My favourite place to visit has to be France. I have such wonderful memories of time spent there.
The summer in the south can be very warm and I love to swim in the Mediterranean. I adore French people and I speak the language, which definitely has its advantages.
The food is especially wonderful. When you sit down at a table in France, fresh bread and water are served as form.
Years ago when I went to Paris as a struggling model with nearly no money, I would spend hours in a ‘cafe’ – an altogether different concept in France – and I would order a green salad. The tasty vinaigrette with bread was a meal I was always happy with.
On a more generous budget I love steak tartare with frites, Burgundy snails and tarte tatin. Winter oysters served with brown bread and butter, another firm favourite of mine, appear on many Parisian menus in the cold months.
I find the convivial atmosphere of the restaurants so relaxing. There it is easy to relish one of life’s biggest pleasures: talking while eating and drinking.
Not long ago I visited Dinard in Northern France for the relaxed, but very important, British Film Festival. It is a charming town with great restaurants, a casino and a Grand Hotel.
It is by the sea so it’s perfect for its air, sailing and views, though I do think swimming in the Channel is for hardier types. While there I stayed at the Thelassa hotel, a little out of the centre but with the benefit of a spa.
A steam or swim can be a fantastic, fast makeover. Dinard is perfect for a film festival because it is so similar to a university town: everything is accessible on foot and faces become quickly recognisable.
Acting can be an isolated life as the pursuit and wait for work is frequent and solo. The Dinard festival was a refreshing and unifying experience that reminded me of all the positive sides of this industry.
As a child I spent long summer holidays in Antibes, and enjoyed many trips to Paris and occasional visits to the Loire Valley. These days I try not to visit the same place more than once, unless it’s for work.
In France, however, I remember well the feeling of fitness after days spent swimming and being outdoors. In the evenings I was always struck by the elegance of the French, all so wonderfully dressed and scented.
I’d spend hours watching people appearing for drinks on the terrace before dinner. It’s that amazing sense of Gatsby-esque glamour that exists on the Riviera and I’ve never forgotten it.
One place I would love to spend the night is the Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc, where until now I’ve only enjoyed cocktails.
Since the death of my grandparents, who lived in France, I tend to travel wherever life takes me. I recently visited Le Clos de Mesnil Krug vineyard where I stayed in a yurt [a dwelling structure used by Central Asian nomads].
This might seem pretty unusual but friends and I were there to try their latest number. The air in the vineyard was incredibly still and warm.
The growth of Krug grapes is a meticulous process resulting in a Grande Cuvée, a delicious bubbly wine, and a Krug Rose Brut, delicate and fun. Needless to say, everyone was in very high spirits.
Years ago, Louis Vuitton invited me to stay at the Hôtel du Crillon on Paris’ Place de la Concorde. I think it has be one of the most marvellous hotels in France.
For German Cosmopolitan I spent a week in Yemen. The culture, climate and landscape were so different, some of the poverty and beauty so striking.
Its geography seems somewhat exotic because it is in the Middle East, but south of the Arabian Peninsula and bordering the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. I was struck by how many locals had protruding cheeks which, as I found out later, was because they were chewing khat.
Almost everyone seemed to be doing it and it is supposed to make you feel a bit high, though it did little for me. I did, however, love the food.
The eating houses were simple. We sat on rugs with cushions around low tables, and ate meat stew full of flavoursome spices such as cardamom, garlic and coriander.
Apart from the delicious bread, it was a slimline meal, ideal for modelling! I remember vividly the sound of the call to prayer.
It is simply beautiful and so evocative of local customs and mystical traditions that are foreign to me.
When I shot The Darjeeling Limited, my part was fairly small. Despite that I was sent to India for about ten days.
I already had huge affection for India from previous visits. I also have a lifelong fascination with it because my grandmother was born in Simla, but on this trip with Wes Anderson, I was taken to Jodhpur.
On the first evening we had dinner at the Maharaja’s palace. The mysticism of India was ever present but in these sedate and opulent surroundings, I witnessed an India I had not yet seen before.
I can’t travel without one of L’Oreal’s SPF products, Chanel sunglasses, Mikimoto pearls, swimwear by Prada and, of course, my credit card. I always need a good book.
I like biographies. My bible is Superwoman by Shirley Conran.
Life is such a juggle with my two children, the house, bills, the erratic nature of work and no husband!
Interview by Cass Chapman