Deals of the Week: Eurostar to Tours; across the north-east Atlantic; cheap flights to Switzerland
Wednesday 18 June 2003
A once-in-a-summer bargain rail trip is available this weekend: a direct train from London Waterloo and Ashford to Tours, on the Loire, for just £59 return. The one-off service departs London at lunchtime on Friday, taking four and a half hours to reach the historic French city. It is a proving run for a potentially more permanent link to Tours. The return journey, on Monday 23 June, takes five hours because of the need to change trains at the Gare du Nord in Paris on the way home; arrival in London is at 11.13pm.
You can book any time up to 30 minutes before departure through Eurostar (08705 186 186, www.eurostar.com). First class is available for £129 return.
Thanks to the low-cost airlines, it is now possible to structure a sea voyage across the north-east Atlantic for far less than previously.
First, fly to Aberdeen, for example from Luton with easyJet (0870 600 0000, www.easyJet.com) - an off-peak, one-way fare for next month is typically £32.50. Next, sail on the NorthLink ferry (01856 851 144, www.northlinkferries.co.uk) from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland. A one-way ticket costs £31.50 in peak season. From Lerwick, you can sail on Mondays aboard Smyril Line ((01595 690845, www.smyril-line.com/uk) to Bergen in Norway, a 12-hour overnight voyage that costs £72 one-way, including a couchette. You can then sail three hours' south to Haugesund aboard one of the regular high-speed coastal ferries run by Flaggruten (00 47 55 23 87 00, www.flaggruten.no), for a fare of 390 Norwegian kroner (£37) one-way. From Haugesund, there are flights on Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com) to Stansted for a typical fare of NKr426 (£40). The transport cost for the entire circuit is £213.
It might be the height of summer, but the Swiss national airline is shivering in the chilly commercial climate. In a bid to win back travellers from other airlines, Swiss (0845 601 0956, www.swiss.com) has launched extremely cheap fares from London Heathrow to its main cities in Switzerland. To Geneva, the fare is £78 return; to Zurich, £86; and to Basel £107. These apply if you book at least four weeks in advance, and stay over either a Saturday night or two other nights. Book only two weeks ahead, and the fare to each city rises by £20. A £9 surcharge applies if you book by phone rather than online.
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