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What to Do In the RivieraOctober 1, 2007 By: Jennifer Merritt Home-Based Travel Agent
Here is a primer for discovering the French Riviera by land and sea
The French Riviera may be known for its glamour, but that doesn't mean such a sale is limited to just your high-end clients. Here are some tour operator products that offer something for everyone.
By sea: For the cruiser, Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com) in 2008 is offering sailings aboard Costa Magica that travel through Italy, Spain and France, stopping at the port of Marseilles. While there, guests can venture on such shore excursions as "Panoramic Marseilles & Shopping," which is a four-hour tour of Marseilles, including stops at the Longchamp Palace and 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.
Prices for the "Panoramic Marseilles & Shopping" excursion begin at about $60 for adults; for the lengthier "Avignon & Les Baux," adult prices start at $115. The cruise kicks off in March and continues through November 2008. In March, per-person prices start at $649, rising to $899 during June's peak season. Costa offers agents up to 17 percent commission and agents can contact their regional Costa sales development manager with questions. To find a regional sales contact, visit www.costalovesgroups.com. For reservations, call 877-88-COSTA.
Hotels: For families, suggest one of Club Med's (www.clubmed.com) newest additions, Opio en Provence. Set on 123 acres of pine trees and olive groves, the resort is within a 20-minute 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 all the way to 17 years of age. In addition to offering childcare, trapeze flights 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 euros (approximately $280 at press time) per adult and 100 euros ($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. Should that not fit your client's availability, never fear—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.
Tour operators: 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 that it's challenging. Departures begin February 29, 2008 and continue through December. Prices start at around $2,000 per person and include roundtrip air, airport transfers, accommodations, 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 though Saint Baume, Cezanne, Avignon, Luberon forest, the Verdon region and along Lake d'Esparron, among 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; 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 (www.starwoodhotels.com lemeridien), 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.