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Parlez-vous Francais? With language programs in the Caribbean, you can learn

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Q: Do you know of any French-language schools in the Caribbean islands?

A: The French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, integral parts of France, now provide language and culture programs designed for foreign students, particularly those from the United States.

The Centre International de Recherches d'Echanges et de Cooperation de la Caraibes et des Ameriques, with facilities on both islands, has begun a program called Le Francais aux Ameriques (French in the Americas).

Nine-week courses at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels give students 420 hours of instruction, while an intensive two-week course provides 60 hours.

There are also classes for French teachers from the United States during the Easter break, lasting 68 hours, and during the summer (175 hours).

In Guadeloupe the cost of the courses for an individual student starts at 4,500 francs (about $978, calculating 4.6 francs to the dollar) for the two-week course. Lodging is provided at an additional cost.

In Martinique arrangements are similar, but, in general, groups with a minimum of 10 students are preferred. The cost per fTC person drops to 2,200 francs (about $478).

For information about the programs in Guadeloupe, contact Cirecca, P.O. Box 44, Petit Bourg 95179, Guadeloupe, French West Indies; (590) 95.64.72; fax, (590) 94.36.03.

For information on the Martinique programs, contact Cirecca, P.O. Box 393, Fort-de-France 97258, Martinique, French West Indies; (596) 73.45.19; fax, (596) 60.51.04.

Q: I know the Changing of the Guard in London has cut down its daily routine. How can I find out what days they march? And as I will be in Paris for Beaujolais Nouveau, are there any events planned for the occasion?

A: Until Sept. 1, the Changing of the Guard takes place at 11:30 a.m. every other day on even-numbered days. Starting Sept. 1 it will switch to every other day on odd-numbered days. Next May 1 it will again be held every day.

The ceremony lasts 40 minutes and takes place inside the railings of Buckingham Palace. The guards, usually drawn from the Foot Guards of the Household Division, leave Wellington Barracks at 11:27 a.m. and march by way of Birdcage Walk to the palace.

The Old Guard forms up in the palace forecourt, going off duty and handing over to the New Guard. The guard, normally two men at each post, is reduced to a single guard at each post when Queen Elizabeth is not in residence at the palace. The Queen is there if her royal standard is flying from the flagpole on top of the palace. The ceremony is canceled in bad weather.

The nearest Underground stations to the palace are St. James' Park and Green Park.

Meanwhile, a separate ceremony is held at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall. The Mounted Guard Changing Ceremony takes place daily, Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. The nearest Underground stations to Horse Guards Parade are Charing Cross and Westminster.

As for Paris, be prepared for a citywide celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November, this year Nov. 16.

The wine will be tasted and judged in just about every restaurant and bistro.

One of the highlights is the awarding of "Les Meilleurs Pots" by the Rabelais Academy, which consists of journalists and painters who are wine connoisseurs, to the bistros that they consider warm and friendly and that also serve good wine and food.

These are a few of the past winners:

* Les Pipos, 2 Rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique (1993 winner), 43.54.11.40; Metro, Maubert Mutualite.

* La Tour de Pierre, 53 Rue Dauphine (1992), 43.26.08.93; Metro, Dauphine.

* Le Vin des Rues, 21 Rue Boulard (1989), 43.22.19.78; Metro, Denfert Rochereau.

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