Felicity Long
Felicity Long

There are many reasons to encourage clients to travel to Europe off-season, not the least of which is that airfares and accommodations can be a relative bargain.

In addition, navigating top tourist attractions is easier with fewer crowds, and locals -- who can be cranky in peak summer months -- are sometimes friendlier and more accommodating when the steady stream of tourists thins out.

The downside is that, depending on the location, the weather can be iffy, some attractions and eateries might not be open and the scenery may not look its best when the bloom is off the rose.

That said, few could have predicted the weather in Marseilles, France, which experienced a storm last week that dumped a foot of snow on the ground and closed the airport and many of the city's major roads.

For Courchevel or Copenhagen, a snowstorm isn't a big deal, but for a city in the South of France that averages just under 50 degrees in winter (and one dotted with palm trees, at that), the infrastructure more or less ground to a halt.

We suspect that, with the exception of the very hardy and children, this particular getaway would have been a disappointment.

That said, in Marseilles there are compensations, even when snowed in. Bouillabaisse, anyone?

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