The high-speed Chunnel train that runs from London to Paris and Brussels is getting cheaper and even faster.
New track on the English side is scheduled to open Sept. 28, shaving about 20 minutes off the journey. The London-Paris one-way trip will take two hours, 35 minutes, and London-Brussels will take two hours, 20 minutes.
The $3-billion rail project replaced slower-running track with 46 miles of high-speed track, the first to be built in Britain, from Fawkham Junction in northern Kent to the Chunnel entrance at Folke-
stone. That will allow Euro- star trains to run at 186 mph at least part of the way on the English side, as they can on the Continent.
Fares have dropped dramatically for those who book ahead. Higher fares will kick in as lower-priced seats sell out. New round-trip prices begin at $90 for standard class Mondays through Thursdays (versus $188, the previous low for advance-purchase fares) and $190 for first class (versus $280, the previous low), usable any day. The fares were formerly offered as limited-time specials. Day-trippers in first class will pay as little as $164 round trip. (Standard fares are the same for day trips or overnights.) Youth and senior fares have also been reduced.
To book tickets, contact RailEurope, (800) 387-6782, www.raileurope.com.
The price slashing comes as the Chunnel faces competition from low-cost European airlines such as Dublin-based Ryanair and London-based easyJet. (See Page 7.)
fire in Glacier
Tourists were evacuated last week from Glacier National Park as a fast-moving forest fire raged in Montana. More than 46,000 acres had burned in and near the western end of the park, which covers more than 1 million acres, as of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday. Updates were available through links at the Web sites www.glacier.visitmt.com and www.visitmt.com or by calling (406) 755-3910.
Putting the 'new'
in New Orleans
New Orleans' artsy, edgy Warehouse District, near the French Quarter, this month adds two attractions: a $21-million museum devoted to Southern art and an arts-themed hotel.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which opens its main building Aug. 23, will display hundreds of its 2,700 works, most of them donated in 1994 to the University of New Orleans by businessman Roger H. Ogden.
The focus of five-story, contemporary Stephen Goldring Hall will be on 20th century and later works. A new wing and library building nearby, opening in fall 2004, will focus on earlier art.
Until now, only part of the collection was displayed, in a temporary gallery that opened in 1999 and closed in December 2002.
Among the better-known artists are self-taught Louisiana painter Clementine Hunter, Georgia-born Benny Andrews and Mississippi-born William Dunlap, who works in several media. The museum, at 925 Camp St., will be open Tuesdays to Sundays. Adult admission is $10. (504) 539-9600, www.ogdenmuseum.org.
The 217-room Renaissance Arts Hotel, at 700 Tchoupitoulas St., is scheduled to open in mid- to late August. It will include a sculpture garden, three Dale Chihuly chandeliers in the lobby and works by local artists in each guest room. It will also have a seafood restaurant, La Cote Brasserie, overseen by chef Richard Starr, formerly of the highly rated Cuvee. Published room rates begin at $189 per night; lower introductory rates may be available. (800)468-3571, www.marriott.com.
The airline-owned Internet travel seller Orbitz last month began identifying partner airlines on code-share flights and listing aircraft type and time between flights on the initial search-results page. It added Mexico and the Caribbean to its "Matrix Display" system.
DEAL OF THE WEEK
Stay longer, save
Even the wealthy deserve a bargain now and then, so here's one for the tony San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, where published rates begin at $399 per room per night: Guests who book a two-night midweek stay through December get the third night for $110. All the booked nights must be Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays. The deal, which marks the hotel's 110th anniversary, is subject to availability. The hotel has 38 cottages and rooms, two restaurants and 17 miles of hiking trails. (800) 368-6788, www.sanysidroranch.com.
FREE FOR THE ASKING
Designing a trip
Switzerland's new "Luxury & Design" guide takes you on a cross-country journey featuring urban centers, fashion houses, watchmakers and cutting-edge hotels and restaurants. Call (877) 794-8037 or download the 70-page booklet at www.myswitzerland.com. (Click on "Theme Route Luxury & Design.")
-- Compiled by Jane Engle