Chateaux have limited wheelchair access

TRAVEL Q&A

January 31, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Q: Of the chateaux in the Loire Valley, are some accessible for wheelchair users?

A: Here are five chateaux that provide entry to the ground floor for visitors using wheelchairs. In all of them, access to upper floors is only by stairway.

* Chateau de Chenonceau has a ramp that allows wheelchair access to the ground floor. If a wheelchair user arrives by car, the staff will allow the vehicle through the gate to park closer to the chateau than is normally allowed and may provide someone to push the wheelchair. Entry is $6.30 (rates at 5.5 francs to the dollar). For more information, call (16) 47.23.90.07.

* At Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, a call at least a day ahead will help arrange a parking place close to the building and a staff member to help get a wheelchair up two steps to the main floor. Entry is $4.70; free to visitors with disabilities if a request is made in writing to Chateau National d'Azay le Rideau, 19 Rue Balzac, 37190 Azay le Rideau, France. Call (16) 47.45.42.04.

* At the Chateau de Blois, there are no steps to get into the ground floor, but wheelchair users can ask security personnel for assistance in getting in. There are three steps to a museum on the main floor. No advance notice is needed, but help may not be available in July and August, when there are many visitors. Entry is about $6. Call (16) 54.78.06.62.

* At Chateau de Cheverny, with a call a day ahead, a visitor can get the staff to push the wheelchair and lift it the nine steps to the ground floor. Entry is $5.25; for visitors with disabilities, $1.80. Call (16) 54.79.96.29.

* At the Chateau de Chambord, there are three steps to the main floor. A study of the feasibility of allowing greater wheelchair access is under way. As at Blois, security employees will help wheelchair users get to the ground floor. Entry is $3.65; free to wheelchair users. Call (16) 54.50.40.18.

Q: I am interested in attending the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. How can I get tickets and information?

A: The ninth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will take place May 22 to June 6. In the preliminary round, May 22 to 26, about 35 pianists chosen from 190 worldwide screenings will each give a 50-minute solo recital; seats for each of the 13 concerts will be $5. The preliminaries will be held at Ed Landreth Auditorium at Texas Christian University from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 22, 2:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 22 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the other dates.

The semifinals will consist of eight concerts at the auditorium from May 28 to June 1, from 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. There will be no competition May 30. In this round, 12 semifinalists will each perform a 75-minute solo recital, which will include "Ghost Waltzes," a work by Morton Gould commissioned for the competition, and will appear in a chamber music concert with the American String Quartet.

The finals, with six pianists competing and judged by a 14-member jury, will be June 3 to 5 at the Tarrant County Convention Center Theater at 7:30 p.m. Each finalist will perform two concertos of his or her choice with the Fort Worth Chamber and Symphony Orchestras with Jerzy Semkow conducting. Tickets are $10 to $50.

The awards ceremony is at the convention center at 5 p.m. June 6; tickets, $10 to $50. Subscription packages are $32 for the finals and awards ceremony to $290 for all the concerts.

American Airlines is offering a 45 percent discount from regular domestic coach fare, or a 5 percent reduction from a promotional fare if it is lower, to those attending the competition. The Van Cliburn Foundation's brochure includes a hotel reservations form from the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Information: Van Cliburn Foundation, 2525 Ridgmar Blvd., Suite 307, Fort Worth, Texas 76116; (817) 738-6536, or to order tickets, (800) 462-7979.

Q: Can you tell me of publications that deal with passenger travel aboard freighters?

A: Probably the most complete listing of freighters that take passengers is Ford's Freighter Travel, a directory published each May and November. The directory lists freighters and their itineraries by departure point and includes sections on river and canal travel, ferries and "casual" boats like yachts and sport fishing.

It also lists travel agencies that specialize in freighter travel. A single copy is $14.95 and both semiannual issues are $20. Ford's Travel Guides, 19448 Londelius St., Northridge, Calif. 91324; (818) 701-7414.

Freighter Space Advisory is published every two weeks by Freighter World Cruises, passenger agent for about 15 freighter lines. The newsletter is $33 for the first year, including a $25 credit toward cruises booked through Freighter World Cruises, and $18 for subsequent years. The newsletter reports on available space, new sailings and discounts on the lines the agency represents. Freighter World Cruises, 180 S. Lake Ave., Suite 335, Pasadena, Calif. 91101; (818) 449-3106.

Travltips, a travel agency specializing in freighter travel, issues a booklet six times a year that is sent to members, who pay a $15 annual fee. Each booklet includes articles on freighter travel written mainly by members, and listings of available freighter space. Travltips, P.O. Box 218, Flushing, N.Y. 11358; (800) 872-8584.

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