Fusing Gastronomy and Hospitality

30 Oct 2019
7 min read
Showcasing the best in gastronomy and hospitality that France has to offer, Demysos curates tailored travel itineraries that immerse travelers in the country’s most sumptuous experiences at the most prestigious French addresses. FOUR speaks to Corentin Gallene, Demysos’ CEO, to find out more about the ultimate foodie itineraries in the birthplace of haute cuisine…

Tell us about the history of Demysos, when, how and why was it founded?

You must know that gastronomy and hospitality are not just part of my professional life, but are two exacerbated passions that are almost religions and that govern my life, a day does not go by without me inquiring on the news and trends of these universes. The idea, therefore, sprouted to create a company to link these two worlds and to share my passions with as many people as possible.

With my experience in prestigious Parisian Houses (Drouant, Hôtel de Crillon, Maison Rostang), I wanted to create a travel agency that would aim to show the extent of French gastronomic heritage to our customers. It was then necessary to find a name for this company – being a fan of Greek mythology since very young , I used the names of two divinities, Demeter the goddess of agriculture and seasonality and Dionysos, the god of wine and banquets to create Demysos which is a perfect summary of what France is: the country of Gastronomy.

How would you describe Demysos and its services to those that don’t know about it?

Demysos is a tailor-made travel agency that creates stays in France to discover regions and terroirs through the prism of gastronomy. We build our stays according to the wishes and the desires of our customers by proposing starred restaurants, luxury hotels as well as visits and tastings at exceptional producers and vineyards. We can also handle the logistics and transportation for our guests during their stay to provide a turnkey service, allowing them to enjoy their days full of gastronomy, relaxation and luxury. The goal is to adapt to the customer in order to provide a quality service that will fill the entire duration of his stay.

What are the company’s goals and philosophies regarding travel and dining?

The philosophy of Demysos is to put forward France and its regions. For that, we decided to promote partners (hotels, restaurants, vineyards and producers) who fully participate in the influence of France and French Gastronomy. Our ultimate goal is to help our International and French clients to discover and rediscover the gastronomic treasures that our many terroirs and territories have to offer. To succeed we listen to the wishes and desires of our customers to build a tailor-made stay in adequation with their centers of interest, the region they want to visit, the cuisine they prefer (classic, modern , fusion or molecular …), and if they absolutely want to discover a restaurant or a hotel in particular by example.

Why France? What makes France as a country so special?

France is first and foremost a country special in its history. Gastronomy has occupied an important part of our heritage since the 19th century with chefs like Antonin Carême, Auguste Escoffier and more recently Joël Robuchon and Paul Bocuse. For over 200 years the French cultural influence in gastronomy has migrated across Europe and the world – France is celebrated as the country of Gastronomy. In addition, France has very different regions and soils that allow the production of many famous products on our territory (wine and champagne, foie gras, oyster, truffle …).

All this has allowed the Gastronomic meal of the Frenchto be inscribed in the intangible heritage of humanity of UNESCO.

What are the best areas of France and why?

France has many different regions and each have their own specificities, if you like wine, the Bordeaux region, Bourgogne region or Champagne region are essential, if you like gastronomy the Lyon region and its historic houses (Troigros, Pic, Paul Bocuse …) will be perfect for you, if you like the sun and the relaxation the South of France is the idyllic place with its sumptuous hotels and its magnificent beaches. And of course, there is Paris, the City of Light, of unparalleled beauty, and city of fashion and luxury where you can stay in the most beautiful palaces, visit monuments and museums, and of course eat in the best starred restaurants and taste the best pastries in the world.

What are the must-experience activities (both authentic and tourist-related) that visitors to France should partake in?

France is the most visited country in the world and we welcome tourists from all over the world. Most come mainly to visit Paris, which is for many the most beautiful city in the world, where one can visit incredible monuments (Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum …). Beyond the cultural side, what interests us at Demysos is the French Gastronomy which is also an exceptional vector of radiation of France abroad. If we had to mention the essential gastronomic activities to do, there would obviously be a visit to a vineyard, a tasting of pastries in a shop of a famous pastry chef such as Pierre Hermé, Philippe Conticini or the new pope of medium Cédric Grolet, a gourmet meal in one of the many starred restaurants to discover the work of a chef, his world and his teams in cooking and dining and the arts of the table. All these activities are an integral part of French DNA.

How did you get into this line of work?

I began my career in the hotel and restaurant industry and during my various experiences in prestigious houses, talking with customers, I realized that many gourmets organized their own trips to discover starred restaurants or luxury hotels because there was no platform or travel agency that specialized in the two worlds that are gastronomy and luxury. And so, I decided to fix it by creating my own travel agency, Demysos.

What do you love most about the high-end travel and gastronomy industry?

My favorite thing about the high-end travel and gastronomy industry in France is that there are countless restaurants, vineyards and hotels worth visiting. Today we have more than 600 starred restaurants that do an amazing job every day and more than 300 5-star hotels including 25 palaces that compete in beauty and quality in accommodation. You never cease to discover a chef, a dish, a wine, a spa or a room that marks you and that you find sensational. You can travel across France for many years and always be amazed by one of these discoveries, a landscape or a monument and that is what makes France so attractive.

What are the key elements that make Demysos so unique, setting it apart from other similar companies?

I think that the essential element is that we have a real experience of the French hotel and restaurant industry because I have worked in famous establishments like the Hôtel de Crillon or the Maison Rostang and we, therefore, have a real knowledge and expertise of the environment that we want to transcribe to our customers by offering them our tailor-made stays. It also allows us to have a relationship of trust with our partners and therefore to offer unique and exceptional experiences to our customers.

Tell us about some of the specialized services and exclusive experiences that form part of the Demysos offerings?

At Demysos, our offer is not limited to reserving for you the best hotels, restaurants, vineyards and producers but to offer you truly unique experiences. For example, we can offer “Chef’s tables” with special menus and private tastings in the cellars with the chef sommelier in some of our partner restaurants, or private cooking classes with some starred chefs. For the producer side, we can visit sturgeon ponds from Kaviari used to produce the “caviar d’Aquitaine”, or a Bigorre black pig farm. And finally, for the vineyards, we can organize private and exclusive tours with tastings of exceptional wines and vintages or a vineyard visit on horseback, quad or bicycle.  And on request, we can also organize helicopter overflights, sea trips, etc. This list is non-exhaustive, we adapt to the needs of our customers and can offer all kinds of experiences.

Tell us about some of the hotels and properties that are on the Demysos itinerary? What makes these properties so special?

The hotels and restaurants that we select as partners are first and foremost selected for their quality, so most of them are 5-star establishments or palaces, but we also look if they have a historical past, an exceptional geographical situation or other criteria that make its properties unique. For example, La Chèvre d’Or nestled in the heart of the village of Eze has one of the most breathtaking views in the world, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Bristol Paris, opened in 1925, is the “historic palace” in Paris that offers the true French art of living. Villa René Lalique and Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey offer a real immersion in the world of Lalique crystal and their many creations. Or the mythical Hôtel de Paris in Monte-Carlo, a real institution on the French Riviera where you will have access to its private beach, casino, Opera Garnier and Thermes Marins. In summary, we want our customers to discover the jewels that the French hotel industry can offer.

What fine-dining establishments does Demysos recommend, and why?

The restaurants that we recommend are also first and foremost high-quality establishments with 1, 2 or 3 stars in the Michelin Guide for the most part and which therefore offer exceptional food, wine and service, but we also attach a lot importance of the fact that the restaurants we choose have a real history and family tradition and/or a preponderant part in the history of French Gastronomy and its influence abroad.

Of course, we can take the 3-Michelin-starred Anne-Sophie Pic restaurant as an example, whose Chef is the embodiment of the 4th generation of a 130-year-old family saga serving French gastronomy, and which also shines abroad with starred restaurants in London, Geneva and maybe soon Singapore. The Georges Blanc restaurant, which has been a starred restaurant for 90 years without interruption, is a world record of course, and which makes the whole village of Vonnas near Lyon alive. Or even Epicure the restaurant of Bristol Paris, 3 stars in the Michelin Guide, directed by Chef Eric Fréchon, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which delivers the quintessence of the French Classic cuisine.

What criteria do hotels and restaurants have to fulfill to be a Demysos partner?

The hotels and restaurants that we select must imperatively meet a criterion that is essential for us: kindness. The customer must be greeted in the most beautiful way as if it alone counted, the service must be irreproachable. I think that we greatly underestimate the quality of greeting in hotels and restaurants and that it plays a predominant part in the feeling of the customer on his stay or his meal. Our partners must have the same rigor and the same desire to make the customers who stay in their establishments happy.

What should guests expect when booking a trip with Demysos?

We know that our customers are very demanding, and we must anticipate their wishes and desires to exceed their expectations, this is an essential thing that I learned during my work at the Hôtel de Crillon. The goal is not only to create a flawless stay for our guests, but to leave their stay feeling that it was better than they expected.

What feelings/memories does Demysos wish to create for clients during and after their travels?

First and foremost, we want our guests to have a sense of well-being during their stay, to feel at home with exceptional service. We want to show them our gastronomic and cultural heritage and as well that a dish, a hotel, a landscape or a wine remains engraved in their memory. The goal is not only to make them travel but to create unique and exclusive experiences that will lead to memorable memories.

Do you have a favorite travel itinerary or recommended journey? If so, tell us about where this journey goes and why it is so special?

There is a route in France which is the Nationale 7, it is the longest road of the country, it connects Paris to the South of France, I personally love taking it from the Lyon region through mythical and fabulous restaurants such as Troisgros in Ouches, Anne-Sophie Pic in Valence, Oustau de Baumanière in Baux-de-Provence and finish in Eze at la Chèvre d’Or which has the most beautiful view of the Côte d’Azur. In addition, you can stop to visit and taste vineyards of the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley (Côte Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape…).

To find out more, visit Demysos’ website or contact them via email, Facebook or Instagram.