Culinary Delights of Provence: France Cooking Vacation
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Culinary Delights of Provence - NEW
Les Baux de Provence

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Provence is a land of picturesque landscapes and charming hilltop villages, such as Les Baux-de-Provence, which is situated on a rocky outcrop among the Alpilles mountain range. The town is known for its royal history as, during the Middle Ages, it was a seat of power in the region. With the population now just over 400 people — and at its height in the French Revolution, there was nearly 4,000 — the village today is home to a number of scenic ruins, including the Chateau des Baux de Provence, that date back to the 14th century. Between the ruins and the stunning views, it's easy to see why the town was classified as one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. As with many villages in Provence, herbs, olives, tomatoes, and Mediterranean-influenced cuisine abound here.

Just two kilometers from the town is your accommodations for the week, Hotel Mas de l'Oulivie. Surrounded by a lavender field, Mediterranean garden, and olive grove that produces four varieties of olives that are used to make an AOC olive oil, the 4-star luxury property is a relaxing respite in the heart of beautiful Provence. The property is also a part of the Chateux & Hotels Collection.

Chef GillesAbout the cooking classes: After studying French cooking, patisserie, and chocolate in Lyon, the capital of French cuisine, Chef Gilles Angenieux worked as a chef in Switzerland, Crans-Montana, Lausanne, Friboug, Toronto, and Tahiti. After his tour of the "French Grand chefs," he returned home to France to open his own restaurant, La Cascade, in the Loire. For a decade, his cuisine was inspired by the produce of local markets and acclaimed by the gastronomic guidebooks. Upon moving to Provence, a region that has inspired him for many years, he started to offer cooking classes.

Chef Gilles will introduce you to market produce, olive oils, and herbs, and how to use those ingredients in classic French dishes during your classes among the olive trees. Each class begins with a stop at the local market to pick out ingredients, and the class includes preparation of three courses, an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

Culinary Delights of Provence - NEW Itinerary

Day 1 - Friday

  • Arrive in the afternoon. Group transfer from Avignon TGV train station or Marseilles airport to the hotel Mas de l’Oulivie.
  • Some time on your own to relax and refresh.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail — the drink of the region “pastis” (anise flavored liqueur) — along with homemade tapenade and a game of bowles, the traditional French game of pétanques.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 2 - Saturday

  • Start the day with a delicious country breakfast served on the terrace with homemade jams, fresh French bread, and croissants from the local bakery.
  • At 9:30 a.m., discover the hidden side of Provence with Chef Gilles with a visit of local small producers before your first hands-on class in the garden. Lunch to follow based on your efforts on the terrace near the swimming pool. A tasting of local wines from les Alpilles will also be served.
  • In the afternoon, visit the medieval city of Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for the Pont d’Avignon bridge, which is the subject of a popular folk song, and Popes Palace, the largest Gothic structure in the world. In the 14th century, the palace was both a fortress and papal residence that dominated the city. Today, the palace is still largely intact and features chapels, priceless frescoes, and a variety of historical exhibits.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 3 - Sunday

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, your second cooking class with Chef Gilles beginning with another visit to the market (or local producers). Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • In the afternoon, depart for the medieval village of L’Isle sur la Sorgue, where the market is only available on Sundays. Besides being one of the loveliest Provencal towns due to its canals and waterways, it is also one of the best places in France for antiques.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 4 - Monday

  • Breakfast on the terrace with some of Chef Anthony’s snacks, which change every day.
  • In the morning, an excursion with a guide, who will take you out for a wine tasting and a one-of-a-kind picnic. (Only available for groups of 4 or more; day at leisure for 2-3 people). If the picnic outside in the vineyard is not possible due to weather, the chef will substitute another special location.
  • In the afternoon, return to Mas de l’Oulivie for some time on your own to relax and perhaps have a massage.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 5 - Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Your last cooking class focuses on the secrets of French croissants, as well as a patisserie lesson, which takes place in a top, local patisserie in St. Remy. You’ll learn how to make a number of popular French sweets; these might include croissants, macarons, pain au chocolat, mille feuille, lemon tart, and religieuse.
  • Enjoy lunch out on the terrace.
  • In the afternoon, head to the village of Les Baux, its castle, and the “cathedral des images.”
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 6 - Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today, you’ll have a full day out in St. Remy de Provence, the town where Van Gogh lived and painted Starry Night, among other artwork. Inside the medieval town’s 14th-century walls, meander the winding streets of the old town, admire charming churches, and pass by a variety of boutiques and art galleries. St. Remy is also known for its famous Wednesday market, which you’ll visit in the morning. At the market, buy everything from fresh produce to olive oils, cheese, vinegars, Provencal linens, and colorful local pottery, etc.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, experience a chocolate tasting at the chocolatier Joel Durand, who handcrafts irresistable chocolates infused with fruit, herb, and flower flavors. Upon gently biting into the coating, you’ll discover a rich, velvety truffle-type ganache shot through with the essence of Earl Grey, jasmine, cocoa bean, or rosemary. Each lusicious square is dusted with a chocolate letter, a hint of what’s inside: M for fresh mint, and T for tiramisu!
  • You’ll also experience a cheese tasting. The cheeses you’ll try will depend on the time of year, the supply in the cheese cave, and the mood of the fromagerie owner! In addition to trying such products as sheep and cows milk, you’ll also have a taste of wine and freshly sliced baguettes.
  • Dinner on your own (if you’re still hungry!)
  • Overnight.

Day 7 - Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • Group departure transfer to either Avignon train station or Marseille airport.