Reviews

Here are the things that some travelers have said about my tours:

  1. How was your overall tour experience? What did you most enjoy?

Our overall tour experience was great. The itinerary offered the perfect mix of rich religious, cultural and historic gems coupled with extraordinary food and wine experiences. Virginie did an outstanding job organizing and executing the schedule. She is a patient and encouraging teacher. It is obvious that Virginie genuinely enjoys what she does and derives pleasure from sharing her beautiful country and its rich history with others. Virginie makes a concerted effort to create a diverse experience, from the mix of sleeping accommodations and dining arrangements to the selection of vineyard visits. We most appreciated the intimate access we had to so many things along the way.

  • The quaint farm-style experience
  • Dennis and his passion for olives, santons and his close-knit community
  • The elite vineyard and tasting opportunities
  • The guides she enlisted along the way did an excellent job mirroring her style. They gave us intimate access and provided a wealth of information.
  1. Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour.

  • Meeting Olivier and having tarts under your willow tree
  • The bread, wine and cheese provided throughout the trip, and the delectable charcuterie platter offered at Juliénas
  • Hiking up the Rock of Solutré
  • The personal nature of the vineyard visits and wine tasting experiences.
  1. If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

Although we have not taken a tour of this region of France previously, we have done group travel before and feel that Virginie does an outstanding job showcasing the region she is representing and bringing the group together as a cohesive unit.

Clare and Bill from Long Beach, California

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This tour was really well-organized with excellent accommodations and an itinerary that flowed easily from one day to the next.
Such a small group tour is a truly unique experience. We so enjoyed being able to interact fully with our fellow travelers and our guide. We also liked that we were able at times to choose which activities we wanted to pursue on our own from the choices suggested by Virginie.
We are especially interested in history, so this tour covering prehistory, Roman Times, the medieval period, a bit of the Renaissance, and even the 20th century was perfect for us.  We also enjoyed partaking of the many aspects of the French food culture at several, varied dinners together plus a special morning making chocolate treats.  There was also much to learn about the wines of the different “terroirs” from the beginning with the vines to the bottled final product from the vineyards and wineries we visited.
We felt the tour activities and locations were very well-balanced, mixing different types of activities in such a way that it always seemed we were doing something new and different. We felt we had enough time to ourselves to recharge but not so much that we were ever at loose ends. The only regret we had was not having enough time in Lyon to visit more than one of their many museums.
While it is nearly impossible on such a great tour to choose a favorite moment, Abbi’s particular best experience was the unequaled scenery of the Ardeche Gorge and the Chauvet prehistoric cave visit there. Don said to Virginie on several occasions that each experience seemed to top the last one. What especially struck him over the course of the tour was Virginie’s wide knowledge of both the history/art of the many sites we visited and the unique characteristics of the different wine regions and the wines they produced.
Don and Abbi, Spokane, WA
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Mark and I had a wonderful time traveling with you. And we so enjoyed traveling with new great traveling companions. It is hard to say what I enjoyed most, but I think it was being able to visit the small out-of-the way villages and experience the food and wine of each of the regions we visited.

Particular highlights:
1. The dinner at Anne and Laurent’s in Vaison – The wine tasting and dinner with all the different wines was educational and fun. Laurent set me up for a greater appreciation of the wine we drank for the rest of the trip and now that I am home I have been searching for the wines we tasted.
2. The tours of the Basilica in Lyon and Cluny were inspiring. Both of the guides were wonderful.
3. The visits to the two caves – these were unexpected treats especially the Madeleine Caves – what great formations.
4. Our last dinner with you and Oliver in Fuissé was an amazing experience.

This is the first time that Mark and I have toured with a small group – we have a done a number of Rick Steve’s tours. Traveling with you felt more personal. Because we were such a small group it felt like the places we visited the people were more willing to share information and talk more in depth about their wines, crafts, etc – I know a lot of that was because of you. With the bigger groups it isn’t quite the same experience.

The length of the trip was perfect. We both really like Lyon and want to go back.

Thanks to both you and Oliver for allowing us to visit your new home – it is going to be amazing when done. The goats are cute.

Barb and Mark from Seattle

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  • 1- How was your overall tour experience?  What did you most enjoy?

Overall, the tour was wonderful. The historical insights Virginie shared with us gave us a much better appreciation for the sights.  The days in Lyon were well-balanced having time for guided touring and “on-our-own” time.  Virginie was flexible in our touring of southern France.  It was easy and casual….like traveling with a friend or relative.  We did not feel rushed. 

  • 2- Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour.

In Lyon, the tour of Notre Dame de Fourviere that included its rooftop and areas rarely accessible to tourists was very special. The Pont D’Arc Cavern showcasing the Chauvet Cave was particularly impressive as well as hiking through the scenic Gorges of the Ardeche area. And we cannot forget the Roman Theater in Orange…easily recognized as one the best preserved in the Roman world. The dining experiences in Vaison-la-Romaine and near the Pont D’ Arc natural bridge were amazing.

  • 3- If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

The combination of cultural and natural sights was similar to other tours, but other tours cannot compare with the one-on-one experience.  Virginie provided historical insights and explanations about the French lifestyle and language, so that we got to know France a little better than we had from other tours.  We also very much appreciated help she provided with our pre and post travel arrangements.

Nancy and Gary from Fremont California

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  • 1-How was your overall tour experience? What did you most enjoy?

Our tour experience was 100% positive.  Having previously traveled with Virginie on a Rick Steves’ tour, we had very high expectations for this tour and the experience actually exceeded our expectations.

We had so many wonderful experiences on this trip and we saw so many amazing places, but my favorite memories still are the shared times around the table together enjoying a leisurely meal or wine tasting.   We’ve had many wonderful meals and wine tastings in France over the years, but this felt more like an authentic family experience and we loved every minute of it!

  • 2-Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour.

We loved the B&B in Vaison-la-Romaine and we especially enjoyed the wine tasting and meals with Laurent and Anne.

The time at Les Gorges de l’Ardèche was a wonderful surprise.  Quite amazing landscape!

Our dinner at Les Retrouvailles was such fun (and delicious)!  And, the tour of the Basilica with Michael was outstanding.

You saved the best for last at Domaine la Source des Fées!  Loved the time in the kitchen with the chef and dinner afterward was wonderful.  Our rooms were outstanding and Philippe was a delightful host.

  • 3-If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

We’ve taken a good many tours with Rick Steves (23), Road Scholar (5) and Classic Journeys (2) and we’ve been very happy with almost every one of them.  This tour with Virginie, however, tops them all.  Although this was a small group tour, we felt as though the itinerary, from start to finish, was custom made for us.

One concern that we had prior to the trip was that moving to a new hotel every one or two nights would be too stressful for us.  Fortunately, the tour evolved in a very relaxing way and we never felt rushed.  Our leisurely breakfasts were especially appreciated.

Nancy from Portland, Oregon

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  • 1-How was your overall tour experience? What did you most enjoy?

I loved the feeling that we were off the main tourist track yet seeing sights that the residents would treasure. Examples of this would be the Roman ruins of Vaison La Romaine, the amphitheater in Orange and the Ardeche gorge. I wanted to feel what it would be like if I was living in each of the towns we visited. And Virginie accomplished that. The Saturday market in Chatillon sur Chalaronne, take out lunch from Pignol in Lyon, finding chestnut (marron) liquor in Tournon sur Rhone and walking the streets of the towns gave me that feeling. I also loved the places we stayed. The two B&Bs were delightful. The Hotel de la Villeon and Hotel la Tour were charming. In addition the small group size and personal, informal attention have spoiled me for future trips.

  • 2-Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour.

So many highlights. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of the things we did. I loved the variety of wines, wine tastings and wineries. I loved the varieties of tastings from wine to olive oil to chocolate. The cave drawings were a must see and the sound of our local guide chanting in the hall at Cluny gave me goosebumps. I especially appreciated Virginie’s advice and the time for walks alone to explore the old parts of Vaison, Chalaronne and Fuisse.

  • 3-If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

This was the best tour ever, more of a vacation than a working tour. Tour size, guide, accommodations, food, pacing and variety of activities were excellent. Virginie advised transportation alternative plans during the railroad strikes and arranged to get us where we needed to be. And the food! It was fabulous. Loved being able to order off a menu at some tour meals. Everything was first class.

Joan From Seattle, Washington

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  • 1-How was your overall tour experience? What did you most enjoy?

The tour was just excellent—-exceeded my expectations. Pacing was just right with sufficient time for rest and reflection amidst some wonderful scheduled activities.

I most enjoyed learning about the different appellations as we traveled south to north—how each winemaker grew the grape varietals that were best suited to his/her soil and climate —–and then adjusted growing practices according to the weather of that specific season. Sampling the great wines of the specific areas we visited was a special treat.

  • 2-Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour.

Lots of highlights —– my top 5 were 1) the visit with the Santon and Olive oil entrepreneur. His passion for his work and “place in the world” was just precious; 2) experiencing the Pont D’Arc cave drawings and just contemplating our ancestors creating that art by torch 30,000 years ago—an experience made very unique by Virginie arranging a private group viewing tour for us; 3) the challenging uphill walk to the Hermitage winery on a windy day to enjoy a spectacular valley view (and the accomplishment of the walk as well); 4) the tour of Cluny Abbey by a local guide whose presentation style made the past come alive with her energy and involvement; and 5) the opportunity to visit the farmhouse that Virginie and Olivier are lovingly restoring.

  • 3-If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

I have taken half a dozen tours before—–one prior with Virginie as a Rick Steve’s guide for 28 people to the Loire Valley and the south of France. I am spoiled for sure about group size and it would be hard to be in a tour of 28 again. We had a wonderful tour in Thailand some years ago with 11 people. What is the “best” size? Who knows-maybe 6 or 8.

Frank from Seattle, Washington

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  • 1-How was your overall tour experience? What did you most enjoy?

The overall tour experience was great!  Don’t think I can cite one thing I most enjoyed. There were lots of very enjoyable experiences.

  • 2-Please share any particular highlights or favorite moments from the tour?

Again, hard to point out any particular highlights or favorite moments – there were lots of them. We did enjoy meeting your husband, Oliver, and the times he spent with us. Also enjoyed seeing your new home in the making.

  • 3-If you’ve taken other tours before, how does this one compare?

Most of our many tours have had 20+ participants – this was the first one with only 4, and that makes a big difference. We appreciated the effort you made to adapt it you our abilities/interests along the way.

John from Portland, Oregon

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