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5 Days Photography and Culinary Vacations in France

Food Photography and Culinary Holiday France

Big in France is pleased to invite you to this exciting food photography course to suit all levels of competence. Based at a stunning French villa in South Vendee, improve your photographic technique, be it with your phone or your digital camera, under the guidance of Roger Stowell, an award-winning London photographer. While at that, hone your culinary skills as well with the celebrated former Ottolenghi chef Olia Hercules. Relax, eat well, take lots of pictures, and have a fantastic time.

Meet the instructors

Olia & Roger
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  • Cookery sessions
  • Photography lessons
  • Daily gourmet dinners with wine
  • Expert instruction from professionals
  • Stunning farmhouse location
  • Daily continental breakfasts
  • Trips to local markets
  • Airport transfers


4 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: French, English
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You will be accommodated in double rooms in a farmhouse in the commune of Le Mazeau. The house is set in a peaceful location with amazing grounds which lead down to one of the many rivers that are in the area. It is full of rustic charm and is a perfect place for a well-deserved break. Situated in the Marais Poitevin marshland, this beautiful holiday home is simply impressive.

The house offers eight fantastic bedrooms, a stunning pool, and a superb al fresco dining area complete with wood-fired pizza oven, barbecue facilities, and plancha area to easily cook for large numbers. A handmade table happily accommodates your party and overlooks the gardens and river, perfect for a get-together. The house has recently been renovated to a very high standard with a magnificent, charming, and exceptionally-huge sitting room area.

The house sleeps up to 20 people. It has six double bedrooms and two bedrooms with twin beds for the little ones, with a further four bathrooms. The master bedroom is very large and is a perfect family room, with a double bed with a single bed, and an en-suite bathroom. There are three Z beds that can be moved around the property to suit your needs. There is a travel cot and highchair available.

A delightful and welcoming kitchen with rustic terracotta floor, solid wood worktops, and handmade wooden table makes it easy to enjoy time with your party while cooking a feast. Fully-catered evenings are also available. There is satellite television, Wi-Fi access, a dishwasher, washing machine, and parking lot. Towels and linens are also provided for your convenience.

The large heated swimming pool with alarm is also wonderful for families or groups to enjoy with a bespoke sitting area built alongside for relaxing. The local village is a 15-minute walk away with a bar, boulangerie, and cave. This village also has boat rentals for those who want to explore the many canals and rivers in the area. Fishing is possible in the canal running alongside the property.


During your four-night stay, you will have the opportunity to improve both your photographic and culinary skills but, above all, you will have the chance to unwind and eat well in a magnificent house in the heart of the French countryside. This is a holiday for the photography enthusiast or the sybarite. There will be great food, good wine, and the chance to take pictures in a perfect environment.

A normal day will begin with continental breakfast overlooking the pool where the day’s activities will be discussed once everyone is fully awake. Each morning, there will be photography tuition linked to chef Olia’s preparation for the afternoon’s cooking lesson. After this, you will set out to market to buy ingredients at the covered markets of both Niort and La Rochelle. Lunches are not included in this retreat package, so you will be pointed to the direction of nearby restaurants.

After lunch, for those with the energy, Roger will be available to discuss your morning’s photography, give some lessons on Photoshop, or talk about photography linked to the afternoon’s cookery session. At around 6:00 p.m., there will be drinks around the pool followed by gourmet dinner with wine.

Although there is the opportunity to learn and improve your culinary and photography skills, it should be clear that this holiday doesn't have a schoolroom scenario. It’s all about having a good time and doing as much or as little as you'd like.

Included excursions

The trips to the covered markets of La Rochelle and Niort are included in the price of this retreat.


Olia Hercules
Olia is a Leiths-trained chef, recipe writer, and food stylist who honed her cooking skills in the fiery kitchens of Ottolenghi, after which she worked as a freelance recipe tester and developer for a variety of food magazines, including Sainsbury's and Jamie. She also appeared in a Food Network cookery show. She was picked as Observer Rising Star of 2015 in the food category, and her recipes are regularly featured in the "10 Best" column of The Guardian’s Cook supplement.
Roger Stowell
After a long career as a well-known editorial and advertising photographer in London, Roger now lives and works in the Vendee, France. Over the years, he has worked for most of the well-known English magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Sunday Times, The Times, The Observer, Telegraph supplement, Red, Olive, and BBC Good Food, as well as a legion of advertising clients. During his career, he worked with every possible film format but when digital arrived on the scene, he fully embraced it and has become an expert exponent of Photoshop and digital photography.


This culinary retreat will take place in Le Mazeau, Vendee, France. The commune proper of Le Mazeau is 2.7 kilometers from the farmhouse where you will be staying. It is the closest village with the most basic amenities. Benet is the closest larger village with supermarket and diesel, and it is 8.5 kilometers away. The beautiful cities of La Rochelle and Les Sables d'Olonne on the coast also deserve a visit.

Le Mazeau is within easy reach of all the local beaches along the amazing Vendee coast and the many beautiful villages of Marais Poitevin. The desirable destination of Ile de Re is close by with lots to offer in the way of shopping, thalassotherapy spas, restaurants, boat trips, superb beaches, and more. There are various golf courses to visit within roughly an hour of the property as well.

Nearby places

  • Benet, 8.5 kilometers
  • Caen, 436 kilometers
  • Calais, 696 kilometers
  • Cherbourg, 487 kilometers
  • La Rochelle-Île de Ré Airport (LRH), 51 kilometers
  • Le Mazeau proper, 2.7 kilometers
  • Local beach, 22 kilometers
  • Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), 107 kilometers
  • Paris, 442 kilometers
  • Poitiers-Biard Airport (PIS), 140 kilometers
  • Puy du Fou, 51 kilometers
  • Saint-Malo, 325 kilometers


Daily continental breakfasts and gourmet dinners with wine are included in the price of this retreat. For lunches, you will be directed to restaurants nearby.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

You can go boating, fishing, golfing, swimming, beach hopping, or exploring the nearby villages, cities, and attractions. Lunch times will also be a good opportunity to deeply discover French cuisine in the nearby restaurants. Most importantly, you can relax and just focus on having a great time doing as much or as little as you'd like. Go ahead and enjoy your much-deserved gastronomic break.

What's included

  • 4 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • All cookery sessions
  • Beverages at the farmhouse
  • Daily breakfasts and dinners
  • Daily photography lessons
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Trips to the covered markets of La Rochelle and Niort
  • Wine during dinner time

What's not included

  • Airfares
  • Any additional activities, services, or trips
  • Lunches
  • Medical insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa

How to get there

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at La Rochelle-Île de Ré Airport (LRH), Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), or Poitiers-Biard Airport (PIS). Transfer from and to these airports is included. Big in France will pick you up from these airports.

Cancellation Policy

  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 42 days before arrival.
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