French connections With the summer coming to an end in Europe, Air France is offering a wide selection of quite low fares to the south of France, which can still provide a pleasant climate towards the end of the year, especially in the region closest to the Italian border. Round-trip tickets via Paris to Nice (above) - from where it's a 1 euro (HK$10), 45-minute bus ride to the beautiful town of Menton, which claims to have the best winter climate on the Cote d'Azur - are available for HK$4,400. For this fare you can also get to Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse and other French cites, as well as many other European destinations such as London, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Florence, Prague and Vienna. Taxes and fuel surcharges will bring the price up to around HK$8,000, but that's still a good-value fare for such a long list of cities. Stopovers in Paris are offered for an extra HK$750 in each direction, and a five-day minimum stay is required. Visit www.airfrance.com.hk for reservations and a full list of cities available until the end of this year at this price.
Fast track to Britain The Hong Kong sales office of European rail pass specialist Rail Europe is currently offering 20 per cent off all BritRail passes, which offer unlimited travel across England, Wales and Scotland. The discounted prices start from HK$1,338 for three days of second-class travel, and go up to HK$5,378 for a one-month pass. First-class passes are also available, and both classes can be purchased for either consecutive days or single days within a two-month window (this is a slightly more expensive option). Rail Europe's local branch is at 6-8 Prat Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui (closed on weekends and public holidays), tel: 2721 1533; www.raileurope.hk. Some good tips and suggestions for getting the most out of a train journey around the country are provided by Britain from the Rails: A Window Gazer's Guide, published by Bradt Guides (www.bradtguides.com) and available from Amazon.co.uk for around HK$130. For further inspiration, two series of the popular BBC show Great British Railway Journeys are available on DVD from Amazon.
All kitted out The latest must-have travel accessory for Hello Kitty fans aged four to fortysomething is an iPhone app released by Visit Japan that provides information on all 47 prefectures, courtesy of the popular cartoon character. With the help of the phone's GPS, whenever users take photos at a particular place, Hello Kitty will appear in kitted-out, locally themed attire and offer interesting facts about the site. The character appears in the corner of the image, which can be sent to admiring - or jealous - friends through a Facebook button. You'll need to have data roaming or be close to a Wi-fi source to use the GPS photo function. Information on free or cheap wi-fi connections can be found at www.jnto.go.jp
Deal of the week A triangular trip to Thailand is currently available from Farrington American Express Travel. This includes flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok with Cathay Pacific, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with Bangkok Airways and from Chiang Mai back to Hong Kong with Dragonair. Four nights' stay is split evenly between the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok and the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai (left). Valid from November 1 to December 19, the package is priced from HK$7,690 per person, twin share, or HK$12,190 for solo travellers. Daily breakfast and travel insurance are also included, as is afternoon tea in Chiang Mai and something called a "rice-planting experience", which one would hope is optional. For further details, look for Thailand in the "Package Search" section at www.amextravel.com.hk or call 3121 3121 and quote the tour code L2012CNXP309.