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Treading Softly in Forbidden City

June 18, 1995

Visitors to one of Beijing's major attractions, the Forbidden City, are now required to don special slippers in yet another effort to reduce wear and tear on the 589-year-old site.

The enclave--home to 24 Chinese emperors in the last two dynasties, the Ming and Qing, which reigned from 1369 to 1911--attracts thousands of visitors daily. Bricks in some areas of the city must be replaced every three years due to the heavy traffic, the Associated Press reported.

At two sites within the massive complex, Treasure Hall, and Watch and Clock Hall, tourists must wear disposable rubber-soled slippers, which can be purchased for 25 cents. In the past, officials have limited admission to the Forbidden City to 20,000 visitors a day and closed two-thirds of its buildings in an effort to curtail damage.

The largest complex of antique wooden buildings of such scale in the world, the city has 800 palaces, halls, shrines and pavilions and no fewer than 9,000 rooms.

Deadline for Olympics Tickets

Travelers who plan to attend the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and hope to see some of the most popular events must order their tickets by June 30. Orders will be placed in a lottery, and ticket-holders notified by mail in September. A spokeswoman said demand for seats is expected to outweigh supply at many events, including opening and closing ceremonies, gymnastics, swimming and diving. Brochures are available by sending $5 to 1996 Olympic Ticket Request Form, P.O. Box 105153, Atlanta, GA 30348-5153. People who send requests by Friday have the best chance of receiving an order form in time for the June 30 deadline.

One-Stop Booking in Provence

Several chambers of commerce in Provence, the popular southern region of France, have joined forces with local hoteliers to open a U.S. information office.

The Provence Travel Reservation Service, a private booking office in New York City, represents nearly 50 hotels in 20 cities, towns and villages of Provence, including Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Arles. Most of the currently listed properties are small, said David Brice, director of the service. According to Brice, prices start at about $60 a night for a double at the Calendal, a modest hotel in Arles, and go up to about $250 a night for a double at Abbaye de Sainte-Croix in Salon-de-Provence.

The company also represents more than 600 rental properties in the region. Prices start at about $720 a week for a one-bedroom apartment. Travelers can also obtain itineraries, dining tips and other tourism information from the service, 275 Madison Ave., N.Y., NY 10016; tel. (800) 292-0219.

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