We’re back with our #ExperienceOfTheWeek series and today we’re traveling to the romantic region of Loire Valley, France. This time, we talked to Sylvain, a professional French-American guide and sommelier, who stands behind the Wine Geometry Tours and believe us, these guys are something! Book one of their tours and you’ll discover the vineyards of the best local winemakers, explore the flavors of some of the best cheeses, get the chance to visit a few beautiful castles on your way, and so much more. With no further ado, let’s hear what Wine Geometry Tours are all about. We’re sure you’re gonna love it!
Q1: Hi Sylvain, how are you doing?
I’m great, thanks! 2020 has been a challenging year, having to rethink some parts of the business… and the outcome is fantastic!
Q2: Wine and castles, what a combination! Tell us more about Wine Geometry Tours. Where did the idea come from?
I had a diploma as a sommelier (WSET Level 3), so I wanted to be a wine guide in France, which is where I come from. But when I saw the attraction of the Loire Valley castles, I saw an opportunity to combine my passion with another one of my passions which is history!
I love to talk about terroir – it’s a word that has no translation in any other language, but it basically talks about soil, the land’s exposure to sunlight, water drainage, altitude, etc. And the terroir is what makes the architecture of the castles, but also makes for what we have in our wine glass. So roughly speaking, terroir shapes our economy! People tend to better remember history when associated with something else: in this case, wine!
Q3: France is an amazing destination and I bet there are dozens of things to show to fellow travelers. How big is your team? Are you all locals?
France is the number 1 country in the world for tourists: 90 million foreigners enter France every year to see our wonders. The Eiffel Tower, the Mont Saint Michel, the Louvre… I could go on and on about our features, so yes, we are lucky! We are a 3-person team so far, all locals, all fond of wines and history. We will be looking to expand to other regions soon!
Q4: Your selection of experiences is literally endless – you offer everything from wine and castle tours to accommodation. What are the most popular activities among travelers who come to you?
People want to feel safe when going on a tour. That’s why I provide an all-inclusive travel: I pick up my guests from Paris or its airports, bring them to our B&B, take them on a 5-day tour (which is my most popular tour) of wines and castles, organize picnics in the vineyards and blind tastings at sunset, then take them back to the airport after the tour. From the moment my guests enter France, they are taken care of, and they don’t need to spend an extra dime.
Q5: Tricky question for you, Sylvain. So, what’s the difference between a castle and chateaux? Many travelers think that chateau is the French synonym of the English term. Is that right?
Absolutely not. A castle is a Medieval fortress constructed for defense purposes, whereas a chateau’s sole objective is lodging and parading. Chateaus starting being built after the Hundred Years’ War, so roughly with the French Renaissance.
Q7: Today many people travel and plan their itineraries on their own. Why would you recommend booking one of your experiences to our travelers?
Now that’s a great question, and I include myself in that type of traveler. You want to feel like an adventurer and get out of the beaten paths, you want to make your own memories from what you planned out. But you miss out on so much when you visit that way! A guide book or the Internet is always going to focus on facts of the building you are seeing, but it forgets to mention the environment of that building, the events occurring during those times in the rest of France and the rest of the world.
Moreover, the choice of wineries is very unique, and travelers would not be able to access most of the wineries I get into. Because I am a wine specialist, I describe every wine thoroughly, we organize blind tastings, pairings with food, I explain how to properly read labels, taste wine, and I help people understand what they like and dislike. Also, having a driver on a wine tour is practical: you can drink as much as you want!
Finally, getting to know a local person and sleeping at his place makes the experience special. It’s not every day that you can enter a local person’s house, meet his family, share a glass of wine while discussing politics or whatever other subjects, just sitting down, and enjoying life. Most tours keep you in hotels, which I think is a shame because you miss out on how locals actually live.
Q8: Last but not least, what is your favorite chateaux in France that you’d take your friends to visit if they came for the first time? Tips from a true local are always worth it 🙂
Definitely Azay-le-Rideau. It’s a true hidden gem, the chateau that I could see myself living in! Its history as an “unfinished” chateau and its modernity for the time of construction are astonishing… The wooden beams making the roof are still standing from the time of construction, which was exactly 500 years ago!
Book some of the most popular experiences by Wine Geometry Tours here:
3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS – Wine, Dine & Castle Tours Loire Valley
Day Tour Loire Valley Wines & Castles
2 DAYS 1 NIGHT Tour Loire Valley Wines and Castles
5 DAYS 4 NIGHTS – Wine, Dine & Castle Tours Loire Valley