News French actor Gerard Depardieu poses with people from Estaimpuis during a ceremony held in his honor at the Chateau Bourgogne

Mayor of Estaimpuis credits French star with boosting the economy, creating jobs and bringing new visitors to the small corner of Wallonia

Christina Patterson: Diet books? They're just for reading

The wrong kind of weather, and indeed management, may be the chief cause of delays on our own super-pricey trains, but in New York explanations for late-running trains are a little less prosaic. According to the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the main culprits, after engineering problems, are "fainting dieters". Only in the land of the free and the faddy could an urgent desire to squeeze into your size-0 jeans bring public transport grinding to a halt. The supersized, wedged into seats increasingly designed for baby whales, must be furious.

Leading Turkish writer faces jail after incurring wrath of military

A Turkishnewspaper columnist will confront the might of the state in a case which exposes the refusal of the Turkish establishment to accept European human rights laws.

Get back: letter from Lennon to critic of Beatles sells for £12,000

A letter from John Lennon denying that the Beatles "ripped off" black music fetched £12,000 at auction yesterday.

Hotels to be banned from turning away gay couples

Hoteliers are to be banned from turning away homosexual couples in a fresh drive against anti-gay prejudice. A Single Equality Act, which forbids discrimination against homosexuals in goods and services, is to be introduced by the Government, Jacqui Smith, the Equalities minister said.

Letter: British bondage

Sir: Your article about the bed and bondage guest house in San Francisco made entertaining reading and did not seek to judge sadomasochists ("B&B that offers an alternative to breakfast", 15 December).

American Times - SAN FRANCISCO: B&B that offers an alternative to breakfast

THE HOUSE on Caine Street is no ordinary B&B. It does not appear on any San Francisco accommodation agency's list. It is not in an obviously touristy part of town. There is no sign outside to advertise its services. Even the neighbours aren't too sure what goes on there, although they have an idea that it is pretty damn weird.

The complete guide to; cultural holidays

Ever fancied cutting a dash at the local salsa night, or dazzling your friends with your fluent Italian? Ever wanted to know more about Ancient Greek civilisation but been put off by the thought of stuffy evening classes in a draughty town hall? Well, there are now plenty of holidays on offer which combine stimulating activity with exotic locations. So go on: improve yourself. Cultivate your cultural side as well as your tan. By Pascale de Lacoudraye Harter

Just for the sauce of it

Brian, the proprietor of a Brighton seafood restaurant ("The Freshest Fish at Affordable Prices") was in no doubt at all on the matter: "The old style, traditional English seaside holiday - bucket and spade, yeah? Dead, mate," he assured me. We were standing at the time on his not-at- all sunny forecourt, and Brian was grappling quite bravely with an outsize parasol in the teeth of the sort of loud, ferocious and buffeting wind that threatened to lift up even the red checked and heavily weighted tablecloths and whisk them over for a cheap and impromptu Awayday to France.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering