LET ME PLAN YOUR TRIP

I'm often asked if I can help people plan their trips to--and travel within--Provence. The answer is...with pleasure! Here are some of the services that I can provide...followed by some praise from recent clients.

*After an email or phone chat about your travel hopes, dreams and fears, I can provide a detailed but flexible itinerary for you, your family, your group or your clients. I call this a Trip Planner and it's a series of suggested days out, based on your interests and energy level and location. Each Day Out contains my best suggestions and ideas for what to do in that particular city or region...in one day.

* Hotel suggestions or villa rental options based on your preferences and budget.

* Detailed information on hotel room categories, pricing and availability for your dates. I'm also happy to help with the booking itself. 

*Restaurant suggestions for the cities and villages you'll be visiting.

*Help with restaurant booking as needed, during your time in Provence.

*My best tour guide recommendations for wine touring, general touring, foodie touring, etc.--if you want them.

* Airport and train station pick up and drop off...along with all other types of transportation.

* Meet and greet upon arrival. We'll get together over a coffee or a drink, spread out the maps, discuss your plans and answer any questions you may have.

* Discussion and booking of activities. For example:

* Food Tours. Many of my clients want to experience the sun-drenched ingredients and cuisine for which Provence is known...but don't know where to begin. I offer guided food tours, during which you can see many artisan products being made. Your tour might include visits to chocolatiers, honey makers, a macaron bakery, a confit fruit maker, a confiture studio, outdoor markets, olive mills, wineries, a truffle plantation, a goat farm, garden visits, a cooking or baking class...and more! Book a tour of any length...a day...a week...  

Other activity options include cooking classes, a pastry making workshop, market tours, picnics, wine tours, horseback riding, sculpture and jewelry-making workshops, lavender day trips, kayak trips, antiquing day trips, walking tours in the larger cities, car tours throughout the region, pony rides, a boules/petanque lesson and game with a local...and much more. 

* Help as needed while you're in Provence. By this I mean: if you have questions, problems, etc., you call or email me and I help. I've been told by previous clients that this information has been priceless. What sort of questions might you have?  Here are a few examples of some asked by recent clients:

-Where can we take our grandchildren horseback riding tomorrow? Can you book it for us?
-We need a private chef. Who do you recommend?
-We'd love someone to prepare and drop off a meal at our villa. Is it possible?
-Which village has the best market tomorrow?
-Where should we park in Isle sur la Sorgue?
-Can we get a pizza delivered in St. Remy? 
-How much is dinner at Jean-Luc Rabanel in Arles?
-How much is lunch at the Bistro du Paradou?
-We have a free day. What's on tomorrow?
-What are the best vineyards to visit in or near St. Remy?
-How much time do we need at the Palais des Papes?
-Where can we take a cooking class?
-What are the best wineries to tour near Chateauneuf du Papes?
-Where can we visit a goat farm and taste goat cheese?
-Can we tour an olive oil mill?
-Is Marseille dangerous?
-Can we take a boat ride somewhere?
-Is it worth it to pay a wine guide for the day?
-Where can we see the best lavender?
-Should we drive in or walk to the market? Where to park?
-Where is the best wine shop in Avignon?
-Where can we rent electric bikes?
-Where can we get a massage?
-Are there any Michelin three-star restaurants around?
-Is there a gas station open late in the evening?
-Where's the best place to change money?

If there are other things you'd like me to provide in addition to these services, of course I'm happy to discuss them.  For example, a number of recent clients have requested ''escorted'' vacations, meaning that I or one of my guides spends most of the day, most or all of your travel days, with you or your group.

So how do I charge? Based on your needs, I'll quote you a flat fee and clearly outline what that fee includes. As we move forward and you find you need additional help, we'll come up with a fee that works for both of us.

Or, if you think you just need a couple phone calls and a couple emails back and forth, I'm happy to quote you an hourly rate.

I've lived in Provence for 13 years and trust me, I've made all the mistakes! So let's get going and plan a wonderful, stress-free, joy-filled trip for you!

But first,  a few words from some satisfied clients: 
"We just got back from Provence last night and wanted to say a big thank you to you for helping out with our trip...for responding to all my queries...recommending restaurants and things to do...for organizing the baking class, etc. The kids absolutely enjoyed the baking and brought home so many goodies-- t was just amazing! The Wednesday market was absolutely lovely - I can only imagine how bountiful it must be during the late spring and summer months. The best part was the people - I speak broken French and the vendors and shoppers went out of their way to help me and guide me. We have fallen in love with Provence and do hope to go back this Fall. I will be in touch with you over the summer to plan!  Thank you...you really went  out of your way for us!" --Sheetal Mehta-Karia, Toronto, March 2014. 

“There have been psychological research studies that show that planning a trip and anticipating it can be just as pleasurable as the trip itself. I think those people had you planning their trips! *We knew that we wanted to visit Provence…but that was all we knew. Your idea to use St. Remy as our “home base” was perfect. Driving into St. Remy, we immediately were struck by its charm: the beautiful oak trees lining the road, the cobble stone streets, the dirt roads on our way to the hotel. The small-town feel gave us the sense that we were getting to know the area, not just visiting for a mere week!  I cannot rave enough about our hotel..we wished we could stay forever!  The property was GORGEOUS, the staff so professional and helpful, the restaurant so delicious!  We ate there two nights in a row because we didn’t want to miss a night there!  It was so romantic and peaceful. *We did a full day in the Luberon, using the route you mapped out for us and it was amazing. The restaurant you sent us to for lunch was perfect…exactly what I dreamed about when I first thought of Provence! The setting was beautiful and the food was so simple and fresh…but special. We sat outside overlooking the vineyard and you were right…the rosé tasted even better because we were eating among the vines that grew the grapes! *Our hotel in Aix was also very beautiful and so much fun. Very different from our hotel in St. Remy and it was great to have two different experiences. Sophie the owner took wonderful care of us, helping us with parking, greeting us with lemonade, maps and offers to make dinner reservations for us at her favorite spots. * The private guide you recommended for us and the day you arranged in Cassis…well it was exceptional, perfect, we loved it!  He was such a pleasure to be with--so pleasant and positive, easy going and knowledgeable.  Really loved being with him. He picked us up in Aix and we had a great lunch together by the port in Cassis, then we took a little boat and explored the Calanques.  And we drove back to Aix through Marseille, which was fun and interesting. I was so happy we decided to do this day with this guide! * I could go on and on…this trip was everything we dreamed of and more. You were so unbelievably patient with us, answering my millions of questions, picking great restaurants, just being so helpful from beginning to end. There’s simply no way we could have ever planned this trip on our own. Thank you, thank you, thank you! * I printed out and clipped together your trip planner in a nice little packet before I left and it’s now stained and earmarked and all beaten up…a wonderful souvenir. We simply can’t wait to come back to Provence…we see now why you went there and never left. We’re in love!”—R. Fishman, New York City.

“First and foremost for us was the importance of having a trip planner with a broad base of knowledge but also the ability to quickly grasp of "who" we are, what we wanted to do on this trip and what we could actually do. There were so many things to consider! But Julie’s ability to quickly understand that she was dealing with neophytes who were interested in many things, but with limited time--and who were  physically in the "elder" category-- was extraordinary. She offered us a fantastic range of activities, in her custom-designed trip planner as well as in-depth information by phone and email about the places she thought we could and should visit. In no time,  Bob and I felt like we had a good friend who understood us completely.  She recommended restaurants she liked and even what to eat at them. She took a very personal approach to our trip.  She knew just the right hotels for us, taking into consideration my physical limitations, and even went to check-out a hotel room she wasn't sure about. That's who she is.  Julie knows wonderful tour guides who can and will do everything for you, from picking you up at the airport to sitting over coffee with you in the morning revising your daily tour plan when you wake up a bit tired. She draws those kinds of considerate, smart, energetic people into her cadre of resources and she will make those connections and arrangements for you too. Julie took a job that I was not looking forward to doing, with my little knowledge of Provence, and made both the planning and the trip a great experience we'll never forget.  By the time we arrived in Provence, Julie seemed like family. Now that the trip is over, rereading all the info and suggestions Julie made prior to our trip brings back my fondness for her and her sense of humor – her personality shines forth on every page.  She made the whole experience so much more than another tourist tour of Provence!” --Patti & Bob Hoffman, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

"Huge shout-out to Julie -- for both her travel planning services and her blog, Provence Post. While we've been to Provence many times, our most recent trip (with three teenagers) was enhanced by Julie's meticulous attention to detail, great suggestions, network of resources, expert planning and deep knowledge of the unique features of the area.  She really listened to what each of us wanted and helped us find the perfect mix of food, wine, local customs (such as bull festivals in St Remy), running trails, hikes, kayak adventures, an unforgettable special dinner with a chef, history, markets, accommodations and charm.  Julie also offers "a la carte" experiences via the Provence Post that are unique and personal. Not to mention, she's absolutely delightful to work with and clearly well-respected by her vast network of resources.  It felt like we were planning the trip with an old friend who knew us and the area!"--Peggy Shukur, Boston, MA.

''Julie, your help with hotel booking was so appreciated...and I love the Provence 101 guide you created for us. I’ve been reading a few guide books, but nothing compares to this!  I’m so glad I found you.''--Danielle Kleinrichert, Charlotte, NC.

''Julie is an amazing find! She is a cornucopia of connections and great ideas that reflect her many years of living in Provence. Julie has cultivated an exquisite network of people who love what they do and love sharing it with us lucky visitors. Recently a friend and I stayed in a beautiful villa in St. Remy de Provence (called "Provence Paradise"), thanks to Julie. In the course of a week, we toured Arles, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Les Baux, the Luberon and numerous markets. We enjoyed fantastic gourmet meals, including a gourmet food tour in Aix. (Magnifique!) All of these wonderful experiences were orchestrated by Julie. She is efficient, available and attentive and always was able to steer us in the right direction. We knew that no matter what the need, Julie was there for us. We enjoyed an amazing week in Provence. Julie, merci mille fois!!''--Diane M. Aramony, New York, NY.

''What an amazing service Julie provides! I was delighted to have stumbled upon her website whilst planning our upcoming holiday to France. Organising accommodation in an unfamiliar region can be a daunting prospect so it was wonderful to be able to find such a knowledgable courteous and friendly person.Julie was quite extraordinary assisting with our plans - nothing was too much trouble! I was most impressed by not only the array of excellent options she presented but the speed and efficiency with which she responded to my request. Julie clearly invests a lot of time developing contacts and relationships in the region and I would recommend her services to anyone who wants an experienced and savvy hand sourcing quality accommodation and advice.''--Jill Spargo, Melbourne,
Australia.

"Do yourself a favor....If you are hunting for help in planning a trip to Provence, look no further than Julie. We just spent 10 days in Provence and area, and I can tell you first-hand that Julie Mautner is the go-to expert on Provence. We shared some great emails and phone conversations and her ideas were all outstanding. This included the recent Transhumance fete in St Remy which was a total hoot, as described on her blog. I mean c'mon, what's not to love about watching 5000 sheep stampeding past you in a charming village square??!! Unfortunately we did not have to chance to meet up face to face, but we will certainly be back to France and hopefully can meet Julie next time. She has the energy, passion, ideas, and of course, the bible on where to eat. Here is a person who has found her calling and continues to tirelessly build her knowledge of the area while having complete understanding on the 'art of lunch'. A bientot Julie--miss you already girl!'' --David and Lori Wilson , Oakville Ont. CANADA.

''My family and I just returned from the most fun, interesting, relaxing, inspiring trip to Provence.  One of our best trips ever.  Five months ago I was daunted by the prospect of planning this trip, which was to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday. Do we rent a villa? Where? What if it's not great? Or do we stay in hotels?  What towns should we stay in? The internet is overwhelming and I was getting nowhere - even though I had planned many trips over the years, this one was proving a big challenge. Then I had the great fortune of meeting Julie. Really, I never meet people like Julie. You won't find anyone better, more knowledgable, funny, hard working, caring, creative, resourceful, generous and responsive. It's taken me a week to write this recommendation because there are so many great things I have to say about Julie that I could write five paragraphs.  Instead, why not call call or email me. Or, just hire Julie. She'll be the best investment you'll make in your trip.’’--Julie Carabello, Ross, California, julie@carabellodecor.com.

''Thank you so much Julie for being such an amazing font of info on all things Provence!  It was wonderful to have your input, from the earliest planning stages of our trip to Provence right through to chatting about details once we were there. When we started planning this trip, I didn’t know where to begin in terms of where to rent a villa...I knew very little about the geography of the region. So to get a quick crash course in the geography of Provence from you...and your input on which regions might be better than others...and then to have you provide us with our own man-on-the-ground to do site inspections of the villas we were considering... that was priceless! Provence is such a big region...with so much to see and do...it really seemed almost impossible to plan a holiday from the other side of the world. You managed to break it down into an understandable format, which allowed us to still make our own choices and at the same time, experience so much of what we wanted (and more) in the relatively short time we had in Provence. From our personal tour guide (we adored Philippe), to our private market tour and dinner cooked for us in our villa by the wonderful chef, to the extraordinary suggestions you made for activities we may never have been aware of otherwise...we had a blast. We were in awe of your knowledge. To simply say thank you doesn’t seem to cover it but thank you!!!  Your willingness to help, phone calls before and during the trip and constant readiness to answer any queries made us feel so welcome and so much like we were part of your French family...I can’t tell you how it made our trip to Provence unforgettable. We can’t wait to return and look forward to planning our next trip with you!  Meanwhile we will be recommending everyone we know who is going to Provence to get in touch in order to turn a great trip into an truly extraordinary one!''--Wendy Docherty, Sydney, Australia.

''THANK YOU so much for everything that you did for us...from giving us insight into Provence during our early planning, to helping direct us to a base hotel, to connecting us with two great knowledgeable guides (Philippe and Kelly), and sharing all of your favorite places to visit and restaurants.  It shaved so much time off of our planning and allowed us to fully enjoy our limited time in Provence. We saw and experienced so much and it was mostly thanks to your advice. St. Remy was the perfect base and a charming town with so much to offer. We miss it already! But each village was unique and the food at the most-casual restaurants was as delicious as that from the most posh that we visited. We loved the market at L'Isle Sur la Sorgue...and the day touring the Luberon was wonderful as it gave us a high-level view of the differences between the quaint villages. I’m also really glad we got to see Lacoste, which we may not have visited without Philippe. He was a Godsend and touring with him was wonderful! While knowing French is not required to travel in Provence, it certainly was helpful that Philippe could help us communicate in restaurants, with shop keepers and at the market. He really became a friend. I wouldn’t have missed anything we saw. So thank you for everything you did to help make our first trip to Provence unforgettable. I’ll definitely share your contact info with friends or family traveling to Provence. And, we’ll be in touch before our next trip...I think we will rent a villa and give that experience a try. We loved the area and cannot wait to return!''—Dana Haskins, Chicago.

"Julie had me at Bonjour! What fun it is to contemplate a trip to Provence. But I had no idea that the planning would be as enjoyable and productive as it turned out to be. I thought long and hard about how to describe to Julie my husband and my ideal plans for our holiday; Julie masterfully asked a few questions to fine tune our needs and wants, and voila we were able to get the details right. After several emails, Julie then proposed that we speak by phone to look more closely at our itinerary. With maps in front of us, separated by a few thousand miles, it was as if she was my new best friend and we were easily and comfortably and most important, capably, discussing our routes, our hotels, and our plans for the region. The very best part of working with Julie is that she suggests so many things to do and places to visit that I never thought or heard of. My husband and I hope we aren't wearing out our welcome by our constant emails. But honestly, reading her responses to our questions are the highlight of my day!" --Naomi Rayman and Marty Rayman, Kentfield, California.

"I'm an American travel agent and tour operator living in Tuscany...an expert on Italian travel. So when my clients asked me to design a trip for them to Provence, I hired Julie to help me arrange it. Then, another group of clients also asked me to plan a Provence tour for them as well. I couldn't have done this without Julie's help. Her knowledge, experience and contacts are widespread and wonderful. She knows the best hotels, restaurants, chefs, shops, vineyards, historic sites, guides--at all price ranges. She also knows interesting locals and out of the way places, providing us with experiences that typical tourists would never have. Her insider tips make all the difference and have saved me an enormous amount of time. Julie is a wordsmith extraordinaire and the travel brochures she created for us are extremely inviting and well written. I plan to work with Julie for years to come."--Pamela Mercer, TuscanyTours.com. 

"I found Julie's site while researching my short 5 day trip to the South of France. She replied almost immediately to my cry for help. I did not have a clue on how to maximize my stay. We e-mailed each other back and forth for weeks until I knew exactly what my wife and I were going to do. She was a cornucopia of knowledge on Provence and the South of France. She even ended up  booking my hotel for me. She also provided names and phone numbers of biking companies and personal guides. We took advantage of the bike tour and rented bikes in Rousillion. They have awesome trails through Luberon and the lavender fields. I would highly recommend this if you are a cycling enthusiast. And Julie was like having your own personal travel agent. She spent a lot of her precious time and  effort helping me. I would highly highly recommend using Julie if you are planning a trip to Provence and the South of France. Please feel free to email me if you want to speak with me." --John Plouffe, Naperville, Illinois, jplorene@aol.com. 

"My wife and I rented a house in St Remy for the month of January, 2012. We arrived with our 18 year old granddaughter and her best friend, who were staying the first 12 days. Upon meeting our landlord, I asked her (a charming Brit!) if she knew of any folks who did wine tours. She said she knew someone who knew "everything about the region" and said she'd ask her to call. Julie called that evening and gave me two names who did wine tours and if they didn't work out she had more. Julie then asked if we wanted her to suggest some places to visit. That started our friendship with Julie. She is wonderful!!  She knows everything and everybody in St Remy and the local area around it.  After a number of calls and emails, she made time to have lunch with the four of us.  She is delightful, smart and just fun to be with!! Our trip was a great success due in large part to Julie !!!" -- Jim and Bev Clancy, Rydal, Pennsylvania.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Julie Mautner
juliemautner@aol.com

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