2014 Photo Contest

We always look forward to our annual photo contest! Our 2014 contest was held in January and was the fourth European Experiences photo contest. The contest was open to everyone who participated in our 2013 trips to the Luberon, the Périgord and the Cotswolds. Each person could enter one or two photos that best represented their personal experience during their week; they also provided a few sentences about each photo and why the experience was meaningful to them.

We received 53 entries from 27 people, representing all three of the areas where we hosted groups in 2013. Every photo captures a special element of a European Experience week, and the captions add another dimension. Our judges said this was their most difficult year yet!

Special thanks to our judges: Pauline Kenny, who lives in the Cotswolds and runs the Slow Europe website and travel forum; Chris Coburn, the web designer for our websites; Bill Steiner, co-owner of Adventures in Italy and a fellow founder of the Slow Travel Tours group; and our daughter Kelly Wood, a third-year student at the University of Chicago who just finished a study-abroad term in Paris.

2014 Grand Prize WinnerCongratulations to Mary Katherine Mason-Ramsey (left) of Atlanta, Georgia, this year’s grand prize winner! Mary Katherine’s photo from The Périgord Experience features the chapel at Beynac castle and the misty Dordogne River valley.

Mary Katherine traveled with her mother Joan and other family members who have joined us on previous Experience weeks. Although she’s traveled in France before, this was her first European Experience trip. We were delighted to have her with us! Mary Katherine’s grand prize is a $500 credit on a future European Experiences trip.

This year we added a special “first runner up” prize. This prize is awarded to Donna Verholek of Knoxville, Tennessee for her photo of Hailes Abbey from The Cotswolds Experience. Donna and her husband Gary joined us in 2013 for the first time. Her prize is a $250 credit on a future Experience trip. Congratulations Donna!

Ten other photographs were selected for special recognition in this year’s contest. These photographers each won a $50 Amazon gift certificate. See all 12 winning photos below, along with what each traveler had to say about that memorable experience.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s contest! (You can see an album of all the entries here.)

Grand Prize Winner

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(Mary Katherine from Georgia, USA)

View from Beynac Castle - The Périgord Experience

The chapel at Beynac as viewed from atop the castle. Of course, it was taken on the very first Perigord trip. I loved the chapel, which the tour explained was still in use every Sunday, and the view of the countryside reminded me why this region is deemed the Périgord Noir, or Black Périgord, for its dense forests.


The Cotswolds Experience – July 2013

(Donna from Tennessee, USA)

Hailes Abbey - The Cotswolds Experience

This photo depicts a few of our group enjoying the struggle of man trying to stand off nature’s efforts to recover these unique ruins.

The Luberon Experience – May 2013

(Cindy from Florida, USA)

Chateau la Canorgue - The Luberon Experience

This view is from the courtyard at Chateau la Canorgue. Enjoying a glass of wine and soaking up the scenery would never become tiresome. We had an incredible tour of the vineyards and the property. The vineyard was featured in the movie “A Good Year.” I had never seen the film, but they actually offered it on my plane ride home. I was so excited I had to rouse my seatmate to tell her I was just there. I showed her the photos I took and compared them to the movie. Thank you Kathy and Charley for the privilege of visiting Chateau la Canorgue.

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(Bob from Oklahoma, USA)

St. Amand de Coly - The Périgord Experience

The essence of slow travel…..a time to reacquaint.

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2013

(Ann from Louisiana, USA)

Sudeley Castle - The Cotswolds Experience

As a garden enthusiast, my Cotswolds Experience provided so many breathtaking photo opportunities and memories! This photo was taken outside the remains of the tithe barn at Sudeley Castle. The photo is one of my favorites and captures many different flowers and types of foliage that blend together to depict a beautiful and peaceful English garden scene. Each time that I look at this photo, I become aware of something that I had previously overlooked and leaves me with a yearning to return to the Cotswolds.

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(Lisa from Queensland, Australia)

La Roque-Gageac - The Périgord Experience

La Roque-Gageac. I love the permanency of these very old buildings and the way they dominate and stand over the river – particularly in contrast to the work being done along the roadway and the modern wayfinding signage. I also love the way this village hugs the rockface and moulds into the curve of the cliff. This is most certainly one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Return to the Luberon – May 2013

(Effie from South Australia, Australia)

Bonnieux - Return to the Luberon

A street corner in Bonnieux. During the Return to the Luberon I loved being able once more to wander around the little streets of Bonnieux. There is a surprise around almost every corner. I love the old stones, the well worn streets, the deliberate and accidental greenery and the artistry of everyday living in this village.

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(Emily from New York, USA)

Charley - The Périgord Experience

Charley pouring a glass of rosé during the indoor picnic that he and Kathy hosted for the group in their apartment after our garden picnic was rained out. Even more than the actual destination, what made the Dordogne trip so special was the warmth and intimacy of our hosts and the slow travel philosophy they espouse.

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(John from Victoria, Australia)

Picnic at Eyrignac - The Périgord Experience

Picnic at Eyrignac gardens. Lovely weather and food, and good company. What else could one want? (John’s in the photo – he took it using the timer on the camera.)

The Cotswolds Experience – July 2014

(Marlene from Iowa, USA)

Sudeley Castle - The Cotswolds Experience

I most enjoy the idea that a beautiful garden in England usually comes with a backdrop of an historic castle or architectural wonder.

The Périgord Experience – June 2013

(Ron from Alberta, Canada)

Tamniès - The Périgord Experience

The beautiful view from the village of Tamniès. What’s not to love about France?

The Luberon Experience – May 2013

(Carol from Georgia, USA)

Saignon - The Luberon Experience

While our group visited the hilltop, picturesque village of Saignon, Kathy led some of us adventurers to the backside of the village to the rock of Saignon, a defensive lookout from centuries past. What a wonderful climb, no handrails, to the top of the of this ancient, majestic rock for some spectacular sweeping views of the valleys, the Luberon mountains and the Alps in the far distance. It really is a stairway to a little piece of heaven!

See all 53 photos entered in the contest here.