Specialist: India, Nepal & Sri Lanka
Alain, our French-born India expert, joined us in 2018, having worked for a decade in Delhi. Armed with a diploma in Indian Languages and Civilisation from INALCO (the French equivalent of SOAS), he started his career teaching French as a foreign language, eventually becoming Director of the Alliance Française in Bhopal before returning to France to join a leading French travel operator.
When he is not devising itineraries, Alain enjoys going to exhibitions, watching international films, and seeking out fine South Indian cuisine. With a Pondicherrian father who was born in Vietnam and a French mother born in Tunisia, travel is very much part of his DNA and remains his great passion.
During his last trip to India, Alain re-discovered Lucknow, former capital of the kingdom of Awadh. “The city is very seldom visited by foreign tourists, though it is a real gem in terms of history, architecture, culture and, most famously, cuisine.” He later ventured into the Chambal National Park where he discovered a pristine river teeming with crocodiles, gharials, tortoises, dolphins, fish and birdlife, “including the beautiful sarus crane and the rare Indian skimmer – proof, if any were needed, that Uttar Pradesh has so much more to offer than just the Taj Mahal.”
The Villa Shanti in Pondicherry. “This property in the heart of the former French quarter is my favourite heritage boutique place in the town. The fusion of period architecture and contemporary designer style may create a surprising mix, but has been really well done! The food is excellent too and the bar a great place to un-wind with a drink in the evening.”
“If you want to discover the heartland of Bengal, take a cruise upstream on the Hooghly River to Farakka with the Assam Bengal Navigation Company. After discovering Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is named now, you continue north through remote stretches of timeless countryside, discovering villages, old palaces, temples, ruined colonial cities and some breathtaking landscapes. The boats are luxurious, offering a uniquely relaxing way to discover a little explored part of India.”