Cooking in a French Chateau: Culinary Vacation in the French Basque Country
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Cooking in a French Chateau
Moumour, Oloron Sainte Marie (Béarn)

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It has been suggested that French cuisine originated in the South West of France, the Basque country, but also in the neighboring Bearn. The region is known for the dry and sweet white wines of the Jurancon area, as well as for the red from the Madiran. You will get to taste both as you explore the local cuisine in a true farm-to-market and market-to-table experience.

About the accommodations: It is the pittoresque little village of Moumour that you will find your home for the week, a beautifully restored Château set in a luscious park with stunning views of the Pyrénées. Summer residence of the bishops of Oloron Sainte Marie, the nearby town with a medieval cathedral, the chateau is grand and has been totally renovated to modern 5* luxury standards. It is an ideal starting point for exploring the beauties of the National Parc des Pyrénées, which is right around the corner.

Chef Laurent NederlofYour hosts for the week are the owners, Christine, a sculptor who did the interior decoration of the Château, and Laurent, who will be your Chef and instructor. Laurent always loved cooking, and after selling his shipping business, Christine and he opened a bed and breakfast in the Château. To improve his already fine cooking skills, Laurent followed intensive courses at the Alain Ducasse institute in Paris, and Bocuse in Lyon, as well as working with chefs in restaurants in Paris, Marseille and Florence. Laurent, or "Chef Larry," cooks with a passion, not only traditional French dishes like coquilles St. Jacques and crème brulée, but all sorts of sauces, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and even some molecular cooking.

For partners that do not like to cook, there are many options to occupy your time, from a nearby golf course to a sculpture class with Christine, the library, gymnasium, home cinema, or swimming pool.

Cooking in a French Chateau Itinerary

Day 1: Monday

  • Arrival and transfer to the chateau.
  • Welcome drink and light lunch, followed by an introduction to the program.
  • Take some time to relax and unwind. Perhaps take a stroll through the park or a dip in the swimming pool.
  • Start your first cooking class, followed by dinner based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 2: Tuesday

  • Following breakfast, go shopping to buy ingredients from local suppliers for your second cooking class.
  • Return to the kitchen for your class.
  • Lunch based on your efforts.
  • In the afternoon, some time on your own.
  • Enjoy a fabulous dinner at Michel Guérard’s 3* Michelin restaurant Les Prés d’Eugénie in the village of Eugénie-les-bains. (Drinks not included).
  • Transfer back to the chateau, and overnight.

Day 3: Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Transfer to Monein, a small village in the Jurancon wine area. Visit the church of Saint Girons, which has an interesting wooden roof structure.
  • Return to the chateau for a light lunch and time to rest.
  • This evening, your next cooking class, followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 4: Thursday

  • After breakfast, depart for a a winery visit in the medieval city of Lucq de Bearn. You will taste the foie gras mi-cuit you hve made, will bake fresh foie gras, and will sample it with the Jurancon sweet wine of the winery.
  • Return to the chateau for your next cooking class.
  • Dinner and overnight in the chateau.

Day 5: Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today is all about vegetables! You will make the real choumous, baba ganoush, kofte, and vegan apple cake.
  • Lunch to follow.
  • In the afternoon, visit La Verna, the largest cave in the world that is open to the public. It is so big they one flew a hot air balloon inside!
  • Return to the chateau for dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Saturday

  • Breakfast.
  • Departure transfer.