Get To Know France Guide Pieter Smits

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Pieter has been interested in wine practically all his life. Living in Amsterdam he did the “SVH- Slijters Vakopleiding”. It is not a coincidence that he came to live in France right between the wine regions of Alsace and Burgundy.

How did you get into your field of expertise?

Wine has been a long time hobby. In Amsterdam I followed a professional wine course. I learned about Alsace and Burgundy because I live in between the 2 areas. I know Tuscany from the many Italian holidays I took over the years.

How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?

I started to run holiday houses when I arrive in France 17 years ago. I already did wine tours then with my tenants. Later this became my most important business.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

Either internet and administration or getting up early and getting my private clients for a tour.

Have you got a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

 Doing private tours I really try to understand my clients and what they would want. I sometimes even change the program during the day.

What is the best part of your job?

Building up a network of wineries and restaurants on one side and meeting so many interesting people each with their own story on the other side.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a guided tour?

People being focused on their evening dinner actually wanting to buy shoes and clothes instead of touring.

Ever had any odd requests from clients?

Sometimes clients drink a little too much ….

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?

Sometimes there are individuals that know everything better and actually ruin the day for their company.

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

A guide knows where to go, what to see, where to eat, etc..  It would take a long time to find all that yourself in a limited time.

Tell us something about your area/activity that only a guide would know.

A shop specialized on witches ; a bio dynamic wine maker in the middle of nowhere, a restaurant with a bathroom like an old submarine …

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

A person that knows the area but also has communication skills both with the clients and the people he/she is taking them to.

And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?

What do you really want to do given a certain time and money budget? See if you can find a guide that resonates with just that.

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