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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

Golftrip, France - Sep 23 - Sep 29, 2018

Traveler: Brian M. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

Estelle from sun e bikes was great and very helpful. The staff at the restaurants: Fort in Marseille, La Fourchette in Avignon were very pleasant and good experiences. Heily Lucullus in Avignon was very good and our owner/hostess was very nice. Eating dinner outside at Les Fin Roches in CDP had excellent ambiance. CDP itself was just OK. Sylvie at La Nerth gave a great tour although a little rushed since we were a little late. But she spent a lot of time with us in the the tasting... read more

Estelle from sun e bikes was great and very helpful. The staff at the restaurants: Fort in Marseille, La Fourchette in Avignon were very pleasant and good experiences. Heily Lucullus in Avignon was very good and our owner/hostess was very nice. Eating dinner outside at Les Fin Roches in CDP had excellent ambiance. CDP itself was just OK. Sylvie at La Nerth gave a great tour although a little rushed since we were a little late. But she spent a lot of time with us in the the tasting room and it was very memorable. Very attractive woman by the way. ;) . Before we got to La Nerth, we stopped at Mont Redon winery. Very friendly staff and a beautiful place. I recommend that as a stopover. Domaine de Manville was an excellent experience. The staff was excellent and we were treated very well by everyone that we interacted with, excepting the misunderstanding at the proshop.

Alana

Trip to france, France - Sep 23 - Sep 29, 2018

Traveler: Alana E. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

Our Trip to Provence and The French Riveria was great. Alex our guide and driver was fantastic. Very professional but friendly, excellent driver, so knowledgeable on the history and geography of the area and very flexible when we had requests for small variations. Our hotel accommodations were all very good - the last one - Hotel La Perouse was fabulous - great way to end our holiday. Regarding the activities we partook in - we all thought the hike in Calanques National Park was great but in... read more

Our Trip to Provence and The French Riveria was great. Alex our guide and driver was fantastic. Very professional but friendly, excellent driver, so knowledgeable on the history and geography of the area and very flexible when we had requests for small variations. Our hotel accommodations were all very good - the last one - Hotel La Perouse was fabulous - great way to end our holiday. Regarding the activities we partook in - we all thought the hike in Calanques National Park was great but in some places a little slippery - not recommended for people who aren't steady on their feet or are not wearing appropriate footwear - or elderly.

We all loved our day in the Luberon visiting Gordes and Roussillon .
St Tropez was also well liked - some good shopping.
Our excursion to Grasse and our workshop at the perfume House of Galimord was probably one of our most memorable experiences - wasn't sure how the interested the guys would be but we all thoroughly ended it.
Monaco and Eze were also beautiful and very enjoyable.

Gourmet walking tour in Nice was good - Marion was lovely and very knowledgeable but a little disorganized and it was hard for everyone to hear her - concept was good and she showed us some great hidden foodie spots - would be a good tour to do the you first arrived in Nice so you could you this information to your advantage to close where to dine.

The wine tasting at Domaine du Clos des Roses was disappointing - we all thought it would have been better to stay in St Tropez - afternoon was a waste -No tour - tasted 2 wines - not worth it.

In all - we were very satisfied with the itinerary except for the wine tasting - perhaps next time we would allow 1 day extra in each location for shopping and wandering the town at our own leisure or enjoying the facilities of the hotels

Short visit in cote d'azur area., France - Sep 17 - Sep 19, 2018

Traveler: Sheila W. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

The two days of hiking in the "Vallee des Merveilles" was wonderful with Damien. He was very considerate, interesting and fun. The tour was exactly what I was hoping. Sometime in the future, I would love to plan another but longer hike through that part of France.

The tour of Nice was good. Our guide knew the information and presented it well. Our only problem was that she talks too long with a very fast loud voice. Sometimes she talked so quickly that we could not follow her strain of... read more

The two days of hiking in the "Vallee des Merveilles" was wonderful with Damien. He was very considerate, interesting and fun. The tour was exactly what I was hoping. Sometime in the future, I would love to plan another but longer hike through that part of France.

The tour of Nice was good. Our guide knew the information and presented it well. Our only problem was that she talks too long with a very fast loud voice. Sometimes she talked so quickly that we could not follow her strain of thought.

Simon, thank you for putting together a great 3 day tour of southern France. Hopefully there are other opportunities to give you a call.
Thanks again
Sheila

An active trip that coordinates w an nternational munich flight, Germany - Sep 4 - Sep 8, 2018

Traveler: Lori G. - Local specialist: Simon Hardy

Simon was very helpful to meet with me pre trip and make sure I understood where I was supposed to be each day. The hotels and restaurants that he selected were fantastic. I especially loved Danielle at the wine b and b. The wine experience was fantastic. Sun E bikes made the trip pretty tough. While I am certain they had the best of intentions, the person who drops off the bike needs to be trained on how to set the GPS up for success. I asked immediately how to zoom in and he wasn't able to... read more

Simon was very helpful to meet with me pre trip and make sure I understood where I was supposed to be each day. The hotels and restaurants that he selected were fantastic. I especially loved Danielle at the wine b and b. The wine experience was fantastic. Sun E bikes made the trip pretty tough. While I am certain they had the best of intentions, the person who drops off the bike needs to be trained on how to set the GPS up for success. I asked immediately how to zoom in and he wasn't able to make that happen so that I could see the roads. With in 10 minutes I was lost and when I called no one answered. I should have left a message and didn't. The rest of the day was a mess as I was continuously lost. My road book pages weren't numbered and got out of order. Even if they hadn't, once you are lost I am not sure they would have helped. The bike specialist did try to meet me at the wine tasting. he was correct that the gps was working (as in pointing the right direction and having signal, it just wasn't set up to zoom in and see roads) He was still unable to fix this but brought me paper maps. Since I couldn't sleep because I was worrying so much about my next day, I was able to change the setting myself. I'm not sure why that couldn't have been done right away, it would have saved a lot of frustration for everyone. I did appreciate the pickup on the second day when I couldn't go further after riding in rain and a thunderstorm. One thing that would have been helpful to know as well in St Remy is that according to my hotel concierge, taxi's need 2 days in advance reservation to make the 20 minute drive to the train station. I almost missed my train back to Paris due to this. Since the rating asks to describe Simon, I don't think it is fair to rate him based on Sun E bikes failure to set up the gps, overall, I would unfortunately rate the trip as a whole lower as it was really stressful.

Simon Hardy, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Lori, thank you for the review concerning your 3-days bike tour in the hinterland of Provence. I will let Danielle and the other people met know that you enjoyed their services. But I also have listed a series of recommendations dedicated to my partners in order to improve our service before and during the bike tour itself. I know that you had rough moments during your trip...and I hope that you will remember the good times too. All my best, 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