Untourist of the Week: Barbara Cheesman aka Francophile & Co.

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1.”Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.”

It was back to Provence yet another time!  Having explored much of France over the years, my husband Jerry and I,or my two Francophile friends, Lorraine, Marcia, and I, have returned to Provence to the same apartment (Gamet 2) in St. Didier annually since 2005 where we enjoy settling into village life, practicing our French a bit and taking in all this beautiful region has to offer.  No secret that this has become our favorite area of France–that is, as long as we can spend a few days in Paris from time to time. 

This most recent trip in May 2011 was with my husband, Jerry.  As always, there was something new to discover or explore with so many interesting and charming  villages at every turn.  Even after all of these visits, we’ve yet to exhaust all the possibilities suggested in the On-Site Guide prepared by Untours.  We never tire of the colorful and lively village market days, the fantastic French food choices, the restaurants and the cafe life.  But certainly the highlight of every visit is reconnecting with the Provencal friends we have made over the years, including Provence’s delightful on-site coordinators, Regine and Max.

2. What is your favorite Untours memory?”

There are so many great memories . . . . but one significant one would be the following.  The first time we went on an Untour, we met the couple, who were to become our good friends.   They were  Swiss/French neighbors who have a vacation home in the same large stone building that our apartment was.  The first time we met them was when my husband, mosying about in search of some kindling for our fireplace, wandered on to their property.  The man of the house inquired in halting English, “What Are You Doing?” (…on my land was left unspoken. Luckily from an awkward meeting, a beautiful friendship was born.  That conversation warmed up as each struggled with the other’s langage and anded with Jerry being invited into their home for an aperatif.  I was included in the invitation.  This first encounter evolved into a long evening of spirited conversation and the beginning of an ongoing friendship.  Our friends are based in French-speaking Switzerland,  They now arrange their vacation time in their Provence property to coincide with our frequent Provence Untours.   An evening of Swiss fondue has become one of our annual traditions.

3. “How is taking an Untour different from other ways of travelling?”

Untours offers the luxury of independent travel with the opportunity to blend into the culture.   They provide an apartment/transportation package with a unique benefit; namely, the able assistance of the helpful on-site coordinators who provide an orientation to the region and further support if needed or if an emergency should arise. Having also taken Untours vacations in Alsace, Tuscany, Umbria, and Prague, I can say that we have been greatly impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of all of the areas’ coordinators.  In addition, Untours apartments are always as described, and the on-site guide booklets are invaluable as sources of information for independent exploration and all things local.

4. “If you could describe an Untour in just three words, what would they be?”

Living like locals

What’s your favorite French Untour memory?

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