When leading maître d’hôtel and Channel 4’s First Dates presenter Fred Sirieix gets some free time, he heads to Newquay in North Cornwall, for surfing, cliff walks and foodie treats

INTERVIEW Caroline Wheater 

I love Cornwall and I’ve been visiting Newquay since the early 1990s, when I came to live in the UK from France. In those days I’d book into a youth hostel and cook my own breakfast and dinner, and meet so many wonderful people. I love physical activity and I learnt to surf at Fistral Beach. I still get out into the ocean for one or two hours when the conditions are right. I prefer surfing in the morning for le réveil musculaire – to wake up my body. It sets you up for the day, gets rid of tension and works off the meal you ate the night before. It’s good to exert yourself in a natural way and wearing a wetsuit means it doesn’t matter that the water is cold because it’s also fresh and tranquil.

Read next Move To… Newquay

Cornwall is such a contrast to London and so unspoilt. The roads are narrow, the towns are small, and the villages are quaint. You feel far away, you can switch off. On an ideal day in Newquay I would be getting up when I get up, breakfasting on eggs benedict and toast, then going for a beautiful coastal walk along the cliff path to Watergate Bay. I might go as far as Porthcothan Bay then get an Uber to bring me back. Up on the cliff tops you can be alone, listen to the sound of the sea and get salt on your skin.

I go to a lot of restaurants and I like the gastronomy of Cornwall. On my trip last autumn, I dined at Paul Ainsworth at No 6 in Padstow. It was very exciting because it runs so well and the food was delicious. Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant is also very good. Going out to eat should be a whole experience, from the food to the wine to the service. Two of my favourite dishes are pan-fried Cornish oysters, so fat and creamy, and turbot. The sparkling wine from the Camel Valley is excellent too. What’s nice is eating and drinking local Cornish produce – it’s important to support the local economy.

Watch Fred exploring Southwold on the Suffolk coast in VisitEngland’s Escape the Everyday mini film campaign, in partnership with Channel 4. Browse short break ideas at visitengland.com/places-to-visit-suffolk-autumn-breaks.

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