In this series, we are interviewing members of our club, so that you can get to know each other a bit better.
Today we talk with Gilbert Wichman about his life and work in the region.
What brought you to the French Riviera? How long have you been here?
I did follow my wife from Amsterdam to Monaco when she was offered a job for “Le Méridien Hôtels” in Monaco, Nice & Juan les Pins as a regional revenue manager.
That was in the summer of 2005. Ever since we lived in Nice where our son, Yannick, was born in June 2008.
Could you tell us about your professional career? What do or did you do for work?
It all started in 1985, I was still a young student at the hotel school in the deep south of the Netherlands.
During my studies, I became president of “le Vinétier”, a wineclub organising visits to wine regions, particularly in France with wine-tastings and events such as wine festivals.
This is where the seeds of a career in the wine business sprouted. As an internship address, it was a well known wine estate in Chablis, Burgundy.
On my return to the Netherlands I completed my training as a “œnologue” with a certifying diploma.
In 1994, I started my first job in a wine cellar near Maastricht, in the Netherlands with one of the largest selection of fine wines and champagnes in the Benelux.
As an account manager, I served clients such as restaurants, companies as well as private clients. We organized sumptuous wine tastings in exceptional places such as castles, abbeys and hotels.
In 2005 I arrived on the French Riviera, in March 2006 I started working for a wine-merchant in Monaco until 2014 when I decided to launch my own company – “The Dutch Wine Connection”, supplier of fine wines, champagnes, spirits & caviar.
We do offer wine-tastings at your home in English, French, German or Dutch. A possibility for lunch or dinner together with fine wines on simple request.
What would be your best advice to others thinking about living or working on the French Riviera?
My advise would be, on the Côte d’Azur, or elsewhere for that matter, to do something that interest you, which makes you happy doing.
Also, do try to learn the French language as soon as only possible. It’s very important to mingle with the French community as well as the expat community.
And as you probably know the French are very chauvinistic so speaking their language can only be a plus for success!
If you will succeed you will live in a region where a lot things are happening under the sunshine at the same time.
Fun facts about Gilbert!
Since when do you live on the French Riviera?
Where are you originally from?
Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
What is your favourite wine?
A lot of different ones , mostly white and red to enjoy and a nice rosé when I’m thirsty.
What is your favourite spot on the French Riviera?
Several ones. Preference for Antibes as a small, lively town & between Nice & Roquebrune Cap Martin.
What French word, expression or sentence do you find very difficult to pronounce?
None in particular
Work hard, however not too hard.
Enjoy living on the Côte d’Azur while you are at it !