Crime watch

SEVERAL readers have written to stress the dangers of crime in France following our survey of travel hazards (Independent Traveller, 19 June).

John Dyson of Huddersfield quotes the remarks of Richard Binns in the Cote d'Azure section of French Leave Encore: ' . . . burglaries have reached epidemic proportions from both properties and vehicles.'

Mr Dyson's cases were stolen from his car while it was briefly left unattended in Port Barcares. The theft brought his holiday to an untimely and unhappy end.

'Holiday companies are not doing enough to warn tourists of this problem,' he writes. 'We have used VFB for our last two trips to France. While I commend them generally, I especially welcome the warning as to theft from cars that appears on the first page of their Holiday Guide. However, this booklet is only issued after booking. There is no such mention of crime in either of the 'pre- booking' guides we were given.'

Helen Peggs of Victim Support writes to say that the organisation provides emotional support or practical help to victims of crime abroad as well as at home.

'We are usually asked for help when people return to this country after the more serious incidents, such as rape or the murder of a relative. Our contacts with victims' organisations in many different countries enable us to find out about local systems and police procedures and to help people keep track of what is being done following the crime.'

For further information write to Victim Support, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ (071-735 9166).

Not so grotty

JAN TILSLEY of the West Midlands suggests we might have been a bit hard on Tenerife in our Grot Spot feature (Independent Traveller, 12 June).

She recommends a visit in winter when the Med is too cool and long-haul too expensive. 'The best part of Tenerife for me is the walking. With either hire car or by public transport, and with a copy of Sunflower guides' Landscapes of Tenerife plus local information lealets, you can make excellent walks in surprisingly varied and dramatic landscapes.

'The height of Mt Teide seems to ensure snow: we walked one Christmas day, in blazing sun, through inches of snow to one of the lower peaks - followed by a dash down to the coast for a couple of hours on the beach.'

Tell us a tale

IF YOU have a funny story to tell about your travels at home or abroad, send it to Independent Traveller, and the best printed each week will win a travel guide. The writer of the best story will win one of publisher John Murray's excellent Literary Companions (the series covers Paris, Venice, India, Egypt, Florence and London). Alternatively, you can select the Independent Good Holiday Guide or my new Family France guide.

Your tale should be brief - not more than 200 words - and can be about anything to do with travel: humorous disasters, bizarre encounters, extraordinary brochure descriptions, ga-ga guidebooks, incredible hotel notices or peculiar postcards (which we can reproduce).

For example, John Race of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, draws my attention to the comments on the Le Prieure hotel in Savonnieres contained in Karen Brown's French Country B&Bs: 'This 15th-century cottage recalls the days of Joan of Arc with its low beamed ceilings and walk-in fireplaces . . . '

Your tale doesn't have to be about something that happened this year - however, it should be true (well, it should at least sound convincing).

Please write to: Frank Barrett ('Wish you weren't here . . .?'), the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB and say which book you would like if you are one of our winners.