Greetings from Robbi and Jim

A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.

Aroma Tours in Provence with Robbi Zeck and Jim Llewellyn

Robbi and I trust that you have enjoyed a wonderful Festive Season and we wish you peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

We have enjoyed a much needed break with dear friends and family and now with hearts filled and batteries recharged, we are busily making preparations for our upcoming Aroma Tours season.

Robbi and I feel truly blessed to once again be sharing our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love with delightful people from around the world.

This year's Aroma Tours are now almost sold out, and we are absolutely thrilled to see that our 2025 season is already off to a flying start!

As always, it is our returning guests and their friends who are leading this fabulous response.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

Without doubt, the main reason that we have grown and flourished over the years, is the on-going support that we have received from our past Aroma Travellers.

As we move beyond the difficulties of the last couple of years we are thrilled to see that they continue to make up more than 65% of our guests!

We would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who have continued to support us with your kind words and referrals over the years.

Robbi and I also greatly appreciate the wonderful words of thanks we have received from our guests - Guest Comments.

The Story of Champagne

The story of champagne begins with the Romans who planted the first vines in 52 BC and created extensive underground limestone quarries for their constructions which later became the famous network of "crayeres" used for storing and ageing the wines of Champagne. 

"La Champagne" - the place, is feminine in the French language and has a very dark history full of war and suffering, yet "le champagne" - the wine, is associated with celebration, romance and good times. 

Nothing about le champagne is simple or straight forward; it is born of contradictions. It takes poor soil to make good champagne,  red grapes to make a white wine, and the man credited with creating the first champagne - "a blind man who saw stars", wasn't blind, made only red wines and spent most of his life working to keep the bubbles out of his wines.

The wines of La Champagne became associated with royalty in the fifth century AD with the Frankish king Clovis, who after having defeated the Romans, and establishing his kingdom around Reims, found himself facing almost certain defeat from invading Germanic tribes.

Clovis's fiance Clotilde, a Christian, urged him to pray to her God for deliverance. Clovis who was a pagan, agreed and vowed that if God granted him victory, he would become a Christian. True to his word, after miraculously winning the un-winnable battle, on Christmas day 496, he and three thousand of his soldiers went to the church in Reims to be baptized. During the huge banquet that followed, the wine of Champagne was served. Not the champagne we know, but a cloudy, red wine with not a bubble in sight.

As a result of these events, the wines of La Champagne become famous as a celebratory drink and from then on, every king of France insisted on being crowned in Reims and celebrating afterwards with the wine of La Champagne.

It wasn't until 1686, during the rein of The Sun King [ Louis XIV ], when the son of a minor court official in eastern Champagne, Dom Pierre Perignon, by then a monk of the Benedictine order, arrived at the rundown abbey of Hautvillers, that the next chapter in the story begins:

After many years of neglect, the abbey of Hautvillers and its vineyards were in a sorry state and Dom Perignon quickly realized that the only prospect of restoring the abbey, lay in resurrecting its once famous vineyard, whose wines had graced the table of King Phillipe-Auguste and been served at the coronations of Charles IV and Phillipe VI. 

So he began the back-breaking work of clearing rocks, removing weeds, importing soil and replacing poor quality vines, to: "Eliminate those that make nothing but common wine" and introduced new techniques that became know as the "Golden Rules of Winemaking" and are still in use today:

  • Use only the best grapes and discard those that are broken
  • Prune vines hard in early spring to avoid overproduction
  • Harvest in the cool of the morning
  • Press the grapes gently and keep the juices from each pressing separate.

He was also the first in Champagne to use corks for sealing bottles, rather than wooden pegs wrapped in oil soaked hemp.

By virtue of his wisdom, gifts of observation, genius for blending and assiduous hard work, Dom Perignon succeed in making [ red ] wines with more concentration, clarity, delicacy and finesse, than anyone else's. He was also sure of what he had achieved. "Monsieur, I have given you twenty-six bottles of the best wine in the world."

Dom Perignon didn't invent sparkling champagne [ no one did ], rather, he spent his whole career trying unsuccessfully to eliminate bubbles from his wines.

The bubbles were in fact caused by the early onset of cold weather in La Champagne which meant that the fermentation process was prematurely halted before the yeasts [ which went into hibernation ] had finished their work. Once the weather warmed up again in March, the yeasts would be resurrected and re-kindle the fermentation process. This capricious behaviour of nature was considered a flaw in the wine [ no one at the time knew about the role of yeasts ].

Louis XIV [ The Sun King ] like the other Kings of France before him, was crowned in Reims and celebrated  with the wines of La Champagne. Over the next fifty years he rarely drank anything else and, as a result of his patronage and the desire of other nobles in France and abroad to imitate him, the winemakers of Champagne [ and Louis ] became very prosperous indeed.

By the 1730's, Louis XV along with the rich and noble of Europe were rushing to experience the new fashion of drinking sparkling white wines from La Champagne. Louis even commissioned a painting "Le Dejeuner d'Huitres" [ The Oyster Lunch ] showing for the first time the cheery explosion of a cork from a bottle of le champagne. For Louis this new wine was the perfect symbol of the good life - gaiety, lively conversation, and elegance.

In the beginning of this era, sparkling champagne only accounted for a tiny proportion of the wines coming from La Champagne, largely because of it's capricious nature; sometimes it was flat and lacked effervescence, and at other times was "green and hard as a dog".  Also it was dangerous, and due to its unpredictable habit of exploding in bottle, it was dubbed  "The Devil's Wine".

Workers in the cellars of Champagne were obliged to don metal masks and heavy clothing to try and protect themselves from these explosive bottles. In some cases 90% of the bottles were lost, leaving the cellars resembling "foamy swamps". Given the risks, many Champenois were amazed when a young winegrower by the name of  Claude Moet announced that he was turning over his entire production to the creation of this Devil's sparkling white wine.

Moet was a consummate salesman and believed that a new era was at hand. He very cleverly introduced his new sparkling champagne to Louis' mistress Madame de Pompadour, who remarked that "champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it". 

The celebrity of the new wine was further enhanced by the philosopher Voltaire [ a favourite of Madame de Pompadour's ] who wrote:  "De ce vin frais l'ecume petillante, De nos Francais est l'image brilliante - The character of the French is mirrored in the sparkle of champagne.

Voltaire referred to the new sparkling white wine simply as "champagne", rather than "vin de Champagne" as most people knew it at the time. It was a distinction that Madame de Pompadour was very adamant about and promoted strongly, and continues to this day.

The full history of champagne is full of twists and turns, struggle and triumphs but in the end perhaps Lily Bollinger sums up the place this iconic wine has found in our way of life:-

  • "I drink champagne when I am happy and when I am sad.  Sometimes I drink it when alone. In company I consider it compulsory. I sip a little if I am hungry. Otherwise I don't touch it - unless I'm thirsty of course."
     ~ Lily Bollinger

Our Current Booking Status

Next year's Aroma Tours are almost sold out, however there are still a few places available and we invite you to "seize the day" and join us for one of our delightful journeys in Spain or Provence in 2024.

  • If you would like us to hold your place(s) for a few days so that you have time to comfortably make your other arrangements please let us know at
List of Tours for 2024
Flavours of Spain 13 - 20 May 2024 1 vacancy
Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage 20 - 27 May 2024 2 vacancies
Flavours of France 3 - 10 June 2024
Heart of Provence 17 - 24 June 2024
Essential Provence 24 June - 1 July 2024
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
5 - 12 July 2024
Aromas of Tuscany 3 - 10 September 2024
Flavours of Italy 10 - 17 September 2024 1 vacancy
Bali Women's Retreat 7 - 14 September 2024
Bali Women's Retreat (private event) 16 - 23 September 2024

We thrilled to announce that we have now officially opened our 2025 tour season and are already receiving strong enquiries and healthy early bookings.

List of Tours for 2025
Flavours of Spain 12 - 19 May 2025 9 vacancies
Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage 19 - 26 May 2025 9 vacancies
Flavours of France 9 - 16 June 2025 6 vacancies
Heart of Provence 23 - 30 June 2025 4 vacancies
Essential Provence 30 June - 7 July 2025 9 vacancies
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
11 - 18 July 2025 5 vacancies
Aromas of Tuscany 9 - 16 September 2025 7 vacancies
Flavours of Italy 16 - 23 September 2025 4 vacancies

Please note

  • Our up-to-the-minute booking status is available via our calendar page

Memorable Photos of our adventures in Spain

One of the best ways to enjoy the spirit of our Aroma Tours adventures is by taking a peek at a few of the 1000's of photos we have taken during our travels.

This installment is from our adventures in Spain during our Flavours of Spain and Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage

What an outstanding time we shared exploring the many wonders and hidden gems of this beautiful region.

Please also be sure to take a peek at the delicious ( in many cases Michelin starred ) meals that we enjoyed along the way further down in this newsletter.

We have also included photos of some of the delicious meals we shared - with many Michelin stars in evidence - in our Food Glorious Food piece below.

Food Glorious Food

The first bite is with the eye and we hope you enjoy feasting on some of the lovely meals that we enjoyed during our Flavours of Spain Tour and Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage.

Photos of our Aroma Tours Adventures in Italy

Italy in autumn is a magnificent kaleidoscope of colourful landscapes, beautiful towns and villages, ripe grape vines, celebration and joy for life.

During our Aromas of Tuscany and Flavours of Italy tours we absorb the passion of the Italian lifestyle and savour the delightful flavours of the land's bounty, along with the rich cultural heritage evident in the art, architecture, historical sites, festivals, fashion, design, craftsmanship and unique approach to living.

Those of us who journey here are all destined to be transformed by the magic of Italy - feeling more joyful by the moment, speaking more enthusiastically, smiling broadly and even indulging in a bit of emphatic arm waving!

Delicious fresh handmade pasta with a generous glass of fine sangiovese wine Bistecca (beef) with porchi mushrooms - a totally delicous foodie moment Stunning coutryside full of elegant cypress trees and hidden treasures Paroramic view of St Gimignano Fiat cinque centro near St Gimignano

Travelling Solo in a Group

As well as couples and friends travelling together, we are regularly joined by solo travellers - mostly women, who appreciate being able to journey with liked minded people from around the world, without the need to do all the planning and take on the daunting task of touring by themselves.

Joining one of our small group tours is easy and we have already made all of the arrangements on your behalf to ensure that you have a delightful, stress-free holiday with the focus on having fun.

Having a ready-made group of friends to travel with, and us to take wonderful care of you is the way to go!

  • There is no extra charge for solo travellers who are willing to share a room with another same gender guest from our group.

We have carefully crafted off-the-beaten-path itineraries that are the perfect balance of structure, experiences, details and free time to enjoy in your own way.

Our Invitation

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful Aroma Tours in 2023 or 2024.

Glorious lavender flowers in Provence France

  • For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our tour information page and if you would like to join us please visit our make a reservation page.
  • As always if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you personally with advice about your travel arrangements or with any other details please contact us at

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi

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