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A slow boat off France's tourist track

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IT'S time to take a slow boat to the South of France - one of the roads less taken when it comes to exploring a region that's just a few hours by train from Paris. Considering how there's so much to discover - sleepy villages, scenic vineyards, lively markets and an encyclopedia's worth of chateaux - we hop onto the SS Catherine for a unique river cruise that takes you from one picturesque town to another without the hassle of packing and unpacking at each destination.

Check out Friday's issue of Weekend as we wind our way through France's Soane and Rhone river, from Lyon and Viviers to Arles and Avignon. Learn how this region so inspired the great artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin, as the places immortalised in their paintings are still there to be seen today. On top of that, you'll eat your way through Provence - one of the world's top gourmet regions - and soak in the history and traditions of each town that you stop at.

Elsewhere in this issue, we meet Prasoon Kumar, an architect who designs homes - not for the rich and famous, but the poor and displaced. The Delhi-born, Singapore-based architect-turned-social crusader, is chief executive and co-founder of billionBricks, a non-profit "innovation studio" which is working at eliminating homelessness in the world "one brick at a time".

For heritage food lovers, here's some exclusive news. Damian D'Silva is set to open a new restaurant in a venture with hip members' club Straits Clan, and promises authentic Peranakan, Eurasian, Chinese and Indian cuisine like you've never seen before. We also hear from a couple of F&B veterans - Ivan Brehm of Nouri and Harry Grover of coffee joint Forty Hands - who are also tackling new challenges in their careers.

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Design-wise, we visit a terrace house that doesn't follow design conventions, and check out the 150 watches that are competing for the top spots in the Oscars of the watch industry.

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