PANDEMIC TRAVEL Philip Haslett and his group were fantastic. They arranged about two weeks of activities within France for our family. All the guides and activities that we participated in were amazing. Also, they arranged transportation for us within France, which was greatly appreciated. It was so nice to have someone waiting at the airport to pick us up during each stop. I would highly recommend Philip to anyone visiting France.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We spent the first two weeks of December in Provence, the Riviera and Paris on an enjoyable trip planned by Philip Haslett. After we canceled two trips for late October because of COVID, we jumped on Wendy’s offer from fourteen trip specialists who were designing trips to areas safer from COVID. One was Philip Haslett who specializes in trips to Provence and the Riviera. We’d been to Provence in 2015 and loved it; this was a good way to go back, see things we had missed and also see the Riviera, which neither of us had spent much time in. We settled on a two-week trip staying outside Nice, in Aix-en-Provence and Avignon ending with four nights in Paris. This was far from high season for Provence and the Riviera so we expected to see few tourists. Our sense of this being a relatively safe choice was aided by France’s requirement for a vaccination health pass to get into almost anywhere – restaurants, hotels, museums and shops. At least, we figured, most of those we encountered would be vaccinated. In fact, we had to show our passes almost everywhere.
Philip creates elegant itineraries designed around memorable experiences. He’ll send you to the “major” sights if that’s what you want, but he especially likes to expose clients to lesser-known gems. When he learned we’d seen much of Provence, he suggested we also explore the Cote d’Azur and created a wonderful itinerary focused on memorable experiences and lesser-known sights. The hotels he chose were excellent; we especially liked Mas de Pierre in the hills northwest of Nice. Our rooms in all hotels were both comfortable and spacious—a combination less often found in France. The experiences were memorable to say the least. Philip suggested a glassblowing class in Antibes. We’d watched Netflix’s Blown Away, a glassblowing reality competition, so our ears perked up. It was a wonderful morning during which my husband and I made three glass pieces each – two vases, one bowl, two perfume bottles with fancy stoppers and my favorite, my jellyfish in a glass globe. Didier Saba, our glassblower, shipped them to the U.S. for us. The Riviera has lots of museums but Philip sent us to one of his favorites – the remarkable MACM – Museum of Classical Art–in the hilltop village of Mougins. We didn’t just tour this small museum that intersperses antiquities with Old Masters and modern art; Philip arranged for the museum director to spend three hours guiding us through it. What an enlightening experience. He arranged much of a day black-truffle hunting outside Salon de Provence, which was interesting and surprisingly educational. (They use dogs now, not pigs, because dogs can be trained with food to back away from a truffle it finds. Pigs don’t, which is why many truffle hunters are missing finger tips.) We had a delightful seven-hour private cooking class in Aix-en-Provence with a former chef who emailed us all the recipes for the dishes we’d made. We went horseback riding in La Camargue, the wetlands area south of Arles between the two branches of the Rhône River. La Camargue is famed for its white horses, bulls raised for French bullfighting (the bullfighters have to snatch a ribbon from between the bull’s horns, not kill it), and pink flamingos. We had fun riding through this region on the ranch of a former bullfighter and seeing the bulls and horses he and his elegant wife raise. We missed the flamingos due to a flat tire in our rental car that derailed our birding expedition. A don’t-miss experience was Hotel Mirande’s Table d’Haute dinner in Avignon. We dined in the hotel’s tiny cellar kitchen on a nearly all-French evening (except the chef and sommelier who spoke English), which tested my vocabulary but engaged us with locals and Belgian tourists. In Paris we did three tours including a fascinating history of the French fashion industry. We did much more but these were highlights.
Philip and his expert team including Evane Pasquier and Sarah Latrous were creative, attentive and responsive. Like the best of Wendy’s experts, Philip is good at responding to what you’re interested in but also in intuiting what you don’t know you might enjoy. We never would have known about MACM; if we hadn’t gone there and been guided by the museum’s director, we would have missed a memorable experience.
The trip was not without flaws. We learned the hard way not to stay at a hotel for three days that has closed its restaurant. My husband got food poisoning and we could get only very limited food. And don’t rent a car that doesn’t have even a donut spare tire but a container of goop to be pumped into the flat. Traffic along the Cote d’Azur was a nightmare and this wasn’t tourist season! Obviously not Phillip’s fault but true nonetheless. Going to Monaco without a guide was an exercise in frustration, as we got lost repeatedly. We thought we’d be fine with Apple Car Play but we found on all our recent trips to Europe that GPSs all-too-often lead rental car drivers astray. It seems Apple Car Play does too since we got lost several times driving through deserted hill towns. The downside to going offseason was amplified by the low volume of tourists traveling in December. We saw few except French ones and galleries and restaurants were closed all over the place. The hill towns above the Riviera were especially disappointing; half the fun comes from popping in and out of the many galleries and boutiques, but most were closed.
Philip’s guides were well chosen – knowledgeable and engaging. We’re grateful to Remy who helped me find rapid COVID tests in Aix when we had to rule out COVID in case it wasn’t food poisoning. I was glad to find it wasn’t and went off for a day of wine tasting in Cassis and on to Marseilles with Remy while my husband slept the day away. Our food tour in Nice with Franck turned out to be more a political and literary history of Nice, which was enlightening as well as enjoyable. We would happily have Philip design us another trip. Kudos to him and his team.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Philip arranged a flawless adventure for my husband and me! From the moment our plane landed in Nice, France, to the moment we departed from Paris to return to Chicago we experienced a memorable experience! Look no further for the best travel advisor!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Wendy, thank you and the team in the Dordogne for another WOW trip.
We contacted Phillip to arrange our week long tour of the Dordogne. Phillip responded to our trip request right away and put us in touch with his team. Evane Pasquier was delightful to work with and arranged for our transfers, guide, drivers, train tickets, museum entries and apartments.
Our tour guide Sandra was outstanding. She put together an awesome itinerary based on our initial requests and then enhanced our suggestions based on her extensive knowledge of the area.
We were treated splendidly everywhere. At almost every site we visited, Sandra was greeted by proprietors and other guides in a way that made it obvious to us that she is quite well known and respected in the area. Her personal knowledge of the area and its history were such an added bonus to our tours. Any last minute changes to our itinerary were never a problem. Sandra simply made everything work seamlessly.
With regards to Covid, our CDC cards were accepted everywhere before we got our Pass Sanitaires. Everyone we came into contact with were compliant with the guidelines and we certainly felt safe with the precautions in place. (We returned to Paris from the Dordogne for another 10 days, so we didn’t need the Covid test until our return trip from Paris.)
In Paris, we just went to a pharmacy near our apartment for the return Covid test.
The French people seem more willing to follow mask mandates and vaccine/testing requirements than some places in the US. We did see some of the vaccine protests in Paris, but weren’t bothered by them in any way. Other than the traffic jams created by the roads blocked by the police to keep cars away from the protestors.
Although we have lost track of the exact number of trips, we have been to Paris and France over 30 times in the last 21 years and it was so wonderful to be back. (We have been three times since the July reopening and plan to move for at least a year next summer).
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had an amazing trip to the Dordogne in late September. Philip Haslett, with his associate Evane, planned a fabulous itinerary that included all of the villages, castles, restaurants and historic sites on our wish list. Evane saved the day for us upon arrival – we had privately arranged an apartment, but it did not live up to expectations. Within an hour, Evane had us booked into a lovely, historical apartment. Prior to departure, Evane stayed in communication with us regarding the Covid travel requirements for France. Once we obtained our Passe Sanitaire, it was completely smooth. Our QR codes were scanned at restaurants and other venues and we had no trouble whatsoever. We were based in Sarlat, and had daily excursions with our private guide / driver, Sandra. I must add that Sandra was an outstanding guide, so personable and incredibly knowledgeable about the area. We loved Sandra’s “add-on” suggestions and would not hesitate to utilize the entire team on another trip. It was a lovely vacation, not crowded at all, and the locals seemed truly pleased to have us back.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We are so glad that we used Philip and his team to help us plan our trip to Provence. They guided us through the COVID requirements, even as the restrictions seemed to change daily. From the moment we arrived in Aix-en-Provence, we knew we were in good hands. Our guide, William Templer, was incredibly knowledgeable and was able to convey the long history of the region in a way that made it come alive. We had told Philip that we were interested in Provence’s Jewish history and William took us to an ancient synagogue that was hundreds of years old with artifacts dating back to the 17th century. We were taken to areas of Marseille that we would not have seen on our own, and we went to small towns that were surrounded by vineyards, lavender and sunflower fields. Gorgeous! We climbed up seaside cliffs that bordered the Mediterranean, amazed by the ruggedness and beauty. And I could go on about the museums, the extraordinary meals and the tucked-away shops and small fairs that he took us to. It all happened seamlessly, but it was evident that time and thought went into planning our days. Once again, The WOW List helped us make the very most of our vacation.
Luxury, luxury, luxury. That’s all I need to say about Philip Haslett and his team’s approach to our trip. It was amazing from start to finish. Everything we did and everywhere we went in our week in Paris and Provence was characterized by luxury. The Bauminere in Les Baux de Provence was one of the finest hotels at which we’ve ever stayed (the breakfasts alone will WOW you) and even little details like S-class Mercedes transfers were the epitome of French luxury. Cheers, Phillip!
Phillip is the real deal. He knows the South of France so well. His team is professional and always responsive.
Philip Haslett was amazing. He totally listened to what we wanted for a three generation trip to Provence and the Riviera. We enjoyed a wonderful cooking class in Aix en Provence and an outstanding glassblowing experience in Antibes. Our boat ride to the Lerins Islands that left from Cannes exceeded expectations. We had two guides, one for the Provence area and one for the Riviera. Each was fabulous. While we never meet most of the guides that we use through Wendy’s WOW list, Philip made an effort and met us at our hotel outside of Provence, walking us in to Aix for our cooking class. I highly recommend Philip.
Philip helped us on very short notice to plan a week in Provence. He listened to what we wanted and gave excellent suggestions and recommendations. We had never been to the region before and he took away the guesswork and set us on course for a memorable, fun-filled fabulous experience. We did not have a moment where we wasted time figuring out where to go or what to do; we got up each morning with a clear plan that allowed us to go at the pace we wanted, see as much (or as little) as we wanted that day and at the end of each day we marveled at our good fortune. We want to return as soon as possible and when we do, we will reach out to Philip again. We spent a full day with his guide in the Southern Rhone visiting wineries and felt very much the insiders (the Obamas visited the same vineyard as we did, the same market, the same towns, etc. so tell me: how bougie are we now?!) We loved the hotel where we stayed and received over the top service from the concierge with whom Philip is on a first-name basis. We also enjoyed our guide in the city of Aix-en-Provence. So glad to explore that city with an expert because we appreciated it so much more than if we had bumbled about on our own and our guides could not have been any more charming or informative. Philip is easy going and managed my pre-trip anxieties with aplomb. As someone who frets over the details, I would say that Philip handled my needs and our itinerary skillfully and professionally and made me feel confident, at ease, and very much like an insider having an exclusive and curated experience of the South of France. My husband, who has traveled extensively, gives two enthusiastic thumbs up, as well. Cheers!
Philip and his team created the perfect itinerary for my daughter and I. They listened carefully to our desires and interests and matched the trip accordingly. They were responsive and timely in their planning which took away any stress we might have had. The local guides we had in Provence were amazing! Fun, knowledgeable, and adaptable. We had requested an active trip and we were not disappointed, We went horseback riding in the Camargue region, biking in Luberon, canoeing in the Verdon Gorge. At a moment’s notice, our guide would head up the hill so we could see a great view, or walk around the remote and charming area of Lacoste. The restaurant suggestions were spot on. We loved everyone. We could not have been happier with the service provided and would highly recommend Philip to anyone planning a trip to France, especially Provence.
My family just enjoyed an absolutely amazing 2 week trip beginning in Paris and ending in Barcelona. Undoubtedly – our favorite segment of the trip was our 6 day visit to Provence which was planned by WoW Travel expert, Philip Haslett. We had a multi-generational group of 7 (grandparents, parents and 3 college aged children) — so it was initially a challenge to develop itinerary to be enjoyed by all. There are so many beautiful areas in southern France. Philip was able to help me narrow down our wish list, select beautiful accommodations, and set an active itinerary to explore and hike the region.
From the moment we arrived via train in Aix-en-Provence to the time that we were dropped back off in Avignon to continue our journey in Spain, we were well taken care of, in fact spoiled! We especially loved our driver guide, Nordine who was able to transport us all over the region, share his knowledge, and make adjustments for us on the fly (when we were running late, even running to pick up groceries while we were hiking!). Our hiking guide, Jean Bernard, also spent 4 days showing us unique trails, sights — unbelievable vistas and views. We would never have been able to see so many beautiful sights and understand history, etc of what we were viewing on our own.
Our only regret is that we did not have more time to spend at the idyllic Bastide de Moustier – what a beautiful setting or the Bastide de Gordes at the Villa de Constance (with our fabulous butler, Claire – who really went out of her way to take care of us!) They are truly special properties with amazing staff.
In summary, we transferred 7 people and their luggage 4x, stayed at two different properties, went on 4 amazing hikes, kayaked, visited countless unique Provence towns around Gorge du Verdon & Luberon area, enjoyed excellent restaurants and French wine, all seamlessly – thanks to Philip and his staff!
Phillip and Julie designed a wonderful trip for our family. With 3 teenagers it can be tough to keep everyone fully captivated, but the trip to Provence that was curated was fantastic. They designed an itinerary which kept us busy and was tailored to our interests. One of the most popular days was a visit to the Camargue region and a visit to the La Mirande ranch. What a great experience—not one that you’d be able to create on your own. The accommodations were top notch… very comfortable for our family. The guides were knowledgeable and engaging and knew exactly what would be of interest. A memorable trip! Would definitely recommend them.
Philip is wonderful! Accommodating, down to earth, humorous, and a total expert in the region!
We enjoyed our tour with him tremendously and hope to repeat our visit soon.
When you are in a new place, you want an insider who will be a wizard, who will wave a magic wand and poof—everything is taken care of masterfully. The selection of memorable hotels, restaurants, cars, and tours. But it all starts with asking the right questions and Philip and Julie spent the time to inquire about exactly what our interests and tastes are to create what will be a memory we have for the rest of our lives. Do you like crowds or quiet places? What type of decor and service? Athletic? How athletic. These questions enabled him to conjure up the perfect trip.
Philip Haslett and Julie on his team designed the perfect trip to the South of France for us. My husband and I travel a lot and like to explore independently. Philip and Julie designed an itinerary that allowed us to drive from one beautiful village to another using a detailed GPS map they provided with magnificent stops and suggestions along the way. Philip knows all the secrets of Provence and the French Riviera because he lives there. Having a WOW moment to use during this trip, Philip surprised us by personally taking us on a driving tour in a classic Citron CV2! It doesn’t get any more French than that! Thanks to Philip and Julie’s relationships we were treated as VIPs at every stop. Can’t recommend Philip highly enough.
My family and I had a really good time in Provence with some highlights like glass blowing, bike riding, cooking class and lunch at the special truffle restaurant Bruno’s- beautiful and delicious.
Philip was flexible with changing plans at the last moment and his driver-guides were superb, as were the hotels.
You’ll have a great time for sure.
Philip is located in Provence, but he made himself available late at night his time, which was convenient for me calling from California. He was very practical and informed and listened very well to what we were looking for. His combination of English fluency (Philip is originally from England) and strong local knowledge was great.
The particular tour guides he gave us in Paris and Provence were good and excellent, respectively.
It was my husband’s 80th birthday. We are active New York people. Having stressed this on the phone with Philip Haslett—our travel agent for Provence, Albi, Aveyron, Carcasonne, and beyond—we had long (starting at 9:30 daily, our choice) exciting days and evenings. We focused on history and art and Philip filled the itinerary and hooked us up with extraordinary guides who were delightful to be with as well as smart. From the private tour in the Pope’s Palace in Avignon to the Matisse Chapel in Vence, the new Frank Gehry building in Arles, and the Chateau La Coste—we were happy visitors! Philip handpicked each hotel, made sure our accommodations were special, and even joined us for a few days when we visited Albi. Great journey.
My husband and I asked Philip to help us plan a week in Provence in October 2017 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Everything about the trip was perfect, from the pre-trip e-mails back and forth about hotels, restaurants, and sites, to the actual trip itself. We were happy not to have to drive ourselves on the narrow, windy roads with endless roundabouts, and happy not to have to find parking spots in crowded towns. Our driver and guide, Philippe, took care of everything for us, always with good humor and endless patience. We stayed in the countryside in beautiful old hotels and especially loved the Hotel Baumaniere. I originally thought it would be too fancy for us, but Philip persuaded me that it would be perfect, and it was. We had our 50th anniversary dinner in the 2 Michelin star restaurant there, complete with a chocolate anniversary “card”. The other nights we wanted to try something different, and Philip kindly arranged for a taxi those nights so we could have dinner in small typical cafes in neighboring towns.
Our excursions were designed perfectly also. We particularly loved the canoe trip to the Pond du Gard and the private tour of the top level of the aqueduct, a perk not available to the general public. One whole day was devoted to a tour of the Luberon, including the towns of Lacoste, Menerbes, Gordes, and Roussillon. We enjoyed seeing the towns and were happy to have a chance to get out and walk to see the towns up close. All in all, a wonderful trip, perfectly planned and executed, a memorable celebration for us.
All in all, a wonderful trip, perfectly planned and executed, a memorable celebration for us.
Philip Haslett and his associate Judy were resourceful and creative. My boyfriend and I enjoyed a spectacular cooking class the first day in Nice, which was a smart decision. The chef, Rosa, educated us on the flower/ produce market of Nice, selecting the ingredients for our 5-course meal, and teaching us about the rich culture of Nice. This experience set the tone for the trip. Philip and Judy were instrumental with their other recommendations including the hotel, excursions to Eze, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, transportation. Philip’s personal touch, connections, and contacts made a huge difference. We ultimately were a little too booked and needed to relax, so we couldn’t get to every activity we desired; this knowledge of how we like to travel comes with travel experience! I highly, highly recommend Philip.
Our trip to Burgundy and Provence was a very difficult trip to plan for many factors: We only gave them a couple of weeks to plan, 9 people coming and going at different stages, traveling with a 6-year-old, the busiest season in France, changes to the itinerary and/or restaurants on a daily basis … and they truly outperformed all my expectations. Phillip saved our trip. We were having a lot of trouble with the Burgundy /Provence Coast part of the trip until he jumped in to help us. At that point all the black clouds began to go away, they responded in a way I was truly not expecting. They were in constant contact and solving issues, bookings, tours, changing hotels, getting train tickets, you name it. They always responded and solve any changes in 6 hours or less, they got us to the best places, they absolutely know where you should go and what time you should do it. From the balloon flight to the wine tasting, they made this trip unforgettable.
On one of the trains, we lost our passports and their help and trouble shooting was outstanding. We managed to finish the trip and get back home with a big smile.
Phillip has a wonderful team, I would recommend anybody to look for him. They are truly amazing.
July, Philip and Michael in Burgundy deserve more than a line, they make this a great travel specialist.
You could literally ask for anything and they found a way.
Philip Haslett and his team certainly go above and beyond to make every distinct detail of your trip and experience one that is of the utmost quality. Not only was he very prompt in his response to my unique demands and requests for a trip to Provence and the île de Ré, he came back with honest answers and solutions based on my very specific needs. This makes him incredibly versatile when it comes to tailoring any trip! We look forward to working with Philip in the years to come!
Philip and Sarah on his team planned the most memorable trip for my family in Bordeaux, France. Philips efforts are incredibly authentic, genuine, and filled with passion. Philip made the effort to visit Bordeaux to meet my family which made our trip even more special and personal. We had a lot of specific desires, and nothing was impossible or out of the question. My entire family is very grateful and appreciative of all of the hard work by him and his team. The attention to detail and timeliness in response is very difficult to find. Philip is now even assisting in planning our wedding! Truly, Philip is a wonderful person, who is fantastic at what he does. We will definitely remain in touch with him. We hope to meet Sarah in the future, who was incredibly wonderful to work with, in every respect. A+ !
Philip was just wonderful…he had great, interesting and off the beaten path ideas for excursions. He provided transportation at a reasonable rate and excellent guides. He was always available to talk…I had a million questions…and he was so kind. I was traveling with my husband, daughter and her boyfriend. My husband and I stayed closer to our chateau because it was so amazing we didn’t want to leave. Chateau Saint Martin( Philip booked it for us). My daughter and her boyfriend were much more adventurous, so Philip found them hikes and all day adventures.
The last time we went to the area my husband and I rented a car and tried to explore on our own…we explored more tight streets trying to make a ten-point turn than I would like to remember. I highly recommend using a driver: You can see more and get around so much easier. It’s the way to go! Albeit pricier.
Philip also recommended great restaurants and made the reservations for us…which is helpful if your french didn’t get much further than your 8th grade syllabus.
I give Philip the highest grade! Enjoy your trip!!
We had an amazing three days in Provence organized by Philip Haslett. All unique experiences—surprising and wonderful and memorable. Just a few of many highlights—a tour of the villages of the Luberon in an antique Citroen convertible with our guide, Philippe, at the wheel; a visit to the first organic farm in France, with a tour of the farm and surrounding area by the 7th generation farmer/owner in his horse and buggy; a picnic in the countryside; a private tour and tea with the current owner of the beautiful Benedictine Abbey, Saint Andre; and a Chagall music/art show in the old quarry of Carrieres des Lumieres in Baux de Provence. Philip arranged our hotel, La Mirande in Avignon, which was gorgeous, and all of our dinner reservations. We fit a lot into our three days and can’t wait to go back. We would absolutely have Philip plan future visits and would hope that we would have the same driver/tour guide, Philippe, who was delightful.
Symphony of Provence and Beyond, August 2016
My husband and I recently returned from an awesome 8 August days traveling throughout Provence and beyond, planned by Philip Haslett. We asked them to handle it all – trip planning, transportation, booking hotels, guiding and transfers. An “eclectic view of Provence” was our request – a variety of experiences with emphasis on artists and textiles, culture and history of the area, seeing remote villages, enjoying local foods. Philip is both flexible and creative and obviously delights in helping his clients truly enjoy their experience. In the process we were treated as if invited guests being shown around by one who loves and knows their area intimately. The planning was insightful, the guiding masterful, and he avoided crowds in August! Whenever Philip said, “trust me, you really must see this!”, there were never any regrets from following his suggestions. The real magic Philip’s symphony of immersive experiences carefully crafted personally for us. The days played out with the perfect ebb and flow of color, wonder, adventure and quieter moments. Path and pace selections were orchestrated with an underlying sense as to variety and our energy levels, and without overload. The final product was so much more than we could have imagined! And, there of course there was the winning personality of our guide! A huge thanks to Philip and team, and to Wendy for making the recommendation!
We saw “Provence and beyond”, including Albi, a day at the French Riviera, and the balance of our time in Provence. I asked Philip if he could help us see the art of the Toulouse Lautrec’s estate that is housed in Albi (after being rejected by the Louvre) and attend an organ concert in the massive and intricately decorated brick medieval cathedral. He was delighted to make this happen with a 2 night stay in there, and stops along the way to and fro for strolls through medieval villages. As we drove towards Provence, I was wondering how this could be topped! Not to worry, the rest of the plan was filled with fascinating adventures and whimsical moments.
Highlights of the Riviera and Provence included seeing medieval villages, Roman ruins, churches, art exhibits (Cezanne, Picasso, Chagall), museums of history and culture, the exquisite shop of Edith Mezard (including the pop-up-shop of Pierre Cardin’s latest collection), the ochre trail of Roussillon, antiques in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and even a whimsical cork screw museum. And of course there was always ample time for our requested necessaries – shopping, ice cream, dark chocolate (can there ever be enough?), local food specialties, and taking a huge number of photographs
There WOW moments, but the grand finale of our art experiences really must be mentioned – the art and music multimedia production at the Carrieres de Lumieres. This year the entire show features the art works of Marc Chagall. They use 100 projectors and 27 speakers to project 3000 digitized images of art works and coordinated soundtrack onto the interior walls and floor of a former hillside rock quarry. These walls vary from 20-46 feet high, providing 54000 square feet of “canvas”. The impact is massive! One can walk around and see different images from each direction since the same art piece is not showing simultaneously on each surface. This image and sound production is completely immersive and profoundly moving. Philip offered this as the surprise grand finale of our art experiences, and it did not disappoint! We are still in awe!
We highly recommend Philip Haslett and team for trip planning in Provence, the Riviera, and beyond!