A Visit to our Cooking Passport to Provence Cooking Vacation
Before my recent trip to France for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur travel convention I was very happy to see that the itinerary for our group of 64 international tour operators included a visit to Hostellerie Berard, home to our Cooking Passport to Provence cooking vacation. Our clients have given us such great feedback on this culinary program over the years that I was excited to see first-hand what all the fuss was about. As the bus made the climb to Cadier d’Azur I knew I was in for a treat, and not just because we had an appointment for afternoon tea.
The family-run Hostellerie consists of several lovingly restored old buildings, including an 11th century monastery. Together they exude typical Provençal charm while creating a special sense of place. Hostellerie Berard is not one of those boutique hotels that really feels like it could be anywhere. It could only be in Provence, and it would not be as charming as it is without the Berard family in charge.
Their passion for hospitality and local cuisine is immediately obvious. Our “tea” turned out to be a smorgasbord of delicious pastries, cookies, cakes, tarts, fruit, fresh-squeezed juices, and so on. Father and son chefs Rene and Jean-Francois have created a perfect blend of fine dining and country charm in the hotel’s two restaurants. But what really sets Hostellerie Berard apart, and the reason you should call it home during your next cooking vacation in Provence, is their love of teaching.
In addition to the Hostellerie and its restaurants (not to mention its award-winning spa), what makes this culinary program so special is the Bastide. Located in a 19th century farmhouse just a few minutes away, the Bastide des Saveurs is home to the family’s cooking classes. Part cooking school, part museum, the Bastide contains both an historical 19th century Provençal country kitchen, and a fully modern one where Chef Rene teaches the cooking lessons. Surrounding the Bastide are exquisite herb, vegetable, and flower gardens. As our visit to the Bastide wound down, Chef Jean-Francois busied himself collecting fresh herbs and veggies for that evening’s dinner service. I didn’t want to leave, and once you experience our Cooking Passport to Provence trip, neither will you.
By Adrian Hall