Need to know: Paris tower, Pink’s at LAX and Yaktrax shoe chains

Rental agencies pull Toyotas

You may have to look hard if you hope to get a Toyota from your favorite car rental agency these days. Late last month, as news of the recall heated up, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Alamo and National announced that they would pull all affected Toyota models and GMC Pontiac Vibes (which share the engineering DNA of the Toyota Matrix) from their rental inventory. Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty followed suit. The vehicles won’t be rented until they have been repaired. Because vehicles generally are reserved by car class rather than model (with a few exceptions such as hybrids), the companies think they can fulfill reservations. “We continue to rent the Toyotas in our fleet [that are] unaffected by the recall, as these vehicles do not pose any safety concerns,” said John Barrows of Avis/Budget. “However, if a customer is uncomfortable with that vehicle, we will work to provide them with an alternative within that car class, if one is available.”

-- Terry Gardner

A pillar of Paris

Enshrouded in scaffolding for eight years, Saint-Jacques Tower, a medieval landmark just off Rue de Rivoli in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, has reemerged.

The 150-foot tower, built during the reign of King Francis I in the 1500s, displays flamboyant Gothic sculpture and is adorned with narrow arched windows. It rose above the Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, a way station for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The church was destroyed in the late 1700s, though the tower survived and was declared a historic monument. Don’t expect a bird’s-eye view of Paris, however, because there’s no elevator to the top. In fact, surveys have shown that the stone is cracking. See it instead from the pretty little pocket park that surrounds it, then wend your way to the Marais or Rue Montorgueil for lunch.

-- Susan Spano

Pink’s at LAX

It’s a bird, it’s a plane... no, it’s a Pink’s chili dog, landing this spring in the newly renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. Yes, boys and girls, food service purveyor Delaware North is bringing the famous Hollywood hot dog to the airport. Pink’s, a family-run business, opened in 1939 as a hot dog stand near Melrose and La Brea where it now dishes up 2,000 wieners a day. The LAX menu will be slightly abbreviated, although sauerkraut, coleslaw and nacho cheese chili fries will be available, along with a selection of signature Pink’s items, including the Bacon Chili Cheese and Spicy Polish dog. A new Pink’s treat, the International Dog, will be introduced. It was devised by L.A. World Airports employee Timothy Ihle, whose contest-winning recipe calls for chili, bacon, sauerkraut, shredded cheese and chopped tomatoes.

-- Susan Spano

Get a grip

Yaktrax are like tire chains for your shoes, but they’re much easier to put on, providing traction that makes walking on icy surfaces much safer. The diamond-shaped grid of spikeless stainless-steel coils slips onto the bottom of any boot or shoe using a highly elastic rubber netting. The new, heavier-duty Yaktrax adds a welcome removable Velcro-closure strap, which solves the problem of the previous model’s tendency to pop off unexpectedly, perhaps never to be found again. These lightweight lifesavers stash easily in practically no space. A word to the wise, though. Take them off before stepping on hard floors. They act like ice skates on linoleum, marble and other slick surfaces. Yaktrax Pro (24093) costs $24.99. Info: (888) 226-7667,

-- Judi Dash