Our monthly column ‘La Ramoneta of the Month’ is back! Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why she lives in this beautiful region, what she does for a living and some of her Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Nancy McGee from Absolutely Southern France as Ramoneta of the Month.
Born and raised bilingual in the province of Quebec, I was naturally attracted to France. I seized a work opportunity for a one-year trip to the south of France, which led to a love story that has lasted over 30 years. After a career as an international event manager with the UN and- after that- Coca-Cola, I decided to set up my travel business Absolutely Southern France to share my passion for the south of France.
Settling in Languedoc
I fell in love with Sète (1). It has everything I like: beaches, great seafood, a train station connecting to Paris and Barcelona in just over 3 hours, music venues, and art festivals. My favorite is ‘Jazz à Sète’, which takes place every year in the amazing ‘Théâtre de la Mer’ (2). At this open-air theatre by the sea, I have seen Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum, and Diana Krall perform, to name just a few.
Living in the South of France
The thing I appreciate most about living in this region is its authenticity. There is a nice mix of cultures, with Spain just a 2 hour drive away. Also, this region has the nicest fine sandy beaches in the south of France, without the crowds of Provence and the Cote d’Azur. On top of that, Languedoc is the biggest wine-producing region in the world. No wonder it has huge potential for development in terms of tourism and new businesses. The recent opening of a superyacht marina in Sète is a good example of this growth.
Absolutely Southern France
Absolutely Southern France (3) is a fully licensed travel company based in the south of France offering visitors and travel agents tour design, trip planning and tour leading services in Provence, the Cote d’Azur and Occitanie regions.
I work with a locally based team of expert project managers, along with an extensive network of partners and service providers who have been selected for their high standards and quality of services.
Absolutely Southern France has been certified Vignobles & Découvertes since 2015. The Ministry of Tourism and Agriculture awards this label to businesses committed to excellence in wine and food tourism. In addition, my business is a member of the France DMC Alliance and JourneyWoman Canada.
We’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary this month with prize giveaways on Instagram.
Election of the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2020
In 2020 I was honoured to be awarded ‘Femmes Chef d’Entreprise‘ (FCE) by the Women’s Business Leader’s Network for three reasons that are close to my heart.
Firstly, as a member of the Hérault CPME small business trade union, it was useful to create a chapter in Sète and the Thau Lagoon area. In this region, many small and isolated businesses benefit from the support and guidance of the union.
Secondly, I designed health and well-being weekends dedicated to thanking front line workers. These weekends were sold at cost, as the purpose for me was not to make any money. I simply wanted to show my support to the front liners.
Finally, it was especially meaningful to receive the distinction at the end of 2020. I experienced a disastrous year, as my clients couldn’t travel to France. To receive this award from my peers, other women business leaders, was very uplifting.
The pandemic asks for creative entrepreneurship. Therefore, I’ve decided this year to provide my services as a tour leader, enhancing my 2021 and 2022 tour collections around niche interests and themes. I will be accompanying my clients during their tours in the south of France with my ‘Guest Star’ tour leaders. They include bestselling author Patricia Sands and Cheryl Jamieson, four-time winner of the James Beard Foundation cookbook award.
I am also offering exciting new destinations such as Paris, Corsica, Italy and Spain. Besides tours in English, I will offer tours and services in French, dedicated to the Quebecois audience. New partnerships will allow me to design tours for travel agents in Canada and the USA. Needless to say, my local service providers and I will be taking precautions to help protect the health and well-being of participants, while still providing an enriching and enjoyable experience.
Living the French Dream
I’m happy to live in France and have no plans to leave. The food is excellent, like the French fashion, the culture, the architecture, the markets, not to mention the climate and the Mediterranean. Besides, I have an extensive network of friends and professional connections. From a professional standpoint: I am fortunate to have many opportunities to travel and discover the region. And now I share my passion with travellers visiting the area.
Best Languedoc wine
Puech Haut rosé because I love the design of the bottles. I like how the owners combine their two passions- art and wine. Their winery has an extraordinary exhibition of barrels decorated by leading contemporary artists in France.
La Jasse red wine from Jas Castel. I was fortunate enough to meet Pascale Rivière, the woman winemaker who used to be a wine critic before buying a small property in Montpeyroux. She handpicks the grapes, drives the tractor and does the deliveries for her award-winning wines.
We are fortunate to have a wide range of wines made with Viognier grapes in this region, which I can never resist trying. My current favourite is Gerard Bertrand’s special edition 2018 from Chateau Hospitalet.
First restaurant after reopening
I’ll want to meet up with friends and combine great food with a buzzy atmosphere. That would definitely be at Hippy Market in Sète.
Also, I love jazz and I love tapas. This winning combination can be found at one of Sète’s many concert venues, The Rio. This refurbished 50’s cinema serves tapas prepared by Michelin starred chef Fabien Fages of the Marcel restaurant in Sète.
Perfect (post-COVID) day out in Languedoc
I will spend a full day lying on a deck chair with friends, sipping rosé wine and having a fabulous seafood lunch at Ola Beach restaurant in Sète.