The most important resort area in South Devon, Torquay envisions itself as the center of the "English Riviera." Since 1968 the towns of Paignton and Torquay (pronounced tor-kee) have been amalgamated under the common moniker of Torbay. Torquay is the supposed site of the hotel in the popular British television comedy Fawlty Towers and was the home of mystery writer Agatha Christie. Fans should check out the exhibit devoted to Christie at the town museum, and visit Greenway, her holiday home on the River Dart. Torquay's tourist office has leaflets outlining an Agatha Christie Trail that takes in all the Christie-related places in town.

The town has shed some of its old-fashioned image in recent years with modern hotels, luxury villas, and apartments that climb the hillsides above the harbor. Still, Torquay is more like Brighton's maiden aunt in terms of energy and fizz, though a pubs-and-clubs culture makes an appearance on Friday and Saturday nights. Palm trees and other semitropical plants (a benefit of being near the warming Gulf Stream) flourish in the seafront gardens; the sea is a clear and intense blue.

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