6 Days Foundation Cooking Holidays in Gascony, France

  • Gascon Cookery School, Le Petit Feuillant, Gramont, Tarn et Garonne, France, 82120

6 Days Foundation Cooking Holidays in Gascony, France

  • Gascon Cookery School, Le Petit Feuillant, Gramont, Tarn et Garonne, France, 82120

France Culinary Vacations

Are you looking for a week culinary holiday in fundamental French cuisine? If yes, then this is the one for you! Its perfect for those with little or moderate cooking experience looking to improve their skills, experience in the kitchen and create outstanding French dishes and desserts. Non-cooking participants are welcome here!

Highlights

  • Market visit
  • Daily cooking classes
  • Winery tour and tasting
  • Local aperitifs and hors doeuvres
  • 5 nights accommodation
  • Sugar work
  • 5 days with instruction
  • English
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Le Petit Feuillant Chambres d'Hotes, Gascony, France

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.

The rooms are furnished in a style that is regional and in keeping with the magnificent build quality of the 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. 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, you will be offered 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.

Course details

This holiday is ideal for those who are looking for a six-day cookery course in fundamental French cuisine, perfect for those with all levels of cooking experience looking to improve their skills, experience in the kitchen and create outstanding French dishes and desserts. During this foundation week you will cover:

  • Knife skills
  • Pastry making
  • Fish filleting
  • Foie gras
  • Boning poultry
  • Sauces
  • Sugar work

Itinerary

Sunday

Once you have been shown to your unique room, you are encouraged to make yourself at home, start to relax and live the Gascon way, and enjoy the surroundings of the historic village Gramont which is home to only one of six national monuments in the Midi-Pyrénées, the Château de Gramont. As the evening arrives, you are invited to join for local aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres on the cookery school’s terraces that look out to the Midi Pyrenees with unrivaled 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 night’s 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 the three terraces, experience one of the stunning Gascony sunsets, and soak in the atmosphere of the unique location and Gascony lifestyle.

Monday

To make the most of your time at the Gascony Cookery School, breakfast will be served at 9 a.m. which consists of a traditional French affair of local bread, croissants from the local village of St Clar and homemade preserves. There are also cereals, yogurts, fruit and a good helping of coffee, tea and orange juice available.

Following breakfast, it’s straight into the kitchen of Chef David who will conduct a short tour of the kitchen and an introduction to basic knife skills. Once your knife skills are honed it’s onto preparing a simple, French dressing and sauce Suzette before beginning work on your pastry skills by preparing a gateau pithiviers, an ornately decorated puff pastry dessert with a delicious crème d’armandes at its center.

With your first successfully completed French dessert of the week completed, you will then be given the opportunity to hone those skills even further by replicating Chef David’s famous pizza gersois; a freshly made pizza base topped with local onions, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and thinly sliced duck breast.

Your first morning will conclude with further patisserie practice as you prepare a pâte sucrée, a form of sweetened pastry, which will provide the base for the Tarte aux Pommes that you will make on Tuesday afternoon.

In the afternoon, following a traditionally long French lunch, you will make your way across the road to the Auberge where Chef Bernard will introduce you to the art of preparing foie gras. You will prepare four different types of foie gras –mi-cuit, traditional, cru and pain d’épices before turning your attention to another quintessentially Gascon dish; cassoulet. Bernard will share with you his tried and tested wisdom as to the best way in which to prepare his restaurant’s most popular dish before giving you a tour of his sixty-five cover restaurant.

You will see and experience the difference between Bernard’s kitchen and David’s and the opportunity to compare these very different cooking environments and the difference in cooking for an intimate number of guests and catering on a more commercial scale. Your next task with Bernard will be to make crêpes for the evening dinner and your sauce Suzette prepared at the beginning of the day will be the finishing ingredient to this traditional French classic. As the first day comes to a close you will return to Chef David’s kitchen to complete two final pastries; Pâte Sablée and Pâte Sucrée.

In the evening, you will be invited to take a tour of the wine museum with wine in hand at Bernard’s restaurant and experience his signature menu gourmand: an haute cuisine experience in traditional Gascon manner that will include the three different types of duck foie gras that you prepared earlier. Bon appetit!

Tuesday

Breakfast will be at 9 a.m. because today you are off to market. With shopping baskets and shopping lists in hand, you will make your way to the local market town of Fleurance. There, you will be able to familiarise yourself with the regional produce and select the fresh ingredients that you will be using in the afternoon class and during your time with Gascony Cookery School.

Fleurance’s market is a host to an array of tasty Gascon treats that are sure to whet your appetite. You will then continue on to the nearby Roman town of Lectoure where you will lunch in a local café before returning to the cookery school for the afternoon cooking class.

In the afternoon, Chef David will begin by instructing you in the correct way to fillet a fish before preparing the perfect veloute sauce as an accompaniment. You will then be given another opportunity to practice your pastry and knife skills by creating a beautifully presented Tarte aux Pommes.

Before dinner, you will be invited back into the kitchen with Chef David to focus on plating and general presentation skills. The fish in velouté sauce and Tarte aux Pommes that you prepared earlier will be the centerpiece of the evening’s menu, giving you the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Wednesday

After breakfast, you will join David in his kitchen at 8:30 a.m. to put your newly acquired knife skills to the test by boning a chicken to create a sumptuous Ballotine de Poulet. Following the preparation of the chicken, you will make a rich mushroom sauce as an accompaniment. Next on this morning’s itinerary is a light and refreshing Tarte au Citron and an entrée of Soupe Aux Deux Poivrons (Two-Pepper Soup), a starter whose unique presentation never fails to impress at a dinner party.

In the afternoon, lunch with Bernard will be followed by a visit to Gramont’s seventeenth-century château: a well-preserved Renaissance castle complete with period furniture and tapestries. After your tour of the château, you will have some time to relax before joining David in the kitchen to complete the final preparations for this evening’s meal.

You will spend the evening with David and Vikki and will dine on all three of the dishes that you have prepared earlier in the day.

Thursday

After breakfast, you will be with Bernard in his kitchen preparing six dishes over the course of three hours. This will be your most intensive time in the kitchen this week, the focus this morning will be on French desserts. You will prepare une crème pâtissière, une crème brulée, une crème caramel before switching from sweet to savory ingredients at the end of the morning to make that most iconic of French sauces: la sauce béchamel. You will then return to David’s kitchen to practice sugar spinning and prepare a reduction sauce, jus de vin rouge. Then it’s lunch at the Auberge.

After lunch, you will visit the Château de Cassaigne, Condom’s acclaimed Armagnac distillery, where you will learn about the history of this local brandy whilst indulging in a short – optional! – degustation. You will then take you on a tour of the beautifully preserved, medieval fortified village of Larressingle. There you will see the Gascony of old in the delightful village of La Romieu, named for its many sculptures of cats and possessing of a fabulous- if not slightly bizarre – history.

That evening you will dine at Bernard’s restaurant and your menu will include the cassoulet that you prepared on Monday afternoon and today’s desserts.

Friday

Sadly, the cookery school has come to an end! Breakfast will be served as usual, until 10 a.m. and you can kindly vacate your room before 11 a.m. À bientôt!

  • David Chance

    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.

  • Vikki Chance

    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 Corbiere

    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.

Gascony

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.

Towns in Gascony

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.

Nearby places

Distances

  • Toulouse - 40 miles, 50 minutes by car.
  • Bergerac - 65 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes by car.
  • Bordeaux - 90 miles, 1 hour 50 minutes by car.
  • Carcassonne - 70 miles, 1 hour and 30 minutes by car.
  • Calais - 610 miles

Three daily meals are included in the prices. Enjoy your exquisite breakfast, lunch, and dinner with local wine prepared by the special chefs.

  • 5 nights accommodation
  • All cooking classes
  • All other program stated in the itinerary
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Arrival by train

Take Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris and then change for Toulouse.

  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 180 days before arrival.

Verified BookCulinaryVacations.com reviews

  • L
    Review by Liesbeth Brown from United States

    Cooking in Gascony

    PROS Pros: The hospitality and the friendliness knew no bound. Both David and Vikki are excellent hosts. David and Bernard taught me all a lot about cooking and have very high standard. It was very much hands-on. This was so much better that I expected. I had a most wonderful time and will definitely return.

    2017-Jun-05 19:12:08

  • T
    Review by Tricia Mack from Great Britain

    Foodie heaven in the sun !

    PROS Pros: Wonderful location ...quiet beautiful rural village...large, well appointed accommodation,, interesting programme which included cookery with outings to the market and local area.. And the ever flowing wine ..,always available..and the fun we all had !

    2017-Aug-17 05:33:04

  • Review by Heather Spence from New Zealand
    10 out of 10

    "It is my pleasure to write a review of the Foundation Course I attended at the Gascony Cookery School. It was perfection from the minute I arrived in Gramont when I was swept up to the church as there was a musical recital happening, to the sunflower crops being at their most beautiful (they were late flowering so that was lucky) to the great sunny July weather! The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, the accommodation delightfully decorated; comfortable beds all the things like fluffy towels; hair drier and good shower too. The cookery course content is delivered in a very professional manner. Chef David is inspiring; endlessly patient but has high expectations of what he can help you to achieve. I felt so proud of the finished dishes - so good to look at and even better to eat at a lovely outdoor setting with the new friends from all over the world. It was a privilege to dine at the Auberge and work there with Chef Bernard. French regional food at its best. I would just add that liking to eat duck from its quack to its tail feathers will enhance your experience greatly. I traveled alone to Gramont so being collected at the airport was a luxury. Combining cooking tuition with the local market visit and other sightseeing opportunities was perfect for me. It is a stunningly pretty village and surrounding region. Vikki is a fabulous hostess, fun and so hospitable. She was also very helpful and flexible with individual travelers and their requirements, like me, who wanted to arrive earlier than normal. So, if you like all the above and like aperitifs and divine nibbles on a sunny terrace after a great day in the kitchen then choose the Gascony Cookery School. If it wasn’t on the other side of the world I would be back to do all the other courses offered. I got to sample some of the dishes from the charcuterie course! Wow! The raised pie was sensational."

    BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited

  • Review by Karen Duffy
    10 out of 10

    "I wanted to thank you and David again for a wonderful week at your cooking school. The whole experience was just amazing. The balance of cooking and excursions was perfect. It was so nice to meet Bernard and your friends and relatives, and also to tour the old mill. Sue and Mike have a beautiful place, as do you. Looking forward to trying the recipes on our own for our family and friends. Hopefully we will have similar results!"

    BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited

Testimonials

  • Review by Lisa from United States
    10 out of 10

    "I had the most wonderful time at the Gascony Cookery School. It was a combination of perfect things: a perfectly low-key chambre d'hôte in a perfect small town in the perfect French countryside. The course itself was challenging, well run, and very very fun. Every meal we shared was delightful, delicious and perfectly wonderful. I traveled solo (not the only solo in our group, but the only first-timer) and was welcomed into the group seamlessly. The hardest thing was having to leave. I'm already planning a return trip, and it can't happen soon enough."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from United States
    10 out of 10

    "My experience at Gascony Cookery School could not have been better. I was traveling by myself and didn’t quite know what to expect, but Vikki and David were the most gracious hosts. The idyllic town of Gramont and the accommodations are beyond beautiful and welcoming. We learned so much working with chef’s David and Bernard, I’m happy I took the foundation course because it gives me an excuse to come back for the advanced course! If you are looking for a cooking vacation that is both relaxing and hands on learning, Gascony Cookery School is the perfect choice."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "I don't often write reviews because they can often be taken in different ways. But I have to put this review in place, because the Gascony French Cookery School is far more than a cookery school! David and Vikki, the owners and Bernard, the French chef who owns the Auberge restaurant, live in an idyllic village and they have created an experience which is truly 'Franglais' in feel and internationally welcoming. From the authenticity of working in a real restaurant kitchen with a French chef who clearly loves what he does, switching to working with English chef David in his kitchen, within our four days, we learned so many professional tips (and I am in the hospitality business!), and just smiled the entire time. David and Vikki are a genuinely welcoming couple who have thrown their dream home open to those who want to enjoy a few days cooking tuition, but the atmosphere lends itself to mucking in and creating a real family atmosphere. We met some people from America and UK as the next crew pitched up. We knew all our group well as it was a special weekend for us, but the new recruits didn't know each other and were clearly bonding by the time we disappeared off to Toulouse airport, via a quick detour through two towns to see some architecture as our French taxi driver who lives in the village thought we should! I could go on, but frankly you will stop believing me - this place is simply the place to go for some informal and enjoyable cooking skills set in a modest but genuine family style environment - enjoy!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Angela and Stewart Wright from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "This was my husbands birthday present. David, Vikki and Bernard were so welcoming and patient. The teaching, food and experience is something to be experienced and one we want to do again sometime. We learned a lot in such a small amount of time. Thank you."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "I've run out of superlatives: Gramont already feels like a second home, so welcoming are David, Vikki and Bernard (and everyone else in the village, I must admit). The "Returners" course is extremely well judged, and builds on the things we learned before, teaching new skills and honing those we already had. The time just flew by; on the evening of the first day we felt like we'd been there for ages, then suddenly it was time to go! I'd say, if you hardly ever do any cooking, go; if you do a lot of cooking, go; if you just want to spend a great time and your partner wants to cook, go! I'll reiterate about the great value of the transfers, it's a fraction of the costs of taxi."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "My daughter surprised me with a trip to the cookery school for my birthday, we arrived a little later than expected and was greeted with warmth and a 'no dress code here, drinks waiting for you on the terrace'. What a great way to start! We thoroughly enjoyed the cooking with David and Bernard and will certainly be putting in to practice what we have learned. The group were lovely and David and Vikki are wonderful hosts. Thank you for creating brilliant memories, Linda and Zoe."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Jo from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "Just back from a week at the Gascony Cooking School. As a returning pupil, it was a delight to spend some more time in the lovely village and learn some more great recipes. The atmosphere was relaxed and the cooking and teaching was fabulous. I learned so much more and I will be practicing everything back home. Thanks to David, Vicki and Bernard. I will be back as soon as I can get more time off."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Ann
    10 out of 10

    "My husband surprised me with a week at the cookery school along with my Swedish daughter to celebrate a momentous birthday. The setting is fabulous and the teaching is superb. David and Vikki are wonderful hosts and make you feel like family. We had only four in our class and we all bonded immediately. Cooking with Bernard at his restaurant was a great experience. At the same time we were there, there were two people who returned for the second time, and another for his third time. What better recommendation can you have?"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "An awesome escape to paradise! Amazing week at this beautiful cookery school. David, Vikki and Bernard are just the most wonderful and accommodating hosts, the location is stunning, tranquil and remote, letting you escape the hustle and bustle for a few days. I loved the way David and Bernard taught, easy to understand with some quite complex cooking, the end results were outstanding.The rooms are tastefully decorated, mine had a amazing view of the countryside and was spotlessly clean. The food, when not cooking is fantastic, local cuisine cooked either by David or Bernard. I cannot recommend this 'cookation' highly enough and will be attending the 'returners' course as soon as diaries allow. I left my wife and son at home for the week (I get a pass every year to do a weeks cooking course somewhere in the world), this course is just as perfect for singles or couples, our group bonded in seconds and we had a great time. Book it, you won't be disappointed, it should be at the top of your bucket list, should you have one."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Tammy from Australia
    10 out of 10

    "I was lucky enough to do the six-day program earlier this month. It was a fantastic week! I have left with new skills in the kitchen, an increased appetite for French food and the most wonderful memories of Gramont and its surrounding areas. David and Vikki are fantastic hosts and really make you feel at home while staying at their absolutely beautiful property. The rooms are very comfortable and wonderfully furnished! The view is... well too nice for words! Bernard was also fantastic, it was great to see his kitchen and learn some of the dishes he serves in his restaurant. The balance of cooking, eating and activities is wonderful. I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn new cooking skills, eat great food, meet fantastic people, and have a fun week in France!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

82120 Tarn et Garonne , France

The Gascony Cookery School offers practical, accessible, and enjoyable initiation into French cookery guided by two professional chefs of French cuisine.

from --

6 days / 5 nights

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