News From the Road!
Hello to all our readers, followers, guests and friends,
Today I’m writing from beautiful Provence, the land of sun, warm temperatures, and singing cicadas. I recently finished a Loire Valley tour with a great group of guests, returned home to Bordeaux for a brief pit stop, and then headed south to St. Remy-de-Provence to meet our next group of guests for our Provence lavender season tours. We’re nearing completion of the first half of our tour season, and after a short break in August, we’ll kick off the second half of the season with tours in Provence and the Loire Valley. It’s been a busy year that will conclude with our exclusive limited-edition luxury Egypt tour in November. 2023 is our second season of welcoming guests to Egypt for our unparalleled adventure that takes guests far beyond the traditional tourist experience.
Despite cooler-than-usual weather conditions across the country in April and May, each tour week brought a fresh dose of excitement and fun as we welcomed as many first-time travelers as returning guests to our Champagne, Bordeaux, Provence, and Loire Valley tours. And with perfect summer weather now upon us, the outdoor cafes, restaurants, and seasonal guinguettes bustle with tourists and locals savoring the summer vibe. Lavender is blooming, and the flowers gifting us with their gentle aromas, sweetening the summer air. Nature delivers a radiant backdrop for our excursions and meals together each tour week. When the cooler temperatures of autumn arrive, we’ll continue the fun until mid-October. Once we say goodbye to our final guests of the season in Champagne, we’ll trade in our sweaters for galabeyas, a traditional Egyptian dress, to continue the fun in a country that shares a rich history with my beloved France.
Coming back to my thoughts on the first half of the season
Before the season started, I knew I would spend most of May and June leading tours in the Loire Valley. In preparation for each tour season, I dedicate a portion of my winter to historical research to deepen my knowledge of French history. And this winter was no exception. I read and researched some of my favorite French characters during my annual winter stay in Egypt. With a selection of books and documents lined up, I embarked on a mission. As I made my way through pages of archives, a lesser-known female figure, Marguerite de Valois, grabbed my attention and became the focus of my research task. The more I read about the memorable Valois family of Kings’ reign during the French Renaissance, the more I noticed this royal grande dame’s name frequenting the pages of my scholarly works. I was curious to know more about her and precisely the role she played during the reign of her three brothers and the regency of her mother. My interest in several key events led me on an unexpected journey through history that unveiled Marguerite’s struggles in life and love and, most importantly, the discovery of exactly how Marguerite’s struggles rewarded her as one of the most powerful women of her time. The Loire Valley is a region steeped in history, and there is often a tendency to focus on the royal men of the period and their accomplishments. The events of Marguerite’s life delivered the substance I sought to bring fresh and exciting material to my current stories. I was a happy camper!
I researched every intimate detail about this significant woman associated with the Loire Valley, often portrayed as an accessory to her brother’s accomplishments. Much of French history overlooks Marguerite de Valois’s critical role at the French court. However, I learned that until the day she inhaled her last breath, she led a life of uncertainty filled with periods of royal opulence, family abuse, an unexpected period of poverty, and sexual excess. Marguerite outlived her parents and ten siblings, but her later years in life rewarded her with financial security, loyalty, friendship, and established power over her ex-husband Henri of Navarre, also known as our first bourbon king Henri IV. As Henry IV’s wife, she played a prominent role during the turbulent French Wars of Religion. Known for her intelligence, beauty, sexual prowess, and influence on the arts, she was the only member of her family literate in Latin. Her patronage of poets, writers, and artists made the Loire Valley a cultural hub during her years as Queen of Navarre and later in life as “honorary” queen of France until the death of Henri’s favorite mistress Gabriele d’Estrées fulfilled both Marguerite’s and Henri’s request to annul their marriage. By the time I left Egypt in March, more stories surrounding Marguerite’s life than I imagined or expected filled the pages of my story journal. I was armed and prepared to shock and awe guests with Marguerite de Valois by my side. My May and June Loire Valley tours left guests able to authentically imagine Renaissance life through the eyes of women and, more specifically, through the intimate experiences of a royal woman who received very little credit for her role in shaping the future of France.
Known as the “Garden of France,” the Loire Valley is home to some of the most stunning castles in the country. These architectural marvels, such as the castles of Chambord, Chenonceau, Amboise, and Blois, offer a glimpse into the opulent lifestyles of French royalty throughout the centuries. Each castle has its unique charm and story, showcasing different architectural styles and historical periods. Of course, one of many highlights of my Loire Valley tours remains my salacious stories of what was happening behind closed doors at the French court. From Francis I’s brilliant idea to create the influential court of beauties to the implications of leprosy, the discovery and spread of STDs in society, the power of witches, and so much more historical “French Dish” only shared on my Loire Valley tours, French history takes guests on an entertaining journey of fun and intrigue discovering the dirty details of the French Renaissance.
While I delighted in sharing the raw truth of life at the French court during my Loire Valley tours, my stellar team of guides was equally busy in Provence and Bordeaux since mid-May. Our continuing passion and love for our magical and historically rich country shines through during our time with guests through our exclusive line-up of activities, unique storytelling, sumptuous local cuisine, and regional wines. With travelers seeking unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences in France, our small group tours offer a personalized and immersive way to explore the country’s hidden gems. We’re proud to celebrate 29 years of specializing in curated tours that take travelers beyond typical tourist hot spots.
As we continue our season, we look forward to embarking with you on a journey through time and indulging in the sensory pleasures that make France a beacon of elegance and refinement.
2023 Fall Tour Dates with Spaces Available…
Book Now to Join Us for One the Best Adventure of Your Life!
2023 Best Adventures in PROVENCE Tour
- August 29-September 3
- September 12-17
- September 26-October 1
- October 3-8
2023 Best Adventures in Loire Valley
- August 29-September 3
- September 26-October 1
2023 LIMITED EDITION TOURS
- CHAMPAGNE – October 10-13
- EGYPT LUXURY TOUR – A Pharaonic Adventure – November 7-17
- Check out our 2024 Schedule of Tours – Click Here to View 2024 Tour Dates
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep updated when we post photos and videos. Beginning in May, my friend and fellow guide Summer and I will resume filming for our YouTube channel, “FrenchDish.” And if you haven’t had a chance to watch the videos we published over the past two years, please join us by clicking through to our channel to have a look and subscribe. FrenchDish – https://www.youtube.com/@frenchdish
We look forward to more fun and laughter together in the future!
- Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request space availability and/or ask questions.
- Our 2024 tour schedule is published and all 2024 tour dates are available to book – Visit our 2024 Provence, Loire Valley and Bordeaux Tour Dates and Price Schedule page for complete details.