Tall Stacks '92 means paddle wheelers, costumes,...


Tall Stacks '92 means paddle wheelers, costumes, riverboat 0) races and cruises

The riverboats are back. Tall Stacks '92, the Great American Riverboat Festival, will celebrate the grandeur of the mid-1800s Oct. 15-18 with a parade of paddle wheelers, costumed characters, riverboat races and cruises.

In 1988, Tall Stacks was rated one of the top 10 events in the world, with 10 million people enjoying the festivities. Four years later, Tall Stacks '92 promises even more of the color and romance of yesteryear, featuring a 125-acre venue encompassing both the Ohio and Kentucky riverfronts.

There is also a chance to capture the ambience of American river life -- with two- and three-night cruises aboard the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen, flagships of the event. While access to the Tall Stacks festivities is free, there is a charge for riverboat cruises. Tickets can be ordered by calling (800) 949-9292. For more information about the event, call (800) 344-3445.

The chateau of Versailles in France, in an effort to reduce the often long wait for tours, has installed a reservation system. Under the new system, which went into effect early this month, visitors reserve specific times for guided tours when they arrive at the chateau.

They can get the tour schedule in English by calling ahead to In the past, tourists could not make reservations and sometimes had to stand in line up to three hours before tours began. A spokesman for the chateau said waits for reservations were expected to be shorter and that arriving 90 minutes before a desired tour should be sufficient.

The tours are either one or two hours and include visits to the apartments of Louis XIV and the Hall of Mirrors, to the Opera and Chapel or various gardens. Some tours are available in English.

Rates for hour-long tours are $9.45 ($6.65 on Sunday), $6.65 for those aged 18 to 25 or older than 60, and $2.75 for those under 18. Two-hour tours are $13.15 ($10.35 on Sunday), $10.35 for those aged 18 to 25 or older than 60, and $5.55 for those younger than 18.

Along with the familiar credit card stickers on hotel, restaurant and storefront windows, American visitors to Quebec this summer may notice a decal saying simply F/E. The symbol means that both French and English are spoken in the establishment.

Until now, businesses have been unable to make it known that they have a bilingual staff because Quebec's laws mandate that exterior commercial signs be in French. Because the decal has no wording on it, the Commission de Protection de la Langue Francaise deemed it acceptable.

Many Americans have the perception that they must speak French to communicate in Quebec, said David Birnbaum, the executive director of Alliance Quebec, the community lobby group that proposed the decal. "While this is a predominantly French society, tourists can find their way around in English."

L.A. makes over image

The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau is developing a plan to help restore the city's image after the riots. The bureau has hired a consulting firm to determine how badly the violent aftermath of the Rodney King acquittal has damaged the city's appeal. The unrest led many a travelers to cancel trips to Los Angeles during and after the rioting.

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