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Just back from Provence!
October is a delightful time to spend 12 days in Provence and with Michael’s help, we were able to spend time in each of three distinct regions, Les Alpilles, the northern Var and the Cote d’Azur. Our hotels, the Chateau des Alpilles, the Chateau de Berne and La Perouse, were all superb choices. (After an initial phone consultation, our planner made two suggestions for each destination—and we think we made the right choice each time.)
Michael grew up in Provence and continues to live there, so he is extremely knowledgeable about the whole region, which is a mélange of distinct sub-regions. We were fortunate that even though he guides very few of the trips he plans, he did spend a full day as our driver/guide and we were treated to a wine tasting, an olive oil tasting and beautiful drives around the countryside. We had both spent time in St. Remy previously, but we got a whole new perspective. On our own, we visited Roman ruins, such as the extraordinary Pont du Gard, as they didn’t figure into his planning. We would like to have seen the ruins at Glanum, near Les Baux, but instead he used the time to go to an immersion experience (video projections of Venice!) in an abandoned quarry.
Our planner suggested restaurants for lunch and dinner each day. Most of his suggestions were wonderful and led us to restaurants we are not likely to have found on our own. One misfire was suggesting a restaurant in Nice, perched high on a rock, which is more highly regarded for its view than its food—but our booking was well after dark, so we missed the sunset, which apparently is spectacular. Then we figured out why tables started emptying after our first course was served!
Our guides were also hit-or-miss. We had a walking tour of Arles, but the guide must think Americans only want to hear about Van Gogh, so that’s all he talked about before he dropped us off for lunch—half an hour early! No Roman ruins included, even though there is a beautiful amphitheater and ancient theater in Arles.
A real misfire occurred the next day. Neither of us had been to the Camargue and both of us really looked forward to that day. We arrived at the appointed hour to meet our guide at a hotel located on a manade, a type of farm where French bulls and domesticated white horses are raised. Much to our consternation, our “guide” was the manager of the manade—and didn’t speak a word of English! And we never left the property.
The Camargue is known for its salt marshes with wild white horses, bulls and flamingos, but once we were on our own again and started out along the route suggested in our itinerary, we saw no horses or bulls and only some flamingos in the salt marsh a great distance away. Our destination was Les Trois Saintes Maries, which has interesting legends associated with it, but today is more reminiscent of seaside resorts that have seen better days. All-in-all, a huge disappointment. We’re determined to return and do it right!
But Rolf, our driver/guide for three of the days we were in Nice, did begin to make up for the shortcomings of the others—and fortunately he was at the end of the trip, so we left with wonderful memories. Rolf (who speaks French, Italian, German and perfect English) made great suggestions for things to do along the way to the day’s destinations, always assured us we should spend as much time as we liked in any given museum, estate, garden, etc. We had indicated a desire to go into Eze on the middle corniche on the last day before being dropped off at the airport for evening flights, and when we realized we’d be there around lunchtime, he was able to secure a reservation at the deservedly-famous Chevres d’Or, where we had a blissful last meal with outstanding food and service and a spectacular view.
There were a few other glitches that didn’t have to happen, and our thought was that our planner’s agency was planning too many trips at once with so many North Americans returning to Europe for the first time. Just a couple of examples: There were so many items listed as “included” on our itinerary, but that weren’t included, that the agency had to refund us about 160 euros to cover items listed as included, but that we had to pay for ourselves. And all the tickets on the excursions that we did with Rolf were also listed as included, but he was unaware of that. We paid for tickets the first day to spare him any embarrassment; his agency (a subcontractor to the subcontractor our agency worked with) subsequently corrected the error and we weren’t out of pocket again.
We worked with the same agency but a different planner in the summer of 2021 to plan a trip to Venice, which was flawless. So we know they can be good and chalked up the glitches to their staff trying to plan too many trips at once.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We traveled to Paris as a group of 9 women, my book club! A number of the women had never been to Paris so, although it was short, it was a jam packed 5 days. One of the best parts about using Alex and Michael is the easing of logistics. Our flight was changed and we arrived much earlier than planned. As we couldn’t get in to our accommodations, we were dropped off in the 7th to hit the ground running. Thanks to the best driver ever, Sam, we were able to spend the day wandering Paris and arrived in the evening to our VRBO with the bags carried up the 2 flights (thanks, Sam). I can’t overestimate the value of good drivers and greeters at the airport.
One of our favorite experiences was a picnic at Versailles, then a tour. The picnic was very relaxed and special. On the way to Versailles we stopped at Fondation LV—highly recommended.
I wanted the ladies to see a bit of rural France, so we spent a day in the Loire Valley with Sue and Micaela, another wonderful experience!
For those who had not visited the Louvre, Alex arranged for a guide and private tour. It’s a great way to see a very large museum and focus on what the group is most interested in.
Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower feels like a must do for those new to Paris. Although the ladies enjoyed the view, it was very crowded and difficult to move around.
We traveled when there was still a requirement to test for Covid before returning to the US. Alex made this process so much simpler by having a private nurse come to our VRBO the night before our departure. Well worth the convenience!
I have worked with Alex in the past and very much appreciate his suggestions for activities, his professionalism and his checking in during the trip. The only regret is that the trip wasn’t longer!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I traveled to France in May. Michael Eloy and his colleagues did the planning for us. He listened carefully to our wishes and created a wonderful trip. He suggested we bring masks though they weren’t required anywhere. It was a great time to go—not crowded with tourists. The crowds were school children on field trips! It was fun to see them in the museums in their matching vests.
We really enjoyed a private boat ride on the Seine. We enjoyed the change of perspective.
For the most part the hotels were exactly what we wanted—small and within walking distance to many places. The biggest exception to that was Chateau de Marcay out in the country. Our GPS had trouble guiding us every time we left. The biggest issue for me was there was no overnight staff. We had a cell number and assurances that the manager lived close by, but if we had had an emergency, it could have been a problem. Perhaps we were too early in the season.
Michael made dinner reservations everywhere we went. Most of the restaurants were very good. That added value for us because in the past we’ve spent lots of time trying to guess which restaurants would be good. He also made many lunch reservations too, but I wouldn’t do that again. It restricted us too much. We could have cancelled but didn’t feel comfortable doing that.
Our guides were great. We especially enjoyed our guide in Normandy for the landing beaches and the American cemetery. My father landed at Utah beach after D Day. Our guide knew exactly where he went after his group landed.
We returned to Paris for our last night on a Saturday. It was very busy, but our hotel was tucked back from the street near the Place de Voges. We had easy walking but also peace.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Michael Eloy was EXCELLENT! I would highly recommend him and 100% keep him on your list. He did such a wonderful job planning our trip—no detail was too small. We also used him as a guide two days while we were in the south of France and he was so wonderful and knowledgeable and really just so pleasant to be around. We did have one hotel what was not the best but we did give him this feedback. Our kids loved all of the experiences he had planned, especially the cooking class and the Michelin-star restaurant. I can’t say enough good things and would definitely recommend him to friends and family as well as use him again in the future.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our travel group of two couples thoroughly enjoyed our amazing two-week journey through France this past spring, although Covid derailed us toward the end. Alex Zglinski was clearly the right person to organize our very complicated trip, which included building two separate itineraries that came together for the second week.
For me and my husband, Alex carefully set up a wonderful wine journey from Lyon through Burgundy with highly knowledgeable and fun sommelier guides. We then met up with my in-laws in the Loire, who Alex had organized through Normandy and Brittany with equally amazing historical guides and experiences. We all happily and quickly realized that Alex, who lives in Burgundy, has incredible relationships with the best guides, hotels, drivers, and restaurants all over France.
Sadly two of us contracted Covid in the Loire, but Alex quickly stepped in to adjust everything to accommodate this big change in plans. Luckily the cases were mild and we had purchased Covid trip insurance through Alex’s recommended company, Cavalry. We were under the impression from the insurance company that everything would be covered with this expensive policy.
Our luck ended there because once stateside, it was five months of badgering the insurance company for our benefit funds. They clearly delayed by telling us we were in line or asking for more information. We have used trip insurance before and knew it to occasionally be difficult for claims. This however, went beyond the pale. All communication went dark from Cavalry and we pulled Alex’s office into the mix to fight for us, twice. Thankfully they stood with us. After Alex escalated the situation, the insurance company finally cut us checks for most of the benefit. This part was an exhausting experience (my belief is by design from the insurance company, which said they were overrun by claims).
As Francophiles, we very much look forward to working with Alex again in the future, as everything he arranges is gold. Trip insurance however, is something I will think twice about.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Michaël and Alessia made our trip experience the trip of a lifetime! We first began planning this trip somewhat later than we would usually do because of some sudden availability in our calendar, and Michaël made that easy, connecting us immediately with an agenda that met all of our needs, respected and assuaged our concerns, and helped us navigate five cities in two weeks. We were in contact with them right up to the start of the trip (and during it of course), with the option to reschedule or cancel the trip if it became necessary (thankfully it did not!). They organized covid tests for us to navigate travel easily and even found a way to help us navigate customs. Michaël’s intimate knowledge of southern France resulted in a guidebook full of ideas and opportunities for exploration, many of which we never would have thought to enjoy (for instance: two very surprising art exhibits outdoors, new and innovative restaurants, and opportunities to enjoy daily life in the area at the weekly market or a locals-only bar). He even met us personally for an intimate tour of his own hometown region. We could not recommend Michaël and his team enough for their support, deep local expertise and resources, respectful and careful planning, and the opportunity to travel carefully in 2021. This is a luxury travel planning service done right who can serve you well on your next trip!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL What an incredible trip! We started with a couple of nights in Brittany, then Paris, Alsace and Champagne. It was a very full trip that went seamlessly. Alex and I worked together to plan this trip for 6 women. We stayed in a different hotel every two nights but Alex worked to ensure that the transitions were seamless. We would be picked up in the morning, and would arrive at our hotels with our bags in the rooms. The hotel choices were wonderful. The guides were incredible, of special note were Yann in Brittany, Caroline for the Louvre and David Ling in Alsace. We were exposed to so many special moments. Alex checked in regularly to make sure everything was going ok and was always available for any questions or changes. I really can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed this trip. The tide changes in Brittany, walking in quicksand at Mont St. Michel, learning about the history of Alsace, exploring the caves in Champagne. I just finished a digital scrapbook and it is 75 pages – so many experiences.
We felt very comfortable regarding Covid. We all received our French health passes and used them for all interior activities. France is 86% vaccinated, and masks are required inside. Alex arranged for a nurse to do our Covid tests for our returns, it worked out beautifully.
We had time to wander the cities and villages, visited wineries, champagne houses and a barrel making factory that was unexpectedly interesting. I would highly recommend Bott Freres in Alsace and LeClerc Briant in Champagne. We had a fascinating tour of this biodynamic champagne house, then an incredible meal cooked in front of us paired with champagnes. It felt like a WOW Moment when they opened a bottle of Abyss (champagne aged for a year in the sea) for us to enjoy. I believe this special moment may have been thanks to our driver Thomas.
I can’t wait for the next trip to France!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Alex was really great under difficult circumstances and I would use him again and again.
Starting from the beginning, a friend of mine rented a 14 ensuite bedroom chateau in the Loire Valley for a family reunion that was to take place before Covid. Long story short, she decided to make it a girls’ trip. 14 women! Since a good friend of mine and I were going to be in the Loire Valley at the chateau for a week, we decided to extend the trip and spend a week in Brittany. We planned the before and after the chateau dates with Alex. I was very happy to visit the Loire Valley. My husband and I have visited several major wine regions in France, but hadn’t been to the Loire Valley. We were also eager to go to Brittany for the best oysters in France.
Prior to our departure I was told that the chateau did not provide hair dryers. The appliance I use can’t be used in the European voltage. I asked Alex if he could buy one for me at Sephora in Paris. He was eager to do anything for us and the hair appliance was in the driver’s car when we were picked up at the airport. I was a little amazed and very pleased.
On arrival at CDG, we discovered that my friend’s luggage did not make the trip. Alex and the driver he sent to pick us up were above-and-beyond instrumental in working with Air France. They got the luggage more quickly than we could have on our own.
The hotel we stayed in before we got to the chateau was so magnificent. We were stunned. Perfect property, perfect room, perfect food. While at the chateau, Alex arranged for two completely different wine experiences. The best was a dinnertime visit to a wine store that put on a tasting of many, many Loire Valley wines, varietals that were new to us as well as the tried and true, all served with substantial hors d’oeuvres showcasing the region’s cuisine. Other guests from the chateau joined in for a great evening. While at the chateau, Alex arranged a day on a river boat that included a stop at a wine maker. She was charming. It was very interesting to see a very small operation. It was also delicious.
Last wrinkle before we left the chateau: One of the other women decided she wanted to join us on the Brittany week. Last minute. Alex put it together in a day. Seamless. While in Brittany we had some really fun days. We loved the hotel and all the restaurants. We spent an afternoon on a boat with a fabulous guide and ate lobster we caught right then (I suspect the lobster was planted!), we visited the major oyster farm and took oysters and had a picnic on the beach—with wine at about 10AM—lots of laughs. We also had a private cooking class. If only I could cook like that!
We spent the last night in Paris and Alex upgraded our room a few levels. We were very grateful.
In sum, we were not easy to plan for. Alex rolled with our issues and made it all work and made it a lot of fun. If only he had been able to control the weather…
We traveled to Bordeaux, Dordogne, Les Alpilles and the Luberon, Grasse and the riviera and had planned to go to Paris until I fell ill. I can not speak highly enough of Michael, our travel planner. His hotel selections were wonderful – unique and special as were the owners of the B&Bs, and his restaurant selections meant that we didn’t wind up with tourist fare. Most of all was his selection of guides – Christine Desdemaines-Hugon in Dordogne for caves and prehistory; Michael himself for Les Alpilles; and Boba Vukadinovic-Millet in Grasse and the riviera — who were not just knowledgeable, but really interesting people to spend days with. Michael remained cheerful and available during our entire trip even though I know we were not his only clients on the road at the time. He and Alex and Marcello were prompt to respond to emails or calls before and during the trip and their recommendations and tips were spot on. (For example, to let the car rental company know if you were going to be late which happened, of course, and road rules and general tips for driving in France.)
Our trip of a lifetime to France and to attend the 75th Commemoration of D-Day was a spectacular, mind-blowing experience and one we will never forget. Michael designed an outstanding travel itinerary that met every request we made for our trip and then went beyond.
First, the places we stayed in Paris and Normandy were exceptional. The hotels in Paris, the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal and the Hotel Relais Christine were beautiful, well located and very welcoming. Our very favorite was a charming find, Les Lilas de Bellefontaine. A charming B&B located in Bayeaux. The owners, Catherine and Serge were so very welcoming, gracious and generous that it was hard to leave because they became family.
The guides arranged for us in Paris, and Normandy were so valuable to showing us around and maximizing our experience with their incredible knowledge and insights that brought every experience more life and color. Caroline is a treasure and felt like family when she saw us off to Honfleur. Damien showed us a wonderful time as we sampled Camembert cheese and Calvedos wines. The true highlight was Vanessa and Geert who toured us the landing beaches, especially Omaha Beach. Gerrt took the time to add his research of my father’s movements on June 6th, 1944 adding color and dimension to the facts.
I want to add that we were not notified until June 5th that we had tickets to attend the 75th Commemoration and I emailed Marcello and a driver was arranged with a pick up time to get us to the shuttle pick up area the very next morning.
Michael and Marcello on his team listened to what we wanted from the trip, listened to our feedback as the trip took form and went well beyond our expectations to create a purely magical and moving experience that we will never forget. Gratitude beyond measure to them. And thank you for the flower to welcome us home. Gratitude and respect to each of you for creating a trip of a lifetime.
Michael Eloy recently helped us plan and guided us through our recent trip to Provence. We were 2 couples who have traveled together many times over the last 35 years, and have previously used travel planners with much success. This trip was no exception. Michael and Marcello worked closely with us to first educate us about the possibilities available to us for a week in Provence, then suggested a wonderful itinerary that we tweaked together until we were all pleased. He suggested several hotels for our stay, and we ended up in charming places for 4 nights in St. Remy and 3 nights in Menerbes. He also recommended restaurants for both lunch and dinner and they were all excellent. He also coordinated our train travel from Paris to Avignon, and arranged for our rental car and private drivers as needed. All of this went off like clockwork.
Over the course of the week our time was divided between time when we did not have private guides and time when we did, and we really enjoyed this balance. When we did not have guides, Michael’s team provided us with very good background information, suggestions on how to spend our time and good directions, information about parking, and all we needed to feel like we could get around ourselves with confidence. The tour guides that we did have were knowledgeable and interesting, and we enjoyed our time with them. On two of our days, Michael himself was our guide, and those days were most enjoyable. A highlight of our trip was a full day of touring by bicycle, led by Michael, covering almost 50 km from our hotel in Menerbes. None of us had been on bikes in years, but after a few minutes of a refresher course, off we went on what turned out tho be a great, memorable once in a lifetime experience! Other special experiences that Michael arranged for us included meeting with an olive grower for a tour of her olive trees, a first hand explanation of how olive oil is produced in Provence, and a tasting of her products right in the middle of the olive trees! We were also treated to a cheese tasting in the private tasting room (more like a cave) with the owner of a notable cheese shop in St. Remy, which of course included tasting some Rose as well.
Provence in mid May was filled with blooming poppy fields and beautiful wild iris everywhere you looked. Our trip was everything we had hoped for and more, and much of that was due to the excellent planning and guidance by Michael and his team. We highly recommend their services, and believe that they added much value to our trip.
Jack, Michael, and Marcello were wonderful to work with. I had a few places I particularly wanted to visit and they not only incorporated my ideas but made some great recommendations.
The Trip Piglet they put together not only had the itinerary but recommended walking tours and restaurants. I plan on keeping it and hopefully using the walking tour guides on a future trip to France. Their pre trip package also included a book on French history which I really enjoyed reading.
Our guides Isabelle and Aline were very knowledgeable and open to all our suggestions. Sam, our main driver also made a couple wonderful recommendations on where to eat and suggested stopping at a quirky little house museum in Chartres.
The Piglet contained all the contact information we needed and came in handy when we had to contact our airport driver when we were delayed with baggage issues.
I would absolutely recommend Jack and Michael for travels through France.
We turned to Jack and Michael when my husband and I wanted to take a trip to France with some very specific interests in WWI and WWII sites. We’d been to some of the locations before, but wanted to return and “do them right” with more time and excellent guides. I contacted them and was pleased to see that they started the process with a couple of phone calls in which they asked a lot of questions about us (our likes/dislikes, goals, styles of travel) in order to customize and personalize the trip. The plan they created not only covered the items on our wish list, but included many suggestions for activities (boat trips, wine tours, croissant baking classes!) and places that we would never have found on our own. Everything was planned, including restaurant suggestions (and reservations), and the package we received before departure was as complete as anything we’ve ever received. Once the trip began, Jack and Michael’s staff were in touch with us, to check on things and to quickly resolve questions or last minute minor hiccups that are bound to happen whenever you travel. We just returned home and the trip was everything we’d hoped for and more. Fabulous guides, extraordinary special activities, great advice. Throughout the experience, from initial contact through the trip itself, we felt like we were the only clients they had to worry about. Thanks so much to Michael and Marcello and everyone who made it all happen for us.
Excellent job working with us to plan a trip for our needs/wants. All the hotels/tour guides/restaurant recommendations worked out very nicely. We liked the neighborhood for the hotel in Paris, quieter and not as touristy. Same for Amsterdam, really nice staff at the hotel, good choice. We only had one negative with one of our group not picked up at the Paris airport, but when contacted about the issue, the transportation company rectified the situation and showed up at the hotel to pay for the cab ride, and the tour company paid for a nice lunch.
For those specifically interested in the US campaign at Normandy, the guide (Mark Lane) was really great. Also the private boat rides in Paris and Amsterdam are a great way to see the cities.
We traveled to Paris and Chamonix during the Christmas 2019 holiday, and used Jack Dancy’s team as our travel planners. My initial conversation with Jack took place several months before our trip, and he asked excellent questions to get an idea of what kind of trip I wanted for my family (my husband and I, and our three boys ages 17/14/9). I was really excited about his ideas and depth of knowledge. Over the next few months we decided on lodging, a really important piece of the trip, and Jack did not disappoint! He found us an incredible apartment in Paris in the 6th arr. The location and beauty of the apartment turned out to be one of our favorite things about the trip. He also found us a good place in Chamonix, although our lodging choices there were limited by the length of our trip, as we did not meet the minimum stay requirements during the holidays. I was grateful for Jack’s persistence on this point; we would have been really frustrated if we had tried to find Chamonix lodging on our own.
With the lodging secured, we turned our attention to the itinerary planning. With a city like Paris, the options can be overwhelming. Jack put together a pretty good itinerary, with plenty of information on the various neighborhoods and cultural attractions. It was a bit frustrating to get a hold of Jack at times during the planning process. I think his company is a wildly popular travel planner so it’s definitely worth using them, but be patient with response times. Of course, they handle lots of different locations, so if you’re heading elsewhere you will probably have a different experience with your planner.
The actual trip went relatively smoothly. It’s a challenge to travel with kids of various ages (especially teens) but we managed to keep the whole family interested throughout the trip. Highlights included a food tour, riding around Paris in 1950s-era Citroens, a Basquiat show at Fondation Louis Vuitton, an old-fashioned circus, an excellent walking itinerary in the Marais, and a Christmas Eve choral program at a nearby cathedral. In Chamonix we loved taking the cable car to Aiguille du Midi, skiing (guides are a must!), and the aprés ski scene.
Jack and other planners from his team were readily available to us during our trip. When a question or concern arose, I received quick responses from them.
I would recommend Jack for complex trips involving more than one destination, first-time travel to a destination, or groups with different ages and interests.
There was some turnover during the planning of the trip, it was not a major issue but may have caused some slight delays in communication. We had gone back to Jack and his staff because we so enjoyed working with Simon last year, this year felt a little less personal. Nothing bad, just a little less.
We LOVE the hotel and restaurant recommendations in Paris, and in fact stayed and ate there two years in a row.
One of the things that I find most valuable about using a TTE is the support on the ground. Our flight was 4 hrs delayed arriving in Paris, I emailed Marcello and by the time we landed she had notified the driver, and changed our restaurant reservation. It gives me great peace of mind to have that on the ground support.
Another thing I find valuable about using a local expert is letting us know about things that we may not find on our own. One of the highlights of our trip was the Carrieres de Lumieres, and I don’t think I would have found it on my own.
Great hotel choice in Arles. Also, we are very simple eaters and Jack’s team easily responded to my request to change the style of restaurants recommended.
All in all, it was a great trip! Thinking Bordeaux for next fall.
We just returned from a two week trip to France. In planning the trip with Jack Dancy and his team we explained we wanted to focus on wine, history, and culture. Jack put together a fantastic itinerary including stops in Paris, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, and the Loire River Valley. I cannot imagine a better, well-planned trip than what we experienced. Every detail of the trip from hotels, to drivers, to tour guides and meals was well thought out and exactly what we were looking for. Jack’s particular knowledge and experience with the wine guides in each region was especially helpful as they were the best we have ever used. With any trip, things came up along the way and the Trufflepig team immediately responded to every situation as it arose. We cannot recommend Jack and his team highly enough and wouldn’t think about making another trip to France without including them.
Jack is one of your best travel experts we have ever used. He was great to work with pre-trip, recommended great guides, and was extremely responsive throughout the trip as we canceled dinner plans at the last minute several times. Before the trip, they sent our train tickets, their extremely detailed itinerary “Piglet” book, and two books on wine and wine history…no one has ever sent us books pre-trip! He and his team are one of your best and the reason we use your travel professionals whenever we travel. Thanks for a great recommendation.
Jack’s colleague Simon put together a fabulous French trip for my husband’s 70th birthday. We wanted to attend the annual Christie’s wine auction benefiting Hospices de Beaune, and knew we would need expert help as we’d tried, with no success, to get in on our own. Simon took care of everything for us.
We were in a beautiful hotel (his pick), he got us lunch/dinner reservations in the most fabulous restaurants, and best of all he got us tickets to the wine auction and tickets to the incredible Dinner of the Dukes at Drouhin Cellars. And if that wasn’t enough, Simon set us up with a private guide to go to the Montrachet villages and have private tastings. Sublime!
We ended our trip in Paris, and although we had told Simon the hotel and restaurants we wanted to visit, he set everything up and made sure the hotel knew it was a birthday trip. Everything was fabulous.
We had great drivers picking us up and transporting us from airport to train station to hotel, and back. We had phone numbers at our fingertips in case anything was not right. All in all, we were taken care of beautifully and loved every minute of the trip.
Thank you, Wendy Perrin, for introducing us to Jack and Simon.
I recently traveled to Paris and Burgundy France with my 79-year-old Mom, my niece, a friend, a friend of my Moms and her daughter-in-law, ages ranging from 17 to 79.
We were met at the airport by a wonderful driver who transported us to our hotel. Later in the trip, he took us to the train station, boarded the train with us and loaded our bags. He was the best!
Simon on Jack’s team organized a wonderful blend of planned activities in Paris, with time for us to explore on our own with the help of walking guides that pointed out cafes, shops, and other points of interest.
We toured the catacombs with a wonderful guide, Caroline, took a pastry cooking class (where I learned enough to make vanilla cream filled choux when I returned home), took a private cruise on the Seine. Restaurant reservations were appreciated, but we found that we were happiest with bread and cheese in our hotel so canceled most with no problem.
The next portion of our trip was in Beaune. Simon arranged for private wine tasting – what an experience! We had the chance to chat with some of the premier winemakers in Burgundy. A walk from village to village through the wines with Laura taught us so much about the particular culture of winemaking in Burgundy. A day in Dijon was well spent.
We traveled in November 2017 – not an ideal time weather wise, but great to not have to deal with crowds. We plan to travel to France again next November and will use Simon to help make it extra special. There were a couple of little glitches, eg., we had the wrong address for the cooking class, but there was always someone available on his team to help us out.
It is such a luxury, without a luxury price, to have someone arrange for pickups, transfers, restaurants, hotels. We had a GREAT time!
Jack’s colleague Simon was great, and pushed us out of our “normal” zone. We did things on this vacation we never would have done or known we could do (i.e. Fencing lesson, and kayaking down the Loire). His understanding of how we like to travel or hotels we like to stay in really showed. I loved all the hotels, and the locations of these hotels were perfect. I highly recommend Simon.
Simon Aplin was a good listener and very responsive to questions and feedback as we planned the trip. Importantly, his feedback proved to be accurate. The hotel and restaurant bookings were interesting and varied but at a uniform quality level. The guides were consistently excellent. Suggestions for walks and places to visit were well thought out. The pace of the trip was reasonable given our time limitations. Simon took the trouble to meet us when we were in Beaune. The office staff in Canada were also very professional and responsive. A very good description of the trip would be “smooth and very fun.” We will definitely use them again if we decide to do another major trip in a place with which we are unfamiliar.
I wanted to take my son on a World War II battlefield tour of Europe–we went to Normandy (US & British beaches, Pegasus Bridge, Pont du Hoc, St. Mere Eglise, German gun positions, US cemetery and other sites such as Bayeux Tapestry, Normandy Museum etc), Luxembourg Cemetery, Bastogne, Maginot Line, Verdun (WWI), Arnhem and Nijmegen, Dutch National Liberation Museum, a Dutch concentration camp, Munich, Nuremberg and Dachau.
I contacted Wendy Perrin and she made the introduction to Jack and Simon. I explained we are history buffs and like to eat. Simon took care of everything–I cashed in some frequent flyer miles to get us to Europe and Simon took over from there. He arranged everything from pickup at the airport to all our hotels, transportation and most importantly guides. Simon also made reservations at restaurants for us but also left days where we had no reservations (he gave us some recommendations). He recommended excellent hotels and they were all in great locations where we could walk out of the hotel and walk to about 90% of all our restaurants. This allowed us to also see the local area. His guides were all excellent. They would pick us up from the hotel and double check what we wanted to see, make any changes (Nice flexibility which came in handy in Arnhem and Nijmegen as well as Munich) and go on from there. I did not want any tour cut short due to time and that never happened–we got to see everything we wanted (plus more) and there were a couple of really big surprises. You have to go to Fort de Fermont at the Maginot line which is outstanding–we had a private tour and it was fantastic. We wanted to see Nijmegen and the guide made an immediate adjustment and recommended the National Liberation Museum which was fantastic and got to meet and discuss with a gentleman who personally witnessed US paratroopers landing on his farm. Truly a wonderful experience and an honor.
This was almost a 2-week trip and they provided all train tickets and sent them ahead of time to us. Any last minute tickets were given to us by our guides. Three of the hotels were 4 or 5-star properties. There was 1 hotel we choose as it was perfectly located but more “rustic”–we really needed just a roof over our head so it worked out well (in Metz)–it was 5 minutes walking to 30+ restaurants and was a great location to get to our other sites. Overall very pleased–was a trip of a lifetime. Simon provided a piglet (love the name) that had day by day, contact names, etc. So, in the end, we covered a lot of ground (France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands & Germany) but very doable.
Our travel took place at end of July and ended middle of August. None of the sites were crowded (even though it’s holiday time in Europe). Simon recommended and made reservations at a number of restaurants and they were all excellent–we had flexibility (which we did a couple of nights) where we cancelled the reservation he had made (In Europe they hold that table no matter what so it’s a courtesy to do that) and tried Indonesian food in Amsterdam (try the rice table–its a multi course dish) and Italian food in Metz (yes–I know it’s France but there are some good restaurants that serve other nationalities besides French). If you are interested in WWII (and WWI) Simon and his team do a great job!
When we landed in France, I realized I had left our three sets of train tickets at home. Simon was on a family vacation. It was a Saturday and Zoe was not in the office. They did provide an emergency number. Our driver that was taking us to the train station called the emergency number and resolved everything. It was excellent service!!
Our guides in Bordeaux and Normandy were excellent. We learned so much!
They did reserve the Jules Verne restaurant for us. I was delighted! In addition upon arriving home, Trufflepig sent flowers to welcome us home. What a surprise!
Working with Simon was rewarding. He was very patient, as we had numerous emails and several conversations as to just what I and my family wanted to see. And of course, those plans changed quite a bit (at one point we thought of popping into Germany a bit, but eventually had to drop that as adding in too much). The “piglet” listing all destinations, hotels, suggested dining, and more importantly, providing every contact phone number and email one might need, was incredibly useful. He worked with us on hotels (amazing hotels), sights, and saw to it that every place we went to eat (and they were all amazing, food-wise) was informed of our dietary needs. And the guides on our guided tours were all wonderful. So, thumbs up!
Wow. What a great experience. Simon helped create something really special for my son and I when we went to the Euro championships in July of 2016. He created a great mix of soccer, culture, and history spread across Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. Simon found wonderful little side trips and great hotels that made every day a highlight and really captured a local feel. His attention to detail really made a difference.
We were very pleased with all the arrangements and felt Jack and Simon listened to our wants and desires and filled them. We stayed in several centuries-old hotels that inspired awe. The restaurant line up was terrific. The guides and activities oriented around wine and food and were varied and interesting (we learned a lot about Burgundy wine and history), and delicious!
In May 2016, we spent a couple of weeks on a road trip in France and Italy. Many of the arrangements were made by Simon Aplin on Jack’s team. Not all of them, since I have family in Paris and Milan, but in between those two cities, Simon planned a wonderful route for us. Before we left he had asked us in detail about our interests and preferences in order to tailor the trip to our tastes. After picking up the car in Paris, we toured the Côte d’Or for a few days. We then drove to Milan via Lac du Bourget in the French Alps, where we stayed in a wonderful old-world hotel with a view over the lake and a Michelin-starred restaurant. After Milan we spent several days in the Luberon area of Provence, where we visited small towns, restaurants and chateaux we’d never have known about if it hadn’t been for the ‘Piglet’. This is the comprehensive travel guide that Simon put together for us, with suggestions on routes, the local culture in each area, attractions, food, local manners and phrases to use. It was not only useful but frequently hilarious, and acted as our constant companion on the trip. Thanks for a great adventure, Simon!
We worked with Jack Dancy for our trip from Normandy south to Toulouse in May. Our trip started with a little taxi glitch due to a strike, but we were directed to a different town and different rental company. Our accommodations were nice and the B&B owners were all excellent. Our restaurant reservations didn’t work out so well but the recommended restaurants were all top-notch.
Jack and his colleague Simon Aplin planned a great trip to France for my wife and me. Our guide in Normandy was truly remarkable in his knowledge of, and love for, his subject, and the hotels in both Normandy and Paris were comfortable, well-located, and extremely warm and welcoming.
We thoroughly enjoyed the entire crew of our barge in Provence, the Napoleon. The crew went out of their way to make us feel at home and catered to our every whim, including some things that probably weren’t on the schedule. By the time our week was over, we felt that we were leaving family behind. Although everyone on the boat did an exemplary job, two people in particular stood out. Robert, the chef, far exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high going in) for the creativity and variety of his menu selections; he was even able to accommodate my wife’s faux-vegetarian concerns with a great deal of originality. Louise, our tour guide, bus driver, and food and wine shopper, seemed to be everywhere and was more than capable of handling everything that was thrown at her. I have no doubt that if the captain had awoken one morning with a bad head, she would have driven the boat.
The only slight blemish on our trip (and I almost hesitate to mention it) relates to the fact that, upon our arrival in Paris, we were taken for a French taxi ride—both figuratively and literally. We followed Simon’s instructions about locating the taxi stand and were pointed to a specific taxi by the starter. The driver told us he was also an Uber driver and he didn’t have a (visible) meter, which should have been my first clue. To make a long story short, our trip to the train station cost us €120 and when I told him I was expecting to pay around €55, he attributed it to the “traffic,” in spite of the fact that we still made the trip in about an hour (including the time it took him to generously stop at an ATM for me to get the money to pay him), as expected. This disparity is further borne out by the fact that our ride from the hotel to CDG on Sunday morning took about an hour and cost €59, pretty much as expected. Reminds one a little of the Biblical phrase about “finding a stranger and taking him in. . . .”
In any case, it was an outstanding trip, and we appreciate Simon’s efforts on our behalf and his attention during the trip.
We used Simon on Jack’s team to help to plan a driving trip from Normandy to Paris. From my very first email interaction, through the series of phone calls we had, he was prompt, efficient and thorough. He made sure to suggest a few “off the beaten path” experiences for us, as well as making sure we saw the important historical sites along the way. The guides he booked for us were outstanding! Simon is one of the reasons I never plan a trip without a WOW Expert.
Jack Dancy was great to work with. He had a total knowledge of each market we visited, from Normandy to Loire to Bordeaux and arranged everything to our complete delight. I was especially pleased with the hotels he picked – fantastic roomy rooms so we never felt cramped while traveling. The guides he selected for us at our stops were top notch and spoke excellent English. Overall, this trip was a 10!!!