal attachment to it.

It belongs to a friend who asked me to help transform it. 

It started as a neglected plot with a few lemons, a dead almond tree and an awful lot of rubble, and over the years we’ve transformed it and I’ve learnt a great deal about what a Mediterranean garden is really like, as opposed to our northern European idea of one.

Monty said because of rainfall the hills are lush and green and various plants prosper that could not survive on the mainland in Corfu. Pictured: The Rothschild estate in Corfu

Monty said because of rainfall the hills are lush and green and various plants prosper that could not survive on the mainland in Corfu. Pictured: The Rothschild estate in Corfu

Though the garden is relatively modest, we did plant half a dozen large cypresses. There are no cars on Hydra, so the cypresses were brought over from the mainland by boat, walked through the narrow medieval streets, then squeezed in the entrance before being manoeuvred into place and planted. 

The other plants were all brought in by mule – very low-tech but very efficient.

What I’ve learnt from these journeys is that spirit cannot be quelled by lack of space, resources or a brutal climate. 

Despite the watery intensity of Venice, the war-hit past of Croatia or the sun-shrivelled climate of Greece, gardens are central to the human experience. 

Good gardens make a good life and ‘good’ isn’t measured by money or grandeur but by how much love and attention goes into them and the pleasure they give back.

Will I make the first part of the original plan, going up from Venice through Europe and into Scandinavia? I don’t know. Would I leap at the chance? Absolutely. 

ANCIENT OLIVE TREES FOR EVERYONE 

Venice ruled Corfu for more than 400 years, from 1386 to 1797. There were no olive trees in Venice so, when they realised that Corfu olives made especially good olive oil, the Venetians paid the local people to plant millions of trees.

They remain one of the great features of the landscape, not least because they are pruned rather differently from those in the rest of Greece, being allowed to become much bigger. The Corfu olive groves are also some of the oldest in the world.

Monty said the trees in the Olive Gardens of Lun, on the Croatian island of Pag (pictured) have a unique system

Monty said the trees in the Olive Gardens of Lun, on the Croatian island of Pag (pictured) have a unique system

The trees in the Olive Gardens of Lun, on the Croatian island of Pag, have a unique system of ownership and harvest. The 60 acres they grow on is communal with no known owner. However, the 80,000 olive trees are all individually owned by separate families and handed on from generation to generation.

Each family harvests the olives of their own trees, which might be in different parts of the gardens, and make their own olive oil. Some of these magnificently gnarled trees are more than 1,000 years old.

I planted a number of olive trees in the garden on Hydra and, having observed carefully how they are pruned in different parts of the Adriatic, have pruned them in various forms. 

A couple of large trees were cut right down to the roots and allowed to regrow before being clipped as large topiary balls. They look great with their silver mass of leaves that need trimming a couple of times a year.

Other trees are trained as standards and then pruned hard so that they have a very open structure of branches, letting in light and air and encouraging the new growth that will bear fruits.

In my garden at home I have olives growing in pots which are very handsome, although they need protection from the cold – and will never provide ripe fruits. For that I need to return to Hydra!

Monty Don’s Adriatic Gardens, Friday, 8pm, BBC2. 

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