Don't laugh. It's called "Paris on a Budget." Imagine. And the French aren't joking. They've published a handy, pocket-size booklet. Lists more than 90 moderately priced hotels, 200 cafes/restaurants. Takes in the city's one- and two-star hotels. Current rates figures out to about $70 per day (or less) for a double room with bath or shower, including tax and service. The booklet contains a handy map pinpointing the various districts where these hotels can be found. Other information on admission-free museums, subway travel, wine bars, tearooms. A special section at the back of the booklet tells about discounts for travelers 25 and under. Copies available from the French Government Tourist Office, 9401 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 840, Beverly Hills 90212 or telephone (213) 271-6665 or 272-2661.
Free bed-and-breakfast information in the United States and Canada is offered by Bed & Breakfast Update, P.O. Box 4814, North Hollywood, Calif. 91607. "Names and addresses of B&Bs, inns, B&B guidebooks and reservations services for up to three destinations will be provided at no cost if requested at least six weeks prior to departure," says the publisher. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope. These same people publish a bimonthly B&B newsletter. Ask for details.
It's described as the "strongest thermal spa in Europe" with giveaway prices. For approximately $40 the operator sets up "try-out arrangements" for three days at this German spa center in the village of Endorf southeast of Munich. Includes accommodations, breakfast, four thermal spa dips and two cure treatments. Details from Kurverwaltung, Postfach 207, 8207 Endorf, West Germany.
For other information contact the German National Tourist Office, 444 S. Flower St., Suite 2230, Los Angeles 90071. This office will load you down with maps, colorful brochures, guides. Ask about the WunderCheck program that features 84 hotels with prices starting at $37 per person a night (double occupancy). Breakfast is included as well as taxes, gratuities. In some cases dinner is a bonus. And here's a nice touch: Each hotel calls ahead to reserve your room at your next stop. No charge. Also, ask about prepaid weekly car rental rates, GermanRail Tourist Cards. If you're in a rush, dial the German National Tourist Office (213) 688-7332.
Everybody's favorite weekend hideaway seems to be San Francisco. We get lots of calls. Most answers can be found in a consumer guide published by the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. Eighty pages of details on restaurants, sightseeing, shopping, night life. For a copy send $1 to the SFCVB, P.O. Box 6977, San Francisco 94101.
For information on travel beyond San Francisco, contact the Redwood Empire Assn., One Market Plaza, Spear Street Tower, Suite 1001, San Francisco 94105. The REA covers destinations clear to the Oregon border. A couple of my favorite towns lie just across the Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito and Tiburon. Latter features a pint-size fisherman's wharf with some fair to good restaurants. If you're looking for a romantic spot, try The Caprice. Windows frame San Francisco, the Golden Gate, Angel Island. Pricey but with atmosphere that sizzles.
Washington state has produced a slick new magazine (168 pages) that's packed with information for travelers. Divided into eight regions for easy reference. Says, "San Juan Island hopping is as easy as boarding a Washington State Ferry." Chapters on farmlands, cities (including Seattle), the Cascades Highway (called one of the 10 most scenic journeys in America). Writers discuss Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens as well as the Olympic Peninsula and North America's "longest stretch of beach." Information on wine tours, rodeos, festivals, hotels/motels, RV parks, resorts, fishing, gold rush towns. If you're planning a trip to Washington, get a copy of "Destination Washington." It's free. So is the call. Telephone (800) 544-1800.
A note from Sheila Roen who operates Home Exchange International: "In your column I notice that more and more people are interested in a more homey approach to travel. This year France and Italy are offering the best exchange possibilities. I can arrange for exchanges from Paris apartments to a home in Fontainebleau to vacation retreats in the countryside." Roen has been helping American travelers swap houses for seven years. She also books flights, helps with land arrangements. Roen's registration fee remains the same $40 as last year. Contact her c/o Home Exchange International, 22458 Ventura Blvd., Suite E, Woodland Hills, Calif. 91364 or telephone (818) 992-8990.
Update on Mexico