Thursday,  February 27, 2020  8:59 pm

Atout France & Visit Paris Region showcase hidden travel gems

Atout France & Visit Paris Region showcase hidden travel gems
(From left): Hamid Kamil, promotions and business tourism director, Visit Paris Region; Melanie Paul-Hus, director - Canada, Atout France; Christophe Decloux, managing director, Visit Paris Region.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

With visits to Paris breaking new records in recent years, the city is looking to show more of its hidden gems to repeat travellers looking beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

In the spirit of showcasing these lesser-known charms of the City of Lights to Canadian travel agents, Atout France and Visit Paris Region brought 10 travel partners to Toronto and Montreal this week, for a pair of meet-and-greet events with the trade. The events also marked the first visit to Canada by Christophe Decloux in his role as managing director of Visit Paris Region.

The partners represented a wide range of tourist attractions, including museums (Musée de l’Armée); historic sites (Paris PLUS); shopping (BHV); entertainment (France Galop); cabarets and restaurants (Le Lido de Paris, Les Restaurants de la Tour Eiffel); and cruises (Les Bateaux Parisiens, Les Vedettes de Paris and Les Yachts de Paris).

“It’s not just Eiffel Tower and the Louvre – there’s a lot of different things to see and do!” Decloux told PAX. “There’s two types of Canadian traveller – and the French-speaking traveller is very comfortable in Paris, since there’s no language barrier and their knowledge of France is generally higher. But we’re trying to get them to understand that Paris is a repeat destination, since there’s so many things to see.”

According to Decloux, while 2016 was the city’s worst year for arrivals (citing the November 2015 terrorist attacks), Paris’ travel partners rallied to welcome 40 million visitors in 2018, including 500,000 Canadians.

The extra attention is welcome in the city, Decloux said, adding that a recent survey of Parisians found that 52 per cent of respondents want to see increased tourism promotion; by contrast, only three per cent of respondents said they don’t like visitors.

Pass it on

In order to ensure that travellers see all of Paris’ hidden gems, Decloux told PAX that plans are in the works to offer commissions to travel agents selling the Paris Pass, a card that offers visitors access to public transit, the Paris hop-on/hop-off Big Bus, Seine river cruises and more than 60 museums, including the Louvre.

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