Jean-Philippe Pérol, director of the Americas for Maison de la France, the French government tourist office, says that the French Riviera may be known for its glamour, but that doesn’t mean such a sale is limited to high-end clients. “Nice and Cannes are very well known, but they have big potential to be much more known in the American market,” he shares, adding that deals are especially to be found November through March, when hotel rates drop off, but the temperature stays warm, mirroring that of Miami.
Here are some tour operator products that offer something for everyone.
For the cruiser, Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com) is offering sailings aboard Costa Magica that sail between Italy, Spain and Provence, stopping at the port of Marseilles. While there, guests can venture on such shore excursions as “Panoramic Marseilles & Shopping” which includes a four-hour tour of Marseilles, including stops at the Longchamp Palace and the Notre Dame de la Garde, and a shopping trip to the area of the city called Old Port. A more lengthy tour can be had on Costa’s “Avignon & Les Baux” tour, which, over the course of eight hours, visits the two cities, exploring castles, restaurants and shopping.
The cruises begin in March and continue through November 2008. In March, per person prices start at $649, rising to $899 during June’s peak season. Agents, who can get up to 17 percent commission, can contact their regional Costa sales development manager with questions (www.costalovesgroups.com). For reservations, call 877-88-COSTA.
For families, suggest one of Club Med’s (www.clubmed.com) newest additions, in Opio en Provence. Set on 123 acres of pine trees and olive groves, the resort is ideally located within 20 minutes drive of Cannes, Grasse, Gourdon and Saint Paul. Adults can unwind with onsite golf, a Turkish bath and sauna, spa, three pools and tennis. There is something for children of all ages here, beginning as young as 23 months and going all the way to 17 years of age. In addition to childcare, trapeze and archery, some children’s services are included in vacation packages, such as specially prepared meals and supervised naptime for the youngsters and teen-only spaces and group sports for older kids.
Through October, Club Med is offering an early booking bonus on 2008 trips to this resort. Savings are 200 euro (approximately $280 at press time) per adult and 100 euro ($140) per child, with children under three years of age staying for free. The package includes airfare and a minimum seven-night stay, with travel between May 3 and October 25, 2008. However, the resort is open year round. Pricing for 2008 has yet to be finalized, but should vary between $1,120 and $1,170 per adult, per week. Club Med pays a 10 to 15 percent commission, depending on an agent’s sales volume. Agents can ask questions of any reservations agent by calling 888-932-2582.
For the active traveler, choose Go Ahead Tours’ (www.goaheadtours.com) 10-day “Walking Through Provence.” Note that Go Ahead Tours rates this as a level-four tour, meaning it is challenging. Departures begin February 29, 2008 and continue through December. Prices start at around $2,000 per person and include round-trip air, airport transfers, accommodation, hotel service charges and tax, some meals and a tour guide.
Guests stay a few nights in Cannes, then Avignon, Vinon sur Verdon and Nice, and during the day, take walking tours through other areas. Optional excursions include trips to Giverny, Paris, Versailles and Saint Paul. Optional activities offered include an evening in Paris, which includes a cruise on the Seine and dinner; dinner and wine tasting in Avignon; and Monaco by night. Go Ahead Tours pays $100 per person booked or referred and agents can call 800-590-1170 with questions.
For a customized trip to the French Riviera, Maupintour (www.maupintour.com) offers a luxury “City Tour” in Nice, which can be customized to suit your client’s needs. In 2007, starting at $828 per person (based on double occupancy), the tour offers a minimum of three-nights’ accommodation at the Le Méridien, as well as roundtrip private car transfers, half-day sightseeing by private car with a guide, daily breakfast and service charges and taxes. Commission starts at 13 percent and varies based on an agent’s sales volume. Agents can contact Sheree Fenn at 888-777-2222, ext. 3658, with questions.