We are Dutch living in Southern Burgundy. Together with our French partners, we invent, organize and direct unique excursions to allow visitors live the French experience. Partly as a hobby, partly as a full-time business. Southern-Burgundy.com is an initiative of Gregor Hakkenberg and Go Côté Saône:
Go Côté Saône
The business of the Dutch Cecilia Erkel and her French daughter Sarah. Their core business is organizing and leading excursions for bigger groups, working mainly for foreign tour operators bringing clients to France. Go Côté Saône does this with a team of extremely well trained professional freelance guides. The power of Go Côté Saône is the rigorous dedication to detailed organization. Nothing is left to coincidence. A second strong point is creativity. Cecilia has been innovating the Burgundy tourist business from the get-go, invented numerous new destinations and programs. They’ve even helped businesses like a goat farm, a truffle orchard and several wine growers set up facilities for guests reception up to GCS standards. Cecilia herself is an experienced guide for English, Dutch and German groups. Sarah, and Cecilia’s husband Dominique both have the official certificate allowing them to chauffeur groups up to 8 people.
Site: Go Côté Saône
Gregor used to be a tour guide in the Netherlands in the 1980’s. Around 1990 he became a copywriter, working for advertising agencies in the Amsterdam area. Around the same time, he met his Japanese wife in San Diego. In 2001 Gregor and his family (they had a boy and a girl) moved to the South Burgundy, only to keep working for his Dutch clients, through the internet.
In 2018, Gregor decided to pick up his old tour guiding job, if only to get out of the house a bit more. He works a maximum of 2 days a week for Go Côté Saône, guiding American groups on wine tasting tours in Beaujolais.
One of the things Gregor finds lacking in mass tourism is that visitors rarely get a real life experience. They meet only professionals in the tourist business. Judging from the feed back of the tour groups, the things they appreciate most is the contact with a local shop keeper, a goat farmer, a small wine grower or the truffle guy. This is why Gregor decide to work together with Go Côté Saône to organize tours and excursions with a truly immersive ‘French experience’. In all of our tours, we build in time for doing nothing and meeting locals who are passionate about their work.
Gregor lives in the ancient abbey town of Tournus, where his wife has an art gallery.