Four years ago, French entrepreneurs Guillaume Martin and Max Rafalimanana completed a programme at Techstars—the US-based tech start-up accelerator—and founded an innovative photo app called Pictarine. The app enables registered users to select images from their smartphones to print from their local Walgreens store in the States or to ship internationally.
With operations based in Toulouse, France, the team quickly grew from two to 16 members. Now, they are looking to grow further by attracting more creatives.
To create an attractive work environment, and to facilitate team bonding, Martin contacted Orianne Pagès, founder of boutique events agency Refeel Events in Hong Kong. She was tasked with creating an exciting three-day incentive programme in the South of France for a maximum of €2,000 (US$2,350) per person.
The journey began at Nice Airport, where the group touched down from Toulouse and were quickly transported by car to board three waiting helicopters.
“If we had driven to our destination it would have taken more than two hours, but by helicopter it was a 20-minute flight,” says Pagès. “The view was spectacular. We flew above the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and travelled along the coastline looking down on the old walled city of Antibes, the Bay of Cannes and the Lérins Islands, and the rocky red mountain of Massif des Maures—all beautifully framed by the Alps in the background.”
The group landed in a clearing in the middle of a pinewood forest in Saint- Tropez, five minutes’ drive to their final destination—the Palace Hotel Château de la Messardière. Within the hotel’s sprawling grounds, Refeel Events recreated an old French village square complete with a vintage truck; flags; barrels in blue, white and red; and local pastis and rosé wine. Here, the group played pétanque, a form of boules originating in nearby Provence.
The next day, a 16-metre Catamaran was waiting in the Saint-Tropez Harbour, ready to take the delegates along the coast to Cap Taillat. They anchored for two hours in Cap Camarat to take part in water activities including banana boating, jet skiing and paddle boarding. The group then sailed to Pampelonne beach—a long stretch of white sand popular for its private beach clubs and trendy open-air restaurants and bars.
“We booked two tables on the beach at a favourite local restaurant,” says Pagès. “A Mediterranen-style lunch was served, followed by an iconic Saint-Tropez dessert, tarte tropézienne—a calorie-laden brioche filled with heavy cream, vanilla and sugar. After lunch we sailed back to the harbour, and delegates had free time to enjoy the hotel’s facilities [followed by] an on-site cocktail and dinner, with champagne served on a terrace overlooking the gardens.”
On the third and final day the group checked out after breakfast to find four vintage 2CV Citroën deux chevaux cars waiting for them in the carpark. They were split into teams, with each receiving clues for a cross-country scavenger hunt.
The first destination on the list was Ramatuelle, one of the most famous hillside villages in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region. Here, they were met by two actors dressed as iconic characters from the hit 1964 film The Troops of St. Tropez. The actors gave the delegates challenges before they could continue—including singing songs from popular scenes in the film.
The teams then set off to the Bertaud Belieu vineyard in Gassin, before finishing the race at La Réserve Gayrard restaurant.
On the trip, Martin says: “The adventure fit perfectly with our company culture. It was about our people, and not our work. We spent valuable time together, having fun and enjoying ourselves, breaking down silos and bonding with members across all areas of the business.”