Clare and Jean-Pierre
In the summer of 2017 Jean-Pierre and I received our first guests for our new cycling holidays company 'Cycle South West France'. This was a very exciting moment, as with all new businesses, but also because it showed an idea that we had had for many years finally coming to fruition.
I first moved to Lot-et-Garonne in 2008 for a year as part of my studies for a degree in French. I fell in love with the area, met Jean Pierre, and after heading back to the UK to finish my studies and work, I knew I would eventually move back to this beautiful part of the world.
Lot-et-Garonne is a fantastic area, there is so much to see, and much quieter than the more touristy Bordeaux or the Dordogne. For me, this makes Lot-et-Garonne the perfect 'slightly-off-the-beaten-track ' destination. There are beautiful landscapes, rivers for kayaking, quiet back roads and the Canal de Garonne for biking, fantastic south of France weather, and not to mention delicious local wine.
Jean-Pierre and I have always loved sports, generally being active and outdoorsy and the area lends itself to this lifestyle. Back in 2008 we had already started talking about how it would be great to set up a business in tourism in the area, particularly cyclo-tourism as we both felt there was so much potential.
So after working in a corporate job in London for a few years after graduating, and spending too many weekends waiting in airports for a flight to France, in 2014 I decided to take the plunge and move back.
I now run Cycle South West France - or 'Cycles Sud-Ouest' as we are known locally - in Lot-et-Garonne.
We are based in Buzet-sur-Baise, a pretty little village right next to the Canal de Garonne. Jean Pierre grew up here and knows the area inside out. He always knows the right person to talk to or the best place to visit.
Cycles Sud-Ouest is based on the desire to show people this beautiful area, but in an affordable way, using Jean-Pierre's local knowledge, and my enthusiasm, to create circular itineraries and customised cycling holidays for people of all abilities.
This is a very new venture for us, it is very exciting, and has been a huge learning curve. We have loved every minute of it and are really enthusiastic for what the future will bring.