There are many tours of France, but what really makes Peter & Kerry’s French Connection Tour special is their passion, knowledge of the language and history of the local area. For example we enjoyed walking through vineyards in nearby countryside with their local walking group, visiting village markets and historic castles, canoeing down the Dordogne, and of course, sampling regional food and winer.
Peter & Kerry are wonderful hosts and I thoroughly recommend their tour to anyone who is looking to experience a unique, personal holiday in the Dordogne Region.
In 2011 my husband and I had the great pleasure of taking part in Kerry and Peter Hodges’ annual French Connection tour.
As long-term customers of Tillerman’s Restaurant at Tea Gardens, we had followed the Hodges’ dream of purchasing a residence in France and conducting tours for Australians. When the dream became a reality our curiosity was piqued.
The description of what the tour entailed was enticing: discovering life in rural France, attending markets, touring historic towns and buildings, learning more about the language and the splendid wines of Bordeaux.
Our experience was wonderful, from when Peter collected us at our hotel in Bordeaux to when we departed two weeks later from the local train station. The trip caters for a maximum of eights guests and there were seven on ours. Our accommodation was superb: a beautiful old stone house in the middle of a vineyard with a swimming pool and all modern conveniences.
Our days roughly conformed to the same pattern of departing for a day of adventure after breakfast around 9am. Highlights included strolling around spectacularly beautiful towns, stopping for lunch at excellent restaurants, canoeing down the Dordogne, wandering through markets in Bergerac as well as smaller towns of the region. Each afternoon we would return to our home base for a rest followed by drinks in the courtyard.
With Kerry in the kitchen, ably assisted by several excellent staff members, dinner was invariably delightful and a great chance to sample more of the region’s superb produce. Each evening we enjoyed sharing the table with our hosts and fellow guests, and experiencing food selected by Kerry from the local markets.
One unexpected treat came as a by-product of Kerry and Peter’s relationship with the local community of Sigoules. We were invited into an historic home for aperitifs, into the kitchen of another local to watch foie gras being prepared. Sigoules’ Deputy Mayor hosted a lunch to welcome us; we took part in a walk which is a regular part of village life and which took us past fields of sunflowers, through vineyards and country lanes. Many of the locals did not speak a lot of English, but with Kerry and Peter’s French skills to interpret we had no communication problems
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Hodges’ French Connection trip to anyone with an interest in France, its food, wine and culture.
Robert and Tracey Seath
It was a fantastic experience, much better than I had expected and definitely the highlight of 2012. I was initially worried about the expense and not sure it would be justified, but absolutely everything was included as promised. That made it real value for money. No hidden extras, no unpleasant surprises and absolutely fabulous food, accommodation and sightseeing in a beautiful region.
What made it very special for me was being able to mix with the locals and go on village walks with people from the region, chat to market stall holders in the town and generally feel as though I was living in France, not just holidaying there. There were also many different and interesting excursions: we did canoeing, visiting lots of chateaux and lovely traditional market towns (with plenty of time for shopping!). We also went to the famous caves underground. Sometimes however, we just relaxed and had early morning swims in the pool or evening drinks on the terrace.
I specially liked the fact that Peter and Kerry asked if we wanted to do anything very special. I wanted to go to the village quite far away which had just been judged the prettiest one in France and they went to a lot of trouble to organise a day to do that. Other people on the trip wanted to do more walks than had been scheduled so, at very short notice, Peter made sure we did that as well. They were very flexible and adaptable to the group’s needs but still kept to the planned itinerary. It was great having a little mini bus of our own and not having to wait for public transport all the time when we went on trips in the region. But the piece de resistance was Kerry’s amazing cooking for us every day (I can’t ever have scrambled eggs anymore without cream!). Again, there was lots of consideration and thought that went into the meals and always heaps to eat and drink, but of a gourmet quality! We also ate out somewhere great almost every day. I was personally very pleased with the accommodation having my own room with bathroom attached (luxury in Europe!) and heaps of space to just veg out but also wi-fi on the premises to keep connected with home.
We actually had quite a disparate group (with some good French speakers and some with no French at all) which could have been hard to cater for, but Peter and Kerry very ably managed to keep us all satisfied and involved. The last night was a very special dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the lovely area where we spent a terrific holiday and as usual, it was all included. Even now, I still have a picture of La Grange accommodation as my screen saver so I can be reminded of what a great time I had. Thoroughly recommended as a superb way to experience la belle France on holiday!
We were wined and dined in some picturesque places, some were off the normal French tourist beat.
One of my wife’s favorites was walking with the local walking group twice through fields and vineyards, commentary (French and English). The second walk ended on a hilltop village, picnic supplied by Kerry and Peter, surrounded by 360 degree views with locals bringing out tables, chairs and etc. from the local church hall and having lunch with us.
Over two weeks we picked grapes, paddled the Dordogne river, walked through chateaux’s, watched a variation of the Moulin Rouge show, saw prehistoric caves and went to village markets and beautiful gardens, meeting French friends of Kerry and Peter and more. The language barrier was never a problem. You would have to say every day was an adventure, we enjoyed the company of a small group, a great atmosphere all round.
Peter told me we wouldn’t be in bed before 12 each night, I thought he was joking but days went quickly and he was right. All their choices of food and restaurants were excellent and nothing was a problem to them or their family in pleasing the guests.
Even though we have many places to visit before we get too old, this is one tour I wouldn’t hesitating in repeating (which is on the books for us), talking with Peter and Kerry they have some great ideas for next time.
As well as having Kerry and Peter caring for us and all that the French country has to offer seems endless, I can understand why Kerry and Peter return to France often.
Warren & Brenda Dean