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June 2010

Hire a handicapped-accessible houseboat in France

France Passion Plaisance handicapped-accessible houseboat
ABOVE: A Handy self-drive houseboat in a French canal. INSET BELOW: A cross-section diagram of the Triton 1060.

FPP Travel, a company that rents self-drive boats in Continental Europe, is offering "Handy" houseboats for wheelchair users at four of its bases in France. 

FPP Travel Handy boat diagram Two types of boat are available: 

The Triton 1060 Handy accommodates four to six passengers (including one wheelchair user).

The slightly more luxurious Espade 1230 Handy has berths for five passengers (including two wheelchair users), plus space for an additional child on the lounge seat.

In addition to houseboat hire for disabled travelers, FPP Travel has conventional or non-accessible boats that carry two to 12 people. 

The company's 31 departure bases are in France (Burgundy, Charente, Brittany, Lot en Quercy, Aquitaine, Anjou, Champagne/Ile de France, Ardennes, Alsace, Camargue, and Languedoc-Roussillon), plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and and Czech Republic. 

Sixteen one-way/one-week cruise itineraries are available, and FPP Travel can transfer your car from the departure base to your arrival point on request.

For more information, including pages that describe the wheelchair-accessible Handy fleet, visit FPP Travel's English-language Web site at

Rome becomes more gay-friendly

Rome Colosseum at night

ABOVE: A nighttime view of the Colosseum, which is near Rome's new "gay street."

Rome's Hotel Capo d'Africa reports that the city now "finally has its own Gay Street, like the other great cities of Europe and America." PR spokeswoman Marina Tavolato writes:

For the last year, the bars and restaurants of Viale San Giovanni in Laterano, in the Celio district, just a short walk from the most famous monument in Rome, the Colosseum, have become a meeting point for the homosexual community and other night birds from around the world. As it waits to become a completely pedestrian zone, the entire district is now a very popular attraction for tourists and diehard party people.     
The various bars and clubs in Viale Laterano and the intriguing lanes and alleys that lead off from it set Roman nights buzzing. 

One of the newest bars, Bar Eleven (Via San Giovanni in Laterano 196) comes straight from London creating a Soho corner in the centre of Rome. This trendy, psychedelic atmosphere which lightens up the dark with lights, colours, sounds and flavours is an experience not to be missed! There are three room choices: All play soft soothing music which goes hand in hand with the colours of the rooms. This bar also has unique drink choices such as new and explosive cocktails or fine wines. Tuesday to Sunday, from seven in the evening until two in the morning, there is a never-ending range of aperitifs, barman acrobatics and surprises. 
But the best known nightclub has an explicit name: Coming Out (Via San Giovanni in Laterano 8). From nine in the evening onwards, the pavement outside the ruins in Via San Giovanni in Laterano transforms into a parade. While completely renovated, the city’s Gay Bar maintains a warm welcome and its linear look gives it a more New York style. The kitchen has been transformed and is ready to serve an excellent steak after an elaborate pasta course, finishing off with irresistible desserts and as many treats as you like. There are also many novelties in the weekly programme which will be under the artistic direction of Tekemaia. The bar is open every day from 10 in the morning until 2 a.m.
In the summer, the Roman evenings at Gay Village will be buzzing with life. Icons of the Italian pop music scene will take turns on stage with artists and DJs of international fame such as: Tocadisco, Offer Nissim, Satoshi Tomiie, Hector Fonseca, and Enrico Arghentini. Last year audiences of over 100,000 people embraced the concept of Stile Libero, consolidating the great success that has been repeated in Rome for the last eight years.

As for the Hotel Capo d'Africa, we haven't had an opportunity to stay there, but Ms. Tavolato describes it as "a cool, elegant hotel that could also be called an 'art house' due to its collection of works by contemporary artists and the fact that it is frequented by well-known writers and musicians. The hotel has a roof terrace with a wonderful view over the city which contains the history that has made Rome great and famous throughout the world: the Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Arch of Titus and a hundred other fascinating remains bearing witness to the city’s greatness and glory." 

You can see photos of the hotel and its contemporary-art collection at

Photo: Bryan Weinstein

Blists Hill Victorian Town wants your vote now!

Blists Hill Victorian Town Ironbridge 

ABOVE: A street scene at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge, England has only two days left to beat off stiff competition for Britain's £100,000 Art Fund Prize. It's one of four museums that have been shortlisted for the prize (the others are in Belfast, Oxford, and Coventry), with the winner being selected by judges who will be looking at the results of a public vote.

Steve Miller, chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, is asking Ironbridge fans to go online to and register their votes for Blists Hill Victorian Town. (Voting ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 18.)

Broadcaster Kirsty Young heads the judging panel. She reports that "it has been a very challenging task to select only four to go forward to the short list. Our visits have been eye-opening, and the exceptional quality of the long list has meant that we've been spoiled for choice."

The winer of the £100,000 Art Fund Prize will be announced on June 30 at the Royal Institution of British Architects in London.