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Strikes snarl tourist trips to France

June 08, 2003|Jane Engle;Times staff and wire services

Tourists who brave a falling dollar, Paris-Washington tiffs over the Iraq war and other impediments to travel to France face yet another: transportation strikes.

The most recent ones last week disrupted air traffic and snarled subway and train services. Two-thirds of trains were out of service Tuesday, the Travel section's deadline, and Air France canceled more than two-thirds of its short- and medium-haul flights after air-traffic controllers struck. (Transatlantic air routes and Eurostar train service to Britain operated at near-normal levels.)

It has been a spring of labor discontent in France, where unions are at odds with the government over benefits. Frequent, sporadic strikes, often called on short notice and lasting 24 hours, have occurred since March.

The latest strikes came as France launched a "Let's Fall in Love Again" campaign to woo American visitors with discounts and other offers. These include a new Club France loyalty program, priced at $19.99 ($25 after July 14), which entitles members to discounts of up to 30% at hotels, stores and other attractions. (For details, visit

Italy, Austria and other Western European nations have also experienced disruptive strikes. Last week Alitalia canceled about 200 flights after nearly a third of its flight attendants called in sick to protest a plan to reduce the size of cabin crews.

-- Times staff and

wire services


WHO takes


off SARS list

The World Health Organization on May 30 removed Singapore from its list of countries experiencing recent cases of local transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Earlier, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its recommendation that Americans avoid nonessential travel to Singapore. For updates, visit and


Journey to the

not-so-deep at

Monterey Bay

Children can suit up and play scuba diver at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium in an "Underwater Explorers" program run several times daily Saturday through Sept. 1.

Participants breathe through a regulator and tank and wear a mask, but unlike scuba divers, they float on the surface, with the help of a life vest, said Gavin Wuttken, dive safety officer.

They can get close-up views of bat rays, leopard sharks, monkey-faced eels, surfperches and other inhabitants of the aquarium's 9-foot-deep Great Tide Pool.

The program is aimed at children 8 to 13. The price is $59 per child, plus aquarium admission, which is $8.95 for ages 3 to 12 and $17.95 adults. Reservations are recommended. (800) 840-4880,


Traveler's notes

The upscale Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley National Park is closed for the summer, until Oct. 10, for the first time since 1996. Guests are being referred to Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe Wells. A 60% decrease in international summer visitors, mostly Europeans, since 2000 prompted the closure.... Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled the June 15 and 22 Eastern Caribbean sailings of the Norway -- the fourth and fifth to be canceled since a shipboard boiler exploded and killed seven crew members. More than 10,000 passengers have been offered refunds plus, in some cases, credits on a future cruise, spokeswoman Susan Robison said. Federal authorities last week were continuing to investigate.



Sizzling savings

in Scottsdale

Summering in Scottsdale? With average June-to-August highs in triple digits, the Arizona city might not be your first choice. But the tony Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort, rated four diamonds by AAA, hopes you'll reconsider for rates that start at $145 per room per night for a deluxe mountainside casita, versus published rates starting at $380 in the winter high season. If you live in California or Arizona, you'll be upgraded to a suite Sundays through Thursdays. The discounts are good through Sept. 9, subject to availability. (800) 245-2051,



Mammoth Lakes

off-road journeys

The "Mammoth Lakes Off-Highway Vehicle and Mountain Biking Map" profiles 14 four-wheel-drive routes from three to 24 miles and 10 two-wheel trips from 1.2 to 13 miles in the mountain resort area of Central California. (888) 466-2666, (Click on "Mountain Biking" or "SUV Off Road/4WD" under "Activities.")

-- Compiled by

Jane Engle

Los Angeles Times Articles