Trip planning and tours to France at a standstill
I am honoured to have been the recent subject of an interview in a fabulous international magazine which features outstanding women, their achievements and initiatives. Their stories inspired me no end as I struggled with ways to keep my travel agency in business during the pandemic.
International travel was at a standstill. The clientele of my tour agency was predominantly North American and I needed fresh ideas for my business to move forward. European borders were closed and the only feasible way forward was French tourism. How about French health care workers who had given so much, didn’t they deserve special treatment? The tours I designed specifically for them were a success – a success only made possible with the invaluable help of numerous French service providers (hotels, restaurants and guides) who worked at no cost. I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
Travel is not only back on track but better than ever. I used my free time to increase the number and variety of tours and it’s rewarding to see that most are already fully booked. I am also getting more and more requests from celebrities, travel agents and tour operators for custom designed tours. Business is booming!
I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me and believed in me. It’s great to be back to what I love doing.
Here’s my story on page 72 translated into english.
The Day I Lost Everything
Nancy McGee was born in the province of Quebec and graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa. When the United Nations offered her a position in France she had only two questions to ask: ‘Where in France?’ ‘In Marseille,’ was the reply. ‘And does it snow there?’ she remembered asking with a giggle. She made it there in 1981 to work for a year, found love and has been living in the south of France ever since. Her work for the United Nations took her on assignments around the world, much of it planning conferences. She eventually resigned that post to find another more compatible with her family life.
During her job search, the unemployment office requested letters of refusal to justify her unemployed status. Panic! She needed that negative reply to obtain that precious refusal and answered the first newspaper ad she found! After passing several interviews, and tests, the Vice President of Coca Cola hired her to coordinate events (Festival de Cannes, Monaco Rally, etc.) sponsored by their brand. In 2010 she found herself unemployed after an internal reorganisation by the multinational. ‘In view of my age – 52 years – and my salary level I thought that nobody would hire me’ she said. ‘My only solution was to create my own business.’ At the beginning of 2011, Nancy founded her small group tour company Absolutely Southern France. Her clientele: 95 percent Americans, mostly women. ‘They have the means, travel frequently either solo or with friends, love everything French, especially food and wine. Her agency, specializing in customized tours with guest stars, celebrity bestselling authors and Michelin starred chefs, bloggers etc., is booming.
March 2020: a worldwide epidemic, confinement… ‘It was hard to believe what was happening. I realized I was going to lose everything!’ Following were months of administrative nightmares, reversals of fortune, and uncertainties about transatlantic travel. During that time, Nancy McGee came up with the idea of creating ‘Health and wellbeing weekend tours dedicated to the French health care workers and other workers particularly affected by the pandemic. ‘We were all in the same boat. We needed to stick together and support one another. I generated no income for a year and a half. I had no more work. Supporting people helped me avoid falling into depression and despair.’ she confided. ‘The concept of escaping daily life – cities and stress – is what everyone needed,’ she noted. ‘I’ve had to start all over from zero, like at the beginning of my business. This adventure has been enriching even if I don’t know where it will take me.’
Health and well being tours for Health Care Workers
She has now increased the number of tours she offers from three to a dozen including some dedicated to the Quebecois clientele. Nancy McGee is a member of FCE (French Women’s Business Leaders’ network)
Happy clients on our 2021 tours
Staggering Beauty of Corsica : Women’s Travel Adventure
Excited About Food : Guided Travel and Tasting Tour
The Cote d’Azur and Provence: A Cultural Immersion : City Tours, Trip for Women