The food and wine are exquisite, down in no small part to the chef Jarad McCarroll. I particularly recommend the Carpaccio of sea scallops with beetroot sorbet to be enjoyed out on the pool terrace overlooking the bay.

You must go to the Le Ti St Barthes run by Carole Gruson and her husband Thomas, a dead ringer for Johnny Depp, both brilliant hosts. They have fine food for a club, run a splendid cabaret with highly talented dancers and dress up guests as pirates to really get the party going. The third night I was there a famous French celebrity had a birthday party and it was a flamboyant, glittering evening.

The Eden Rock is the best known hotel on the island, Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes used to sashay there in the fun loving fifties. It is owned by David Mathews (father of Spencer Mathews of "Made in Chelsea" fame) who is himself every inch the charming, debonair, English gentleman, albeit with a strong preference for his birthday suit. The hotel is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the airport beach, the Baie de St Jean.

It boasts two new villas which can interconnect known as the Rock Star and the Nina which come with their own butler,

cars, Harley motorbikes, Glen

Affric whiskey bar, art gallery, gym, and pool on the beach. The Rockstar even has its own state of the art recording studio, with the mixing console used by John Lennon to record Imagine, and a movie screening room. This is the kind of suite that will charm even the most exacting of guests.

Here are some other fabulous places to stay: the Hotel Guanahani & Spa which is sensational, with restaurant and pool overlooking the sea and another more relaxed bar restaurant on the strip of beach that tapers off with crystal clear water on both sides. The Hotel Christopher, a little gem with a titanic infinity pool, is run by a striking couple who exemplify the style of service in St Barths. Between them they have run many of the finest hotels in the world and have lived in almost every corner of the globe. Stay or simply go for lunch or dinner, you will be well looked after.

Another cute spot is Les llets de la Plage which offers wonderful little bungalows on the beach just next to the airport at great value. The manager Eric Houdan knows everyone on the island and can recommend all the best places to go. Hotel St Barth Isle de France in Flamands Bay is another magnificent hotel and restaurant on the beach with palatial decor and a great place to have lunch. Look out for the stupendous giant lizards, over three feet long and very friendly, one tried to sit on my lap over lunch.

If you love sailing take a catamaran with Jicky Marine Services, on the 42ft Ouanalao, to Colombier's beach where David Rockefeller used to own a 19

resplendent property, and dive for turtles. The champagne lunch is wonderful. You can also rent your own sumptuous villas with infinity pools, chefs, gyms and anything else you could possibly want from Sibart Villa rentals. Another restaurant I can particularly recommend for its romantic setting and ambiance is the Isola in Gustavia which serves the finest Italian cuisine and the barman shakes the most exquisite cocktails.

Two fun bars where both locals and travellers consort is Le Boucanier and l'Oubli in Gustavia. Explore the side streets too for great little venues each with their own conviviality.

St Barths is so wonderful you really don't want to leave. It is a little like being cast out of Paradise, only at least you can go back next year. It is obvious on arrival why so many of the wealthiest and most knowledgeable travellers go year after year. in fact many people book again for next year on departure. The island is unspoilt by development and the islanders are set on keeping it that way; it is maintained to the highest standard, the service is impeccable and the food comparable to the best in Paris. The beaches are all stunning and each has its own unique character. St Barths is heaven on earth and the angels there like to have fun.

For more information go to Yves de Contades

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