FOR THOSE who love Paris in the springtime, or in any season, the City of Light is now on tape. Two companies are marketing self-guided audio cassette tours of the French capital, designed both for the first-time tourist and the repeat visitor. Though similar taped tours of U.S. cities and parks--and even a few European countries--have been available for years, and cassettes are also being used to teach foreign languages and for book dramatizations to enliven long auto trips, this is something new for Paris.
Audio Guide Sarl of Les Corbeil offers a series of tapes, in English, French and German.
Three are walking tours for those who prefer to explore various parts of the city on their own at their particular pace, and include a commentary on "the streets, buildings, monuments and historic associations." They are also intended, the French company notes, to complement photos snapped while in Paris and thus help recapture some of a vacation's flavor long after the journey has ended.
Playing the informative cassette titled, "The I le de la Cite'," at home brought back pleasant memories to one recent traveler. The other two step-by-step tapes are "The Marais" and "The Quartier Saint-Paul." A small map is included with each.
In addition, Audio Guide has prepared, in cooperation with the RATP (Paris Public Transport System) a "Paris by Townbuses" cassette, which guides the passenger on a complete bus tour of the city. As in the case of the walking tours, the visitor can stop the tape at any point, get off a bus to visit a museum or point of special interest, and then resume the narrative (instructions on changing buses are given). Users can bring a personal cassette player or rent one at a hotel.
Each Audio Guide tape costs 55 francs.
Travelcassettes, a Connecticut-based company, has produced a walking-driving architectural tape tour of Paris with brief musical excerpts by Parisian composers. A small map is included.
Emphasizing history, culture and architecture, Travelcassettes is the creation of Annabelle Simon Cahn, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University and has lectured on art and architecture at various colleges.
The interesting Paris tape, first of a Continental Series, clearly displays the strong architectural focus. Exploring the heart of the city, it covers the I le de la Cite', the I le St. Louis and part of the Right Bank. Among structures featured are the Palace of Justice, the Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame of Paris.
The company also offers tapes for U.S. cities in its Americana Series ($9.95 each) and will soon have tours of Jerusalem and London. The Paris tape is $14.95.
HONORING GEORGE: Many celebrations marking George Washington's 251st birthday will be held in Virginia next month. Among them:
On Feb. 21, Mount Vernon will hold an open house and there will be no admission charge on that day. From Feb. 19 through 26, Colonial Williamsburg will offer an escorted walking tour featuring buildings connected with events in the first president's life in the early colonial capital. On Feb. 21, Fredericksburg will offer half-price admission to historic sites often frequented by Washington, including the Rising Sun Tavern, the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, the Mary Washington House and Kenmore. Closer to home, Alexandria plans a number of activities, including the big parade in Old Town on Feb. 21.
FIRE SAFETY: Fire protection information has been added to the listing of acommodations in the American Automobile Association's 1983 AAA TourBooks, the first time such facts have been made available in any hotel/motel guide according to the motoring and travel organization.
The AAA guide identifies properties that have installed smoke detectors and/or automatic sprinkler systems in each guest room. Accommodations designated with a "D" have smoke detectors in all rooms; the letter "S" signifies automatic sprinkler systems in all rooms. If a property is equipped with both safety features in each room, both symbols appear.
A representative sample of guest rooms in all the properties was inspected by the AAA, and "written assurance" has been received from property managers that fire protection warning devices have been correctly installed and were operational when checked.
The AAA TourBooks, which list recommended accommodations and restaurants and other travel data, also advise on fire safety procedures. Though AAA notes that the probability of being involved in a hotel fire is remote, it has urged all hotel and motel operators "to equip facilities with smoke and fire warning devices and to comply fully with community fire protection codes."
NEW VESSEL: Baltimore's Inner Harbor has a new tourist attraction--the M.V. Port Baltimore, sister ship to the M.V. Port Welcome, which went on a short maiden cruise Jan. 4 after its christening and will enter regular service in April with a series of moveable feasts.
From April through November both vessels will alternate with twice-a-week fashion show luncheons Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 3 p.m., and twice-a-month dinner dances on Saturdays and Sundays, 7:30 to 11 p.m., while cruising around the harbor and Chesapeake Bay.
In early June the ships will begin the popular Tuesday-through-Saturday cruises to Annapolis ($12.10 per person), with a few pre-season cruises in May. There will again be special trips to St. Michaels, beginning May 15. The Port Welcome has carried nearly 55,000 passengers annually.
The 98-ton Port Baltimore, built in Rhode Island for Harbor Cruises Ltd., cost more than $1 million. It is 116 feet long with a 30-foot beam and 8-foot draught and slightly smaller than the Port Welcome, but can accommodate about the same number of passengers--450--due to the modern design. The new vessel is berthed on the west bulkhead of the Inner Harbor.