This is my home ground -- I was born in Provence and grew up here. My wife Stéphanie is from this area too, and we have a son called Antoine who is 1 year old.
After studying in Marseille and in Paris I went to work for the French Embassy in Nairobi where I was in charge of the French Cultural Center. Living in Kenya was a great experience for both of us. Quite a bit of my life has been spent travelling; as well as Kenya, I’ve spent time in Tanzania, Ethiopia, India, the Maldives, Morocco, Florida – and closer to home in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and England. I now have my own business providing home management services, and that’s how I got in touch with Hosted Villas. I’ve been a Local Host for four years now.
The greatest challenge about being a Local Host is understanding how the guests really want to spend their time, and then planning things so that they can go home with some fabulous memories and the feeling that they have really discovered a very special region and culture. Most of our guests really appreciate good food and wine and are ready to try out new things, so I like to bring them some really fresh local specialties direct from the producer. They are often amazed at the difference from what they are used to buying in the supermarket! When I hear them say they have never tasted such delicious tomatoes, cherries, grapes, olive oil - I get such a sense of satisfaction!
Usually I recommend the restaurants that have only a few dishes on the menu -- then you know that everything is in season and really fresh. And my perfect day’s agenda would start with a market visit in a pretty village – there are dozens to choose from!
Because I grew up here, I like to take guests to some places off the beaten track where you can still have the sense of the traditional Provence. Too often people want to fill all their time with going to the famous places they have heard of, but really Provence is about taking time to find and to taste the best and the most authentic.
Often on the way home we stop off at a vineyard where the winemaker will chat and explain his best vintages, and the guests can choose some bottles to enjoy when they get back to the house. What better way to end the day than with a cool drink around the pool and a lingering dinner eaten on the starlit terrace among the sounds of nature - that is really Provence!
Of course different guests like different things, and there is such a variety of options in this area that we can always find something they will really appreciate and remember.
And I have some vivid memories of the guests too - I’ll never forget one day on the way home, one of the guests asked her son to get the cell phone to call home to the US, and as she chatted, he told me she was talking to her dogs! That really blew my mind!
This job is full of surprises and I really enjoy meeting so many different people and introducing them to this wonderful place that is my home.