Woollahra and Double Bay in Sydney are like visiting the south of France

You know what it's like.

Pile the kids and bags into a car, drive to the airport, battle the crowds, manually check in, squeeze onto a flight, sit on the tarmac due to delays and arrive utterly exhausted.

Or, eschew the airport and drive to your destination through traffic jams and tollways, rain and roadworks, accompanied by echoes of "are we there yet?"

Sometimes, you need a break from the stress of going on holidays.

Which is why we're enjoying a weekend in the south of France without leaving the city.

Often, the advertising around "staycations'' is all about hotel rooms in the central city and this can be brilliant. I remember a recent one-nighter with 10-year-old Gracie at the Sofitel, complete with Beauty and the Beast colouring packs, roses and a high tea.

Or, it's all about a beach or bush break, in a small shack booked through Airbnb.

But today, our home-away-from-home is only 45 minutes' drive from our actual abode, on the other side of Sydney.

Parts of Woollahra and Double Bay are straight out of le sud de la France. The boulangeries, boucheries and patisseries are simply superb. It's a world away from the suburban area in which we reside.


Our base is appropriately described as a "hidden gem" on the Stayz website.


Down a vertiginous cobblestone driveway (which we inch along to avoid hitting the Mercedes Benz and BMW parked at the bottom) is a five-bedroom, French-provincial-style home, with glorious views across the harbour.

It has the finest in fittings, including marble bathrooms and kitchen-tops, a freshwater pool and heated spa. (No wonder this part of town is nicknamed "double pay".)

We pretend to be in scenes from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, as the kids make like butlers to serve us mineral water in champagne glasses.

It's a far cry from our usual weekend activities of vacuuming the carpet, weeding the garden and washing the dog.

But it's also an ideal opportunity to be a tourist in your own city.

Each morning we walk to Centennial Park, dodging the cyclists and joggers, to the sprawling playground and café.

The clothing, furniture and gift shops around Paddington and Bondi Junction are a feast for the eyes, while nearby Surry Hills is home to the best restaurants in the city.

We select cheese and meat from Simon Johnson and Victor Churchill – iconic providores – and fantasise about being able to afford this stuff every day.

I cook a boeuf bourguignon, paired with a bottle of bordeaux, for dinner, while the kids practise their French (which, admittedly, extends mainly to counting, not the most scintillating conversation).

We go home to discover the dog has torn up some toilet rolls, dragged from the garbage bins.

But we can always have, in the words of Robin Leach, "champagne wishes and caviar dreams".

Tracey Spicer and family were accommodated for one night, courtesy of Stayz.