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Escape the hustle and bustle for a few days as you embark on a Gascon culinary journey. Be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and a relaxing atmosphere. You will prepare and eat delicious food with wonderful hosts that make you feel like family. Bernard and David will let you experience how enjoyable and accessible French cookery is to all. Work your way up from mastering of knife skills to executing impressive four course meals. You leave thanking yourself for booking this amazing experience.
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.
This six-day course is ideal for those who are looking for a cookery course in French cuisine that explores the more detailed cooking skills and dishes of this region of France. Ideal for those that are at a moderate to more advanced level of cooking, if you have attended the "foundation course", this is the next step for you to build on what you have already learnt at the Gascony Cookery School. In the advanced cookery week course you will cover:
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 our 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 apèritifs and hors d’oeuvres on the Cookery School’s terraces that look out to the Midi Pyrenées with unrivalled views of the Gascony countryside.
This is a great time to meet other students and guests 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, you will take the opportunity to relax on one of our three terraces, experience one of stunning Gascony sunsets, and soak in the atmosphere of the unique location and Gascony lifestyle.
In the morning, to make the most of your time at the Gascony Cookery School, you will be served breakfast at 8:30 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, yoghurts, fruit, and a good helping of coffee, tea, and orange juice available.
Then it is straight into the kitchen at 9 a.m. starts with an introduction to or re-cap of knife skills with David, which is then followed by your first session in the village Auberge with Chef Bernard. There, you will start to work with one of the key meats of this region: duck. You will learn how to section and prepare for your own duck confit.
After lunch, you will again be in the hands of Chef David for your afternoon session where you will learn about deboning, stuffing quail accompanied by a Calvados sauce. For the evening’s dessert, you will be preparing Pears in Puff Pastry to practice your skills in latticing and braiding pastry work. You will be taken on a tour of The Wine Museum in the evening followed by dinner at Bernard's Restaurant, where you will taste the wonderful dishes you have prepared that day.
Following breakfast at 8:30 a.m., you will make your way to Fleurance's local market where you will be provided with a shopping list, a basket, and spending money. The purpose of this activity is to familiarise you with the regional produces in this area and to also teach you how to distinguish fresh ingredients. The items on the shopping list will be used over the next few days. 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, you will prepare Duck À L'Orange and pork leg stuffed with local Agen Prunes at the Auberge. This is then followed by the preparation of Gâteau Basque with Crème Anglaise that will be the perfect for dessert for tonight’s dinner!
This evening, David and Vikki will be having dinner with you, while they teach you about food presentation at the same time. We hope that you will learn a lot from this day's activities and a fun and informative evening with your hosts.
Following breakfast, you will join Bernard at the Auberge and on the menu today is; Mousse Au Citron, goats cheese wraps finished off in the pan, a lesson in jointing lamb to make noisettes, and then stuffing and tying them. You will also prepare a homemade mayonnaise and to finish the morning you will be taught how to make a Pièce Montée, a traditional French wedding cake. Lunch will then be taken at the Auberge.
You will be taken on a tour of the region starting with a visit to the Water Mill in L’Isle Bouzon, followed by Armagnac tasting at the Château de Cassaigne and finally a tour around the beautiful 13th-century cellars of Château Mon Luc housing thousands of bottles of sparkling wines.
In the evening, you will spend the evening at the Auberge enjoying the fruits of your day's labour.
After breakfast, you are straight into David's Kitchen to commence your last full day of tuition. The day’s session will move through many different skills; you will start with a Prawn Mousse using gelatine, move onto pastry making for the ornate French Raised Game Pie, then tunnel boning of duck leg with lemon grass and ginger stuffing, finishing this full morning off with a Frangipane Tart for dessert. Lunch will be served at the Auberge.
After lunch, you will have a tour of the Gramont Honey Museum, the largest in Europe. It is an interesting attraction that allows you to witness first-hand the journey of honey from a bee to the jar. You will also have a chance to visit the Château de Gramont which is one of just only six national monuments in the Midi Pyrenées.
In the evening, you will be invited back to the kitchen early evening for any questions you may have and a recap on your newly-acquired skills. Then it’s some time to relax before your last dinner of the week which will comprise of the fabulous dishes you prepared that day.
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’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.
Three daily meals are included in the prices. Enjoy your exquisite breakfast, lunch, and dinner with local wine prepared by the special chefs.
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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