The best deals, the latest hot spots and what's new in travel

Warning of the week: on the road in Cuba

"Avoid driving" urges Canada's Foreign Affairs Department, which has just updated its warning for the Caribbean's largest island:

"Signs are scarce. Bicycles, pedestrians and horse-drawn carts use the middle of the road and do not readily give way to oncoming vehicles. Many cars are old and poorly maintained. Inoperable vehicles are often left on the road until repaired. Few roads are lit and vehicles rarely have lights or reflectors."

If you are undeterred, drive very carefully: "Accidents that result in death or injury are treated like crimes, and the onus is on the driver to prove innocence. Regardless of the nature of the crime or accident, it can take five months to a year for the case to go to trial. In most cases, you will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place." Anyone ultimately found guilt is likely to be sent to prison for anything from one to 10 years.

Motoring insurance appears to be the exact opposite of fully-comprehensive. The Canadians warn: "If the traveller is in any way at fault in an accident, rental agencies will nullify coverage and seek damages to cover the cost of repairs."

Bargain of the week: cheaper mobile calls abroad

The cost of making or receiving calls on most mobile phones while abroad is little short of scandalous. But yesterday, Vodafone cut the cost of outgoing calls to a flat fee of 75p plus normal UK call charges. Charges for receiving calls abroad have been replaced by a 75p fee. The deal applies to Vodafone customers who set up the arrangement by dialling 5555 before setting off.

You must use the Vodafone network in Australia, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. In France, the offer is available on the SFR network; in Switzerland on Swisscom; and in Belgium on Proximu.

Destination of the week: Grenoble, next winter

The airport of St-Geoirs, halfway between Lyon and the handsome city of Grenoble, is almost moribund at present - its main event each afternoon is the arrival of the sole easyJet (0905 821 0905; plane from Luton. But this winter the number of flights is set to quadruple.

Starting on 23 September, Ryanair (0871 246 0000; will operate daily flights from Stansted. The airport is well-located for the Val d'Isère, which is why British Airways (0870 850 9850; is launching flights from Gatwick on 10 December. Six days later, easyJet starts up on exactly the same route.

Fares are likely to plummet as competition for skiers and snowboarders intensifies. For a one-week trip departing London on Saturday 14 January, easyJet is charging £53 return from Gatwick and £63 from Luton. BA is asking ££80 return for the same datesRyanair looks out-of-step with the market, quoting £169 return from Stansted.


The seaside moves to the French capital from tomorrow, when Paris-Plage, the beach on the Seine, opens to the public. Visitors will be able to sunbathe, swim and sip cocktails at cafes along a 2km section of the riverbank.

For British motorists planning to drive in the French capital this summer, though, Paris-Plage is just one of the impediments. The location for the beach is the Voie Pompidou, normally a high-speed east-west road through the city.

To make matters trickier, a tram line is under construction in the east of the city, closing some streets and causing congestion. Even worse, a new system of bus and bike lanes seems designed to baffle visiting motorists.

It is traditional on wide city streets in most parts of the world to devote the nearside lane to buses, taxis and bicycles.

But Parisian transport planners have devised a new system where the direction of travel changes for each lane: typically northbound, southbound, northbound, southbound.

At the busy junction of Gobelins in the south-east of the capital, this principle is applied, with variations, to a six-lane road.

Laura Swan