Bargain of the week: Sunshine in France
Desperate for the last of the August sunshine? With about two million fewer Mediterranean package holidays on offer this summer, prices for last-minute departures in the final weeks of the school summer holidays are soaring. This month even a basic week of self-catering in a Benidorm apartment has been selling for £600 per person or more.
Lower package prices are available for the Canary Islands; despite the much longer flight time, you can still find some self-catering holidays for under £400 per person for a fortnight.
Motorists, however, can get abroad for much less. Using Norfolkline (0870 870 1020; norfolkline.com) from Dover to Dunkirk, a car plus four people can sail even at weekends for as little as £108 return. This price is for less sociable departure times, but even popular mid-afternoon sailings are available for £188.
Dunkirk, is the northernmost town in France and has an excellent beach; it is also linked to the national autoroute network to facilitate a getaway south.
According to the French tourist office in London, anywhere south of the Loire offers a good prospect of sunshine for the rest of August.
Destination of the week: Frankfurt
The financial capital of continental Europe is also a cultural powerhouse. It is best visited next weekend, when the Museum Embankment Festival (frankfurt-tourismus.de) takes place. More than two dozen museums (including the celebrated Städel fine art gallery) crammed into a 2km stretch on both sides of the River Main open their doors for a free event. The museums are open from 3pm to 1am on Friday (28 August), 11am to 1am on Saturday and 11am to midnight on Sunday. In addition, there is culture, cuisine and art from around the globe, as well as street performances.
Warning of the Week: forged banknotes
In Croatia, the Foreign Office warns of an increase in the number of forged kuna banknotes being discovered – especially denominations of 200 and 500. The official advice is: "You should only [purchase kuna] at reliable outlets, such as banks and cashpoints."
In Montenegro, "counterfeit [euro] notes may still be in circulation"; the same warning applies to Monaco.
The Caribbean is a forgery hotspot: tourists in Cuba, which has its own curious currency, the "convertible peso," are having problems because of "an increase in the number of forged banknotes of all denominations", but in particular the 100-peso note.
In the Bahamas, police have recently warned that counterfeit higher-denomination notes are in circulation. In Panama, many restaurants, hotels and shops will accept only $20 notes or require identification for use of larger-value notes because of problems with counterfeit $50 and $100 bills.
Finally, beware in Zambia of "counterfeit US$100 and Zambian 50,000 kwacha notes".