Written by Hannah Noye
Maud Philippe-Bert is one of our fantastic on-site travel guides running the France Travel Solutions tours in France. Maud herself is extremely worldly and a seasoned traveler. Born and raised in Lyon, Maud studied for 1 year in North Carolina USA, before returning to France. She studied attained her Masters of International Law in Paris before going on to get a journalism qualification and working as a journalist for 10 years. Maud decided she needed a change and spent two years traveling and living in many different countries, then settling back into her home town of Lyon where she has been working as a tour guide for the past 9 years. I interviewed Maud to know more about her experience and skills as a travel guide and the sorts of things that travelers can look forward to on her tours – read on to meet the lovely Maud!
Hi Maud! How long have you worked in the Tourism Industry?
After my travels I moved to the tourism business, so I started on the fields with Backroads, an American company, who do active travel. I was a guide for trips in France; I did a lot in Provence, Burgundy and the Loire Valley. It was biking, so we were biking a lot during the day and tasting wine, so it was quite cool but after two seasons I decided that I wanted to do something different; I like to do very different stuff! I moved to another American country called Grand Circle Travel. The French headquarters are in Lyon. I was Program services manager, so I was in charge of all the French trips and guides working in France, so I was hiring them, training them, putting them on the field, and I did some production for the trips too. I was finding new places to go like restaurants, and new activities. I also went to other territories like South Africa and Iceland, to do some quality control. After 2 years I left again, and I started my own business. I started Kontrol Freak which is the company that I have now. I’m doing a lot of guiding on the field again, and I’m working with France Travel Solutions and some other companies for like cultural trips. I am also doing travel design and and I’ve just started working for a movie school too – its part time and I’m in charge of all the students in the acting area! You have movie directors, you have writers, you have all different kinds of stuff. I’m in charge of the students doing acting and all the teachers coming and all the projects and doing stuff together. I’ve been doing improv theatre, for like 6 years, I’m doing that a lot when I have time, so it’s a busy life, but its cool, I like it!
Me: Is your interest in drama and acting something you incorporate into your tours?
It’s very useful to do theatre and to do improv because when you’re a guide with a group you always need to talk with a bunch of people. You need to feel comfortable, and actually when you’re guiding you kind of play a role. Of course I’m Maud but in a way its playing a role – its cool and I like it! Lyon, where I live is the town where the movie actually started – two brothers, Les freres Lumiere invented the movie. Lyon is a big town about cinema and about movies and I’m pretty sure there are some tours about cinema but I’ve never done that yet – but it’s a good idea!
Me: What part of French culture would you say you most enjoy and want to share with the people that you are guiding?
Maud: Definitely food tours – I’m really about French food and French wine. Lyon is in the middle of the wine area in France. We have north the wine of Burgundy, and Burgundy wines are the most expensive wines in the world so we have crazy wines. In the Mâconnais region there is white wine that I really like, much more affordable and really good, and then Beaujolias which is another really interesting wine area around Lyon. I won’t start explaining everything because then I’ll talk about that forever! So you have Beaujolais and then you have Lyon and south of Lyon you have Côtes du Rhône Plus Lyon is well known to be the capital of Gastronomy. We have a very strong gastronomy history and one of the most famous chefs, Paul Bocuse, is from here. We have a lot of very important chefs from Lyon and we have a lot of specialites, so when I’m doing my tours I talk a lot about all the specialities that you can find in France – that’s really what I’m the best at. I really try to talk about good and arts and culture which is what I’m interested in, so I’m talking about all the museums, all that you can do, that is what I’m interested in.
Me: What do you do if people have questions you don’t know the answers to?
When I don’t know I’m not going to lie –so when I don’t know I just tell them I don’t know. I know the basic stuff they want to know, and I can take care of the history and stuff of course. When I don’t know I work and learn, and very easily you get to know what kind of information they want to have.
What size tours do you have experience running?
I’ve done all sizes and I like both because very small groups you have more personal and intimate relationships and you can talk about a lot of stuff. With big groups its more about logistics but I’ve done all sizes up to 45.
Question: What is your favourite region of France or that you’d like to show your groups?
I really like Provence. Provence is great to show tourists, but me, when I go on vacation I like to go to the west because its wilder. It’s hard because Brittany is also beautiful and Paris is amazing of course – its hard to pick one!
Me: Is Lyon where the Fête des Lumières happens?
Absolutely yeah! It just happened actually, it was in December. At the beginning we were just putting some little lights on our windows and everyone did it. When I was a child every family was going out just to walk in the streets to have a look at the lights and then we would go home and that’s it. Now its like big stuff – people are coming from everywhere in the world, and I think its great for tourism.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about how you specifically run your tours?
I’m really organised but I sometimes work with companies that are too perfectly prepared and it lacks some room for improvisation. You know, when you travel you don’t really know what’s gonna happen because it’s part of the experience. I’m always very organised when I do a trip; I know where I’m going, I’m calling the places before because I want to know that the reservation is good, because when you do those things you know it’s going to be smooth. at the same time I try to add a bit of my personality, and I try to have some bits not prepared, even if it makes it a little harder to organise its more fun. It needs to be an adventure. I love adventures, I love to not know what’s going to happen so that’s my way of working. It’s a little bit of improv but a lot of organisation!
Maud will be taking some our tours later this year. The website for her business KontrolFreak is available at the following link : https://www.kntrlfrk.com/our-experience-for-your-business
You can see information about Maud and our other guides on our ‘Meet the Guide’s’ page on the France Travel Solutions website at this link: https://www.francetravelsolutions.com/meet-our-local-guides
If you have any further questions or want to book yourself in for a tour with Maud, please get in touch through our website or social media. Have a fabulous week!