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Riviera celebrates 40th anniversary in the City of Lights

PHOTO: HOLLY PAYNE riviera-travel-40-years.jpg
Celebrations for Riviera Travel's 40th anniversary concluded March 26
Riviera concluded its 40th anniversary celebrations on March 26 in the City of Lights on board Jane Austen.

The 120+ guests invited on board the river vessel for the March 25-26 festivities included journalists, travel agents, suppliers, airlines, shipping companies and representatives from Riviera’s charity partner, Practical Action, exclusively. 

Major milestones

Welcoming the group was Riviera Travel CEO Phil Hullah, who delivered a speech outlining key moments in the the brand’s history – from its humble beginnings in the early 1980s when Riviera founder Michael Wright introduced holidays in the south of France with just a handful of tents at a campsite, to 1984, when Wright took 43 passengers on a three-night city break from the UK to Paris.

‘Feverish years of expansion’ followed, said Hullah, with early programmes to Italy and the country’s Amalfi Coast ‘still almost unchangeable’ 40 years on.

Other breakthroughs for the brand included moving from coach to air travel in 1994, and introducing long-haul journeys for worldwide travel in 2006, including to South Africa, Peru and Vietnam.

A ‘brave new frontier’ of river cruising ensued, stated Hullah, before the company branched out into ocean cruising in 2016 and began offering solo cruises.

‘Suffice to say, it’s quite a story over 40 years,’ asserted the CEO.

Gala dinner and light show

Celebrations kicked off on Monday with live music and a gala dinner while sailing on the Seine. Dishes were inspired by the Danube, Rhine, Portugal and France. 

The Danube: appetiser: mousse de foie de volaille, fig, cherry, sweet bread, main: Hungarian Gulash stuffed bell pepper, beef, root vegetables, Hungarian noodles, dessert: sweet Austrian yeast buns, vanilla, apricots.

The Rhine: appetiser: baked brie cheese, sundried tomato tapenade, basil, main: poached egg, green sauce, dessert: cream of buttermilk, raspberries, lime.

Portugal: appetiser: calamari ceviche, caixeiro olive oil, lime, coriander, main: lomo iberico & arroz de marisco, black pork tenderloin, seafood rice, dessert: cornucopias with lemon cream.

France: appetiser: bouillabaisse consommé, carp dumpling, dill, smoked paprika, main: fried lobster tail praline; baby spinach, shellfish foam, dessert: warm chocolate souffle, ice cream, macaron.

Jane Austen then set sail towards the Eiffel Tower for views of the iconic landmark during its daily evening light show.


Dessert during the gala dinner

L'Atelier des Lumières

Lunch at the eclectic L’Artiste bistro began Tuesday’s celebrations, followed by a journey into ancient Egypt and the Orient at L'Atelier des Lumières where floor to ceiling illuminations of works by artists Delacroix, Richter, Gerome and Ingres were brought to life through music and light.




Orient at L'Atelier des Lumières

A coach tour past some of Paris’ most well-recognised landmarks ensued – from Concorde Square to Champs-Élysées to the Eiffel Tower, and more.


Eiffel Tower

In the evening, Hulllah presented Riviera’s 40th anniversary celebration cake before a dance show, celebratory meal and disco. 


Riviera Travel CEO Phil Hullah

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Dance show on Jane Austen