We recently completed a three-week trip in France (Oct 17 – Nov 6) planned by Philip Haslett and his team. We dubbed it the Wine and War tour as we visited Bordeaux, the Loire, Burgundy and Champagne regions enjoying the wine produced at each one for the first few weeks and then continuing on to Dieppe and Lille, where we concentrated on visiting World War I sites, especially those which had Canadian military involvement.
It was an excellent experience from start to finish, with the only downside being the inclement (to say the least) weather, something over which Philip’s team had no control. Other than that, the hotels chosen for us and the transportation between areas, whether by train or by private transfers, were very good. The hotels were just what we wanted, smaller ones with character (Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant in Epernay was exceptional, with one of the largest hotel rooms I have ever experienced anywhere, let alone in Europe). The private guides we had were all very knowledgeable and generous with their time, especially the guide we had while we were in Lille. Christoffe was perhaps the best guide we have ever experienced. His knowledge of and passion for the history of World War I were exceptional and we hope to return again to learn more about the war from him.
One really unique experience we had was a six-day cruise on a barge with five other guests on the Nivernais Canal in Burgundy. As we had no idea with whom we would be sailing on such a small vessel, I was somewhat concerned about compatibility. However, my fears were unfounded as we enjoyed the company of all our shipmates and hope to keep in contact with them. While the accommodations were quite small, we found a space for everything and the food, wine and cheese were excellent and plentiful. Although the weather, as I mentioned earlier, was not the best, when the sun was out and we were outside on the deck slowly sailing along the canal, it was really enjoyable. We also could not have had a better crew. All four of them, captain, chef, host, and guide were always available to assist us with anything we needed.
I also wish to thank the two members of Philip’s team, Iléana and Sofia, who were primarily responsible for organizing the trip for us. There were quite a few parts to this trip which had to be planned from hotels, trains, transfers, tours, a car rental and more, and they both did an excellent job arranging them all. They responded to all my questions and requests promptly and Iléana kept in touch with us throughout the trip, even arranging a very late check-out at our hotel in Dieppe in advance of the arrival of Tempete Cairin, in case there were issues as a result of the storm. Fortunately Dieppe was spared the worst of it and we were fine.
While in Dieppe we visited the museum commemorating the failed August 19, 1942 raid (the day we were there was a holiday in France but thanks to Philip’s team, they opened the memorial especially for us so we were the only visitors), which is in a beautiful, very old theatre and over the stage were hung many pictures in later life of the survivors of the raid (mainly Canadian I believe). The top row however featured several pictures which were larger than the others. My husband looked at them and thought that one of the larger photographs resembled a neighbour from his childhood (who liked to teach him swear words in French). We were able to check the names and determined that it was indeed him. We knew ahead of time that he had fought at Dieppe and survived, but that is all we knew as, like many survivors of war, he never spoke about it. It’s amazing that of all the Canadians involved in the raid (close to 5,000 and who formed the largest contingent of troops), his picture was there and featured so prominently. I’ve never seen my husband so moved and the two lovely ladies who gave us the tour were so pleased that he knew one of the survivors. An experience we will never forget.
Last, but not least, I must thank Wendy for our WOW Moment. We were picked up at our hotel and driven to the Hotel Crillon in Paris where we had the pleasure of experiencing afternoon tea. The food, service and atmosphere (not to mention the people-watching) were excellent and we very much appreciated it. I love older hotels and the Crillon was beautiful and has quite a history.
In summary, we were very happy dealing with Philip and his team. Having the advice and recommendations of a company which knows the area where you wish to travel so well, is invaluable.
We just completed a trip to the South of France and Paris (10/15-10/24/23) and used Philip as our Trip Planner. We started thinking about this trip in 2019 for an October 2021 visit, but I don’t need to go into why that didn’t happen. We first met with Philip by Zoom during Wendy’s virtual office hours in February 2021. Philip outlined a most amazing trip through the entire South of France, but unfortunately we would need 3 weeks to see everything he suggested. We worked with him to fit in the places that we were most interested in seeing within the time frame we had and he recommended we wait until at least Fall of 2022 to schedule. We decided to wait until this year so we could travel completely without masks. This was our 7th (!) WOW List trip. Each time we get better at balancing jet lag and seeing as much as possible with enough down time to explore on our own. I think with this trip we finally found the perfect combination.
During the planning stages of the trip, Philip’s team was terrific in listening to the types of activities we enjoyed, accommodations we preferred, and paring down the touring to more manageable time periods so we weren’t exhausted at the end of every day. WOW List travel planners are so excited to share their country with visitors that they can’t help but include as many activities as possible. We spent 4 days in Provence and were based in historic St. Remy de Provence, a charming and easily walkable little village. We stayed at the Hotel de Tourrel, a beautifully renovated 17th-century palace, and our favorite hotel of the trip. Our first day of touring took us to Arles for a little history and then to the Camargue region to visit a working manade. We weren’t aware that “bull fighting” (which is more like tag football with a bull and no one gets hurt) was popular in France, but the form that is practiced there has a huge following in the South. It was fascinating to learn the history of the sport and see the farm where the French cowboys raise the bulls. Our driver/guide, Cedric, was the best we’ve ever experienced—he was extremely knowledgeable about all things (not only France), very personable, and went way out of his way to anticipate our needs.
On our way to Lyon, our guide, Sebastien, picked us up at the train station and took us to Beaujolais. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as it had been raining and the sun was peaking out behind the mist over the vineyards. Sebastien asked if we wanted to stop for lunch or pick up cheese and charcuterie and head straight for the winery we were scheduled to visit. Our preference was the latter, but when we asked if that would be OK with the winery, Sebastien grinned and said—”I’m the owner and I have the keys.” We spent an absolutely delightful afternoon tasting amazing Beaujolais wines and learning about owning a small family winery in that part of France. From there we visited Lyon where walking through the old city felt like being on a movie set—it was so French it didn’t look real!
Our final 3 days were spent in Paris, where highlights were guided tours of the Musee d’Orsay with an Art History graduate of the Sorbonne, a French history lesson on Île de la Cité, and the Monet Water Lilies at l’Orangerie. We had a wonderful time soaking up French art, culture, and history and our guides were an integral part of that.
We should also mention that all of our transfers were flawless. The Axus travel app was essential in keeping us organized and on time. We also received regular emails and Axus notifications when any new information regarding driver/guide names and contact information needed to be provided. Philip’s team was always available to answer any questions we had along the way by text, email, or through the app messaging platform. Finally we must mention hiring a VIP greeter to guide you through the airport in Paris. We sat in traffic waiting to get to the departure curb for 40 minutes creating massive amounts of anxiety, but our driver said not to worry the greeter would meet us at the car and we’d have plenty of time. We were ushered through check-in, immigration, and security ahead of even the flight crews and escorted onto the airport train and to our gate in under 30″. Can’t recommend enough!
We recently returned from a 9-night trip to Paris and the South of France with our family of 4. This was the second trip we took through a Wendy Perrin recommended travel agent and it was, again, a wonderful adventure! The team in Philip’s office helped us book an active and engaging itinerary for 2 adults and 2 teenagers.
We spent 5 nights in Paris and Sarah, our local representative, connected us with an outstanding private tour guide for 3 separate excursions, including a scavenger hunt at the Louvre, a driving tour of all the city highlights and a day trip to Versailles. She also shared walking directions to explore Paris on our own, excellent dinner recommendations and tickets to a fun Seine river cruise. We took some time to find the right hotel at a very busy and expensive time (during the French Open) and it was perfect – accessible location in a walkable area, outstanding service and delicious breakfasts.
Particularly important was navigating an unexpected strike while visiting the city and expertly re-arranging our plans so that we didn’t miss anything that we wanted to see. Sarah was on-hand throughout our time in Paris to help with any needs that arose.
After our time in Paris, we took a high-speed train to Avignon, where we picked up a rental car. With recommendations from Philip and Julie, we spent 2 nights in Aix-en-Provence and 2 nights in Cap D’Antibes. Our drive included exploring several small villages of interest including Gordes, Mougins, Rousillon and St. Paul de Vence. We enjoyed a half-day tour in Aix-en-Provence and a full-day tour of Nice, Eze and Monaco. Our private guides provided engaging information to our teens and shared out-of-the way spots known to locals.
France was definitely busy during our travel, but with the guidance of the team and the knowledge and access of our tour guides, we had very little waiting time at any of our stops. It was an active and engaging vacation and a lot of ground covered during the 9 days.
We returned from our wonderful 2-week trip to the Cote d’ Azur. Our trip was planned by Philip and Laurie. We had a brief conversation with Philip about the order of the itinerary and he handed us over to Laurie to do the planning. Their choice of hotels was absolutely perfect! We loved every hotel and location. Cap d’Antibe beach hotel, Villa Saint Ange, Chateau de Messardiere, and one last night in Nice at the Negresco.
We asked to self-drive in a rental car. Our trip went well, but the driving around Nice, Cap d’Antibe, and Monaco was a bit difficult. Driving in Provence was easier.
Our wow-type moment was when we were driven to the private beach of Chateau de Messardiere by Rolls Royce. They have several Rolls at the Chateau to drive guests into Saint Tropez, to the beach or nearby destinations. It was so much fun to arrive in style! That hotel was extremely elegant, and our favorite of the trip. We arrived to a bottle of Champagne, fruit, pastries, and to a room upgrade!
Our private boat trip arranged by Laurie was rained out and that was disappointing, but their office refunded our money.
In respect to Philip and Laurie, it was almost like pulling teeth to get answers or responses from Laurie until the last minute. I have a trail of emails that she apologized for her late responses. I actually had to call her on the phone to get her attention. She was more helpful when we arrived in France rather than before we departed.
We felt that we were an afterthought and I do not think I will plan our next trip with their office.
WENDY WEIGHS IN (JULY 2023):
As a result of this traveler review and the difficulties of driving a rental car in France this year, Philip has stopped offering self-drive itineraries. Last winter, I repeatedly warned readers about the enormous volume of tourists headed to France in this first post-pandemic spring: I warned in January in Where and When to Travel in This Unprecedently Busy Year and on March 1 in our newsletter on Where To Go This Spring. It was no surprise that the overwhelming influx of travelers stretched Philip and his team very thin. Fortunately, the frenzy has begun to subside.
I recently returned from a FABULOUS trip to France with my mother, sister, and 17-year-old daughter. This was a real bucket list item for my mother—she is 80 and wanted to see both Monet’s gardens at Giverny and Provence. Philip and his team planned and executed a wonderful itinerary that perfectly satisfied my mother’s wishes—a special shout-out to Marion, who successfully navigated a few challenges in the planning process. I love the Axus app, which constantly updated our itinerary and provided a way for us to quickly communicate with Philip’s team. From the moment we landed in Paris until the day we flew out of Marseille, the drivers, excursions, and hotels exceeded our expectations.
On the day we were going to Giverny our van had a flat tire in the middle of the countryside, and within 30 minutes my family was in an Uber called by our heroic guide Paul, headed to Giverny with our tickets and lunch reservation in hand. Paul had the tire repaired and met us after lunch for the rest of our trip to Auvers sur Oise, but we didn’t miss a thing.
Giverny was the most eagerly anticipated moment of the trip for my mother, and what could have been a disappointing travel disaster is now one of our funniest trip memories, involving aggressive strawberry buyers and a tiny blue car. Cedric, our guide in Provence, was a gem—my whole family loved him and both his hilarious stories and historic insights. The Hotel du Pigeonnet in Aix was so very lovely, and Philip’s team also provided us with some wonderful restaurant recommendations and reservations.
I began the planning process for this trip with concerns about how we could manage an experience that would make all of us happy and be comfortable enough for my mother, but Philip and his team pulled it off. Their advice about transportation (private cars and high speed train), luxurious hotel choices, creative excursion ideas, and flawless execution of our busy itinerary delivered a once-in-a-lifetime family experience that the women of my family will always remember. Merci beaucoup, Philip!
Kudos and thanks to Philip and his entire team for a fantastic 2-week trip to France! We started in the South, staying at the world renowned Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc—unavailable if you try to book it yourself, but available if you have Philip’s team working with you. One of the best, if not the best hotel we’ve ever stayed at. The facility, restaurants, service and grounds were all top-notch! We spent four days touring Southern France with expert driver guides arranged for by Philip’s office, having the opportunity to compare places like Cannes, Nice and Monaco—all excellent, yet each very unique. We enjoyed a personal glass-blowing experience where we made our own sculpture (I can’t believe we were shaping 1000-degree glass by hand, with only a wet newspaper to insulate us) and ate at some of the best restaurants on the French Riviera. The Picasso museum in Antibes, the hilltop villages of Eze and St. Paul de Vence were all amazing experiences. From the South of France, we moved on to Aix-en-Provence, where we stayed for three nights at the superb Villa Gallici—a beautiful hotel tucked into the hillside above Aix with an easy walk into town. Wonderful tours of Provence including a stop at the weekly markets in Cucuron (highly recommend!) and St. Remy, along with a Vincent van Gogh tour. Our driver guides helped us compare and contrast the various villages and markets that were touristy vs. those that were frequented more by the locals—both were great and yet very different. An excellent way to get a feel for the uniqueness of Provence and the people that live there. From Provence, we took the 3 hr. bullet-train ride from Aix to Paris—absolutely the best way to travel from the South of France to the North—takes less than half the time that driving would take. In Paris we spent four nights at the new and very nice Madame Reve hotel—small, but elegant rooms with a great location—and toured every site you could imagine over the next four days with excellent guides that really helped us understand the history of the city and the stories behind each of the sites that we visited. Our “croissant, chocolate and cheese tour” of the Left Bank was an excellent experience and dinner at the 3-Michelin-star Epicure restaurant (again, arranged by Philip’s office when no reservations were available) was an absolute highlight of the trip! On our final night in Paris, Wendy surprised us with a WOW Moment—a tour of the Paris monuments by night in an open-top deux chevaux. What an amazing way to see the city on uncrowded streets and with all of the famous landmarks lit up at night! We ended the trip with a visit to Giverny to visit the Monet Gardens (absolutely beautiful!) as well as a stop in Auvers-sur-Oise to see where van Gogh spent his final days and is now buried. Both incredible experiences if you are admirers of the works of either artist.
Overall the trip was everything we had hoped for and more. The Hotel du Cap, dinner at Epicure, glass-blowing experience, Vincent van Gogh tour, visit to Giverny Garden and the Paris monuments at night were the absolute highlights. The only disappointment was the skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tour, which still entailed a 45-minute wait in line. If I were to visit the Eiffel Tower again, I would absolutely make reservations at the Restaurant Jules Verne, which has its own private elevator to access the second level of the tower.
This was our sixth time using Wendy’s WOW List and the trips have never disappointed. Thanks to Philip and his team for putting together a great experience. I will note that having the team available via text on every day of our tour made adjustments to the itinerary almost effortless. A special thanks to Sarah and Sofia for being available and helping us to accommodate schedule and reservation changes along the way.
Just over two months before we were scheduled to fly to Nice, my husband and I decided to try a WOW trip for the first time. We only had four days in the south of France before we were scheduled to board our ship in Avignon for a river cruise, but Philip accepted the challenge of putting together a brief, last-minute trip for us.
We had a great Zoom call with Philip, and he listened carefully to our thoughts, as well as our budget. We had only two “must-sees,” and asked him to make suggestions for the remainder of our short time. Within a day, we received a proposed itinerary with several choices, all of which sounded perfect. We made our selections, and Manon followed through with arranging everything for us.
After our long flight, it was wonderful to see Romuald waiting for us. He drove us to our hotel in Cagnes-sur-Mer and apologized profusely when he could drive no farther on a street that was much too narrow for his van. Since the hotel was only a block away and the hotel valet came to us, our only concern was how Romuald was going to back up that narrow street. We never did find out how he managed to get out, but the episode provided us with a great story to tell!
Chateau Le Cagnard is a charming hotel, and we had a wonderful dinner on the terrace with an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea.
The next morning, the hotel’s valet walked us to a main street where we were picked up by our driver-guide for the next three days. Cecile was a delight, as well as a fabulous and knowledgeable guide, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her. A walking tour through Vieux Nice and its flower market, a breathtaking drive along the Mediterranean, and a tour of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its gardens in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat gave us a wonderful introduction to the beauty of the French Riviera.
Philip had suggested that we spend the next morning in Antibes, another amazing town, and here Cecile led us on another walking tour, as well as a visit to the Picasso Museum. We wandered through the small market here, and I loved looking at all the displays. Visiting local markets had quickly become one of our favorite experiences, and we admired the beautiful presentations of local produce, cheese, sausages, and olives.
In the afternoon, we drove to the quaint village of Mougins, where we enjoyed another walking tour and a visit to the Museé d’Art Classique de Mougins (MACM). Here, we were treated to a private tour of one of the most interesting museums we would visit on our trip. Philip had recommended this stop, and I’m so glad we took his suggestion.
One of our “must-see” destinations was the Verdon Gorge, and Cecile drove us from Cagnes-sur-Mer into the mountains on a scenic road that reached the most beautiful canyon in Europe. Although we had loved our time on the Riviera, it was nice to leave the cities and traffic behind and enjoy the stunning beauty of the French countryside.
A short visit to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the most beautiful village in the area, was followed by our destination for the evening, La Bastide De Moustiers. We were sad to say good-bye to Cecile, but we were excited to check into this amazing small inn that was created by Alain Ducasse. We are so glad that Manon encouraged us to dine in the restaurant here, and this meal turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of our trip. Not only was the food outstanding, but the service reminded me of watching a ballet. Everything was done to perfection!
Patrick picked us up the next morning to drive us to Avignon, where we would board our ship. On our way through the Luberon region, we stopped at a small village market, and then continued through the beautiful countryside. I had been admiring the red poppies along the roadside, when we suddenly saw a small field that was a solid red mass of poppies. Patrick was more than willing to pull off on the side of the road so we could get out and walk among this amazing profusion of flowers. I had never seen anything like this, and the memory of this serendipitous stop was one of the most memorable from our trip.
Our only recommendation for other travelers is to look closely at any proposed itinerary and be realistic about your stamina and any physical limitations. In hindsight, we should have realized ahead of time that eight hours of touring each day would be too tiring for us. However, we were excited about the itinerary that Philip proposed and wanted to see as much as possible in our short time, so we didn’t admit to ourselves that we’re not as young as we once were! Despite this, we had a fabulous time.
We had a short time in Provence and are so glad we were able to work with Laurie to get the most out of our time. She arranged for a couple of amazing hotels in Les Baux and Aix en Provence. I think we could have taken up residency in either one! Our driver/guide Cedric showed us beautiful villages and introduced us to the wonderful culture and people of Provence. A couple of highlights for us were walking through a Roman aquaduct at Pont du Gard and taking part in a Roman wine tasting that gave us a sense of what wines may have tasted like in Roman times. Another special treat was spending a day with Gilles Conchy, first shopping in the market in Aix en Provence and then cooking a fantastic meal at his home. Lastly, we received a WOW Moment during our stay. One morning, we found our van had been replaced by a 60-year-old bright green convertible Citroen. We had a chance to ride through the countryside from Les Baux to Aix in style. It was so much fun.
We were very satisfied by our trip from southern France to Paris from 26 April to 11 May, 2023. Our planning request to Philip Haslett was only that we wanted to start with days in small towns and attractions in Provence and Languedoc, moving toward Paris as the finish. Planning by Philip and Julie Bendjelloul created excellent cities, hotels and attractions to visit, with enough free time to finding pleasant surprises.
Starting at Hotel de Tourrel in Saint Rémy de Provence provided a relaxed, small town and boutique hotel with outstanding personal service by all-purpose staff person Camille. While staying in Saint Rémy on 1st of May, Camille told us that there would be a parade with people dressed in traditional attire accompanied by farm animals, and also a market to celebrate La Fête du Mugent (Lily of the Valley Day). This surprise made us feel part of the community and was a trip highlight.
Philip and Julie chose excellent guides for the entire trip. As examples, Valentina was very personable and knowledgeable in our wine tour to Châteauneuf du Pape, and Elodie was also excellent in the tour of the Luberon region.
We moved on to Montpellier, where staff at Hotel Richer de Belleval served us very well. Marc and Alicia were excellent guides who were flexible and interested in small changes to please our interests. We especially appreciate Alicia for showing us edible and medicinal plants, for which we share an interest. It is that type of flexibility and wide-shared interests that we want private guides.
Carcassone and L’Hotel de La Cité were as spectacular as it was described. Amazing to experience the magical fortress city from within during the night.
Planning and added service by Julie was invaluable to arrange for express mailing important items we inadvertently left at one hotel. It was very reassuring to know that we could depend upon Julie to answer any question and arrange needed changes. Reservations for the rental car and train worked perfectly.
Our short stay in Lyon was excellent, with outstanding personal guide service by Sébastien who showed us important hidden gems of Lyon.
Paris and the Grand Powers Hotel was also wonderful. Our drivers from the rail station and to the hotel were on-time and attentive.
The whole trip was well planned and Julie’s execution of the trip was outstanding. We will recommend their service to anyone and will use Philip’s company and WendyPerrin.com next time.
Mid-November found us in Provence and Thanksgiving in Paris. Philip, Laurie and Sarah put together an enlightening, expanding and enjoyable trip to France. A special shout-out to Laurie and Sarah for their hard work, patience, and flexibility making the many changes, additions and modifications to our plans, even on-the-fly when we were on the ground in France.
Before our trip, I don’t think we fully appreciated the many facets of France – cultural, gastronomic, viticultural, historical, artistic, and the physical beauty of the South – it’s overwhelming. Those many aspects made us appreciate the difficult task of creating an itinerary for clients unfamiliar with France, especially clients who insist on “less is more,” since there is so much more to the country than we understood. Laurie and Sarah did a marvelous job introducing us to France and her many facets, and our guides, Patrick, William and Sonia in Provence, and Marie in Paris, completed the task of opening our hearts and minds to the country and her people. (We will readily attest that the American reputation of the French is completely undeserved.)
Of particular mention was one stop on our itinerary Laurie arranged that was the highlight of our trip and exemplified our eye-opening and surprising introduction to France. We visited Patrick and Estelle on their manade in the Camargue, saw their massive black ornery bulls and majestic horses, gazed across the wide-open flat expanse of the land swept by the wind from the sea, and spoke to them about a lifestyle that we did not expect to see in France and that reminded us of Montana, where we spend much of our time. They were both such warm, open and engaging people, with quick honest smiles that easily bridged any language barriers. The rancher, Patrick, and I had a good laugh, because he and I wore the same Filson and Carhartt clothing – a nice touchpoint of lifestyles. Thanks to him and William we were able to make an unscheduled stop at a session of young men training in Camargue-style bullfighting. What a thrill!
Again we were reminded of the immense value in having a local travel professional put together tours and arrange local guides. Especially in Provence, our guides all made a point of mentioning they were personal friends of Phillip, saying that he was part of their “circle of confidence.” Although we arranged our own lodging and flights (because we used points and had family connections), we are very happy that we again found a local agent through The WOW List that put together a trip that exceeded our expectations.
We had the most fabulous trip to France recently! September is not a time we would normally have visited, but we were invited to a friend’s wedding near Montpellier. As it turns out, September is a marvelous time to visit France! There were still a number of tourists, but not the summer crush, and the weather was gorgeous with only a couple of days of rain the whole trip.
We had an ambitious wish list for our trip and started planning about six weeks out. I lived in France many years ago, but my husband and son had never been there. The wedding was near Montpellier, and I wanted them to see southern France and Provence, which is the area I lived in; my husband and I have become oenophiles, so we were interested in visiting some wineries (châteaux); and of course we had to see Paris. In addition to my friend who was getting married, there were several other friends I was hoping to see after not visiting France for 27 years.
Our trip planners Philip, Julie, and Sarah helped us pull together everything we wanted in our trip and more. They were amazing! We arrived in Paris and spent a couple days there being tourists, learning about the history and visiting some main sites (the Eiffel Tower, historical tour centered around Ile de la Cite and the Marais, dinner cruise on the Seine one night and at Michelin-star restaurant L’Arpege another). We then traveled by TGV to Montpellier for the wedding weekend, followed by Provence where we visited Nimes, Avignon, the Pont du Gard and many other beautiful towns and villages. Les Baux-de-Provence was a special favorite of my husband and son. The last day in Provence we visited Cassis and toured the Calanques by boat, followed by Marseille. We then flew to Bordeaux that evening, where we spent two days visiting châteaux in the region, one day in the St. Emilion region and the other in Medoc.
My husband had to return home for work at that point, but our son and I took the TGV back to Paris and spent five days there soaking up the culture, history and art. Visiting Versailles was a big highlight, and we also visited the Centre Pompidou, where there are modern art exhibits, and the Louvre, had several walking tours of history and gastronomy, and were able to see friends a couple of times.
Philip and his team went above and beyond in their recommendations. All our accommodations were top-notch. Except for the Grand Hotel Intercontinental in Bordeaux, we stayed at smaller boutique hotels that were all well-situated and each had their own charms. The staff at the hotels were all very welcoming and helpful. Philip included many amenities that we didn’t know we wanted, but were grateful for, such as VIP greeters at the airports and train stations, which made negotiating those sites very easy and less stressful. Having private cars and drivers for transportation to our hotels and for many guided tours made getting around easy and efficient. All our tour guides were of the first caliber – charming and knowledgeable, and they quickly felt like old friends. As for restaurants, Philip, Julie and Sarah gave us recommendations for every city from which we were able to choose. All of the restaurants were superb!
With all the tremendous help planning, reservations, tickets ahead of time, etc., most everything went smoothly during our trip. Philip, Julie, and Sarah took care of all reservations, entry tickets, and train tickets. We bought all of our airplane tickets, including the flight from Marseille to Bordeaux. We only ran into a couple of issues, and where we did, Philip and his team were able to help us solve things quickly.
In particular, for others to be aware of if you’re taking the TGV or other trains, is that many cities now have more than one train station – which wasn’t the case 30 years ago! One day while in Montpellier, we were supposed to take the train to Nimes and ended up at the wrong train station for our tickets. Fortunately, we had taken a guided tour of Montpellier that morning and our guide, Bernard, was able to help us exchange our tickets and we took a slightly later train to Nimes.
We did not have any issues with Covid while we were there, although there were a couple of other viruses going around. I became ill in Bordeaux, and we were in touch with Sarah because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to travel to Paris on schedule. The hotel called a doctor (doctors still make house calls in France, fortunately!) and he prescribed some medicine that helped tremendously, and we were able to travel on-schedule. My son became ill a few days later in Paris and we again were able to have a doctor see him at our hotel. Our biggest disappointment was that we had to cancel our market tour and cooking class that day, which we’d been looking forward to all week.
So many things have changed to make travel easier since I was last there. We were able to access our itinerary and tickets through an app, which made it very easy to keep track of everything. We were able to text Sarah through WhatsApp and she was able to update us about our driver and guides: names, contact information, etc., which was invaluable. When we had a couple of snafus and were dealing with being ill, Sarah was able to help us quickly.
We also appreciated that Philip and his team worked in a few free days in our itinerary, a day and a half in Montpellier around the wedding and one in Paris. We also had less scheduled each day during our second time in Paris. We were able to go at a slower pace, and go back and visit several areas we enjoyed, plus we had time to see our friends.
Philip, Julie, and Sarah really went above and beyond in Bordeaux. It was requested that we compose our wine resume, and then Sarah was able to secure private tours for us at châteaux in the region (three in St. Emilion and three in Medoc). That was an amazing experience to see the variety of the châteaux and the wine-making process at each and was a highlight of the trip.
I highly recommend Philip, Julie, and Sarah. They incorporated our trip wish list beautifully. I was thrilled to visit France again after so long, and my husband and son had a tremendous introduction to the breadth of the country in all senses. We’re ready to go back!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Absolutely wonderful! Provence and the French Rivera were magical places. Philip and team’s recommendations on lodging were spot on. They blended luxury with authenticity in a way that fit for our family (two adults, two young teens). Adding tremendous value was the coordination and pairing of a driver/guide for the day outings. I can’t imagine it being nearly as enjoyable without them! Just fantastic tours of villages.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Philip and Sarah planned a 5-day trip to Brittany in August 2022 for our family of four. They secured one of the best guides we have ever had in our travels—Herve was so incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating. Due to a forest fire, we were unable to visit the Arthurian forest of Broceliande as originally planned. Herve pivoted immediately and we spent that day exploring the Gulf of Morbihan and the pedestrian-only island, Ile aux Moines. A special shout-out to Herve for graciously guiding us on Mont St. Michel on the Assumption Holiday. (That’s a holiday in France and although we knew that the site would be even busier than usual, that’s the only day we could go.) So even though we visited the Mont with about 10,000 of our closest friends, Herve was good cheer throughout. And gamely walked both to and from the Mont on the causeway! Bretagne is such a beautiful part of France overlooked by Americans: I highly recommend Dinard, the Hotel Castelbrac in Dinard, and the private boat tour of the Emerald Coast that Philip and Sarah arranged.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had a wonderful honeymoon with Phillip Haslett’s team. We had a great itinerary that helped us check many things off our bucket list and even add a few new things to it. In Normandy, we stayed at a perfectly located hotel, Villa Lara, which is owned and managed by a family. The rooms were comfortable, large, and had all the bells and whistles you could want. From Bayeux, we took a D-Day tour with a guide who had interviewed veterans of WW2, as well as people living in the area, and amassed a collection of stories that make the sites come alive and give you a more intimate connection to the events. Another guide, Giselle, who hails from Brazil but came to France as a college student at the Sorbonne and has a doctorate in history, made Mont St Michel so interesting. We learned about the medical texts that were amassed there during the time of the abbey and how this knowledge was lost in the French Revolution when much was burned and destroyed. We saw the tides and Giselle shared stories of how she has twice had to call for helicopters to rescue people.
From Normandy, we arrived in Beaune in Burgundy. Here we stayed at the Hotel Le Cep. The hotel upgraded us to an executive room with a large balcony. The room was large and comfortable, albeit a bit dated, and could use a new mattress but exuded that old-world charm. The location was perfect. In Beaune we met Brendan, a Brit who has been living in France for over 30 years. He started as a barge captain and has since become an expert on the wines of France. He has personal relationships with numerous wineries large and small. We saw the famous vineyards of Romanée-Conti and visited other vineyards and wineries. We mostly had tastings with smaller family houses that do not export to the U.S. We sat with family members tasting 5-15 different wines at each house. Each afternoon we were treated to a picnic consisting of local charcuterie and wine in a beautiful spot. At Domaine Daniel Séguinot et Filles, we sat at the table with the family and the bottlers who came in their special truck to bottle last year’s wine. Daniel is quite the character who kept bringing different wines, from premier cru to village appellation and different vintages. In between our wine tasting adventures, Brendan took us to historical places and UNESCO sites. We even visited a Roman bridge from over 2,000 years ago. We then moved north to Chablis and stayed at Chateau Vault De Lugny, a family-run hotel with a one-starred Michelin restaurant on site. Breakfast is basic and offers no hot dishes. This hotel is isolated and would require a car to get to town. We opted to bring in sandwiches for our second night, as we didn’t want to eat from the same prix-fixe menu twice. The grounds were beautiful and the room large. We would not recommend this hotel to anyone with trouble walking, as even entering the bathroom required climbing stairs. From this location, we continued with Brendan and visited other family wineries and learned about the northern wines of Burgundy. We left feeling knowledgeable and with a better understanding of wine in general. Mostly we left with a huge appreciation of the families who have inherited and continue this vocation steeped in history, hard work, and a bit of the magic that the land gives to each vineyard, depending on where they are located.
We then had a driver take us to Paris to finish our honeymoon. We had planned this portion ourselves but were surprised with a WOW Moment: We were picked up and driven to a lovely afternoon cruise of the Seine, dining on a 3-course meal with a wine pairing from Alain Ducasse. It was a wonderful treat as we dined on gourmet food and wonderful wine, and cruised past some of Paris’ iconic sites.
There were some communication gaps in the planning process and a few hiccups on the ground, but Phillip did a great job combining our interests in history, culture, art, wine, and food.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had the pleasure of working with Philip and Julie for 2 1/2 years due to COVID. Both were easy to work with and very accommodating as things evolved. We originally approached Philip about a tour after our cruise on the Savoir Vivre. He and Julie proposed a tour of Northern Burgundy to complement our cruise through Southern Burgundy. When COVID came we postponed everything twice. Once we were scheduled for 2022 we asked them to plan a pre-cruise tour. They proposed several days in the Champagne region.
We landed at CDG and were escorted through customs. The US airlines are having operational issues. Our connecting flight was delayed so we missed our flight to CDG. Our driver, Thomas, had texted me his phone number so I called and left him a late night voice mail giving him our new flight information. I also emailed Julie with the same info. When we arrived at CDG I had a text from Thomas and an email from Julie confirming the new times. Our “meet and greet” escort was at the gate and was an excellent escort. When our luggage had not arrived he quickly put us in touch with an Air France supervisor who handled everything.
Thomas was waiting for us and took us to Reims by way of Chateau Thierry. He was a great driver and guide. Fiona, who was delightful, met us and we toured several Champagne houses as well as Reims Cathedral and a morning cruise. Fabian filled in one afternoon and Frederick delivered us to the barge on Sunday. Both did great jobs. Julie stayed in touch with us on the luggage in case we would need to have it delivered to the barge. We did not but her attention was very reassuring.
Our Northern Burgundy experience was delightful also. We were picked up Saturday morning at the barge mooring and we toured several villages with Brendan, who was our guide in Northern Burgundy. He did a wonderful job also. He was very knowledgeable and well connected. We were based in Chablis and definitely developed a taste for it. Sadly we had to leave. Patrick delivered us to the airport and had coordinated with our “Meet and Greet” escort who saw us through the airport.
We appreciate all that was done for us and highly recommend Philip’s crew.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL For our first major trip since Covid, France was a perfect destination. We had been to Paris a number of times in the past, but we had never explored the South of France or the French Riviera to any extent. What made this trip so special was having knowledgeable guides who would give us the background for what we were seeing. With guides lined up daily to show us the highlights of the area, there was structure for our days. After ten days in Paris we took the amazingly fast TGV train to Avignon, where we explored the South of France. We were there for five nights before heading to the Riviera. We had wanted to explore the coast hotels as well as some of the villages in the surrounding area. After five nights there our tour company recommended that we travel north again and spend our last night in Chantilly because of its convenience to CDG airport. That turned out to be very good advice. Everything about the trip was perfect! What stands out about the experience is the quality of the guides. Knowledgeable guides who were fluent in English make a big difference in the enjoyment of each day. Also, the quality of the hotels was impressive. We knew some of the important highlights in the City of Paris which we wanted to explore, but we knew very little about the South of France. Our tour company had specialists in the areas where we were traveling, so we relied on them to guide us in the selection process. Sorting out our preferences and fine tuning our selections seemed tedious at times, but our tour company was very quick to respond to our questions and assisting us in making decisions.
Traveling can be done on a shoestring, which is not the case when one selects a tour company. However, I feel the benefits of using a good tour company definitely justify the added costs.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Philip and his team planned the most incredible 3-week vacation for our honeymoon! Everything exceeded our expectations and we could not be more thrilled. Every hotel was unique and luxurious with fabulous accommodations and staff. We had several walking tours and wine tours, all of which were fantastic. The guides for each tour were extremely friendly and knowledgable. The overall itinerary was perfectly planned–we felt as though we had enough time in each city and we had a good combination of activities planned versus down time. The hotels chosen for us all had very delicious restaurants attached–some Michelin-rated.
Overall, our time traveling was seamless and without any road bumps. I greatly appreciate all the hard work Philip’s office put into planning our trip. They were flexible with altering the itinerary until it met our exact needs. The app they used for our itinerary was also extremely helpful! They went above and beyond to provide driving directions to each hotel and activity as well. This truly deserved 5 stars. Thank you!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I cannot say enough great things about Philip, and our constant contact Evane! And even our Paris contact, Sarah! We always had someone readily available throughout our 5-week trip for any questions, concerns or changes we wanted to make!
We decided on a last minute trip to France, and Philip was more than up to the task by scheduling a zoom call to discuss everything we wanted for our trip. We gave them no easy task with a month’s notice to plan a trip starting on February 26th to March 22nd, and then surprising them by adding another week (with only a week’s notice) while we were on the trip!
They created a perfect itinerary for us. We had never been to France and were overwhelmed with all that France had to offer. We didn’t know what to expect or what would be best to see during that time of year so all their suggestions and planning were invaluable to us. It felt like most places were all to ourselves, due to their impeccable planning during the off-season. Particularly scheduling our skiing after all the French school breaks, something we would have no idea about if we planned the trip ourselves. They sent us plenty of options for hotels, mostly 5-star and some 4-star, when the hotel was on par to any 5-star accommodation or the location was too cool to pass up. They gave us a plethora of options while steering us in the right direction since we wanted to stay in some more off-the-beaten path towns and some in more central locations, helping us decide which would be best in all of our destinations. Some of our hotels even gave us upgrades for both rooms, while making sure our rooms were adjoining or close to each other. All in all, we stayed in Paris for a few days three times and they made sure to put us in a new arrondissement each time so we could see as much of Paris as we could. Philip, Evane, and Sarah were truly so patient and accommodating dealing with all of us.
At first, we were a little hesitant to travel but we were more than ready to pack our bags for over a month and finally go somewhere! Philip made sure to tell us what the current situation was in France and made us feel way more at ease about going to a different country during this time. Now looking back, I don’t even know why we were worried because it was such an easy process to get the vaccination pass on our phone or a test at a pharmacy. Only once did covid come up during our entire trip, when Sarah immediately contacted us about our previous guide testing positive so we all took a test with luckily negative results. She was so prompt to keep us informed and made sure we got tested immediately. In terms of covid, we felt safer in France than here in the States.
We wanted to do a road trip around France so we could see as much as we could while still having a few days in each place to relax. Philip and Evane mapped out some smaller and cool towns that we could stop at while on our drives. They literally provided us a Google map with all the stops and drive times. They provided great lunch suggestions for us to eat at in each stop, and my dad’s favorite was in Dolceacqua overlooking one of the bridges that Monet painted while on our way from Fossano to St Paul de Vence. We have driven in a handful of other countries but we didn’t know what to expect driving in France, and through the mountains with potential snow, etc. Philip and Evane advised us on what parts of the trip would be best to drive ourselves and what areas would have lots of traffic or any headaches, etc. so it would be best to have a driver. I cannot thank them enough for those recommendations and it definitely added to our smooth trip.
We had a few days in Paris to adjust to the time change before going to Champagne, where they arranged a private visit to Veuve Clicquot. Then we drove to Chamonix, where Evane arranged for a private ski guide that was invaluable as we would have never been able to ski as much of the mountain as we did and go to all the best spots to view the Alps and Mont Blanc. Also, it was so helpful because we have some skiers and snowboarders in the family so we were able to bypass any long flat parts that might make it difficult for any of us snowboarders.
Philip and Evane even added the Piedmont region in Italy (a small addition they included since I told them how much my dad loved Italy and us being so close by), filling our time there with lots of Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Then we drove to Nice but stayed in smaller St Paul de Vence with day trips around to see Eze, Monaco, Antibes, and all the spots along the Riviera.
Eventually worked our way to Provence and went around the region with William, our fantastic guide. Finishing off with a few days in Paris but adding some time in-between up in Normandy before leaving from CDG.
I cannot say enough about how much we loved our guides all throughout our trip. Sebastien in Lyon, took us to his family-owned winery in the Beaujolais and a private demonstration of weaving in Lyon. In Provence, I don’t think my family can say enough nice things about William. He went above and beyond to make sure our packages got shipped back to the U.S. and along with our hotel, found the best option that would not be outrageously expensive. Marie Ange was everything Google and the Internet could only tell you after some seriously extensive research on Paris. My sister and I are so thankful for her knowledge of vintage stores in Paris and helping us bargain at the flea market. Diane was absolutely amazing and told us everything and anything about Normandy. Nothing was lost in translation because she was an American living in France – made it very easy for us to walk away with all the knowledge we had hoped for when visiting the beaches and important sites. I cannot recommend any of these guides enough, and thank you to Philip and his team for being able to get such amazing guides for us our whole time there! They really made the trip surpass all of our expectations.
We had a decent amount of last minute additions and decisions, and they did not hesitate to respond as soon as possible to accommodate all our requests and needs. My sister decided later on that she was going to join us in France, and Evane amended the entire itinerary to accommodate all of us. This also included us changing our flights while we were there and her making all the necessary changes to our itinerary. We also loved France so much that we decided to extend the trip another week! Giving Sarah, our Paris contact, only a week to plan an adventure up to Normandy and a few days in Paris. Honestly, we owe Sarah (and Evane) our lives! She looked up every hotel in Paris because it was beginning to be the high season in the city and everything (literally) was booked up. She did not hesitate to find us the best 5-star options in a location we had yet to stay in without a crazy price tag.
We are beyond thankful to Wendy for putting us in contact with Philip and cannot wait to go back. Without a doubt we will be contacting Philip next time. It was a trip of a lifetime where it never felt like too much time in each destination but it will always never be enough! Thank you for making us fall in love with France!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My wife and I took a long awaited celebration of our 25th Anniversary and our 50th Birthdays to Provence, France April 15-23. Philip planned a terrific trip which wound up being one of the best weeks of our entire lives! He listened very carefully to our list of wants and desires and the result was a perfectly paced yet action-packed week. We visited wineries, explored several old and charming towns, ate in 3-Michelin-star restaurants as well as fantastic low key cafes, shopped and took a hike in the footsteps of Van Gogh. We have fallen in love with Provence and will definitely going back. I am looking forward to seeing Philip’s plan for your next trip there!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL In the midst of Covid uncertainty but dying to get back to international travel, two friends and I decided to plan and book a relatively last-minute trip to France in September 2021. We are all seasoned and typically pretty independent travelers, but decided that the additional complications of pandemic travel warranted getting some help with this trip. Philip and his team were great in reconciling our different wants and budgets to quickly put together a trip that all three of us loved, and patient with our multiple itinerary revisions. We were originally planning to just focus on Provence, but when we said we’d be open to adding a few days elsewhere, Philip suggested we also add a few days in Lyon, which we did, and which was a highlight of our trip – our guide Sebastien was great and we really enjoyed our time with him both in Lyon itself and the visit to his family’s winery in Beaujolais, as well as his fantastic restaurant recommendations – he had connections everywhere, including getting us a last minute table at his friend’s Michelin-starred restaurant, which was probably the most memorable meal of our trip. Patrick, our guide in Provence, was great as well, and we really felt that we were able to see quite a bit of Provence in a week and were well taken care of (though we definitely got the sense, after hearing some of Patrick’s stories, that we certainly fell on the lower budgetary end of the travelers they are typically guiding!). We also really enjoyed all of the hotels, especially the apartment at La Divine Comedie in Avignon that was both stunning and a good solution for all three of us to have our own space for a few nights, and the Villa Saint Ange in Aix, which was such a gorgeous, quintessential Provencal hotel.
We felt safe everywhere we traveled in France – we spent a few days before our tour started in Paris, and obtained Pass Sanitaires at a pharmacy there (we were unable to secure them through the online request system, which had just started before our departure), which we were required to show at virtually every attraction, restaurant, etc. that we visited. In addition, at the time we visited, case numbers were lower in France than in the US, and we were mostly outdoors (and found most people to be wearing masks indoors or in crowded markets). All of our guides volunteered that they were vaccinated (as we all were as well). Getting the Covid test for our return to the US turned out to be as simple as stopping by a pharmacy tent in Aix-en-Provence to get swabbed and coming back 10 minutes later to receive our results and pay. All in all, it was a very welcome return to travel and a trip that we would definitely take again.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I booked a very special trip, our honeymoon, with Phillip Haslett this past December. We wanted to do a road trip through Europe. Our trip consisted of multiple moving parts, and Phillip helped give us the honeymoon of our dreams. He was there for us to help guide us with COVID necessities and shared his expertise on each place. My husband and I wanted to enjoy romantic, luxurious hotels, and every single one Phillip booked was incredible. What was so nice was he made sure each was different as not to compete with each other. Each time we arrived at a new place we both could not stop smiling and saying “Wow”!
We started off in Geneva, Switzerland where we kicked off our trip with a Christmas market that was across the street from our hotel. Our next stop was Gastaad, which felt like a winter wonderland. After that we drove to Chamonix, where we stayed in what was my husband’s dream spot at the top of Mount Blanc. It was truly something, we had to take the most charming red train to get to our hotel. The stars there were unlike we had ever seen. After Chamonix we drove to Fossano, Italy, where we visited a castle and stayed in a suite that felt as if we were in an old Italian romance novel. Next, we went to Monte Carlo, where our hotel key gave us access to the Monte Carlo Country Club. My husband is an avid tennis fan and this was really special for us. We enjoyed the famous American Bar, and the people of Monte Carlo couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming. We stayed on the top floor and had the most incredible view of the city and water. We even were across from Rafa Nadal’s suite. Following Monte Carlo we went to St Paul de Vance where we relaxed in a spa hotel with a Mediterranean influence. Our trip’s pace started to slow down a bit on this second half which was really nice. Phillip was able to get us reservations for meals at some exceptional places. Next was Aix in Provence where we stayed at a dreamy chateau. After that we went to Avignon where we stayed across from the Pope’s Palace. It felt as if we were in a castle. We had a car and it was very difficult driving through the narrow roads, but we made it and it was a fun part to look back on. We ended our trip in Paris on New Years Eve. It was a trip of a lifetime and we both were thrilled with our experience.
Covid wise, travelers do need to have their proof of vaccination. We had to get a Covid Passport, which was relatively easy to do. Pretty much every place we went to asked to see our Covid Passport upon entry. Getting a COVID test prior to return was a bit tricky. It all worked out but because we needed to have a rapid test 24 hours before arrival the timing was tough. We were traveling to Paris from Avignon on the high speed train, and it was New Years Eve, which meant many pharmacies closed early. We had to get our test in Paris to meet the 24 hour requirement. Thankfully we found a pharmacy that would do it, but it did take up almost 2 hours of our night. To enter Switzerland we needed an Entry Pass filled out beforehand, and it was a bit confusing and difficult to do. Phillip was easy to get a hold of, made some phone calls, and helped us with the process. It was the middle of December and things were rapidly changing again; we felt confident in Phillip and he was a huge help to us.
I don’t think we could have planned such a remarkable trip without Phillip’s help, knowledge, and expertise. We had just planned our destination wedding and were a bit planned out. We wanted something to remember forever, that would blow us both away. This trip delivered and then some. He gave us a multitude of options and listened to what we wanted. We felt he was also very honest, upfront, and informative. We are so grateful for your recommendation, and look forward to booking another trip in the future! Thank you so much!!
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!
For a travel solution tailored to your trip goals and preferences, click this green box.
I’m not a travel agent—I’m a journalist who has spent the past 30 years reporting on how to travel smarter. To maximize your experience, click to Ask Wendy for a personalized recommendation for trip ideas and custom-trip designers, tailored to your location and preferences.