Every year, since I was three months old, I’ve gone to my grandparents’ home in Albi in the south of France, which now belongs to my parents. Here are the items which should guarantee a truly zen experience.

The river Tarn, running through the town of Albi
The river Tarn, running through the town of Albi © Alamy
The table set for dinner at the author’s parents’ garden in Albi
The table set for dinner at the author’s parents’ garden in Albi

Suicoke sandals

Suicoke sandals, £75
Suicoke sandals, £75

Time was, I’d go back home and grimace at my dad’s old sandals. Fashion being what it is, and ageing too, I now covet them, or bring better versions home. I’ve done the Birkenstocks and the slides: my current favourites are the real “German dad at a picnic, circa 1992” ones, which means original Tevas, or this relatively low-key pair by the brilliant Suicoke. Suicoke sandals, £75, matchesfashion.com


Nanamica shorts

Nanamica Alphadry crepe shorts, £122.50
Nanamica Alphadry crepe shorts, £122.50

Perhaps the most important thing you need, when holidaying with family in France, is for every item of clothing to be fully elasticated. Considering I preface every meal by eating half a freshly-bought baguette, it’s a must. I wear Nanamica’s trousers most days in London; these short versions, which are smart, relaxed and go with everything, in light and easy-drying material, will be just the ticket when I face off with a cassoulet in 30-degree heat. Nanamica Alphadry crepe shorts, £122.50, mrporter.com 


Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion

Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion, £75
Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion, £75

We never used sunscreen as children, which is obviously bad, but as an adult I’ve learned my lesson and always apply sunscreen. However, I can’t deny that I still like to frazzle myself senseless in the sun – and then take a nice long shower, and apply a cooling body lotion before aperitif and dinner. This one from Augustinus Bader uses both aloe vera and shea butter for the perfect post-tan glow. Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion, £75, mrporter.com


Missoni bucket hat

Missoni logo-embroidered bucket hat, £200
Missoni logo-embroidered bucket hat, £200

The bucket hat trend is another one, like sandals, which I can find ghosts of in my family’s garage. What better way to engage with it again than with this Missoni number? Since my mother tends to check every ten minutes or so whether I’m wearing a hat in the fierce southern heat, everyone will be pleased. And when I yell back, “YES – AND IT COST TWO HUNDRED POUNDS,” it may also result in a rare, stunning silence. Missoni logo-embroidered bucket hat, £200, mrporter.com


Cards

The Courtauld Shop Cézanne playing cards, £8.50
The Courtauld Shop Cézanne playing cards, £8.50

One thing I owe my parents is my love of art. It feels only right, then, that I bring something arty to entertain them – what about the Tarot Deck designed by fabled surrealist Leonora Carrington? Still – it could be a) too costly and b) too damn spooky. In which case, a good back-up, and more Med-appropriate, are these Cézanne playing cards, each one decorated with the artist’s portraits, landscapes or delicious bowls of apples or peaches. The Courtauld Shop Cézanne playing cards, £8.50, shop.courtauld.ac.uk


Work-out kit

Pent Sienna skipping rope, $160
Pent Sienna skipping rope, $160

Don’t laugh. Somewhere between the late-lunch dessert of apricot tart and the early evening aperitif (crisps, pistachios, saucisson and some Suze), I like to try to do some vague exercise in our garage. Perhaps this luxury skipping rope from Pent, with walnut handles, and their near-edible-looking Stretching Roller, could do the bare minimum – which is to say, prevent me from becoming morbidly obese. They only weigh your luggage on the way back, right? Pent Sienna skipping rope, $160, and Rola stretching roller, $330, pentfitness.com

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