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For most travelers interested in experiencing the real French countryside, you will surely be delighted by this holiday. Experience the sights and flavors of Gramont, its winding lanes and medieval villages will tickle your senses. Vicky, David, and Bertrand will go to great lengths to make sure that you learn as much as possible and enjoy every minute of it. You will pick up so many skills that you'll use forever. Fabulous food, lovely and immaculate facility, and very warm hospitality. A fantastic cooking experience in delightful French style.
If you are looking for accommodation in the South West of France then our Chambres dHotes located in Gramont, Gascony offers traditionally furnished rooms that have been refurbished to the highest standard. Our rooms are based on an authentic style of a French Chambres dHotes with added modern facilities such as air conditioning for those hot summer evenings in Gascony.
Our rooms are furnished in a style that is regional and in keeping with the magnificent build quality of our accommodation. All rooms have en-suite facilities, have air conditioning, heating and full access to the South facing terrace. Our Ruin Terrace, set in and around the ruins of a traditional village house, includes a hot tub for the exclusive use of residents and cookery school guests and overlooks the rolling Gascon countryside.
Set around a private terrace and garden with outstanding views of the Gascony countryside, our accommodation has something to offer everyone. Use the terrace to sunbath, read a book or visit the Chateau de Gramont. For those who are more energetic there are fantastic local walks. Our accommodation in the South West of France offers a great base to explore the heart of Gascony and visit such towns as Lectoure, Condom, Agen, and Toulouse.
Within a short drive there are the outdoor swimming facilities of St Clar and Fleurance. The historical town of Lectoure not only has an outdoor public swimming pool but one of the most outstanding examples of a Roman spa in France. Visit here for a dip into the soothing thermal pools or unwind with a relaxing body massage or revitalizing facial.
For that truly unique French experience we offer a Table dHote menu of an evening using only the best in local produce and freshly prepared by your host and chef David Chance. Menus are carefully chosen and changed daily. Gascony is famous for its superb gastronomic cuisine such as fois gras, confit, gabure and other traditional duck and goose dishes.
This brand new program presents a new specialist week for our guests. The origin of the word charcuterie was formed from the word chair-cuitier meaning the person who cooked (cuit) the meat or flesh (chair). In France today, the charcutier is primarily concerned with the preparation and sale of cooked and raw pork products.
Incorporated within our normal cookery school itinerary you will visit the village of Urdens over three days to watch the traditional preparation of charcuterie, a skill which is slowly dying out throughout France. You will see how every part of the carcass is used including the preparation of saucisson, blood sausage, ham, pork chops and belly.
Once you have been shown to your unique room, you are encouraged to make yourself at home, start to relax, live the Gascon way and enjoy the surroundings of our historic village Gramont which is home to only one of six national monuments in the Midi-Pyrnes, the Chteau de Gramont.
As the evening arrives you are invited to join us for local aperitifs and hors doeuvres on the school terraces that look out to the Midi Pyrenees with unrivalled views of the Gascony countryside. This is a great time to meet other students and guests and for us to discuss the week ahead.
With the aroma of your first nights exquisite four-course dinner prepared by your chef David in the air and your taste buds experiencing local wines, your French cookery holiday is well and truly underway.
After dinner take the opportunity to relax on one of our three terraces, experience one of the stunning Gascony sunsets and soak in the atmosphere of our very unique location and Gascony lifestyle.
To make the most of your time at the Gascony Cookery School, we like to serve breakfast at 09.00 am which consists of a traditional French affair of local breads, croissants from the local village of St Clar and homemade preserves. There are also cereals, yoghurts, fruit and a good helping of coffee, tea and orange juice available.
Your tuition will start at 09.00 am with an introduction to knife skills then off to the Auberge kitchen where you will be given a section of pig to break down and prepare for grinding in preparation for your tasks on Tuesday. You will then have lunch with David and Vikki.
After lunch, you will be back with Bernard to prepare four different types of foie gras and a local classic dish of cassoulet ready for the evening's dinner.
Following your full day of tuition you will now have the time to relax and enjoy the regional speciality of cassoulet.
Breakfast will be held at 08.30 - 09.00am in the kitchen to start you day. It will then be followed by pastry making for your raised game pie. After that you will be making duck, tunnel boning a leg and thigh of chicken and then stuffing and sewing them back together. You will then have lunch at the Auberge.
After lunch using the pork you prepared yesterday you will make the world famous Toulouse sausage and saucisson, as well as seven types of pts - foie, garlic, duck tte and rillettes. This is a fantastic afternoon and a real Gascon experience.
This is a truly special evening where you will have a taste of what you have prepared yourself. This is a real feast taste bud sensation not to be missed.
Sadly, the cookery school has come to an end!
"Breakfast will be served as usual until 10.00 am and we ask you to kindly vacate your room before 11.00 am.
David’s passion as a professional chef for French cuisine, made him move to Gramont in 2002. He and his wife Vikki specifically selected the Tarn-et-Garonne region, situated as it is in the heart of Gascony, for its famed gastronomic repertoire. David and his wife ran the chambres d’hotes and table d’hotes for four years, however the popularity of David’s cooking soon attracted the attention of talented local chef Bernard and from their newfound Franglais friendship the cookery school was born.
Motivated by their shared love of France, Vikki Chance and her husband moved to Gramont in 2002. They specifically selected the Tarn-et-Garonne region, situated as it is in the heart of Gascony, for its famed gastronomic repertoire. With the original intention of establishing a chambres d’hotes and table d’hotes they began their new life by carefully restoring an old farmhouse and barn. They ran the chambres d’hotes and table d’hotes for four years and after a great success the cookery school was born.
Bernard has owned and run a successful restaurant in Gramont for over 25 years and his traditional menu has earned him a respected reputation in the region. Bernard and David's vision was to design a program that would enable students of French cookery to work their way up from mastering of knife skills to executing impressive four-course meals in just under a week. They wanted to use their combined knowledge as professional chefs from either side of the Channel to make French cookery enjoyable.
Still remaining as one of the most "French" parts of France. It is largely unspoilt by tourism and retains a great deal of character and charm. Property prices, like everywhere, have increased recently, but the region still remains comparatively excellent value for people seeking a permanent residence or holiday home.
Gascony is the ancient name of a former duchy in South West France. Steeped in history these lands were ruled by the Romans, conquered by the Visigoths and then by the Francs. By the end of the 10th century, its dukes had achieved autonomy from the French crown but in 1052 Gascony fell to Aquitaine and came under English control in the 12th century.
It was the nucleus of English possessions in France until regained by the French at the end of the Hundred Years War (1453). The department of the Gers is the heart of Gascony, so often described as the Tuscany of France. It is a region of gently rolling hills, hilltop bastide towns & villages, an abundance of rivers and wide-open spaces.
Gascony is a land of rich and fertile soils which has historically elevated its produce and cuisine to the top of the French culinary table. Gascony is still very much a farming region, a land of wheat, maize and sunflower fields and fabulous wines that are so often overlooked outside of France.
Armagnac is the oldest of the French eau de vies and is still made by individual producers who care more for their product than the profits of a multinational business. Gascony is famed for its garlic and is the true home of foie gras, the region is a gastronomic delight.
Gascony is located in the department of Gers, one of the least densely populated departments in France. There are no heavy industry or auto routes. It has some of the cleanest air in all of Europe. It is therefore no surprise that Gascons live longer than any other people in France.
Auch: the capital (prefecture) of the Gers and its largest town with around 20,000 inhabitants. The impressive cathedral of St-Marie holds two of the regions finest art works, the Arnaud de Moles stained glass windows and the 113 carved oak choir stalls. Auch is a vibrant centre of commerce and has numerous good cafes and restaurants.
Condom: situated in the north of the Gers is a sous-prefecture and capital of the Tenareze Armagnac region. It is a beautiful town centered on the Cathedral of St-Pierre and although its name is often a source of amusement to English speakers it is believed to be derived from two Latin words "condate" and "dum", meaning confluence and hill.
Eauze: the main town in the west of the region and the capital of the Armagnac trade. This old Roman settlement is surrounded by vineyards and remains very much central to the Armagnac trade.
Lectoure: a spectacular town perched on a high rock escarpment with wonderful views stretching all the way to the Pyrenees. It has been an important centre since Gallo-Roman times and was the main residence of the Counts of Armagnac.
Fleurance: a bastide town and an important market town with one of the best markets in the Gers.
Mirande: a fine example of a 13th Century bastide and now holds an internationally famous country and western festival each year.
Marciac: well-known for its world famous jazz festival. An attractive quiet bastide town with some good cafes and restaurants.
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Gramont Honey: Aside from a beautiful chteau and chapel, our tiny village boasts the largest honey museum in Europe; an interesting tourist attraction that allows you to witness first-hand the journey from bee to jar and to sample some of its handmade honey products. Alternatively, if you have decided to hire a car for the week, David and I will be able to advise you on various other excursions of interest in the area.
Gramont Racont: The village of Gramont is well known for its cultural and artistic reputation and plays host to a variety of theatrical, musical, artistic and literary events on a regular basis. A weekend in June for example is dedicated to the celebration of the regions rich heritage of storytelling and legend. This popular spectacle gramontois interweaves theatre and fine food in a way that makes for good value entertainment no matter how limited your linguistic capabilities!
Festival du Jazz Internationale: A haven for jazz fans, Marsiacs annual Jazz Festival is recognized as one of the greatest celebrations of jazz in the world. Every year in June, musicians from all around the world come to play in this tiny village, just an hour and a halfs drive outside of Gramont, attracting an international audience. The festival features, amongst others: Richard Bona & Raul Midon, John Mclaughlin & the 4th Dimension, Dianne Reeves and the Spanish Harlem Orquestra.
Le festival de lAil: Every year in August residents assemble to commemorate garlic, an indispensible player in French cookery. Short of beret-clad men and women in stripped t-shirts swinging garlic around their necks, this event is as French as they come! The farmers wives and other volunteers prepare a traditional Gascon lunch including Floc (the regions signature appritif, a mixture of wine and Armagnac) and of course, a selection of local wines.
Le Vendange: September is the month of Frances vendange (grape harvest) and a time to celebrate the produce of numerous vineyards. Local residents change into period costume and host a grape picking festival. You will meet with the local community in a nearby vineyard owned by Bernard Mellac and his family to handpick grapes that he will use to make his wine this year. Coincide your week long cookery course with one of these events to add a truly authentic and unforgettable experience of life in a rural French village.
Take Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris and then change for Toulouse.
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