Chateau Cooking in Musketeer Country
Moumour, Oloron Sainte Marie (Béarn)
Béarn is considered musketeer country as some of Alexandre Dumas's characters, like Aramis and Porthos, originate from the area. The region is also known for its cheeses — especially Brebis — duck confit, and foie gras. In this beautiful region of valleys, rivers, ravines, and waterfalls is the charming French village of Moumour. It is here in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains where the Nederlof family found the ruins of a castle and turned them into the beautiful chateau it is today.
About the accommodations: The history of the chateau that will be your home dates back to the early 1100s, when there was a Moorish fortification on a hill, hence the town's name: Moumour = Mount Moor. When the French droves the Moorish invaders from France, the castle was destroyed and then rebuilt to serve as the summer residence for the bishops of Oloron for 600 years. During the revolution it was once again destroyed and rebuilt to become the home of the a local family, who lived there until 1956. It later became a holiday colony for children of the local paper factory's employees. For years it was abandoned until it was acquired by your hosts Christine and Laurent, who created a beautiful retreat with 360 degree views of the stunning Béarnaise and Basque countryside.
The artisan food production in Béarn and the Pyrenees is immense, which is just one reason why there's a plethora of Michelin star restaurants in the area, some of which you'll experience during this special culinary vacation to France.
About the cooking classes: Chef Laurent has always felt at home in the kitchen, so after selling his shipping company, he started a bed and breakfast with his wife in France, and took an intensive course at the training center of Alain Duccasse in Paris to hone his skills. In addition to teaching classic French recipes — such as coquilles St. Jacques with béchamel, millefeuille of potatoes, and fresh foie gras with onion confit — he also enjoys teaching students about organization in the kitchen, or what the French call 'mis en place.' He'll send you home not only with recipes, but also wonderful drawings that explain the dishes in further detail.