The approach to St Ives by train (a journey holidaymakers have been making since the line was built in the 1870s) is a veritable sight for sore eyes. The single-carriage train chugs along the curve of St Ives Bay, opening up glorious vistas of golden sands and treating you to a bird’s-eye view of the UK’s most perfect seaside town: a pretty old granite harbour scooped out of the bay, filled with water the colour of lime cordial, and a tangle of cottages and lanes nudging each other for space. Long a magnet for artists, on account of the extraordinary quality of light, St Ives still has a wonderfully exotic feel. The vivid colours rebel against the restrained English palette, and its island-like setting means there are soft, white-sand beaches and glimpses of the sea at every turn. A scattering of Cornish palms – not to mention the more recent arrival of frothy cappuccinos, fancy restaurants and fluffy white towels–combine to make it all feel considerably more French Riviera than Cornish Riviera.