French hisses

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MUCH of our correspondence about service from tourist offices focuses on the French one in London. My predecessor reported interminable waits on the telephone inquiry line, a problem the French have now solved by charging for their services.

Following the worrying example set by the Dutch and US tourist offices, you have to call a premium rate line (0891 244123); the cost to you is 50p a minute. You can avoid this fee by making your inquiry in writing to 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL. Daphne Smith, a reader from Monmouth, tried this, but received only one of the four pieces of information she requested. The dispatch arrived with a letter asking for her to send pounds 1, which, she writes, 'I felt disinclined to pay.' It is cheaper (40p a minute through BT) to call the main tourist office in Paris (010 33 1 49 52 53 56).