Cooking Holiday in France: Cuisine & Culture of Provence
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Cuisine and Culture of Provence - NEW
Buisson (Vaucluse)

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About the location: Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime cooking holiday in southeastern France! Provence has a history and culture as rich as its gastronomy, and they are all waiting to be discovered on this 6-night cooking vacation. Not only is Provencal cuisine distinct (and delicious!), it includes many of the most popular, flavorful, and healthy aspects of the Mediterranean diet: fresh produce, lots of seafood, olive oil, and wine! Provence is a foodie's delight, full of open-air markets and artisan food producers, all of which you will explore on your culinary vacation. Each day your host will lead you in choosing a menu based on the delectable foods you discover on your journeys—a true gourmet delight!


Your cooking holiday accommodations will be at a small, beautifully restored, 5-bedroom country inn nestled in the heart of Provence on a quiet country road between the old Templar villages of Buisson and Villedieu. Each comfortably designed and spacious room is unique, and all exude the charm of this large farm estate. There are several common areas indoors as well as in the gardens, including an outdoor dining terrace and kitchen, pool, and boule court. The courtyard has an aviary with singing canaries and a fountain filled with lilies and fish, all contributing to the magic of this lovely estate. Breakfast at the idyllic inn includes fresh baguettes and homemade butter, jams, compotes, cheeses, eggs, fruit, and of course croissants! From the many antiques to the stunning views of the Aigue River Valley, from the scenic gardens and fountains to the nearby villages, your home away from home will surround you with the incomparable beauty Provence offers.


Chef Mark cooking About the cooking lessons: Your lessons will be led by chef Mark Haskell and a fellow chef. Mark is founder of Friends & Food International in Washington, DC, a food consulting company specializing in institutional and community nutrition programs, edible gardens, culinary education and travel tours. His culinary philosophy is to promote cultural heritage, food diversity, and sustainable practices. In addition to being a certified Master Gardener, he was knighted a Chevalier by the Confrerie de Saint Vincent, in Cotes du Rhone, France, for his work promoting organic and biodynamic food production. His glowing credentials are merely the tip of the iceberg, however, as his true talent lies in his passion for introducing travelers to all the wonders of French and Provencal cuisine. Because Provence cuisine is the epitome of seasonally inspired food, the excursions and cooking lessons will vary from month to month, always dependent on what is harvested in the fields, caught in the sea, or hunted in the forest. But each week, regardless of season, you will be introduced to a variety of regional dishes, including aperitifs, amuse bouches, planchas (a type of grilled dish), rice dishes, Provencal sauces, cheeses, and desserts. You education in Provencal cuisine will include both the techniques as well as the finesse of choosing the right ingredients.

Cuisine and Culture of Provence - NEW Itinerary

Day One - Saturday

Please note that the order of events is subject to change according to weather and the daily market schedule in the region.

  • Arrival at Avignon TGV train station or Marseille airport and transfer to Buisson, where you will meet your hosts at l’Ecole Buissionniere.
  • In the afternoon, enjoy a visit to Vaison-la-Romaine, with its picturesque “upper city,” where refuge was sought during conflicts of the Middle Ages, and its “lower city,” which runs along the river. Its ancient bridge dates back to the First Century!
  • Next, enjoy an aperitif in the nearby town of Villedieu. Each evening during your stay you will have the chance to enjoy an aperitif of local wine, champagne, or cocktails with traditional Provencal snacks such as tapanades, pissaladieres, crudities with dips, anchoides, olives, and more.
  • Return to l’Ecole for your welcome dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day Two - Sunday

  • Breakfast.
  • This morning visit one of the most famous markets in the world, that of l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a “mini-Venice” full of canals. It was originally a silk and textile-making center, and many of its quaint water wheels, which powered the mills, still work. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is now the most well-known place in France to shop for antiques, and its market provides colorful arrays of fresh fruits and vegetables, sausages and jambon, cheese, meat, fish, in addition to textiles and pottery. During your morning’s excursion you will buy ingredients for your first cooking lesson back at l’Ecole, to be held later in the day.
  • Enjoy lunch out, perhaps an elegant picnic.
  • Next stop, the lovely Luberon Valley and its charming villages, where time seems to stand still. Visit the Chateau of the Marquis de Sade and walk through its sculpture garden and courtyard, and stop at the medieval moulin (windmill) in the village of Goult.
  • Return to the inn, where you will enjoy a hands-on cooking lessons in which you prepare a full meal, including such items as amuse bouches, aperitifs, soups, appetizers, main courses, and desserts. You will also learn cheese and wine pairings.
  • Overnight.

Day Three - Monday

  • Breakfast.
  • As the second largest city in France, Marseille is a vibrant place and considered one of the hippest cities on the Mediterranean. It is also France’s oldest city, settled by the Greeks around 600 BC, and it remains a bustling port rife with history, multicultural urbanites, and cutting edge creative spaces. Your exciting visit of this dynamic city will include the new Museum of Mediterranean & European Culture, located in the MuCem, considered a new architectural masterpiece. Travel by footbridge to the nearby Panier, the neighborhood originally founded by the Greeks some 2400 years ago, now a history-rich quarter with a maze of artisan shops, terraced houses, and ateliers. See the Vielle Charite, a former baroque chapel and now home to a museum, bookshop, art gallery, and café.
  • Enjoy lunch on the roof terrace of the Corbusier Radius Building, where you can enjoy stunning views of the coastline, the magnificent mountains, and teeming Marseille. It is said that Marseille is where all oceans meet, and your day in this multicultural city will, of course, include visits of a variety of markets that cater to various Francophone cultures.
  • Return to the Ecole for dinner and overnight.

Day Four - Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • This morning, the Vaucluse, the southern part of the Cotes du Rhone wine region, beckons with its variety of superior private and cooperative wineries. The Cotes du Rhone wine region runs over 200 kilometers through the Rhone River hills, and boasts a hot, sunny, but constant climate. The milder climate translates to lighter and less complex wines, as well as elegant sweet wines. You will enjoy tastings of many of these superb local vintages with the perfect accompaniment: cheese and local specialties.
  • Next, enjoy a walk among the Dentelles (the French word for lace), whose jagged peaks were formed as the limestone strata was worn away to form sharp-edged spikes and ridges. Rising from the Dentelles Mountains is the famed Mont Ventoux, called the “Giant of Provence,” which affords one amazing views of the nearby hilltowns and surrounding vineyards.
  • Return to the Ecole for another cooking lesson, or if you are too tired, relax and wait for dinner to be served!
  • Overnight.

Day Five - Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today you will visit Avignon, capital of Christendom during the medieval “Great Schism” that saw the French papacy established in this lovely town. Avignon boasts a unique architectural history that sets it apart from modern towns. Walk in the opulent square of the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace), enjoy the beautiful gardens of Doms, and explore the monuments along the ramparts.
  • For lunch, taste traditional and original Provencal cuisine at one of Avignon’s many charming restaurants.
  • After lunch, cross the Rhone River to visit Ville Nueve les Avignon, a picturesque medieval town where many cardinals of the 14th century chose to live. Enjoy stunning views of Avignon from the great French King’s charterhouse and its fortifications before traveling to the site of the former papal castle at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a town famed for its wineries, which you will visit, including that of the Baron le Roi who founded the AOC wine-designating system.
  • Dinner back at the hotel.
  • Overnight.

Day Six - Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • Nyons is another quintessential Provencal town, lying at the foot of a rocky spur near Mont Ventoux and surrounded by hills and small mountains. Its location shields it from the Provencal winds and keeps it sunny and warm year round.
  • You will first visit an 18th- and 19th-century olive oil mill, as well as a lavender distillery, before venturing to the two hundred and fifty year old market to choose foods for your cooking class in Nyons.
  • Lunch will follow based on your efforts.
  • In the afternoon, journey to Suze-la-Rousse with its beautiful castle that was both a feudal fortress and stately Renaissance estate. The former chateau of the Dukes of Adhuerre, the castle now houses the French National Université du Vin, an institution dedicated to all things wine! After touring the building and its laboratory, stop for a tasting in its tasting room.
  • This evening, dinner will be in the charming medieval village of Entrechaux, known for its production of cherries, melons, asparagus, grapes, and apricots.
  • Overnight.

Day Seven - Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today you will create as a group your own Provencal adventure. You may choose to stay at the Ecole and relax on the patio, or to walk through the vineyards to Villedieu for one last lunch. Or, you may prefer to take one last chance to explore more of the Rhone River valley with its quaint towns and ancient landmarks. You may search out another market to shop for specialties to take home, or simply visit with the new friends you have made during your stay. Your host will help you in deciding how to make the most of your last day in Provence.
  • Transfer in the afternoon to the Avignon TGV train station or the Marseille airport. A bientôt!