The French Railways website www.voyages-sncf.com has an excellent feature for spur-of-the-moment travellers: the "Dernière Minute" (last minute) option, which sells tickets on main lines at about half the normal "walk-up" price, often in first class. Each day, an apparently arbitrary selection of bargains is put on sale - but anyone armed with a map can often get where they need to be using the service.
Examples from this week: tickets on the main TGV line south have been scarce, but first-class seats from Paris to Macon, between Beaune and Lyon, have been available at €49 (£35) one-way. You can hop off at intermediate stops, or buy an extra ticket to head further south.
Cheap deals are also available to Le Mans for €30 (£22) in first class. Now SNCF has branched out to offer international journeys. It is selling one-way, first-class trips on Thalys high-speed trains from Paris to Brussels to Cologne for €56 (£40) - half the normal fare.
Warning of the week: on the buses in Mexico
"All bus travel should be during daylight hours and on first-class conveyances," urges the US State Department. It warns visitors to Mexico that second- and third-class buses are likely to be hijacked and robbed as they travel along ordinary highways, rather than the toll motorways used by the most expensive buses. The roads from Acapulco towards Ixtapa or Huatulco are particularly prone to problems: "Armed robberies of entire busloads of passengers still occur."
These appear to be perpetrated by armed passengers who take over the bus on a quiet stretch of road. And the Foreign Office has another reason for watching your fellow travellers: "Long-distance bus travellers have had their personal belongings rifled while asleep."
Destination of the week: Lux deluxe
Luxembourg has remained off the no-frills airline map, which is one reason why fares to this small and beautiful country have remained high. But in August, when business travel dries up, low fares become available.
For example, VLM (020-7476 6677; www.flyvlm.com) is selling seats for £105 return from London City airport; cheap deals are also available on Luxair (01293 596633; www.luxair.lu) from Heathrow, London City and Manchester, and on British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) from Gatwick.
Luxembourg has the world's highest density of recreational footpaths - including a 35-mile hike along the Moselle from Schengen (the tranquil village after which the European agreement is named) to Wasserbillig. Luxembourg City is the EU's smallest capital, and a beautifully three-dimensional city. For more information, contact the Luxembourg Tourist Office, 122 Regent Street, London W1B 5SA (020-7434 2800; www.luxembourg.co.uk).Reuse content