THE BEST SIDEWALK CAFES. According to France Insider's News, some of the most interesting places to eat in Paris are sidewalk cafes. They afford unparalleled opportunities for people watching. But the city also has serious restaurants where patrons can dine on lovely outdoor terraces. Some of the publication's picks include:

- Cafe Marly, 93 rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement, telephone: 01-49-26-06-06. Located inside the Louvre's Napoleon courtyard. Its dining terrace overlooks the Louvre pyramid designed by I.M. Pei. The menu is contemporary French cuisine.- Restaurant du Palais Royal, 110, galerie de Valois, 1st arrondissement, telephone: 01-40-20-00-27. The restaurant is in one of the city's most historic spots, beside an interior courtyard where children play and lovers walk surrounded by the 18th century arcades and facades of the Palais Royal. Bistro fare such as mixed-greens salads, roasted turbot with summer vegetables and warm chocolate cake.

- Coconnas, 2 bis, place des Vosges, 4th arrondiseement, telephone: 01-42-78-58-16. In the historic Marais neighborhood, this charming bistro has a few tables out front, allowing you to watch the goings-on in this picturesque square.

- Closerie des Lilas, 171 boulevard Montparnasse, 6th arrondissement, telephone: 01-40-51-34-50. This laurel-enclosed terrace used to serve the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Andre Gide. It is once again on the circuit of the smart set.

- La Maison de l'Amerique Latine, 217 boulevard St. Germain, 7th arrondisement, telephone: 01-45-49-33-23. This white-tented terrace overlooks formal gardens.

- Cercle Ledoyen, Carre des Champs-Elysees, 8th arrondisement, telephone: 01-53-05-10-02. Set in a large garden along the Champs-Elysees near the Petit Palais, it is an elegant and peaceful restaurant. In the 18th century, it was a modest inn that served fresh milk drawn from cows in the nearby pasture.

- Les Monuments, 1, place du Trocadero, 16th arrondisement, telephone: 01-44-05-90-00. Enter the Musee des Monuments Francais and follow the signs to the "restaurant and tea room." Only about five tables are reserved for fine dining, but each one has a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower.

- Le Toit de Passy, 94 avenue Paul-Domer, 16th arrondisement, telephone: 01-45-24-55-37. The residential neighborhood known as Passy is home to the French capital's upper crust. Townhouses sit amid pretty flower gardens. The terrace of Le Toit de Passey overlooks the rooftops. The food is modern French.

- TRAVEL HOLIDAY GIVES travel insurance a thumbs down. According to the September issue of this well-known travel magazine, many of the benefits people think they are getting when they buy travel insurance aren't covered by the policy. Here's how travel insurance is supposed to work, according to the magazine: The trip cancellation benefit refunds the price of your trip if an emergency forces you to stay home. Trip interruption coverage refunds any unused portion of your trip and gets you home if the emergency occurs while you are traveling. Policies typically cover you for lost luggage and delays.

Trip cancellation insurance is advisable when you have a non-refundable "big ticket" item that typically requires a deposit. This is particularly true of cruises and package tours, advises the magazine. You could, for example, lose everything on some cruises even if you cancel 60 days before departure.

But there's no need for trip cancellation insurance on most trips because some hotel reservations may be cancelled at the last minute with no penalty. Pre-existing illnesses that could force you to cancel a trip are almost always exempted from cancellation insurance.

The Consumer Federation of America generally discourages buying travel insurance. Bob Hunter, of the Washington-based advocacy group says, "You have to be very careful when somebody is trying to sell you something and adds insurance. These things tend to be very high-priced and a large chunk of it is commission to the travel agent," he told Travel Holiday.

- IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN NEW YORK CITY on Sunday, Sept. 13, stop by Times Square for the annual "Broadway on Broadway" presentation that will feature casts and hit songs from Broadway's biggest hits. The time is noon to 2 p.m. The place is a giant open-air stage at 43rd Street and Broadway. The best news is it's free. For information, call The Broadway Line at 888-411-2929.

- ALASKA WEB SITE. The Southeast Alaska Tourism Council has relaunched its Web site. The address is (www.alaskainfo.org). It has all the information you need to plan a vacation along the Inside Passage.

- FALL FOLIAGE. Tauck Tours' toll-free hotline offers fall foliage travel reports. Call 1-800-214-8209. Among this year's suggested leaf-peeping itineraries:

- Virginia's Skyline Drive: The scenic route takes you through the Blue Ridge Mountains with mixtures of hickory and oak trees. The projected best viewing time is late September/early October.

- Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia: The area between Annapolis and Lunenburg nurtures a variety of trees, everything from maple, birch, elm and aspen. They provide a wide array of fall colors. Projected peak viewing time is October.

- Central Vermont: Route 100 between Jamaica and Stowe has some of the New England's most vivid fall foliage. Projected best viewing time is late September/ early October.

- Itasca State Park, Minnesota: Paul Bunyan State Forest in the northern part of the state has trails lined with aspen, birch, maple and oak. Projected best viewing time is late September/early October.

- West Central Colorado: Route 550, aka the million dollar highway, between Silverton and Ouray is a foliage viewers paradise. Projected best viewing time is September.

- Western Massachusetts: Along Route 2 between Turners Falls and North Adams along the Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires offers colorful displays of varied foliage. Projected best viewing period is late September/early October.

- Southeast coast of Maine: The area between Kennebunkport and York Harbor has a colorful fall display of sumac and willows. Projected peak viewing time is October.