Real Travel is about focus. It’s about saying no to doing it all, and doing what you do with your all. It’s about going deeper, staying longer. It’s savoring. It’s paying attention and seeing with all your senses, not just looking with your eyes. It’s a quest for the real, the authentic, the organic. It’s not as simple as simplicity, because real travelers know the longer you linger, the more complex things become.
Real Travel France tours are not about luxury (though there is something innately luxurious in the taste of a vine ripe fruit or an artisan cheese made on the same land where the herd grazes). Rather, they’re about un-insulated travel. That means you won’t be staying in the swankiest (or stuffiest) hotel in town. Instead, innkeepers are sought for their genuineness, their authenticity and their quality of service. You can expect clean, professional accommodations where the basics are done well on the tours I organize.
Real travel doesn’t mean roughing it or over-economizing. But it does mean your comfort zone may be tested–in fact I hope you’re pushed beyond your comfort zone at least once on a Real Travel France tour. For some, that may be as easy as functioning in a foreign-speaking world. For others, it may be cycling up a hill they hadn’t realized they’d be meeting on tour. It could be tasting a fresh grilled snail (escargot). Or it could mean sleeping with the windows open or under a warm blanket because accommodations aren’t “conditioned” to their accustomed level.
I know the theme may be over-used (and abused), but real travel truly is to travel like a local. Tour sizes are small (max 6 participants), and are led by residents who know this small corner of France inside and out. I don’t organize tours all over the world because I want to help you “be a traveler, not a tourist” in this part of the world.
Real travel may be about slowing down, but it’s not about stopping. It is travel after all. There’s a mission to get from point A to point B and if you don’t keep pedaling, you won’t get there. Though we stop to taste and sense the surroundings when we can, this is still active travel, so be prepared to pedal. We don’t roll at competitive speeds, but we do roll with a goal and lollygagging at every corner isn’t possible. The idea is to travel slower (at the speed of spokes) in order to take in more on the move.
Clovis Cornillac, the French actor who stars in the 2013 film Le Grande Boucle (a story about a layman who cycles the Tour de France route) said it best in an interview. As the leading actor, he cycled the entire Tour de France route himself. This is what he had to say about the experience:
I discovered an absolutely fabulous universe. I can tell you today that we can all do it. When you do it at your rhythm, if you know how to work, and if you learn how to pedal…believe me when I say this, we can, every one of us, do it. It’s magnificent. The bicycle is ideal for traversing France. It’s the perfect speed. It’s absolutely stunning.