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THE SENIOR TRAVELLER November, 2009 3
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IN OUR final issue for the year we
will be bringing you a host of holi-
day ideas for the summer.
The lazy summer months are also
an ideal time to start planning for a
big holiday in 2010.
If you've been putting off travel for
a while, now's the time to capitalise on
some great deals -- both in Australia
In December and again in January
we will be looking at where in the
world to go to see some of the best
events, including festivals, scheduled
for 2010. We'll bring you news of some
unique and highly individual events.
In January we will publish a special
feature looking at the best escorted
tours on the market today. We'll check
out some special interest tours, novel
in both concept and design.
We will also put the spotlight on
Canada and Alaska, two all-time
favourite destinations. Travel with us
through Canada and Alaska by coach,
rail and sea.
by ANN RICKARD
IF ANYONE had told me a few years ago
that I would be escorting tour groups
around the south of France and offering
guests a life-changing experience, I would
But there you go. Me, a travel author
well past her 60th birthday, now a tour
guide in France.
My career change came about when
Amanda Taylor-Ace, a Kiwi living in the
village of St Maximin in the south of
France, read my books, contacted me and
told me she wanted to meet me should I
ever find myself near her village on the
border of Provence and Gard.
It so happened I was in the south of
France that year, I visited her and we
We were like twins: both voluptuous
women of a certain age who loved food,
wine, travel, partying... and in Amanda's
case, the flirty favours of younger men. She
is a much-divorced lady; I am a happily
married one. That is our only difference.
Amanda's property, Maison de
Maitresse, is an evocative 10-bedroom 18th
century stone maison with walled garden,
pool, vine-covered pergolas, green shutters
and ivy growing up the walls.
It is very close to the medieval town of
Uzes, in the heart of cherry and apricot
orchards, flourishing vineyards and wine
Amanda has lived in France for 10 years,
speaks fluent French and conducts her life
under the philosophy: joie de vivre-unlim-
After I'd spent a week partying in France
with Amanda, discovering the delights at
the vibrant local market, eating delicious
duck and exquisite cheeses and fresh local
produce in the kind of small bistros
tourists never find -- and after visiting near-
by towns of Roussillon, Gordes, Les Baux
de Provence, Arles and Avignon -- I had fall-
en hopelessly in love with the region.
I was irrevocably under Amanda's spell
and her philosophy for living life to its
So we joined forces and decided to run
culinary tours based at her property.
I would find the guests from Australia
and meet them in France. Amanda would
arrange for local chefs come in to demon-
strate regional dishes, find off-the-track
restaurants to give guests insight into real
French cuisine, and arrange local musi-
cians to entertain us over long dinners in
the warm evenings beneath the vine-cov-
ered pergola in the walled garden.
She would also give guests beginner's
My dear husband Geoffrey would have a
role in this venture as well. He would be the
mini-van driver, wine provider, treasurer
and gentlemanly escort.
We were to be the best tour guides in
France. And so we were.
Our first tour in 2007 was so successful I
Now we have completed two more tours
in France, each one such an outstanding
success our guests have wept when it is
time to leave.
Many have told us their lives have
changed for the better after being in France
Next year it will be time to take another
group to France, and so on and on we will
go each year for as long as we are able.
It is never too late to add another role to
your career. If I can do it, anyone can.
PRECIOUS PETALS -- Ann
Rickard and Amanda
Taylor-Ace... two sunflowers
FIND out more about Ann
Rickard's Ooh La La! Tours to the
South of France on
You can also discover more by
reading her book available at all
good book stores, libraries and
through her website.
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