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The Var Provence Cruise Club* (VPCC) is closely working with tourist authorities and local stakeholders. “The tourist offices and local producers have a perfect knowledge of the area while the VPCC has a strong expertise in cruise development” says Laurence Cananzi, Deputy Chairman of the Var Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the VPCC. “That’s why a partnership is the key to meeting the expectations of cruise passengers and cruise lines, in particular regarding shore excursions”.

Toulon Opera House
Picking grapes
 

As a result of this work, new excursions exclusively dedicated to cruise guests are available in 2017. The Opera House of Toulon – made in the spirit of the Second French Empire style – is now open to visitors but exclusively for groups of cruise passengers. Likewise, only cruise visitors can enter inside the emblematic Royale Tower of Toulon, a 16th century military fort, with its rock-cut architecture and fascinating history.

“Thanks to its network, the VPCC can uncover some surprising sites, not known to tourists - yet” says Anne- Marie Blum, VPCC Manager. A good example is the Domaine d’Orvès, a private estate where a typical “Bastide” stands amid a majestic Provençal garden (awarded the “Outstanding Garden” label by the French Ministry of Culture). This hidden pearl is now available for a journey dedicated to Nature, Art, Gastronomy and Botanic.

The focus on authentic local experiences include the creation of “Arts and Heritage” walking tours at Hyères, Le Lavandou, Bormes-les-Mimosas and Ollioules. The idea is to meet local artists, craftsmen and producers through their “savoir-faire”. Experiencing some activities from a new perspective is also possible: touring a wine estate can turn into horseback riding or picking grapes with a winemaker.

The renewal of shore excursions is a key part of the development of cruise activity in Var-Provence. Last year saw a record 278 calls (23 maiden calls), 362 479 passengers and 32 cruise lines.