Michèle Valandina

Michèle Valandina

Michèle Valandina French correspodent


A graduate from Lyon University, where she specialized in foreign languages and American Literature, Michèle worked as an interpreter/translator (English, German and Italian) for major international events before entering the diplomatic world for a few years. As a Paris-based freelance travel and lifestyle writer, she has been a contributor to a host of publications and has long specialized in two sectors: cruising and wellness. Her features have appeared, among others, in Le Monde, Le Figaro, Le Figaro Magazine, Les Echos Week-end and periodicals dedicated to the MICE sector. She has also featured on radio and TV travel programmes and since 1992, has been the author of the only French cruise guide, Croisières Passion.

After a year of terrorist attacks and floods in 2016, France’s river cruise business had a setback but last year it bounced back with 9% growth as foreign passengers returned, according to Voies Navigables de France (VNF).

The Saint-Nazaire shipyard of STX France, which is moving closer to being under Fincantieri’s control, will be known again as Chantiers de l’Atlantique once the deal is complete.

If 2017, with 1,487,313 passengers, showed a dip (7%) compared to 2016, significant growth (13.3%) is projected to resume this year for France’s leading cruise port, Jean-François Suhas, president of the Club de la Croisière Marseille Provence, said during the recent 18th edition of the trade event Top Cruise.

With some 1,488,000 cruise passengers recorded in 2017, a 7% decrease compared to 1.6m in 2016, activity at France’s leading cruise port of Marseille declined slighty due mainly to the closure of CDF Croisières de France and the repositioning of some US-owned capacity to Northern Europe and Asia.

 

Cruise Lines International Association announced Antoine Lacarrière will join on April 1 to head up a grouping of CLIA France, Belgium and the Netherlands and boost trade activities in these three countries.

Closing two months of dispute and negotiations between France and Italy, a solution has been found for the new ownership structure of major cruise shipbuilder STX France.

Discussions between France and Italy regarding the sale and control of STX France resume today in Rome with Bruno Le Maire French minister for economy and finance meeting with Italy’s finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, to try and find a resolution to the transaction.

The French state is exercising its pre-emptive right to acquire the remaining share capital in STX France, buying time to continue negotiations with Italy. This is a temporary move that will cost France about €80m.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday said the state is prepared to exercise its pre-emptive right to nationalize STX France if Italy doesn't accept its offer of a 50-50 share of the Saint-Nazaire shipyard.

Queen Mary 2 returned to Saint-Nazaire for the first time since its 2003 delivery from the French shipyard, excorted by an armada of military ships flying the flags of France, the US, Ireland, Germany and Great Britain. The occasion was watched by thousands of onlookers.

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