Cooking Vacation in Provence: A Gastronomic Holiday in Aix-en-Provence
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A Gastronomic Holiday in Aix-en-Provence - NEW

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About the location: Aix is one of the most quintessential Provencal towns, nestled in the heart of the Bouches-du-Rhône region. It is one of the larger of Provence's cities, and owes much of its vibrancy to its history, climate, and large university population. From the famed tree-lined Cours Mirabeau, to the many (some say 1000!) fountains and public squares, Aix is a city for wandering, exploring, and sitting in one of the many outside restaurants for a meal, a glass of wonderful Provencal wine, or simply a coffee. The old city meanders with narrow, winding streets, many shops, restaurants, and cafes. The medieval quarter is home to the Cathedral of Aix, which embodies over a thousand years of religious, architectural, and artistic history in its many styles. In addition to the many sites Aix has to offer, its location in the heart of Provence make it an ideal base for exploring such other famed Provencal areas as the Luberon, the Verdon gorge, and the coast.

About the accommodations: Your home in Aix will be a beautiful 3* hotel in the city center.

About your cooking courses: Your five-night stay in Aix will include two cooking courses focussing on Provencal cuisine. The first will be with a well-known chef in the Luberon, the idyllic mountain range to the north of Aix. The second will be in a cooking atelier in the heart of Aix. Both hands-on cooking courses will feature the fresh seasonal produce for which Provence is so justifiably famous.

A Gastronomic Holiday in Aix-en-Provence - NEW Itinerary

Day One - Monday

  • Private transfer from Aix TGV station or Marseille airport to Aix city center.
  • Check in to your hotel.
  • Time to relax, stroll around the city, and enjoy dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Two - Tuesday

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • This morning meet your chef for a trip to the weekly open air market and sample regional products such as olives, calissons, cheese, and fruit. Then it is off to her cooking atelier, where you will enjoy a cooking class followed by lunch (drinks included).
  • In the afternoon, enjoy a short guided tour of the studio of painter Paul Cezanne, who was born in Aix. The studio was designed by Cezanne, and gives you the impression of stepping back to turn-of-the-century Provence!
  • Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Three - Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • The rest of the day will depend on the season. From April through October, have morning at leisure, and then meet your guide for an afternoon gourmet walking tour in Aix, learning about the town and tasting some of the local specialties. From November through March you will do a shared morning “Wine tour in Cezanne countryside,” in which you will see the Sante-Victoire Mountain, such a famous inspiration for Cezanne, and then the Cotes de Provence Sainte-Victoire vineyards. Tasting at two of the wineries, then back to Aix with the rest of the day at leisure.
  • Dinner on your own, overnight.

Day Four - Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your English-speaking guide and transfer to the beautiful Luberon for a cooking class with a local chef. You will make seasonal Provencal dishes, perhaps utilizing zebra tomatoes, real custard, puff pastry, Provencal olive oil, preserved lemon, and more.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts (drinks included).
  • In the afternoon, off to discover the Luberon on a private tour. Stop in Lourmarin, one of the most beautiful villages in France, which is famous for its Renaissance castle. Then on to Bonnieux, a lovely town dominated by its High Church, perched 425 meters above sea level, which dominates the Combe of Lourmarin, a unique road that winds through the Luberon. Traverse the Pont Julien, an ancient Roman bridge, to Roussilon, a hilltop village that is famous for the colors of its cliffs, a mix of blood red, gold, and ochre.
  • Back to Aix, dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Five - Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your English-speaking guide for a shared full-day tour. First head for the village of Les Baux de Provence, with its medieval charm and imposing castle ruins. (Or, from March to December it is possible to substitute this for a special light show in Carrieres de Lumieres.)
  • Next, Pont du Gard, a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the finest Roman ruins.
  • End in Avignon, the “city of the Popes”, to see its medieval walls, Pont d’Avignon, and (if you choose) the famed Popes’ Palace (entrance fee not included).
  • Free time for lunch.
  • Stop at a Cahteauneuf-du-Pape winery for a tasting en route back to Aix.
  • Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Six - Saturday

  • Breakfast, and checkout.
  • Spend the day exploring Aix (perhaps the Musee Granet, entrance fee not included), and enjoy a cheese and wine pairing for lunch.
  • Afternoon transfer to Aix TGV station or Mareille airport.