How can we get around in rural France?

IN JULY THIS YEAR MY HUSBAND, MYSELF AND OUR TWO DAUGHTERS, 16 AND 20, WILL BE IN BOSTON FOR FIVE DAYS, INCLUDING JULY 4. ANY TIPS ON HOW WE CAN GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS SPECIAL OCCASION?

D. RUSSELL, CAMDEN

Independence Day is a big deal in Boston, which is fitting and proper for the city that bills itself "Birthplace of the American Revolution". Enjoy Harborfest, parades, harbour cruises on historic ships, readings of the Declaration of Independence and lots of people wearing colonial-era uniforms, but the blockbuster event is the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Many of these events take place between July 2-7, so plenty of time for you to enjoy. Go to boston.com and you can find a program to help you make the most of the celebrations, including a handy map that shows the best vantage points for the fireworks. See also Time Out

Boston (timeoutboston.com), a traveller's goldmine. Travel light when you're walking around - backpacks and largish items arouse suspicion in Boston.

MY WIFE AND I ARE VISITING THE SOUTH OF FRANCE AND ITALY THIS YEAR AND WOULD LIKE TO STAY IN ABOUT FOUR PLACES FOR TWO WEEKS EACH. WE PREFER NOT TO DRIVE. STAYING IN RUSTIC VILLAGES WOULD BE GOOD. P. BENNETT, CHIFLEY, ACT

Villages and not driving are not a happy combination for France and Italy. Local transport in villages is geared to the needs of locals rather than visitors, and it's less than splendid.

There's nothing like the ability to go when and where you like in regional Europe, and driving in these countries is not all that daunting. History, wine, great food - all that's a given.

For the moment I'm going to go with the no-drive option, and picking sizeable towns or small cities rather than villages. This gives you a modest array of cultural attractions on your doorstep, as well as markets and varied dining options, and first pick is St-Remy-de-Provence, south of Avignon, which sits among pine forests and bleached limestone hills that rise above olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. This is a classic Provencale town with all the right ingredients, and reasonable access to Avignon as well as the lovely villages of the Luberon region. Next stop is Cassis, at the western end of the Cote d'Azur, with a train station that allows you to explore the honey pots of St Tropez, Cannes and Antibes. I'm assuming northern Italy is where you're aiming next, so Como, the luscious lakeside town from where the ferries take you past the gardens and villas that were the summer playground for the Italian aristocracy. Finally, Verona, a treasure in its own right, with easy connections to Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Lake Garda and Bolzano.

WE WOULD LIKE TO DO 10-12 DAY TOURS OF INDIA AND MOROCCO. I AM LOOKING AT DELHI, AGRA, UDAIPUR, JAIPUR, JODHPUR AND BODH GAYA AND SPENDING UP TO $5000 EACH FOR TOURS. WE WOULD LIKE TWO NIGHTS BETWEEN THE TOURS OF BOTH. WOULD MARCH OR APRIL BE A GOOD TIME?

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V. MURPHY, WOODY POINT, QLD

The route described for you and your husband in Rajasthan is one of the classics of Indian travel and within this budget you have plenty of choice. Bodh Gaya, traditionally the site where Buddha attained enlightenment, is slightly out of the way and your best option would be to fly from Delhi to Patna, the nearest airport. In Morocco, 10-12 days is perfect for a tour of the main sites of Marrakech and the southern oases route, the road between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. Adventure World (adventureworld.com.au) has what you're looking for, and in India its tours are short modules, which you can stitch together to tailor to your requirements.

India and Morocco are heavyweight destinations. If you can, try to squeeze another night in between. March and April are good for both. But the earlier the better, and more comfortable, if you put India ahead of Morocco.

CONVERSATION OVER TO YOU ...

The question was: "Accommodation, tour and restaurant prices in Australia are shockingly high. Is the cost of domestic travel preventing you from travelling here?'

"For the past few years, we have been flying to Hawaii and staying at the Waikiki Sheraton," W. Bull writes. "For nine nights, including airfares and daily expenses, we pay only $9000. Compare this to the Indian Pacific (about $2000 to $3000 each, one way only), plus hotel, car hire and restaurants in Perth, plus airfare back to Sydney."

J. Shaw writes: "I have just completed a 39-day trip to South America, including a three-week cruise, which included Antarctica. The whole trip cost me $10,000. I have been looking at a two-week outback tour and the cost is $6000."

J. Wright writes: "We spent four weeks in Europe, Scandinavia, the UAE and Asia over Christmas/New Year - two people, $12,000 total. Our accommodation ranged from Best Western to Hyatt to five-star desert resort. Most expensive meal: €35pp for a la carte three courses and wine in Paris on New Year's Eve. For the same $12,000 we'd get nine days in the Kimberley."

According to J. McKenzie, "The Kimberley is well and truly priced out of range for many."

Next question: We Aussies have a reputation as lousy restaurant tippers. Do you tip when you're dining overseas, and what per cent?

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