Passion for French food, antiques launches business for New Fairfield woman

March 13, 2017 GMT

NEW FAIRFIELD — Dee Poquette had been to France as a tourist enough times that she figured it was time to start leading her own tours.

To share her passion for the food and shopping available in southern France, the New Fairfield resident founded Jackdaw Brocante and Cuisine Tours. She leads two tours each year — one in the spring and one in the fall — featuring a small number of guests, full itinerary and unique experiences.

“I’ve been touring France and Italy for over 10 years. I know the area very well and have made a lot of contacts and friends there,” Poquette said. “I have a passion for travel and I just can’t wait to share the pleasures offered by the incomparable region of Provence”

Poquette avoids the big cities and typical tourist attractions in France and hones in on the smaller villages with old-country charm during the seven-day tour. Visitors fly in and out of Nice, which is the largest city on the tour.

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The tours feature cooking classes and wine tastings, but Poquette said shopping has become a focal point of the tours.

“The markets are really the heartbeat of France. Communities revolve around these markets,” she said. “I know where to go and when the big events are.”

A shopping highlight is the L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which Poquette said is the second-largest antique market in Europe after Paris. The large antique shopping event coincides with the town’s weekly food market.

One of the highlights for foodies in the group is a private morning tour of a local bakery.

“It’s wonderful to see how the baguettes are made. It’s a behind-the-scenes look,” Poquette said. “We also visit a goat farm to see how they make their cheese. Then we eat some of the cheese.”

The itinerary also includes a several-hour boat tour. Throughout the week, tour members will also explore castles, visit feudal and medieval villages, sleep in a 19th-century farmhouse and shop at a flower market that Poquette describes as a “riot of colors and scents.”

“It’s a really busy tour. We throw a lot in seven days, but there’s also some freedom in the schedule,” she said. “We take mostly back roads getting from place to place. We avoid the highways as you don’t see anything there.”

Poquette, a native of Mississippi, is also a personal trainer at Associated Neurologists Medical Fitness Gym in Danbury.

A jackdaw is a small, black European bird, but Poquette said she derived the name of her company from one of her favorite stores in England. When she and her husband lived in England in the 1970s, a women’s clothing store named Jackdaw served as her connection to the U.S.

“I always said if I started a business, I’d use that name,” she said.

Jackdaw Brocante and Cuisine Tours’ next trip is scheduled for May 16-23. Space is available, said Poquette.

Additional information is available at jackdawbrocanteandcuisinetours.com, or by emailing jackdawbrocanteandcuisine@yahoo.com

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