On my own in Monaco, I learned where to see the late Prince Rainier III's incredible collection of vintage cars and that on weekdays after 6 p.m. entrance is free at the glorious Belle Époque casino.
Call it what you like — ferry or cruise ship — easyCruiseOne gives hoi polloi a chance to see the ritzy Côte d'Azur, with minimum expense and maximum flexibility. I'd welcome more big orange boats calling along Spain's Costa Brava, hopping among the Greek islands, steaming through the Panama Canal — a whole gaggle of them, in fact, opening up otherwise tough territories for budget travelers.
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Easy access to the Riviera
Nice airport provides access to easyCruiseOne in St.-Tropez, Nice and Cannes in France, and Monaco. From LAX, connecting service (change of planes) is available on Aer Lingus, Air France, British, KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $917. To Genoa, connecting service is offered on Air Canada, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,060.
Be sure to check low-cost European airlines as well if you're staying elsewhere. For a list, see http://www.johnnyjet.com/popup/europebudgetairlines.html .
EasyCruiseOne visits St.-Tropez, France, on Sundays; Monaco on Mondays; Genoa, Italy, on Tuesdays; Portofino, Italy, on Wednesdays; Imperia, Italy, on Thursdays; Nice, France, on Fridays; and Cannes, France, on Saturdays.
RATES AND BOOKING:
Prices fluctuate during the cruising season, based on demand, generally ranging from $50 (two-bed cabin) to about $280 (two-bed suite) per night, per cabin, including accommodations and transportation only.
Though some travel agents handle reservations for easyCruiseOne, passengers are encouraged to make reservations on the Internet, http://www.easycruise.com ; for inquiries, 011-44-1895-651-191.
TO LEARN MORE:
French Government Tourist Office, (410) 286-8310 (for brochures) or (310) 271-6665, http://www.franceguide.com/us .
Italian Government Tourist Office, (310) 820-1898, http://www.italiantourism.com .
— Susan Spano