Warning of the week: France
Theft is evidently a serious problem now, according to the latest Foreign Office advice; on average, five British visitors reported lost or stolen passports every day in France last year. Specific locations that the Government warns about are: Charles de Gaulle airport; Gare du Nord station; the Paris Métro and RER (suburban) lines, especially RER line B, which serves Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and the Gare du Nord; Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries in northern France; Nice airport, particularly at the car rental car parks, where bags have been snatched as drivers have been loading luggage into hire cars; isolated rest areas on some French motorways; and Corsica, where you are advised to avoid leaving your vehicles unattended by the roadside, especially on coastal roads, as thefts are frequent. "Armed robbery can occur but such incidents are rare," says the Foreign Office.
In addition, many illegal street vendors employ persistent and often intimidating techniques to sell their wares, and are now to be found at many tourist sites in Paris.
Bargain of the week: Iberian sleep
If you are planning a weekend in one of the big cities of Spain or Portugal in the next two months, the deal from the leading Spanish chain, NH Hoteles, is remarkable value. The company has a bargain two-night offer for all its Iberian properties.
If you book online at nh-hotels.com, you pay between €165 (£137) and €219 (£182) for two people for two nights – in other words, a maximum of £45 per person per night, including breakfast and what the company promises to be "a free mini-bar for every day of your stay". You can also check out late, until 5pm.
Locations include Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao and Lisbon (pictured), which are all served by low-cost flights from the UK. See pages 12 & 13 for "48 Hours in Valencia"; next week the same slot features Madrid.
Destination of the week: Antananarivo
Madagascar's capital may take almost as long to say as it does to fly there, but the city, also called Tana, is getting easier to reach. Kenya Airways (kenya-airways.com) launches flights today from its Nairobi hub, with easy connections from Heathrow. And why should you go there? Hilary Bradt, the guidebook publisher, says the journey from the airport to the city is reason enough: "Madagascar's infinite variety passes by the window like the opening sequence of a film: a row of Crown of Thorn euphorbia plants, topped with scarlet flowers, against a red clay wall, then the wobbly looking houses with their steeply pitched tile roofs and wooden balconies."