If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.

–African Proverb

I used to take great pride in the adventures I planned and executed alone. I didn’t have much patience for group travel. But with age, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of a group (if it’s small). In every group adventure I’ve ever joined, I’ve been surprised by how much I grew, by how far the group led me.

It’s those experiences that inspired me to launch Real Travel France where I lead intimate group bicycle tours. I wanted to share the riches of the region in France where I live, and I wanted to do it in a personal way.

So who else appreciates small group adventures? All kinds of personalities from all walks of life, it turns out—one of the elements that make Real Travel France tours so unique. Not only do participants get to experience the real south of France by bike, but they can be influenced by other adventurers exploring along with them. It’s true, other people can sometimes distract, but they can also deepen our take on things. Others’ enthusiasm or difficulties tend to enrich or lend a greater perspective to our own.

But to be honest, the group dynamic is a surprising bonus to most. A lot of folks join group adventures purely for practicality. It’s no secret that anybody can plan their own bicycle trip. However, as one of my yoga teachers once told me, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I know how to change the oil in my car, but I prefer to take it to the village garagiste because I believe my skills are better put to use elsewhere. For bike touring in French Catalonia, I’m the specialist on the ground freeing your skills up for other realms.

Some participants join our tours because they’ve already been to the tourist sites in Paris or made a whirlwind tour of the beaches of Normandy, and they want to dig deeper. Which definitely happens here in la France profonde (deep France), where farmers and villagers go about their lives with no concern for tourists. Because this region isn’t the famed French Riviera or world-class Bordeaux, the people we meet on tour are everyday residents sharing their family wine bottles or cheese so local you won’t find it beyond the neighborhood market.

Which leads me to another sort of real traveler—food hounds. Anyone interested in the origins of food is usually interested in the French way of doing things. I used to own and run a small organic restaurant that kicked off years of learning about food. I’m naturally curious about where food comes from, and the tours I organize in France reflect this. Each day we visit at least one local, organic producer of olive oil, sheep cheese, almonds, wine, bread and more. I introduce riders to my friends and neighbors, some of whom aren’t normally open to visitors. We get a real taste of France and that’s why those interested in food and France love touring with me.

And then others sign up because they simply want the support of a led tour. Maybe the idea of getting around without a foreign language is intimidating, or they’ve never ventured out on their own by bike. No matter how seasoned you are, traveling in a new place always comes with bumps in the road. Some people thrive on those bumps, others prefer support. Having a bi-cultural tour leader makes the bumps a little less painful. And I’m happy to ease the pain for those happy to have the help.

Hope to see you on a tour real soon.