1384 messages
active 7 hours ago

Simon Hardy

Every time I have the chance to travel, I try to fully experience the destination that I am discovering. The colors, scents, tastes, sounds - all these sensations are the essence of the trip and are magnified even more by unique encounters with locals.

I was born in France (country of fragrances and gastronomy!) and raised between countryside and mountains, which is why I love proposing outdoor travel experiences to my guests when they discover France. Provence and the French Riviera are perfect illustrations of my approach: the Art de Vivre combined with the beauty of great outdoors! 

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Based both in Provence hinterlands and Marseille's old harbor, our local travel agency is dedicated to ecotourism and active travel in Southern France. We are specialists of the Southern Alps, the French Riviera, Provence hinterlands and its legendary « Mont Ventoux ». We organize self-driven trips and guided tours with our local ambassadors and guides: off-the-beaten-path but without missing the essentials! All year long we propose outdoor activities and tours around local products: black truffles and Mediterranean olives in winter, lavender in summer, southern Côte-du-Rhône wine in autumn…every month you'll have a reason to discover Southern France! 

Which of the following experiences would you choose in our wide scope of activities? Climbing the Mont Ventoux with or without a pedal assist system…Sleeping under the dome of an observatory in the Southern Alps (one of the best night skies of Europe!), or maybe Enjoying a 4* Ecolodge perched above the biggest European canyon? The choice is entirely yours, and I am here to assist you in creating a unique experience!"

How did you get involved in travel?

"In 2007, I was given the opportunity to rediscover the deep Laos while designing trekking paths along the Hô Chi Minh trails. Since then I have worked and lived in Ethiopia, Thailand, Mali. My work has focused on ecotourism and travel. 

When I returned to France in 2013, I decided to make my dreams come true by creating my own local travel agency in a region I particularly loved. I then became a specialist in ecotourism and off-the-beaten-track tours in Southern France, and I love it!  "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I experienced the Seychelles islands during a break when I was an international volunteer in Ethiopia. With our group, we hiked through the granite mountains of La Digue until spotting the beautiful coast. Once down on the rocky shore, we followed our local guide Dario and continued the trek with an aquatic walk in the turquoise Indian Ocean, backpacks on our heads, and finally reached a stunning deserted beach … I will never forget the feeling of being an ‘explorer’, even in a very popular and touristy place such as the Seychelles. 
Hiking from the mountains to the sea is now definitely my preferred itinerary! Fortunately for me, I can continue this adventure, walking or bike-riding along great paths and roads from the Southern Alps to the Mediterranean Sea!"

Featured trips & expertise

Southern Rhône valley, at the gates of Provence
Culinary Rhône Valley Tour: Lyon to Marseille - 8 Days

This culinary tour winds its way from gastronomic Lyon (with a food scene rivaling that of Paris) through the colorful countryside of Provence. Taste famous wines, relax in olive country, and fall in love with the ancient cities and sweeping flower-filled fields that make this region famous.

Tiny harbor and creek in Marseille along the Corniche Kennedy
"Like a Local" Tour in Provence and the French Riviera: 7 Days

Love getting off the beaten track and traveling like a local? This tour was tailor-made for you. Experience the best of the French Riviera, including the hilltop villages of Luberon, multicultural Marseille, charming Aix-en-Provence, and vibrant Cannes.

Hiking & Hilltop Villages in Provence: 7 Day Itinerary

Immerse yourself in the best that Provence has to offer with a week-long retreat in the Mont Ventoux area. You'll hike to charming villages, cook with locally-sourced ingredients, and enjoy plenty of relaxation time at the region's world-class spas.

The hilltop-perched village of Gordes in Provence
Highlights of Provence - 11 Days

Vibrant Marseille, charming Aix-en-Provence, and historic Avignon: pay a visit to every quintessential locale in Provence on this comprehensive tour. With a perfect balance of outdoor activities and cultural experiences, this itinerary will check every box on your list of things to see and do in this lovely region of Southern France.

Mountainbike tour in the Verdon region, Provence
Family Adventure in Provence: 8 Days

Spend a week exploring Gorges du Verdon, the biggest canyon in Europe, on this family-friendly adventure. Hike, bike, and raft through the canyon, all while enjoying some of the most picturesque scenery in southern France.

A July ride through lavender fields
Discover Provence by Electric Bike - 6 Days

This self-guided e-bike tour was designed with cyclists in mind. Pedal your way through lavender fields, vineyards, and charming hilltop villages. Work your body, soak up the French sunshine, and overnight in comfortable boutique hotels.

Recent trip reviews for Simon

Kylie

Family friendly tour of provence, France - Jul 9 - Jul 13, 2018

Traveler: Kylie W. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

We are a family of 4 who travelled to Provence in July 2018. Our children are aged 4 and 6. All our accommodation was superb and the guided tours excellent. The tour of the calenques with skipper Laurence was one of the most unique and memorable experiences of our travels so far - we traveled quickly to some magnificent swimming locations and saw a really different side of Marseille.

The tour of an Olive mill was delicious and fascinating. The family were really welcoming and involved the... read more

We are a family of 4 who travelled to Provence in July 2018. Our children are aged 4 and 6. All our accommodation was superb and the guided tours excellent. The tour of the calenques with skipper Laurence was one of the most unique and memorable experiences of our travels so far - we traveled quickly to some magnificent swimming locations and saw a really different side of Marseille.

The tour of an Olive mill was delicious and fascinating. The family were really welcoming and involved the children in cooking and touring.

The children also had an amazing time on Olivier’s carriage ride - what a great way to tour the countryside!

We would definitely engage Simon Hardy and KimKim again for our next holiday. Many thanks.

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Kylie and Matt, what a great pleasure to hear that you appreciated your stay in Provence with us! I expected that your children would have appreciated the cultural & outdoor activities with our local ambassadors... I will tell them directly. I hope to see you maybe another time in Provence, the Southern Alps or the French Riviera! All my best, Simon

Aix de provence, France - Jun 28 - Jul 8, 2018

Traveler: Teresa F. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

What an incredible journey! Merci merci merci Simon for a well thought out itinerary and the amazing guides that were assigned to take us to all those beautiful places. Having a private guide made all the difference because we were able to see even more than what was on our agenda Alex and Natalie were incredibly knowledgeable and so nice! Our hotels were fantastic! Located close to everything. The one in Marseille was amazing located right across from the Old Port and just around the corner... read more

What an incredible journey! Merci merci merci Simon for a well thought out itinerary and the amazing guides that were assigned to take us to all those beautiful places. Having a private guide made all the difference because we were able to see even more than what was on our agenda Alex and Natalie were incredibly knowledgeable and so nice! Our hotels were fantastic! Located close to everything. The one in Marseille was amazing located right across from the Old Port and just around the corner from Lafayette Gallery for great shopping. We are so grateful to have visited your beautiful country.... ours seems so boring in comparison 😉. Canada is a wonderful place to live but there’s no comparison when it comes to the History, Architecture, Culture & let’s not forget the food!!! I bought the best Macarons ever in Nice ... they are my favourite! So on that note I will say thank you again and I will be sure to post a comment on the trip advisor regarding our experience with your company. We truly made the right choice and so grateful for all that you did for us!

Merci!🙏🏻 Vive La France!!🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Teresa and Kim! Thank you for this very pleasant message! I am glad that you enjoyed your trip and the service of our local guides during the past weeks between Provence & the French Riviera. This is really gratifying. See you maybe another time in France!

Maria

Sightsee and relax, France - May 31 - Jun 9, 2018

Traveler: Maria d. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

We enjoyed the whole experience.
The itinerary was meticulously planned, the guides were very professional , yet friendly and helpful, the vehicles comfortable and the small groups made interaction and time management easy.
One of my most memorable experiences was the Gallimard perfumery - I enjoyed making my own perfume!
My husband greatly enjoyed the trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo.
On the whole, a fabulous trip!

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Maria, thank you very much for your feedback! We are glad and proud that you enjoyed our immersive experiences in the hinterland of Provence and along the French Riviera. A bientôt! Simon

Provence village tour, France - May 20 - May 20, 2018

Traveler: Allyce H. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

I had a wonderful experience working with kimkim to arrange for private vans and guides to villages in Provence for a group of university students. When we were in Barcelona we were affected by the train strike in France, and our train was cancelled...which left us (a group of 16) stranded and unable to get to our hotel in Avignon. Out of desperation, I contacted Simon, who was my kimkim contact based in Marseille and he took time on a Saturday (holiday weekend) to make calls for me and... read more

I had a wonderful experience working with kimkim to arrange for private vans and guides to villages in Provence for a group of university students. When we were in Barcelona we were affected by the train strike in France, and our train was cancelled...which left us (a group of 16) stranded and unable to get to our hotel in Avignon. Out of desperation, I contacted Simon, who was my kimkim contact based in Marseille and he took time on a Saturday (holiday weekend) to make calls for me and arrange for a private coach transfer for our group. He saved us!!! He even followed up afterwards to see if we made it to our destination. I can’t say enough great things about the service and extent Simon went to, on his own personal time, to help us out when we were in a bind. Thank you, Simon!!!

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Allyce, thank you for these kind words! I am glad as well that your students enjoyed the cultural guided tour, and that that you guys didn't stay stuck in Nimes during the strike! There is always a solution :) I am looking forward to having you again with us in Provence! A bientôt, Simon

Wine tours, France - Apr 25 - Apr 27, 2018

Traveler: Laura D. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

Simon helped make our vacation effortless. He stayed in constant communication during the planning stages with great suggestions and coordinated our pick up from the train station.
He even left his cell number in case I had questions while on our trip.
Our guide, Alex, was amazing. He was so knowledgeable on various subjects and made our tours
Delightful. He was punctual as well, which we appreciated being in Provence a short time.
I highly recommend the kimkim team!
Laura

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Bonjour Laura, thanks for your review! Great to hear from you all, we always do our best to set up great guides and chauffeurs for our travelers, and Alex is one of them! We're looking forward to having you again with us in Provence and the French Riviera. Best regards, Simon