FROM THE ARCHIVE: To preserve, to enhance, to welcome. Salt does it all. Side by side comparisons emphasize differences. Fleur de sel sparkles like a dish of diamond chips. Sel gris is moist and looks a bit grubby.

“Good things come in threes” goes the old adage. So what do you get when you add a crunchy, chewy base to an unctuous middle and top it all off with a crisp chocolate coating? Do the math and you find a Nanaimo bar in your hand.

Today, visible repairs, creatively handled, can signal love, individuality, environmental awareness, or all three.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Aristocracy partied here. Laughter rang down its magnificent staircase. Over the years, the château passed from owner to owner, but in recent years had been empty when the couple purchased it from an English-Irish syndicate.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Somewhere along my route to becoming a gardener, I’d heard that planted rhubarb crowns wilted and died if you moved them.

If a six-deep battalion of bottles, pots, and packets already line your kitchen shelves, G. Detou is a dangerous place.

Practical, certainement, but buying books online does lack the romance of browsing through a certain iconic Parisian bookshop.

Google “songs about …” and you open the door to a pantheon as immense as, well, the Pantheon. Imagine titles like “Under the Bridges of London” or “Under Toronto Skies”. A little lacking in romance, non? Until you replace those cities’ names with “Paris”.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: City of watery reflections and limpid light, Venice has a terroir that seems uncannily right for the production of exquisite glass. Nor is it hard to see, given the Venetian passion for decoration, why the area has long been known for mosaics.

Fragrance can evoke mood, place, or, in the case of French candle maker Germauld, complete scenarios inspired by the life of Mademoiselle Simone, who founded the line in 1947.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Books crammed in from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling, hand-lettered signs, a feeling of bohemian creativity, empty wine glasses that will be filled at the conclusion of this fictional book-reading: this is Shakespeare and Company.

The Château de Versailles features the ultimate formal French garden, created with geometric precision. Long walks are lined with statues, pools and waterways abound, vistas are—literally—king-sized.

Originally fragmented into city-states that began coming together in 1861, Italy is a surprisingly young nation.

Three-quarters of Parisian bistros are said to be run by Aveyronnais from south-central France, descendants of those who, forced by dwindling employment, moved north in the 1870s to seek their fortunes.

With Gaudi’s cathedral in Barcelona and Dalí’s surreal theatre museum for starters, Spanish Catalonia already has its share of the quirky. Add to those Castell d’Empordà, a gorgeously restored 14th century castle whose secret heart is a famous battle—in miniature.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Every morning, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel walked the few steps to her “office”, where staff, alerted that she was en route, had already sprayed Chanel No. 5 on the staircase. Client fittings happened either in the salon downstairs, or upstairs in the area now occupied by Karl Lagerfeld.

What can you make from chestnuts? What can’t you? Velvety soups, indulgent desserts, digestifs, even beer, and especially turkey stuffing, for this is the nut that symbolizes Christmas.

Created in 1829, its inspiration a Spanish folding pocket knife, the Laguiole (pronounced la-yol) is part of culinary history.

You could say that Yotam Ottolenghi is the chef who has cranked up flavours to a ridiculous degree, and who has introduced thousands to the bold fare typical of the eastern Mediterranean, but all you really need to know is that his food is inventive, nurturing, and jammed with taste.

The Russian Imperial court was a place of enormous opulence during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially at formal banquets. Tables groaned with crystal, silver, and gold, and as many as 300 different dishes. A taste of this is available at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

No doubt twirling his trademark moustache at the time, Salvador Dalí allegedly described the railway station in Perpignan as “the centre of the universe”. Perhaps not, but there’s no disputing that from August 30 to September 14, the southern French city will be in the global eye for photography enthusiasts.

Journey deep into southwest France and you’ll reach the town of Rodez, two hours north of Toulouse, the final stretch of the road winding across storybook farmland to the base of a hill climbed by looping curves and crowned by a cathedral.

“It’s not the normal concept of Thailand,” Philip Paxman says as we drive through jungle toward Kanlaya’s Eyrie, the far northern getaway he opened with partner Kanlaya (Gail) Opothisit in the autumn of 2013. Remote, stylish, and sited on a steep mountainside near the Burmese border, it redefines what it means to escape it all—and have paradise waiting for you.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Depending on your route and destination, you can find yourself mired in a twilight-zone feeling of bewilderment as you arrive in a new time zone a full day behind or ahead of when you left, or like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, driving a rental car through a looking-glass world of traffic on the “wrong” side of the road.

Call it a culinary full circle. In 2000, Jean-Yves and Minna Benoit swapped life in France for the Canadian dining scene, opening first L’Emotion in West Vancouver, and then the convivial Le Mistral Bistro in Kitsilano. The Benoits recently opened Mistral Bistro Moderne in the town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in southeastern France.

Putting backgrounds front and centre is the aim of Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting, an exhibition now on at London’s National Gallery to showcase the key, and often eye-opening, roles that architecture plays in Renaissance painting.

Paper and scissors are materials and tools at their simplest. But one artist worked wonders with them, as Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, an exhibit at the Tate Modern makes plain.

It’s a rare fashionista who has not rubbed shoulders with Italian style.

In Venice, I have never sipped a Bellini at Harry’s Bar or ridden a vaporetto to Murano to buy glassware. Instead, my focus has been more on searching for the marbled paper for which the city is known. Let’s just say that I’m a self-admitted stationery junkie.

In France, steak frites and moules frites are as common as croissants. But poisson frites? Even though pommes frites are said to be the forefather of iconic British chips, few Parisians have discovered the pleasure of deep-fried, batter-dipped fish until now.

Freddie’s Deli, tucked away in Paris’s Belleville neighbourhood, proves once again that, given the chances, Parisians are passionate about food from across the Atlantic. This convivial spot, set in leafy surroundings, is the latest edible offspring of Californian Kristin Frederick.

From the sensual portrait of 16th century beauty Diane de Poitiers to accounts of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s indulgent suite at the Ritz overlooking the Place Vendôme, the French are famed for turning the simple act of bathing into a wonderfully self-indulgent art.

I’ve suddenly found myself in a parallel universe, when I spot an object I own that has seemingly been teleported from a shelf in my bedroom into the biggest flea market in Paris. My first thought is an indignant one: “What’s that doing there? It’s mine.”

If, in their geometry, the grounds at Versailles are a Bach fugue, Monet’s soft-focus plantings in Giverny are more a Debussy tone poem. “Monet would paint in layers, and I think he made his garden in the same way,” says British-born James Priest, who took on the role of head jardinier last year.

That spherical, spiky steel object could be orbiting Earth. Instead, it stands near a serene portrait by James Abbott McNeill Whistler and an elegant cabinet by English architect-designer Edward William Godwin. This is not a random conjunction, as a wall sign explains.

Jean-Marc Gady appears to ask himself most often, “What would happen if…?” About the only element common to the far-ranging projects in his portfolio is a unique take on everyday objects.

By any standard, rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, the narrow street the church stands on, is a celestial route for food lovers. At number 60, a tiny emporium called La Petite Scierie is renowned for its foie gras.

Chef David Thompson has been dubbed the best Thai chef in the world, which is not a bad accolade for the Aussie, a non-Thai cooking in a culture that reveres what it eats. As he explains, “In England, they care for literature, homes, gardens, and dogs. In Germany, it’s music. In Thailand, it’s their stomach and their soul.”

Nature and nurture entwine like a double helix in Aurélie Bidermann’s jewellery. For nature, she incorporates butterflies, leaves, and swan feathers in some designs; for the nurture element, first consider her artistic background.

In bloom more months than not, outstandingly easy to grow, capable of ethereal beauty even as they die, and edible from petals to root tip, this is “floraldom” at its finest. So why do we hate dandelions so much?

Dawn in Luang Prabang. Materializing through the morning haze, a Buddhist monk in saffron robes appears, and then another. Soon a long file is moving quickly along the street, accepting alms of sticky rice from the devout who kneel at the sidewalk’s edge.

Massive hands and brawny forearms betray-ing his years in his profession, a member of the famille Not places a ball of red clay on his potter’s wheel. He dampens the clay dug only metres away from his atelier, then centres it, and gets to work.

Since Roman times, textile workers have used the thistle-like head of the teasel plant to raise the nap of fine cloth. And yet the teasel heads, encased in an old wooden crate, that form part of a totemic sculpture in the archives of fabric and fashion giant Ermenegildo Zegna are more than a nod to history.

Boulevard Beaumarchais is lined with stores selling everyday stuff like sticky tape, light bulbs, and lottery tickets. So it’s no surprise to come on a charity shop in its midst.

Design master Philippe Starck’s collaboration with Baccarat showcases the full measure of his inventiveness. He has transformed the mansion of Marie-Laure de Noailles into the magical and dreamlike Maison Baccarat, playing with paradox and contrast, pairing pure crystal with crude concrete – as only Starck can.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: The query “Should you eat it straight from the jar?” doesn’t even deserve an answer. Obviously you should.

“This was my office, and my father’s,” says Jean-Paul Guerlain, sitting in the serene honey-coloured salon of number 68 Champs Élysées, the stylish building that has been home to the celebrated perfume company since 1914.

The road from Venice to Milan passes by Vicenza, city of Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance architect known for his thoughtful alliance of disciplined lines and sensual curves. About 10 kilometres east, sized somewhere between a small town and a large village, is Quinto Vicentino.

Tell me what you know about wine from Israel. Cloyingly sweet? Only for religious occasions? Not quite.