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 English-speaking guide for a gourmet walking tour of Aix en Provence. Stroll first to the weekly open air market and sample regional products such as olives, calissons, cheese, and fruit. Next, walk to the famed Cours Mirabeau, which is lined with 17th- and 18th-century mansions and where large trees shade the walkways on hot summer days. The Aix old town center is packed with shops, architectural and religious sites, fountains and public squares.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • 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.
  • Join a shared tour this morning (8 people maximum). First stop is Manosque, to the factory of Occitane, famed throughout the world for its Provencal cosmetics using local flowers and plants. Cross the Valensole plateau (where you will see the lavender fields in bloom if you travel mid-June to mid-July), and continue on to Moustiers-Ste-Marie, which is known for its earthenware workshops. You will have free time to explore and shop on your own.
  • Lunch on your own in Moustiers-Ste-Marie.
  • Next stop is the Verdon River Gorges, which give breathtaking views of the Lake Sainte Croix and the Verdon Canyon. Relax for a bit on the shores of Lake Sainte Croix before returing to Aix via the charming village of Sainte Croix du Verdon, which overlooks the lake.
  • Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Four - Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your English-speaking guide and transfer to the beautiful Luberon for a cooking class with famed chef Reine Samut. 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 chef in her cooking workshop located in the heart of Aix. Enjoy a hands-on cooking class on Provencal cuisine, with lunch to follow based on your efforts (drinks included).
  • This afternoon, free time to explore Aix on your own.
  • Dinner on your own and overnight.

Day Six - Saturday

  • Breakfast, and checkout (you can leave your bags with the concierge of the hotel during your morning tour).
  • Depart with your English-speaking guide for a shared tour of Cassis (8 people maximum). You will have time to explore this beautiful town and its fisherman’s port. You might choose to join a cruise to the stunning calanques, the famed white limestone cliffs for which Cassis is known. The calanques jut into the pristine blue waters of the Mediterranean creating natural coves and rocky “claws” that resemble the Norwegian fjords. (Cruise ticket not included.)
  • Return to Aix, with free time for one last lunch on your own.
  • Pick up your things and transfer to the Aix train station or Marseille airport.