Gourmet dessert made in cooking class in the Loire Valley
Dinner dish made on your Loire Valley cooking vacation
Preparing the plate for dessert on your culinary tour
Gourmet dessert on your culinary tour of France
Cooking class in the Loire Valley France
Delicious dinner of duck on a France culinary tour
Macarons class on a culinary tour of France
Desserts composed on a culinary tour of France
Desserts in a cage on a culinary tour of France
Fish dish made on a cooking vacation in France
Scallops made on a culinary vacation in France
Cooking class in France
Bedroom of the gite of your cooking class France
Table outside on your culinary tour of France
Pool at the B&B for your culinary tour of France
Salon and dining room in France
Dining outside on your culinary tour of France
Double twin room on your tour of France
Overview

Gourmet Cuisine in France

This tour is no longer available.

Spend five nights with one of our oldest collaborators enjoying the unspoiled French countryside during this advanced cooking school vacation in France. Your intensive hands-on and demonstration French cooking lessons are designed to instill confidence, with an understanding of natural ingredients.

The cooking school is strategically located in the Loire, not far from the borders of Normandy and Brittany and a short drive to the Chateaux country of the Loire Valley. Set in an unspoiled area of the French countryside, you will enjoy all amenities, which the owners have included for the comfort and needs of their guests when they renovated their charming farmhouse. With beautiful views over an expanse of walnut trees, this property ensures a relaxing and comfortable stay.


Latest Review

No rating given with this review
The school was fabulous. Maynard & Benedict were excellent, patient, teachers. Their recipes were great and they were very organized in their presentations, etc. There was plenty of hands on participation. Everything was very clean, neat and well presented. There were only six of us in the class, which was great. We were treated exceptionally well. Our accommodations were fabulous. I am a very picky person and I can't find anything bad to say about the trip. Bravo !!!! The International Kitchen Chicago staff was great. We had quite a few questions and you were always helpful and quick to respond to our needs. I have already referred many of my friends to your website. Keep up the great work !!!!! Robert W., RI

Trip Details

You will have 8 cooking classes (more or less) during the week, including hands-on and demonstration instruction. Your host and teacher for the course is Chef Maynard, who believes the best way to learn is in a casual and fun atmosphere, where you will have the confidence to skillfully combine flavors, textures and presentation, enhanced by your own imagination. Each day will be filled with combining the freshest local ingredients with techniques that will help you develop your understanding of modern cooking.
The lessons are held in a professionally equipped, yet warm and inviting kitchen that has been specifically designed for the cooking classes. Maynard’s experience includes working with numerous famous chefs, as well as at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London and the Royal Bath House. Chef Maynard and his wife Freya bring sincere passion and enthusiasm to their work: they will both inspire and stimulate your own love of gourmet French cuisine.

Itinerary

Your accommodation in France

Day One

  • Arrive at the cooking school on your own.
  • Around 5:00 p.m. there will be an introduction to the program and a discussion of the aims and structure of the course.
  • Following the introduction, Champagne is served, followed by a six-course gourmet dinner.
  • Sample menu:
    • Spinach and cream cheese roulade with a gazpachio dressing
    • Caramelised scallops with a cauliflower purée scented with truffle oil
    • Sorbet
    • Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
    • Passion-fruit and orange bavois with orange crisps and a passion-fruit sauce
    • Selection of cheese and biscuits
    • Coffee and truffles
  • Overnight.

Cooking class in France


Day Two

  • Breakfast in the morning. Every day, you will be presented with croissants and breads, preserves, cereals, juices, yogurt and coffee or tea.
  • Your first day in the kitchen will start with a welcome and an exploration of the kitchen and the equipment. The class will include:
    • Hands-on: Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chopping and slicing onions, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek.
    • Demonstration: Leek and potato soup, cheese croutons.
    • Hands-on: Seasoning techniques
    • Hands-on: Bread making; plain, sun-dried tomato and parmesan, basil and olive oil, onion and cumin.
    • Hands-on: Chicken butchery.
  • Lunch will follow your cooking class: Leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salads, home-made bread, and olives.
  • After lunch, return to the kitchen for:
    • Demonstration: Chicken stock, veal glace, red wine and shallot sauce.
    • Demonstration: Preparation of salmon, Gravadlax of salmon.
    • Hands-on: Filleting trout and prepping mussels.
    • Demonstration: Seafood chowder, fish stock, home-smoked trout, and crab bisque sauce.
  • Aperitifs to follow.
  • Tonight’s dinner menu: Seafood Chowder, roasted quail with wild mushroom puree, sorbet, seared fillet of salmon served with sauteed king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette, iced banana parfait, cheese and biscuits, and coffee and truffles.
  • Overnight.

Cooking class in France


Day Three

  • Breakfast followed by your next lesson, which will consist of:
    • Demonstration: Pasta dough, salmon, egg and herb terrine, chicken mousse, and rich sweet pastry.
    • Hands-on: Tortellini, ravioli filled with chicken & foie gras mousse, and tagliatelle.
    • Menu explanation: chicken & foie gras tortellini with a truffle foam, Caesar salad, sorbet, medley of chicken with cranberry & celeriac (sous vide), glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait served in a honey wafer basket, selection of cheese and biscuits, coffee and truffles.
    • Hands-on menu for group 1: chicken dish, Caesar salad.
    • Hands-on menu for group 2: sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, lemon zest.
  • Today’s lunch menu: Tagliatelli with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
  • After lunch, depart for an excursion (can vary according to availability) to an 19th century windmill, producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method, or a local cider farm with tasting.
  • Return to Walnut Grove for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Cooking class in France


Day Four

  • Breakfast.
  • Today’s class will consist of:
    • Demonstration and hands-on: ice-creams (caramelised banana and cinnamon), sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets plus tuille work.
    • Tea and home-made biscuits.
    • Possible menu: Duo of smoked salmon and guacamole with a chilli and lime dressing, chicken liver parfait served with a sweet and sour sauce, sorbet, spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce, Rum and honey bread and butter pudding with cinnamon ice cream, cheese and biscuits, coffee and petit-fours.
    • Hands-on menu prep: smoked salmon, guacamole, chilli dressing, bread and butter pudding, tuile work, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, gin and tonic sorbet OR: chicken liver parfait, sweet and sour sauce, monk-fish dish, deep-fried veg.
  • Lunch to follow your cooking class. Today’s lunch menu: cold meats, salads, homemade bread and pickles followed by ice creams.
  • In the afternoon, a French patissier will lead a class in croissants and macarons.
  • Return to the property for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, with dinner to follow and overnight.

Cooking in France


Day Five

  • Breakfast followed by your last cooking class, which will consist of:
    • Possible menu: Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce, Gravalax of salmon with a prawn and cucumber dressing, sorbet, filet of beef with a fresh rocquette pesto and confit garlic, coffee and baileys cheesecake with chocolate and earl grey tea ice cream, selection of cheeses, coffee and petit fours.
    • Hands-on prep: spring roll starter, main course, or Gravalax dish, pudding, sorbet and petit-fours.
  • Lunch: Barbeque.
  • After lunch, time at leisure for croquet, boules and general relaxing.
  • Return to the kitchen to finish the final touches of dinner.
  • Aperitifs, followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Plating dessert


Day Six

  • Breakfast followed by departure before midday.
  • Au revoir!

Trip Details

Included in the 5-Night Trip

Accommodations

5 nights double occupancy with private bathroom

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfast
  • 4 lunches
  • 5 dinners

Classes & Instructors

You will have 8 cooking classes (more or less) during the week, including hands-on and demonstration instruction. Your host and teacher for the course is Chef Maynard, who believes the best way to learn is in a casual and fun atmosphere, where you will have the confidence to skillfully combine flavors, textures and presentation, enhanced by your own imagination. Each day will be filled with combining the freshest local ingredients with techniques that will help you develop your understanding of modern cooking.
The lessons are held in a professionally equipped, yet warm and inviting kitchen that has been specifically designed for the cooking classes. Maynard’s experience includes working with numerous famous chefs, as well as at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London and the Royal Bath House. Chef Maynard and his wife Freya bring sincere passion and enthusiasm to their work: they will both inspire and stimulate your own love of gourmet French cuisine.

Excursions

  • Seasonal excursion: to a 19th-century mill that produces buckwheat flour, or to a local cider farm

Transfer Details

  • Arrival transfer from Laval about 3:40 pm (departs from Pairs Montparnasse at 2:09 pm)
  • Departure transfer to Laval about 11:48 am (the schedule varies according to the day of the week)
  • You can also take a taxi from the Rennes airport, which will cost around 100 Euro and takes about one hour.

Not Included

  • Alcoholic beveragse are not included with the meals, but can be purchased at the bar

Accommodation Information

Accommodations are usually at the school’s farmhouse B&B, which offers 4 simple but comfortable bedrooms with en suite bath. The farmhouse bedrooms are tastefully outfitted in fawns and creams with lovely views onto the walnut grove. Each room can be either double or double twin. There is also a sitting room and fully equipped kitchen.

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When the farmhouse is full, you can stay at a charming hotel in the nearby town of Craon (5 minutes away by car). The hotel sits on the riverbank and is only a few minute’s walk from the center of Craon, which is a pretty French market town. If you stay in Craon you are transported each day to the cooking school, it is only a few minutes away.
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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Pricing:

5-night Program
US$2250 per person based on double occupancy
  • Add US$300 for single occupancy (use of a double room by 1 person)
  • Subtract US$975 per non-cooking companion

Tour Dates

This trip is no longer available. 

Reviews

No rating given with this review
The school was fabulous. Maynard & Benedict were excellent, patient, teachers. Their recipes were great and they were very organized in their presentations, etc. There was plenty of hands on participation. Everything was very clean, neat and well presented. There were only six of us in the class, which was great. We were treated exceptionally well. Our accommodations were fabulous. I am a very picky person and I can't find anything bad to say about the trip. Bravo !!!! The International Kitchen Chicago staff was great. We had quite a few questions and you were always helpful and quick to respond to our needs. I have already referred many of my friends to your website. Keep up the great work !!!!! Robert W., RI
No rating given with this review
This was an excellent course - casual, yet very informative. The key features were excellent instructors, plenty of hands on work as well as demonstrations, fabulous meals, a very quiet and relaxing rural environment, very good facilities and a well thought out program. Above all, I was looking for relaxation, and I got that in spades. The duration was very well calibrated for my purposes. I learned a lot in a short period of time, and had a lot of fun doing it. One of the reasons I chose this particular course was the excellent and detailed course description provided on [The International Kitchen] website, a description which proved in the actual event to be very accurate. I was quite impressed with the prompt response time and courteous accommodation I received from your staff. It was a blast. Keep up the good work. Earle M., Canada
No rating given with this review
We came to France to learn to cook Five short days that's all it took Maynard and Benedict will definitely be glad Five days like this could drive a chef mad! Amongst it all we've put on weight We must go home to compensate Patricia H.
No rating given with this review
Maynard and Benedict have certainly exceeded any expectations I may have had before coming to the course. Bravo! I will certainly encourage our friends & family to follow suit. Boys, remember me when you are rich and famous. Emily Q.
No rating given with this review
"One of the best courses I've done, cleverly structured so that your confidence really increases as the week progresses. It's great fun too." Jenni Muir, author of 'A Place to Cook' and 'Cooking School Holidays' [We are particularly proud of this quote, as this was about the 30th cookery course that Jenni has been on - she was in the process of writing the book "A Place to Cook" and therefore had to attend a lot of cookery courses!! She was also, at the time, the chairperson of the British Guild of Food & Travel Writers".]
No rating given with this review
I chose this one because the program promised more learn-by-doing cooking than other other cooking schools, whose approach seemed to be learn-by-watching. The course lived up to its promise, with plenty of personal coaching by Maynard and Benedict. C D, MI
No rating given with this review
My experience commenced with the personal and efficient correspondence with the staff who were in contact with me from The International Kitchens as soon as I made my first inquiry. I was treated with respect and consideration when confused by some aspects of the course...Nothing was left to chance and all areas were explained to me and taken care of. My Scottish Mother-in-law did put some doubt in my mind when she told me it would be a hoax, after all I had paid all that money!!! I was so delighted(and relieved) when Freya met me at Laval station with her sign and her enthusiasm and genuine friendliness putting me at ease immediately. I can not say enough about my 5 days with the team in the Loire. My accommodation was excellent...The Chefs, Maynard and Benedict were friendly, professional and it was a pleasure to see them work so well together. The kitchen was clean and functional and everything was explained and our introduction to the week presented with attention and an obvious passion for their chosen careers. The rest of the team, down to 4 of us with Volcanic Ash presenting a "no show", were delightful which obviously added to the ambiance and experience. I actually love cooking and really did this course to fill in time whilst my husband was working elsewhere in Europe, but I learned an enormous amount and the boys took into account people's ability and level of interest and worked with us all showing their willingness to be flexible and share their excellent knowledge. Our excursions were arranged by Freya and guided by her were also well thought out and extremely interesting. We were very hands on after the first day and were kept busy and interested. The food itself was superb and I have no hesitation in encouraging anyone who has a love for cooking and food and experiencing France away from the "tourists", and making new friends to book in for this course. Dare I say I would go back and do the Extended Course that they offer when I can afford to do so. This was a real treat and a real highlight of my 9 weeks of traveling through America and Europe. I must add that with that amount of time away my husband and I have eaten out in over 70 different cafes and restaurants- along the way -and only a small handful of kitchens have equaled the quality of the food and its' brilliant presentation. We were at several Michelin Restaurants in France, and fine dining particularly in Scotland and Phoenix, Arizona as well as many places recommended through friends and truly This sits up there with all of these places. Probably said more than you expected but nonetheless I thank you. Amanda L, Australia
No rating given with this review
We LOVED Maynard, Freya, and Benedict. The experience was wonderful. They had a great balance between hands-on and demonstration. The recipes were easy to follow, and they welcomed any questions. We ate like kings and the accommodations were terrific. We had 6 total in our class which was perfect. We never felt rushed and I learned a lot of new techniques. I would like to do the advanced class in the future. The program packet was great. All the information we needed was included. The only thing I would have liked to know prior to our visit is how many other participants would be attending the class. The staff was great and answered any questions I had prior to the trip quickly. I had never visited France before, so any question I had on transportation, what was included in the rooms, etc, was answered right away. Diane M., PA
No rating given with this review
An excellent experience! Very well-organized. Superb one-on-one instruction. Friendly, open folks. Great, contemporary kitchen. The housing was beyond expectations in a 14th-century totally renovated farmhouse with all amenities including kitchen, full private baths, "snacks" and breakfast served each morning. We were a total of 7 students, with two full-time chef instructors, both of whom were very knowledgeable. The little village was only a 15-20 minute walk away, along country roads and through fields of flowers; we became quite friendly with the local barmaid, who opened her homemade stock of the wonderful apple brandy "Calvados" each evening after dinner. My sister, Barbara, who was an "accompanying person" (did not cook) was welcomed with open arms as a guest of the group. Four of the students were Brits; two from Wales. Friendships formed. For me, the meals we prepared were far too complex for my day-to-day style in North Carolina, but that is of no matter, as what I wanted to learn was how great chefs prepare and present fine dining in a formal setting. That, I got. Thomas H.

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