Friday, March 18, 2011

France’s Var-Provence Named Top Destination by Cruise Panel

The Var-Provence region is the second-leading touristic destination in France just after Paris. Located on the southern coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea at the heart of both Provence and the French Riviera, the region has sunshine for at least 300 days of the year. The region is home to famous places such as Saint-Tropez and the Verdon River Gorge. In the last two years, the number of cruise passengers has more than doubled. Recently awarded as “Destination of the Year 2010” by a panel of cruise experts, the Var-Provence has established itself as a go-to tourist destination. The Var-Provence Cruise Club will be exhibiting at the Cruise Shipping Miami trade show from March 15 to 17 on the French Pavilion.

In two years the cruise passengers’ number welcomed in Var-Provence has more than doubled and recorded an increase of 165 percent, to reach a total of more than 310,000 cruise passengers welcomed in 2010. Toulon, the leading port of the network, welcomed 85 percent of these visitors thanks to its sheltered facilities that can accommodate the biggest ships currently deployed in the Mediterranean.

Aware of important strides made by the Var-Provence Cruise Club, the cruise community represented by a panel of cruise experts has designated it “Destination of the Year 2010” during the last Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards ceremony held at Seatrade Med in Cannes in last December. This recognition combined with the outstanding growth of the cruise activity in the area make of the Var-Provence more than a growing destination, but a true tourist establishment. For travel destination ideas click here. For more information, email or visit For travel destination ideas click here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Unusual Bars in Paris - Part 1: Hotel Bars

Pleasant and sociable, bars are great places to unwind in after a day’s work or a day of leisure. Paris is no exception to this trend, with chic or offbeat establishments that never fail to amaze. The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a list of the most unusual bars in Paris:

During our series on Unusual Bars in Paris we will explore Hotel bars, Bars with a difference, Large venues, and Bars with bubbles. First we will explore Hotel bars:

Such is the case at the Ice Kube the bar of the hotel of the same name, without doubt one of the most astonishing bars in Paris. The new decor of this bar in ice is a copy of one of the hotel’s guest rooms with bathroom, bedroom and private bar in ice. For a 30-minute session, and after having dressed in the necessary warm clothing (chic down jacket designed by Alexis Mabille, fur mittens and chapka), clients enter this unusual place with its temperature of -20°C to enjoy a series of vodka-based cocktails, served in glasses of ice … Like the bar counter, the large armchairs and the rest of the furniture are cut out of blocks of ice.

The Hemingway bar at the Ritz is a memorial of sorts, where time seems to have stood still with supreme elegance: it was here that Ernest Hemingway celebrated the Liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 and nothing seems to have changed since. Comfortable leather armchairs, wood paneling on the walls, black and white photos of the author of A Moveable Feast, an old typewriter and bust of the writer create a unique atmosphere. The head barman, British man Colin Field who has been shaking cocktails here for more than 30 years is the living and inexhaustible memory of the place and serves alcohol and cocktails that were dear to the writer, including the famous Bloody Mary. History has it that one day Ernest Hemingway asked the barman of the time to concoct an odorless cocktail for him, to avoid any caustic remarks from his wife about his breath, when returning to his hotel suite in the early hours of the morning after heavy drinking. An additional and very chic touch to the place, writers from around the world can have a letter sent to them here where it will be carefully kept until they visit the bar!

At the Plaza Athénée, the bar decorated by Patrick Jouin, featuring a transparent counter illuminated by touch when a glass is placed on it, and a mirror above the chimney place where flames are displayed on a plasma screen, has very quickly become one of the trendiest places of its kind. The head barman, Thierry Hernandez, is always creating new cocktails, like Fashion Ice – cocktails with an ice lolly in assorted flavors and colors in a glass.

These are great spots to include in your exploration of Paris.
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