Blitz and Trigano own other concerns closely allied to the club. Under the name of Trigano they manufacture and sell camping and trailer equipment. In fact, Blitz says they are Europe's biggest camping goods manufacturer; they grossed about $14 million here, too, in 1962. They also have a store in Paris' St. Lazare railroad station called La Centrale Sousmarine that sells underwater sports equipment. "It is the largest store of its kind in the world," says G�rard Blitz. Yet another of their related businesses is a boat rental company (SCORECARD, June 10).
The popularity of the villages is due not only to their low cost. The overall price of the rail trip from Paris and two weeks in the Corfu village is $135 for French members. That is inexpensive, but not really cheap, for the French. Other tourist groups offer cheaper "all-in" vacations in similar places.
In 1958, Dominique Leroux, a Paris agent of a German household-furnishings company, went with his wife to the Capri village, which is no longer in existence. "It was absolutely marvelous," Leroux recalls. "The transportation from Paris, the sports facilities, the food and wine, the leisure-time entertainment and possibilities were perfect. Never have I been able to practice so fully water skiing, swimming, sailing and volleyball.
"During the next three summers we went on our own to Italy. That was because we had a baby boy, and the club didn't accept children under 5. Once we went by train and twice by car, and for food and rooms we spent about the same amount of money the Capri holiday cost us. On our own in Italy, we found ourselves lying on the beach all day just vegetating. There were no sports, no people to meet and play games with. It was depressing and boring. Last year, when our boy was 5, we went to the Santa Giulia village in Corsica. We chose it because there are no waves or wind and the sea is shallow for 700 feet offshore. For the same reasons this summer we plan to go to Pakostane in Yugoslavia. I cannot say the club villages are comfortable, but the immense sporting possibilities more than compensate for the lack of material comfort."
Irish-French Editorial Secretary Leish Morin has been to Corfu and the winter village of Mon�tier. "Think of how costly ski lifts and water skiing are," she says. "I simply couldn't afford to go with my three children, or even alone, to a ski resort and ski to my heart's content. Another advantage of a village is that there are no surprises, no disastrous extras, no worrying about daily tipping. [There is no tipping anywhere in French Polynesia and, hence, no tipping at any Club M�diterran�e village.] Apart from drinks at the bar and excursions, absolutely everything is included. What's more, you can pay for your holiday on the installment plan, without interest. And, if you are lucky enough to be able to take your vacation early in June or in September you get a third week's holiday free."
Meteorologist Jean-Pierre Rabourdin praises "the high quality and copious quantities of food." Says Blitz: "The French cannot conceive of a holiday on which they don't eat very well and drink wine at every meal. That is why we employ first-rate French chefs and offer club members as much food and wine as they can down."
Blitz exaggerates. On Moorea, for instance, the food is good and plentiful, but there are no seconds of beef. But then beef comes from New Zealand, 2,000 miles distant. Now in its second year, the Moorean village is the show-place of the Club M�diterran�e. Because of its small size, the relatively great expense of a holiday there—which accounts for an older, more prosperous clientele—and its locale, it is not really typical. Nor is it profitable; the village lost $120,000 last year. It is, however, a place of unrivaled beauty and an enormous and gratifying calm.
We were about 50, mostly married couples, in the village on Moorea during the latter part of May; the majority French, with some Belgians, Italians and Swiss; there was a solitary and embattled Scotsman and one girl who came over from Tahiti for a week's vacation. Most of the G.M.s flew on the weekly TAI jet from Paris—with stops at Montreal and Los Angeles, where I boarded—to Papeete. One of the Frenchmen in our party was in real estate in Cannes and had lived in the U.S. for many years working for Packard cars. Another was a plump, compulsively jolly Paris pediatrician; she twisted formidably, recalling the old song: "It must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that." There were a Belgian doctor who had abandoned his practice in Leopoldville, a group of young Italians—Angelo and I finished second in an outrigger race—who had won the trip as a prize in a newspaper contest involving the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, and a fellow who had been a bombardier in the Ethiopian campaign. Our patriarch was a 74-year-old Swiss gentleman who enjoyed playing p�tanque in the coconut grove. A coconut plantation is, Melville wrote, "one of the most beautiful, serene, witching places that ever was seen. High overhead are ranges of green, rustling arches; through which the sun's rays come down to you in sparkles. You seem to be wandering through illimitable halls of pillars; everywhere you catch glimpses of stately aisles, intersecting each other at all points. A strange silence, too, reigns far and near; the air flushed with the mellow stillness of a sunset."
The youngest among us, perhaps, was a lovely, sulky girl of 22 whose father was in the radio and TV business in Turin; she rode furiously on the village's little, tractable horses wearing one or another of her many bikinis, and backstroked like the wind. We had a taciturn Swiss with us, too; on a chain about his neck was a tiny gold key. He said, smiling, that it unlocked the sky.
Although Moorea is an ideal spot to read Remembrance of Things Past from beginning to end without interruption, there is always something to do, planned or impromptu, if you choose: snorkeling among the coral heads a few feet off the beach, spearfishing in the deep, astonishingly clear water of the pass, fishing for mahi mahi (dolphin) from the Keki II, a big, brand-new sports fisherman that also goes on round-the-island cruises, horseback riding, paddling an outrigger canoe to the two islets that lie several hundred yards offshore, playing volleyball by eccentric Moorean rules, bicycling on the rutted road that encircles the island—Moorea is 50 miles in circumference—and sailing.