“I travel for the sake of traveling, to escape from myself and others. I travel to make a dream come true, quite simply, or to change skin if you like. “
Théophile Gautier – May, 1840
Our fast paced world has created a real desire for meaningful travel that provides more than Instagram photo opportunities. The idea of slowing down to travel might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. The art of traveling slowly offers an opportunity to engage deeply and experience a different way of life, which is the whole point of travel in the first place. Slow travel offers the opportunity to explore each destination thoroughly and to experience the local art, music, history, and cuisine of different cultures.
What exactly Is Slow Travel? It was a natural outgrowth of the Slow Food movement which arose in the 1980s, after fast food restaurants opened in historic Rome near the Spanish steps. Founded by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists, the objective was to defend regional traditions, and a slow pace of life. This intentional appreciation inspired many travelers to adapt to this regenerative philosophy.
Slow Travel Tours reflects the same principles as my own company, French Country Adventures. For a discerning immersion into the local culture of southern France where I live, my tours are 10 days long and take a maximum of 6 people to provide an intimate portrait of French rural life. My philosophy is simple: do less, experience more.
If you want to feel like a local, spending leisurely days strolling off the beaten path and you’re craving a more authentic experience, one that leaves you with a feeling that you truly got to know the places, people and cultures that you’ve encountered, then here’s a sampling of some of the experiences you’ll have on a French Country Adventure when traveling abroad is permissible again.
Wandering the Village of Bories outside of Gordes, Provence
A leisurely Armagnac tasting at the Domaine de Lagazan, Eauze, Gers
Joining an impromptu line dancing moment in the village of Aigues-Mortes, Provence
Enjoying lunch during a sudden rainstorm in Albi, Tarn
Showing off 280 French macarons made during an afternoon pastry class, Gers
Shopping at the Saturday farmers’ market in Uzès, Gard
Looking for a souvenir from a flea market in the village of Fourcès, Gers
Visiting the church where Louis XIV married the Infanta of Spain, St. Jean de Luz, Pays Basque
Getting stuck in local traffic in the Pyrenees Mountains, Pays Basque
Asking for directions from a local shepherd after getting a bit too lost in the Pays Basque.
Simply marveling at the beauty of the French countryside in Lavardens, Gers
| Sue Aran lives in the Gers department of southwest France. She is the owner of French Country Adventures, which provides private, personally-guided, small-group, slow travel tours into Gascony, the Pays Basque, Provence and beyond. She writes a monthly blog about her life in France and is a contributor to Bonjour Paris and France Today magazines.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France, England and other European countries.