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If you are keen of flea markets, you are in the right city! Its easy to spend days browsing the dozen markets that make up the Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignacourt, 18th Arr.) the largest market of its kind in the world! Held every Sat, Sun and Mon from 7 am.

Paris flower markets, flee markets and regular shopping

Paris flower markets, flee markets and regular shoppingAnother good market for second hand clothing is the Porte de Vanves Flea Market (Blvd. Lefebvre, 14th Arr.).We suggest you contact the tourist offices for any update on markets days and location.Flower and fruit markets are scattered all over Paris. Montorgueil Market (Rue Montorgueil and Rue Montmartre, 1st) is good for both fresh fruit and pastries also. For organic products, every Saturday mornings we suggest to go on Boulevard des Batignolles. Some of the city's bakeries and pastry shops are at the Mouffetard Market (Rue Mouffetard, 5th) while the Port Royal Market (Blv. Port-Royal, 5th) has not only food produce, but cheap clothing also. Throughout June and July Paris holds a yearly International Rose Competition at beautiful Parc de Bagatelle. It definitely is a place to see, where a riot of colours explodes everywhere making the air perfumed and a walk through the park something divine. If you wish to crown your desire for flowers, blossom and rejuvenation you might consider taking a 40 minute train ride to Giverni and visit Monets enchanting house literally floating on a pond of nymphs, lilies, tulips and narcissi. If you wish to stay in Paris and dedicate an entire day on regular shopping, you can visit some department stores as: Au Printemps (Blv. Haussmann, 64; ph.: +33 01 42 82 50 00) or Le Bon March stores (24, Rue de Svres, ph. : +33 01 44 39 80 00) or the Galeries Lafayette (Blv. Haussmann, 40, ph: +33 01 42 823 456) the flagship of Paris retailing with one of the largest stores. It handles Duty Free purchasing and Tourist Tax Refunds, has a Welcome Desk with interpreters and restaurants. An inexpensive chain of department stores is Tati (76, Av. de Clichy, 17th Arr.). Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm. It has other branches around the city.Very nice places where to rest in your trip are boutique hotels offering colourful rooms, fresh ambience, secret gardens or terraces where to enjoy your breakfast. Many of them are located in central Paris but a little out of the standard circuits as they privilege a more authentic touch and a familiar relationship with their guests. You may try these ones where prices range from 30-50 euros per person: Cecil hotel, Taylor hotel, Des Artes hotel, Altona hotel, Mon reve Hotel, Bac Saint Germain ( in Latin quarter) or the Hotel du Parc Saint Charles.

Caveat Emptor: Let the Renter Beware

Caveat Emptor: Let the Renter Beware

This a good motto for business travelers to take to heart. While the same can be said for families and individuals looking for rentals, the rental business is made and maintained by business travelers, and there are very few business men, especially older ones, who have not experienced some very unwanted last-minute surprises when the final bill for the car-rental is much higher than what they originally anticipated.There are a lot of horror stories involving expecting a $100 bill and paying $200, or of checking a credit card statement that included huge fees and expenses that the renter was never expecting. The bad news is, usually these will have to be paid, and there generally is not an appeals process. All rental contracts have small print, and guess whats in that fine print? The good news is that with only moderate training, your eye will be able to scan a contract whether on paper or online, and see the most common traps that renters fall into. Once you see the traps, youll have the discernment to avoid them.First off, watch out for local taxes and fees. Taxes and fees should be part of the quoted rate, but some places will try to pull a quick one by having the rental fees without the taxes. Always ask to be sure. Ignorance is not an excuse, and some rental places make their money off people not asking questions they should. Taxes and fees can increase your final cost by up to 70 percent in the worst situations.Although usually a minor expense, you should note that most rental car places now add a small fee to customers earning frequent flier miles for their rentals. Expect to pay 50 cents per day, up to a maximum of $2 per rental, for earning those miles.The most major thing to look out for is insurance. This is the one major car-rental fee you can do something about. When they pitch collision or liability damage waivers, don't fall for rental car agents' hard sell (these are commission items, which is why they are so strenously recommended at the counter). Normally, if you own a car and have insurance you're already covered when driving a rental car. Many major credit cards offer insurance as long as the rental is charged on that card. Before your next trip, call your insurance company and credit card company to see if youre covered. If you are, tell the person at the counter to forget the pitch: its not worth $30 a day or more to buy something you already have. Avoid these things, and your next car rental bill will be far less likely to start a migraine.

How to Discover the Best Hotel Deals

How to Discover the Best Hotel Deals

In this article, we hope to share with you the many aspects on how to find the best hotel deals and still feel comfortable on your vacation. When it comes to hotels, things come down to a tradeoff between cost reduction and a fitting location. In a lot of cases especially when traveling to major cities and well-liked attractions, the nearer the hotel to the city or attraction the more you should expect to pay. The greatest way to save money, particularly in big cities, is often to reside in the suburbs.Of course, this means that you will spend more time getting to the locations you would like to visit, and this will mean paying out additional money on gasoline, etc. It is imperative to calculate all these costs to ensure that you will really be paying out a smaller amount on a less convenient hotel room.There are of course a number of methods to put aside money on hotels and motels without compromising quality. For one thing, a membership in AAA or a related auto club also allows you to get lower prices on hotel rooms, as does military service and senior citizen status. When inquiring about a hotel room, remember to inquire about discounts that may be presented.For the remaining of this article, we will continue to discuss how to find the best "hotel deal" s without sacrificing comfort.Additionally, shopping early for a hotel room can regularly yield the greater deals. That is because hotels regularly reserve a block of low cost rooms and when there are no more remaining then they are gone. Therefore the final room at a hotel may be a great deal more costly than the first. Receiving the best hotel room deal is regularly a matter of timing.Of course receiving a great deal on a hotel will mean nothing if the place is an unattractive place. Searching for a budget hotel should not mean staying at a hotel that is dirty, poorly run or in an unsafe location.Fortunately, finding a good budget hotel has been made a great deal easier with the help of the Internet. What used to take weeks or even months to investigate can now be done in a matter of hours or even minutes. Most hotels, even budget properties, include pictures of the property and the surrounding area, so be certain to investigate the property you are thinking about if you have never stayed there before.It is important to investigate the area in which the hotel is situated as well. Be certain to assess things like restaurants and attractions within walking distance of the hotel. Completing some investigations of the area will help ensure you do not end up staying in a dangerous neighborhood just to put away a few bucks.The Internet also provides a number of review web sites where those who have vacation in different hotels reveal their experiences and their impressions of the hotel properties. These review web sites can be very helpful for travelers, particularly those traveling to a new area for the first time.In addition, the Internet hosts a number of comparison web sites where travelers can simply find and evaluate hotel properties for their individual dates of stay and destinations. These comparison web sites present a number of ways to research, including distance from a particular tourist attraction, price, star level and more. The only caveat to think about when using such a web site is its independence. Some comparison web sites include only properties that pay an advertising fee, so using a comparison site does not necessarily promise the best price. It is best to use a number of such web sites to get a better picture of all the smallest prices available.As they say, knowledge equals power, so continue to read information on this topic until you feel you are adequately educated on how to discover the best hotel deals.

Traveling with "a Bump" and/or Small Children

Traveling with "a Bump" and/or Small Children

Traveling pregnant is just a warm-up exercise for your life for the next few years. It's a peek into your future living with a 2- to five year old. You'll know the location of every restroom along your route! Then there's the moodiness - being bothered by everything, including but not limited to whining, crankiness, and cravings. And is there ever room for all the stuff you have to carry, much less for the actual people in the car? Seriously - if you must travel during a pregnancy, try to do it during the second trimester, when you're beyond the discomfort of the first, but before you've grown huge in those final weeks close to the baby's due date. Make sure there is enough room to be comfortable in the passenger seats, especially if you will be driving. This is the one time in your life that an upgraded rental model will be worth every penny of the expense! Use common sense - you need to see the family, but be smart. You might be thinking "it's my last chance to go without kids!" But it's best to play it safe. Plan a less - rather than more - ambitious trip. Keep your medical information readily at hand, find out where the local hospitals are along your route, and stay out of dangerous areas.Pack lots of extra snacks - finger foods and small drink containers. Experience tells me to suggest water as the beverage of choice - it tastes the same whether it's warm or cold, and it doesn't spoil. If it spills (and it will!) water doesn't stain or leave a sticky smelly residue that requires an immediate roadside stop for a complete change of clothes. You can even use a splash of it to clean up little messes as they occur. (You do have plenty of paper towels or tissues in the car, don't you?!?) Snacks? Cheerios (the original kind) are every mom's best friend -they aren't sticky or too sweet (inviting nausea) and they aren't so salty that they need to be washed down with lots of liquid (necessitating more potty pitstops). Even little children can "gum" Cheerios into mush and you won't worry constantly about choking hazards. Sharing? Don't count on it! Everybody gets their own stash. Vacuum the car daily....there will be crumbs everywhere! GET OUT OF THE CAR for meals - everyone needs to stretch occasionally for comfort and safety, and you need some civilization as you dine, even if it's just fast food burgers. Remember, too, that your pregnant self might recoil in horror from things that other people might find perfectly pleasant. This is especially true in the early stages of pregnancy. When my wife was ten weeks pregnant with our first child, we traveled to Florida in early February for a vacation to see relatives and the Super Bowl. We were eating sushi that came by on platter after platter (no raw fish, not that I was exactly craving it) when she began to get sick. After that, everything related to the sea - water, waves, you name it - made her nauseous. To say the least she was not happy. What a trip that turned out to be!My expectant son and daughter-in-law went to San Francisco and to Lake Tahoe afterward. They made a huge mistake driving to Napa Valley - they passed miles of "fragrant" cattle ranches that left her gagging and in tears. Every mother has gone through similar situations.Traveling with a toddler when you're expecting another baby is horrible. Our advice is: "Don't. It will just be exhausting." Unless you absolutely must do it, don't. My vice president's wife said to me one day, "Did you ever notice how helpful strangers can be when you're pregnant - 'Oh, let me get that door for you!' - versus how unhelpful they are when you're pregnant and have a child?" She will never forget staggering to the back of an airplane with a diaper bag swinging from her shoulder, trying not to whack anybody, while holding her tiny daughter's hand and wrestling a huge car seat that didn't fit front-ways in the aisle,. The other passengers and those wonderful flight attendants just watched!

Cheltenham City Guide, Including Cheltenham Hotels

Located in the heart of the scenic Cotswolds, Cheltenham is a city famous for many things its horseracing and award-winning gardens being just two of them. Then, of course, you have the Regency architecture of the city centre and the lively shopping district, elements that come together to bring vivacity and life to this Gloucestershire city. Further, the city also proves to be a fine base from which to explore the surrounding Cotswolds, home of gently rolling hills and quaint, charming villages.Places of interestWhen you come to Cheltenham, you will soon discover that the draw of the city lies in its appearance, for it has long been considered to be one of Britains prettiest towns. Accordingly, many of Cheltenhams places to visit are ones that focus on scenic displays and historic buildings. Some of the most popular tourist destinations are:The Holst Birthplace Museum. Originally the home of the famous composer Gustav Holst (of The Planets fame), this Regency home shows life as it was in the Victorian period and incorporates a working Victorian kitchen.Pittville Park & Pump Room. The beautiful Park contains two lakes, a golf course and spacious, well-tended lawns, whilst the historic Pump Room contains the drinkable spa waters that originally made Cheltenham famous.The Imperial Gardens. For almost two hundred years, the gardens have been enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year not least due to the 25,000 bedding plants used annually to create the extensive floral displays.Sudeley Castle & Gardens. Located just eight miles outside of Cheltenham, the castle is open during the summer and visitors have the chance to see some of the beautiful paintings and artefacts inside.The Promenade. Cheltenhams most famous street boasts pavement cafes, smart shops and an attractive history. Lined with trees and boasting Regency architecture throughout, it is considered to be the most picturesque part of the city.Things to doDuring your stay in Cheltenham, youll discover a pleasing variety of attractions to visit and things to do, whether youre a family or couple, or just visiting alone. Throughout the year, the city is buzzing with activity, playing host to many festivals and events, such as the Literature Festival. Just a few things to see and do include:Cheltenham Town Hall. The elegant hall plays host to festivals in the city throughout the year, and at the same time stays a concert programme in which the music ranges from the classical to the contemporary.The Everyman Theatre. This hotspot features a massive variety of live entertainment, where you can watch musicals, comedy, drama and even West End productions on tour.Cheltenham Racecourse. This world-famous venue is home to plenty of racing during the October to April season. Why not time your visit to coincide with the popular National Hunt Festival in March, or visit the Hall of Fame that relays the history of steeple chasing?Cotswolds Coach Tours. Take the opportunity and join a scenic coach tour in which youll join a guide and take in some of the most beautiful views of the English Cotswolds.Cotswold Farm Park. See history brought to life with numerous animal demonstrations and displays, an ideal place to visit for all the family. There are many rare breeds of farmyard animal from sheep to cattle, waterfowl to horses.Food & DrinkCheltenham is home to many different types of restaurant, with the focus on quality. Of course, if youre after something fast and easy, youll find plenty of different cafs and takeaways serving up what youre looking for, but Cheltenham particularly prides itself on being the home of many stylish eateries. Here are some of the best you can sample:The Scena Bistro. Enjoy one of the finest dining experiences in Cheltenham at this French restaurant, which has a relaxed and welcoming style.Off the Square Restaurant. Located in Cheltenhams fashionable Montpellier district, this friendly eatery serves a variety of dishes on the menu, including plenty of old favourites. Eat in style.Montys Seafood Restaurant. Visit and enjoy a flexible menu that offers a range of different seafood. Alternatively, keep it simple and enjoy the stylish accompaniment of oysters with champagne.The Storyteller Restaurant. Located in the heart of Cheltenham, this Californian restaurant is both welcoming and atmospheric, boasting the famous Mississippi Seafood Platter and the taste bud-teasing Duck from Heaven.Epicurian. This is one of Cheltenhams top restaurants, featuring a bistro and wine bar.Hotels & AccommodationsThere are literally hundreds of places to stay during your visit to Cheltenham, whether youre looking for a hotel, guesthouse, bed and breakfast or self-catering establishment. Alternatively, other types of accommodation include camping and caravan sites and hostels. Many of the hotels offer special offers and its always advisable to search around to find the best deals. Elizabethan manors and country mansions serve as the setting for some of the top hotels in the district.Kings Arms HotelCheltenham Park HotelGeorge Cheltenham LtdBeaumont HouseMacdonald Queen's HotelCotswold Grange HotelHotel On The ParkNorth Hall HotelThe Prestbury House Hotel & Oaks RestaurantClarence Court HotelThe Quality Hotel CheltenhamCleeve Hill HotelThistle CheltenhamThe CheltenhamTownhouse HotelLords of the ManorRising Sun HotelWhite Hart InnDe La Bere HotelOaklands Bed and BreakfastEntertainmentThe night life in Cheltenham is completely entertaining with a host of nightclubs and exciting pubs and bars. Youll find Cheltenham to be a welcoming and friendly city where youll always feel safe. If youre looking for a nightclub, Subtone and Enigma are two of the most popular, with attractive line-ups of events going on all the time; alternatively, if youre a fan of Hollywood then youll discover that the Odeon cinema shows all the latest blockbusters as well as popular British films.Cheltenham is sometimes called a city within a park, and when you visit, youll see why. The architecture of the city itself is beautiful enough, with Regency-period buildings (over two thousand of them listed!) and attractive designs, but the picturesque parks are what make Cheltenham really special. There are lots of tree-lined avenues, plenty of floral displays and many more examples of nature in bloom that give Cheltenham a truly attractive appearance. Combine this with the wealth of activities and places to see, and its hard to deny that Cheltenham is one city you really must visit.

Driving tips in Thailand

Thailand has a good network of well-maintained roads and highways between all main centres. Road signage follows international convention and is in both Thai and English. Drunk drivers and an abudance of haphazardly driven motorcycles make night-time driving a real problem, however. Road rulesTraffic drives on the left hand side and drivers must be at least 18 and hold a full, valid Thailand driving licence or an international driving permit. If you only have a national driving licence from your own country you will be permitted to use for up to two months. To hire a car, renters have to be at least 25 years old. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory and drunk-driving laws apply; all insurance is invalid if drivers exceed the legal alcohol limit.Police regularly occassionally set up speed traps and offenders breaking the limits will be subject to on-the-spot fines, which are routinely less than the official rate, but no ticket is given. The maximum blood/alcohol limit is 0.5mg/ml. Unfortunately the Thai police are very lax in controlling drunk drivers and this creates a hazard late at night.Speed limits:Urban areas:45 - 60kph/28 - 37mphHighways:90 110kph/56 68mph.Motorways and the road networkThere are about 64,600kms/40,141mls of paved roads in Thailand as well as a large network of unpaved roads (especially in the North). Major highways radiate outwards from Bangkok to all the major cities, with most of the north-south route consisting of dual carriageway. Interconnecting roads to smaller towns and cities are usually wide, and single-laned with two-lane sections at interchanges.Parking in cities is usually on the street for a small charge or, for the most part, covered parking in hotel/plazas or shopping centres. Farther out of town centres parking is usually free, if you can find a space. Dont block government building entrances or youre likely to be towed. Costs, distances and timesService stations are plentiful and most of the larger ones accept major international credit cards. In more remote locations, hand pumps are common and cash will be required. Unleaded 91, 95 and high-octane 98 fuels are available as well as diesel, and LPG at some locations. Unleaded 95 is about 18 baht per litre; diesel, 15 baht.Typical driving distances and times:Bangkok to Chiang Mai:686kms/426mls9 hoursBangkok to Hat Yai:993kms/617mls12 hoursHat Yai to Phuket:474kms/294mls7 hours.SafetyRenters requiring assistance will find an emergency phone number printed on their rental agreement and on the windscreen sticker. Try to refrain from driving at night as unsuspecting potholes, local drivers without tail lights and wandering livestock can greatly increase the possibility of having an accident.Since Thai motorists are notoriously ill-disciplined with giving way or observing traffic rules, motorists are advised to drive at an easy pace (50kms or less) in urban areas. In the event of an accident, Thais perfer to settle the legal outcome on the spot and often expect the wealthier motorist to absorb the cost, this includes foreigners.Stay away from downtown Bangkok; traffic is horrendous and roads are confusing, not to mention road users who have a general disregard for other vehicles. Dont drive too close to the edge of the road on any highway as motorcycles quite often drive up the wrong way, and keep out of the path of buses and trucks. The songteaw minibus trucks have a habit of suddenly pulling ove

Summary

If you are keen of flea markets, you are in the right city! Its easy to spend days browsing the dozen markets that make up the Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignacourt, 18th Arr.) the largest market of its kind in the world! Held every Sat, Sun and Mon from 7 am.