If you’re traveling to the South of France for business or pleasure, or live here all or part of the year, there are bound to be times when you wish you had insider info. Or better still, someone to simply take care of it for you…whether “it” is as small as a restaurant reservation or as big as a wedding or corporate retreat. Et voila: now you do.
Absolutely Southern France is a destination management company providing customized arrangements for travelers seeking unique gourmet, leisure and cultural experiences. Think of it as a personal concierge with the best local knowledge and amazing connections.
The company was founded by Nancy McGee in February 2011, to cater to individuals and groups from all over the world. “I find that no matter who they are or why they come here,” Nancy tells me, “people leave us absolutely enchanted by the colors, flavors and scents of the idyllic villages and traditions of this beautiful area bordering the Mediterranean.”
Nancy grew up in a small Canadian town called Baie Comeau, in the Province of Quebec (her mother is French Canadian; her father was Irish). After university, she went to work for an international organization in Ottawa. When asked to spend a year in France helping to set up a similar UN-funded agency in Marseille, Nancy had only one question before accepting: "Does it snow in Marseille"? She got the answer she wanted--and has been living in the South of France (Nice, Corsica, Aix, Marseille), for 34 years. Today she’s based in Sète (near Montpellier), a town that’s known as “the Venice of France” as it’s bordered by canals on one side and the Mediterranean on the other.
A number of positions in corporate event management and public affairs gave Nancy a comprehensive understanding of the French lifestyle—and an amazing Rolodex. For 15 years she was a member of the AAGP (Anglo American Group of Provence), a 40-year old organization with more than 600 members--which hardly hurt in terms of networking. In February, she launched a similar group, the AGLR or Anglophone Group of Languedoc Roussillon.
Nancy decided to create Absolutely Southern France when saw a very clear niche and knew that she could fill it. She was traveling frequently to Shanghai to visit her daughter, a student there, when she discovered that “the affluent Chinese want to travel and their favorite destination is France,” she remembers. “I knew I could help.”
Then, when she learned that many young Chinese men and women dream of spending a semester or a year studying in France, she put in place a program that allows them to stay with a French family for a week or two and visit a French University.
Today, Chinese and North American travelers remain Nancy’s most loyal customers.
So what can Nancy and her team do for you? The list is long:
* Guide, escort and interpreter referrals and reservations.
* Hotel information, referrals and reservations.
* Car, limo, sailboat, yacht and private jet rentals.
* Airport transfers
* Tickets for shows, concerts, sporting events.
* Sourcing and arrangement of hospitality packages.
* Fine-dining restaurant referrals and reservations.
* Custom excursions to festivals, entertainment and historic sites.
* Referrals and reservations for health clubs, trainers, French language tutors, horseback riding, golf, painting classes, cooking workshops, hair stylists, make-up, etc.
* Shopping info, with or without personal shopper/guide/interpreter.
* Floral arrangement and delivery.
* Wedding and party planning.
* Gift sourcing.
* Business arrangements such as secretarial services.
* Romantic getaways for weddings, proposals, anniversaries, etc. (Examples include a castle, an estate in the vineyards, a hot air balloon, an underground cathedral, a tree house on a luxury estate.)
And if you don’t know exactly what you want? The company offers a number of packages such as “Gourmet,” “Leisure” and “Culture” and will design custom packages based upon those and other themes.
Nancy charges her clients a percentage on top of all services booked. So if you ask her to find you the right wine tour, for example, and it costs €50 euro, she’ll charge you an extra €7.50. It seems like a small price to pay to know you’ll have a wonderful day out with a tested, respected guide.
“Our clients are discerning travelers who want to discover unique destinations in luxury,” she tells me. “They expect top quality service, confidentiality and security. We’re committed to providing the VIP services they deserve.”
Within France: 06 13 23 10 35
Outside France: +33 6 13 23 10 35