Terroir, Touring & Tasting: Provence Cookery Holidays
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Terroir, Touring, and Tasting - NEW

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While the word "domaine" — French for vineyard — has only been in use since the 1950s, many wine estates in the southeast of France have been around for generations. The mild climate and many sunny days encourage the perfect growing conditions for a number of grapes that produce both red and white wines, making them particularly revered by wine critic Robert M. Parker. Experience all of these wines, from A.O.C. to Cotes du Rhone appellations, during a France wine vacation.

While this trip is all about discovering some wonderful wines — which you'll sample at a chateau in Piolenc, Châteauneuf du Pape, a castle in Mormoiron, and a number of other family-run vineyards — it's also about experiencing one of the most beautiful areas of France. You'll visit some charming towns with stunning views, such as Séguret, which overlooks a valley, as well Gigondas, located in the foothills of the Rhone Valley.

About the accommodations: Your home base for this wine tour is in the heart of Avignon, where you will stay in a 4-star hotel, such as the Hotel de l'Horloge. Otherwise known as the City of Popes, Avignon is a thriving, walkable city, where you can enjoy traditional French dishes in local auberges, as well as other gastronomic delights, such as candied fruits, bon bons, and nougats, which the city is known for, along with wine of course!

About the cooking class: During your travels throughout the Provencal countryside, you'll also stop in St. Remy de Provence for one hands-on cooking class (an alternate class will be arranged in August). Chef Yvan was born in the region, and has worked for such chefs as Guy Martin, Jacques Lameloise, and J-Paul Bonin. His love of Provence, and the ingredients of the region, shines through with each and every one of his dishes. Prior to the cooking class, guests will visit a local fruit and vegetable producer to pick out some ingredients for the class. During the hands-on course, you'll learn to prepare simple, yet tasty Provencal recipes that will sure to impress your friends and family when you return home!

Terroir, Touring, and Tasting - NEW Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrive in Avignon in the heart of Provence on your own.
  • Private transfer from Avignon TGV or central train station to your centrally-located hotel.
  • Welcome dinner in a fine restaurant near the hotel (drinks not included).
  • Overnight.

Day 2

  • Breakfast.
  • At 9 a.m., meet your English-speaking driver/guide to learn about the wines of the Rhone Valley with a wine expert. You’ll stop in Tavel for a visit and wine tasting; this area is famous for its rosé wine, which is a complex wine with aromas of summer fruits.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • Depart for the Roman theatre in Orange, one of the best preserved from the Roman civilization; the stage wall is almost entirely intact.
  • Take a driving tour through the vineyards of Châteauneuf du Pape, and stop to see the stunning panoramic view of the Rhone valley at the Castle of Châteauneuf de Pape.
  • Visit and wine tasting in a domaine in Châteauneuf de Pape. After a guided visit of the winemaking process — including the aging and stocking cellars — enjoy a tasting of red and white wines.
  • Around 6 p.m., return to your hotel in Avignon.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • At 9 a.m., your driver/guide will take you to an intimate cooking class in Alpilles. But before you head to the kitchen, visit a local fruit and vegetable producer with the English-speaking chef. You’ll discover regional, seasonal products, which will be used during the class. Next, visit a goat cheese factory.
  • Now, it’s time to cook! You will learn how to prepare a leg of lamb, cook crispy vegetables, prepare a filet from an entire fish, and much more. Lunch to follow, drinks included, either out on the veranda or in the shade of the olive trees.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts (drinks included).
  • In the afternoon, visit an olive oil mill in Les Baux de Provence valley for a tasting. The AOC olive oil here is unusual in that it’s made from a blend of olives.
  • Continue on to the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence, one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. The immense and superb stone fortress here is, without a doubt, one of the “must-sees” on the Provencal tourist trail.
  • Around 6 p.m., return to your hotel in Avignon.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast.
  • With your driver/guide, head to a castle in Mormoiron, a family-run vineyard in the south of the Rhône Valley on the Côtes du Ventoux appellation that operates on the principles of sustainable agriculture.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch on the wine estate (drinks included).
  • Continue to Gigondas for a visit and wine tasting in a cellar. Gigondas wines are considered as Cru of the Southern Côtes du Rhône valley. The village is located at the foot of the hill range called Dentelles de Montmirail.
  • Around 6 p.m., return to your hotel in Avignon. Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 5

  • Breakfast and check out.
  • Return transfer to Avignon TGV train station.