say,” is three to four courses and lasts about three hours, from 7-10 pm most nights. So we play games, we talk.” During trips to France, she and Valerie make sure that four different types of cheeses are served at each dinner, so their guests have the chance to sample an array of regional flavors. “There are more than 500 types of cheeses in France,” Jackie adds. “So after an eight-day trip, you’ve tasted at least thirty of them. And these are all cheeses you cannot get in the United States.” She teaches guests the proper way to slice the French cheeses; each night a different person slices for the group. Wine selections are offered to best complement the culinary experience. “Cheese,” Jackie adds, “is a big part of every dinner!” Trips with French Escapade range in cost from $2400-$3400 per person, and include accommodations, many and sometimes all of the breakfasts and dinners, activity fees and transportation throughout the 7-14 day excursion. The cost does not include airfare.
Many itineraries are centered around particular interests, such as regional destinations or writing, painting, cooking or golfing getaways. Artists and authors are booked in advance to offer workshops and ongoing assistance as travelers find themselves inspired at corner cafes or toting an easel and brushes along the footpaths of St Remy de Provence in the footsteps of Van Gogh. “Travelers pay a deposit Hanging houses in Pont-en-Royans, a 16th century medieval village. up front of $600,” Jackie Jackie Grandchamps says, “basically so I can count on the fact that they packet of helpful information: resources about are committed to the trip. I travel agents, insurance and currency exchange can then set up installments so that their entire and an overview of typical regional weather, fee is paid three months prior to departure.” what to consider bringing along, and an outline Once guests initially commit to a particular concerning the activities and accommodations. itinerary and travel date, Jackie sends along a
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 47
Heartland in Gay America