The (occasional) problem with living in Paris is that there's too much to do. It's good for mind, body and soul to escape the crowds and do something different in a new location. So imagine my delight when I saw an email from Gillian and Tess, who run G&T weekends, inviting me to spend a weekend in Poitiers, France. There'll be horse-riding, cooking classes, cocktails and champagne tasting as well as the opportunity to meet lots of new people. Add in an idyllic setting (the countryside castle) and you can see why I'm excited for next weekend.
I Skyped with Gillian (Canada) and Tess (London) to get to know them a bit better and find out more about G&T weekends. Enjoy!
Lou in Paris: How did you meet?
Gillian: Tess and I met on a hiking and kayaking trip through the Norwegian fjords while we were both living in London. We bonded over a shared love of adventure, travel, and good food and drink. I thought Tess was smart as a whip and far too much fun. We started socialising once we got back to London.
Tess: Gillian and I bonded on a fabulous adventure through the Fjords in Norway. I was fascinated by G, she managed to look so glamorous even in her hiking attire and we very quickly became inseparable with our adventurous spirit, love of a good vino and spirited outlook on life.
LIP: How did G & T weekends come about?
G&T: I was leaving London and wanted to throw a last hurrah in the countryside with all of our friends. Tess volunteered to help plan everything and we decided to charge everyone a set fee, which included transfers to and from London, accommodation (at a super luxe mansion in the Peaks district), catered meals by a chef and champagne that flowed all night long. The Country weekend went off without a hitch and our mates kept asking us when the next “event” would be… the demand was there, things escalated and within 6 months G&T was formed and we had 40 people partying in a Tuscany Italian manor!
LIP: How have your respective careers helped in setting up G & T weekend?
G: My experience working in the Fashion industry means I think quickly on my feet — when your samples from Italy don’t arrive in time for Paris Fashion Week, you learn to be resourceful! Coming up with plan B (without guests ever knowing) because of unforeseen "surprises" on a weekend demands quick problem solving, which I now enjoy!
T: My Chartered Accounting background means that budgeting and bean counting is something I’m good at. This helps keep G&T in check and ensure that we don'’t overspend or get too excited about our incredible events. This is also a much needed amazing creative outlet for me and something I grew up with (I used to help my parents run their party boat on the Brisbane River back in sunny Australia). Gillian and I make a great team with our combined experience, which is what has made G&T get off to a great start.
LIP: How much of a challenge has it been to make your dream a reality?
G: Anyone starting a business will tell you that you face many more challenges than expected in the first two years. I view each problem that we run into as a learning experience and focus on the positive. The most important thing I’ve learned is to communicate with, and support, other small business owners. We’ve teamed up with some incredible start-ups who have shared valuable information with us and offered insight into our own brand that we couldn't see from up-close.
T: My main challenge is balancing my busy day job and finding quality time to work on my passion G&T. Luckily, G&T has had incredible support from all of our family, friends and other startups — getting behind us to create the bespoke events we deliver.
LIP: What are the benefits of going on a G & T weekend?
G&T: You get to meet a fantastic group of hand-picked, like-minded people who share the same reasons for coming on the weekend as you: to travel, to experience local culture and adventure, to have your meals cooked by local chefs and maybe dance on a table or two while our international DJ plays in jaw-dropping locations throughout Europe. Our weekends are all inclusive so if you have a stressful job or a busy social life we’ve got you covered.
SOLD! I'll be sharing my Poitiers adventure with you here on Lou in Paris. Don't miss your opportunity for adventure - stay up to date with G&T by signing up to their guest list and following along on Instagram.