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When I met British-born Jack Dancy last night at a Trufflepig party and learned he was an expert on travelling in France, I told him my boyfriend and I were planning a French vacation this year. “We’ve rented a villa in Languedoc!” I said.
This is when I realized I have only a dim notion of where I’m actually going. “Um. It’s in a pine forest somewhere around Avignon and Montpellier. Near a national park. Oh, and there was a famous book … Don Juan rode there with a donkey. No, I mean Don Quixote.”
“Do you mean Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes?”
“That’s it! I can’t believe you know that.” That’s when I knew he really was a travel expert, though he chalked up his knowledge of the book by a strange quirk of fate … he’s planning to recreate donkey trip this summer with his friends. Weirdly coincidental or what?
Trufflepig, the company, is a bit of a hard one to define. They call themselves a trip planning company. I see it as sort of a travel concierge service. Depending on what your deepest darkest travel desires are, they’ll arrange your itinerary, tapping into the insider knowledge of their experts on the ground who, for obscure reasons, are called pigs. Even more obscurely, Jack and the other Trufflepig managers refer to themselves as pig farmers and though young-ish and sharp-ish and charming-ish they were mainly wearing tweedy-type blazers and rubber boots at the soiree last night.
The whole pig motif has something to do with their anti-corporate outlook. And um (I’m going out on a limb here) a trip is like a truffle – meaning that the farmers and their experts, like sensitively snouted pigs, can dig out the best and hidden and er, most delicious, places to go.
And then I guess the customer is the happy connoisseur who gets to eat the truffle. And coincidentally, the whole reason I’m going to the South of France this summer is because of a to-die-for black truffle salad I ate at the legendary restaurant, the Colombe d’Or in the town of St-Paul-de-Vence last year. Once I tasted this salad I knew that I should spend as much time in the South of France as possible.
And so I planned this dream trip for June. If I’d known about Trufflepig before I’d spent a million gazillion hours figuring out how to book villas, apartments, flights and rental cars, I could have hired them and put my time into completing my never-to-be-finished travel memoir (that’s a lie, I would have found some other way to occupy my time, like sit on the couch and eat Häagen-Dazs). Surprisingly it’s not as pricey as I would have thought – Trufflepig, not Häagen-Dazs, which continues to be an expensive sin – somewhere around $1,000 to $2,000 on top of trip costs. For someone who hates travel planning or is simply fearful of it, this is certainly a swanky alternative to booking a prepackaged bus tour.
So, if it’s a gargoyle tour of Paris you’re after (someone really did request that and it wasn’t me, though I’m not ruling it out) …
or an itinerary based around Spanish Civil War anarchist cafes (my boyfriend’s idea) or um, a bungee-jumping tour of New Zealand (blech), then … dare I say it … sooooeeee! Let the pigs sniff it out.
Or – if you prefer to steal their travel ideas, or just read some surprisingly entertaining travel bites – check out them out at Trufflepig.com.