In May, cinema elite and a constellation of stars hit Cannes for the biggest, most glamorous film festival of the year. The new fashions hit the Croissette. The casinos of nearby Monte Carlo start to fill up with socialites and summer travelers flocking to area for one of its biggest months of the year. Surprisingly, there are deals to be had for peak season.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a three-night air and hotel special to the Riviera that gives you a front row seat to all the happenings in the Cannes-Nice-Juan les Pins corridor. Starting at $699 for travel good through May 29, 2005 and going up to a start price of $989 for travel from June 30 to August 28, 2005, this trip includes round-trip travel from the New York area to Nice (supplements from other U.S. gateways are available), three nights in three-star hotels, daily continental breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges and a three-day manual shift car for getting around and touring the beautiful vicinity. Some hotels are blocked for certain times, but one Cannes and all the Nice hotels are available from May 11 to May 22, 2005 during the Cannes Film Festival when the area hops like no other place in the world.
(For detailed information on the festival, see www.festivalcannes.fr/index.php?langue=6002 for the English-language section of the official site. This year's jury includes the great Toni Morrison, American writer and 1993 Nobel Prize winner for literature.)
Other Go-Today deals include a guided tour of the South of France that visits such Provençal towns such as Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Les Beaux, a stop in ritzy St. Tropez, plus busy Cannes and Nice. This eight-day/six-night trip starts from $1,369 per person based on double occupancy. Travel must be booked by June 23, 2005 and the trip departs after the busy summer months on September 27, 2005. Other summer trips to the South of France are also available on the site including six-nights in Nice starting from $729 with travel good all summer as long as you book by May 12, 2005.
Liberty Travel (tel. 888/271-1584; www.libertytravel.com) has some deals featuring some outstanding hotels in Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. Six nights with airfare included for travel on Air France costs approximately $1,457 per person with accommodations at a Nice three-star property. Prices vary based on hotel, but you can choose your travel dates for this. For the above price, we selected six nights in May from May 23 to 29, 2005. The same six-nights with accommodations in neighboring Monaco starts from $2,106 per person.
Monte Carlo comes alive in May with the famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix taking place on May 20 to May 23, 2005. Plenty of tours available for this one including a "Budget Tour" from Grand Prix Adventures (tel. 800/799-RACE; www.grandprixadventures.com/usa/index.htm) that includes tickets to the race plus air travel and hotel for three nights starting at $1,990 based on double occupancy.
More solid deals to the beaches of the South of France are available from Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.us). The airline is currently offering a New York to Nice and back air fare for $510 with travel good through May 24, 2005 with a maximum stay for a month and a minimum stay of at least a Saturday night. Similar deals on airfare are available out of Miami and Atlanta and into the coastal shipping town of Marseilles, Nice and slightly inland Lyon.
For packages, look to the carrier's vacation arm, Air France Holidays (tel. 800/237-2623; www.airfrance-holidays.com/site_afh/index.asp). We found a six night Paris/Nice trip with three nights in each city starting from $979. The base price includes roundtrip airfare out of selected east coast departure points, six nights' accommodations, plus daily continental breakfasts and hotel service fees and taxes. Be prepared to pay airport security taxes and departure fees for all of the above travel from each of the listed travel operators. As you probably know by now, these are never waived and vary from airport to airport.