Welcome to La Vie Du Château's 6-day French cooking holiday, where you'll go to markets, chateaux, vineyards, abbeys, bistros, distilleries, have lots of cooking and lots of fun! During this program you will learn to make some of the basics and standards of French cooking, such as coq au vin, and some other special and elegant dishes. You will always look to the market for seasonal inspiration!
The maximum participants in the group is 6.
You will stay at Château de La Barbée, an 18th century family castle.
Classes begin at 10:00 unless otherwise specified. Lunch at the château is usually at 13:00, dinner at 20:00.
After getting settled and enjoying a relaxed lunch by the fountain, you begin dinner preparations. You will then have a break to enjoy and discover the beautiful surroundings, and meet afterwards at the Orangerie for a cheese party with a nice variety of selected cheeses and some of the local anjou wines. Then, head back to the kitchen for your final dinner preparations.
Today you’ll be doing lots of cooking but take the time to discuss, laugh, take photos and relax a little too before heading out to listen to the monks' Gregorian chants.
Today you’ll start some dinner preparations before heading out to Angers where you will see the impressive fortress of the Kings of Anjou, have lunch in a bistro, followed by a guided tour of the Cointreau distillery. Then you'll go back home and finish up dinner preparations.
The local market is one of the largest in the region with the freshest of local produce, cheeses, meats and seafood. With baskets full and lots of inspiration, you will spend the rest of the day preparing meals, and enjoying them!
Today you’ll begin preparations for an elegant 4-course dinner that you’ll set up in the formal dining room. Then head to the Chateau du Lude for a guided tour and enjoy lunch in a beautiful setting right on the Loir river. After lunch you’ll finish your dinner preparations and set an elegant dinner table with all the details of French etiquette.
After preparing a delicious picnic, you head out for some wine tasting and guided visit at a troglodyte wine cellar and picnic lunch in the middle of the picturesque vineyard, followed by leisure departure afterwards.
This tour will take you to visit the markets, chateaux, vineyards, abbeys, bistros, and distilleries.
This cooking holiday takes place in the Loire Valley.
At La Vie du Château mornings begin with a breakfast of fresh croissants, assorted pastries, homemade jam and honey, cereals, homemade yoghurt, coffee, tea, fruits, and juices. Lunches and dinners are served with baguettes and wine. Dinners are followed by after-dinner drinks, infusions and chocolates. Following are examples of dishes you'll be preparing but it will always depend on market availability and freshness.
Bar au croute de sel
Coq au vin
Damandes fondant au chocolat Crme anglaise
Foie gras en papillote de choux (Foie gras wrapped in leaves)
Frise aux lardons
Gigot dagneau la sept heures (Seven-hour roast leg of lamb)
Haricots verts extra fines (Very thin French green beans)
Mary's get married vinaigrette
Mousse au chocolat (Dark chocolate mousse)
Mousseline de chou-fleur
Pêches rôties au cognac
Salade aux fines herbes
Tarte aux prunes et creme
Uncle Charlie's ratatouille
Glace a la vanille et anisette
Salade dendives, noix et roquefort
Saumon a lunilateral
Several high speed trains operate directly from Charles de Gaulle airport to Le Mans. Car rentals are available at multiple locations at the airport.
From Le Mans train station, taxis are available for about 50 EUR . You can contact us to make arrangement. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Le Mans train station to La Flèche for about 8 EUR . We will pick you up in La Flèche for transfer to La Barbe. You can also take a train from Le Mans to Sable then take a taxi to La Barbe. Car rentals are also available at Le Mans station.
"Firstly, I’d give the location, food, hospitality and overall experience a 10 (more if I could!). While it took us a train and bus trip to get to the chateau, the route was easy and scenic. And it was well worth it once we got there. The chateau itself is everything we’d hoped for and more. The rooms and exterior were beautifully presented, clean and inviting. Mary and Xavier our hosts made us feel at home straight away, and what was even better was that we got to start cooking within an hour of arriving! Three courses for lunch and dinner, plus the most amazing wines, breads and cheeses kept us busy, full and content during our stay. Mary’s laid back demeanor and expertise helped to relax us as we learnt some tricks of the French trade. Our excursions were also fantastic; we got to see a distillery, a chateau, a traditional castle, and wander through sleepy French towns and markets, living like the locals. Our favorite part though was actually sitting down to our meals; the table dressings were spectacular, thanks to the chateau’s helper Ella, and the conversation was always vibrant and interesting. There is plenty of down time and the schedule was flexible depending on what we wanted on the day. We honestly cannot speak highly enough of this experience and have recommended it to all our family and friends. We can’t wait to go back!"
BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited
"What a fantastic experience! I had good fortune to attend a 5-day cooking course at the lovely Chateau de La Barbee this summer. "
"We arrived after lunch, were shown to our beautiful rooms and invited to proceed to the Orangerie for an al fresco wine and cheese tasting and to get acquainted with our hosts, Mary and Xavier, the owner residents of the Chateau."
"We fell in to an easy daily routine. After a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants, milk from the farm, homemade jams, local honey, we hit the kitchen "Aprons on!" around 9. We cooked, tasted, tested and tried lots of recipes all in preparation for our lunches and dinners."
"One of the things I loved most was Mary's ease in the kitchen. We did not stick strictly to planned menus. On any given day, dependent on what was freshest, most available, etc. we would adjust our menu accordingly. For example, Xavier came home one day with mussels fresh from the sea. He steeped them in a delicious broth and they became the 1st course of our lunch that day."
"Each day we would go on at least one outing to see and enjoy the local markets and sights. After lunch it was back to the kitchen "Aprons on!" for another lesson and more preparations for our next meal. Evenings would end in one of the many comfortable parlors, a glass of Armagnac in hand listening to Xavier's great stories. The Chateau has been in his family since the days of Napoleon and he is an expert on French history in general and the Chateau and surrounding area in particular."
"Everything was so special and well run it is hard to pick favorites, but two highlights for me were learning how to make an ice bowl and our final formal dinner in the grand dining room. Mary and Xavier invited 4 friends, we set a beautiful table, dressed for the occasion and feasted on lamb shanks, duck breast and the many dishes and desserts we had prepared earlier."
"A very rewarding and enjoyable 5-day experience. Completely immersed in the french lifestyle in a fabulous setting with attentive, knowledgeable and gracious hosts."
"What a fabulous way to celebrate a milestone birthday! Never dreamed that I would be celebrating "60" with 5 of my dearest friends in France! We started off in Paris and then headed to the beautiful Loire Valley for our amazing stay at Chateau de La Barbee. When got to the end of the road and entered the driveway we were in awe of the beautiful building with a huge fountain standing before us. This was our "home" for the next 5 days. The adventure started with getting settled in our rooms and then a quick stroll through the rose gardens to the Orangerie where we ate exquisite cheese and drank fine wine. I knew we were in for a treat of a lifetime. "
"Our chateau hosts were Mary (cooking teacher extraordinaire) and Xavier (wine connoisseur) who were so gracious and welcoming that we immediately felt at home. I was a bit nervous about taking a French cooking class (I saw Julie and Julia) but Mary put us at ease from the get-go. It was so much fun working together in the kitchen on recipes that I would definitely cook at home. We prepared lunch and dinner courses, shopped in the outdoor market in La Fleche went on a variety of excursions (Abbey of St. Peter, Chateau de Lude, Chateau of Angers and Domaine de la Tuffiere for wine tasting and a picnic). The table was beautifully set each night and our meals were fabulous. In addition to the recipes, we came away with a number of new useful cooking tips. I would go back in a heartbeat! Merci Mary and Xavier!"
TripAdvisor website, edited
"I recently spent a totally delightful stay at the Chateau de La Barbee, cooking, eating, and sightseeing under the wonderful direction of Mary Pochez. We were a group of 6 women friends celebrating the 60th birthday of one with a 2-day stay in Paris and a 5-night stay at the chateau. The chateau itself is incredibly beautiful and charming, filled with antiques and lovely art and portraits, but also very lived in and comfortable. You don't feel that you are in a museum, but rather in a home that has been loved and cared for by many generations of Mary's husband's family. Xavier is a very charming co-host with lots of knowledge about French history, the chateau, and local wines. Everywhere you look, both inside and out the windows, you see beauty. "
"The French cooking classes were fantastic - so much fun and so well taught. Mary is a very knowledgeable and casual cook and makes you feel that you can make the dishes with ease. She instills confidence along with all her recipes and tips. Every single dish we prepared (and ate!) was mouthwatering delicious, from the fish baked in salt to the beef Bourguignon to the cheese souffle to the potato dishes to the baked peaches and chocolate cake. We all had fun cooking in her wonderful kitchen with walls of copper pots and and fresh cut flowers and produce everywhere. We learned a lot of dishes and loved them all! "
"And the program of excursions was wonderful too - the drives through the charming villages to visit other chateaux, the evening at an ancient abbey listening to monks sing Gregorian chants, the local farmers' market, the 14th century tapestries displayed in the chateau in Angers. "
"This is a trip I will remember, in detail, my whole life. It was educational, fun, and lovely in every way. Get together a group of friends and go! Or go with your partner! You will love it too!"
"Thank you for sharing your home and your vast knowledge of all things French, Mary and Xavier!"
"I convinced a group of friends to company me, to celebrate my 50th birthday. Chateau de La Barbée was the perfect setting. Mary and Xavier welcomed us into their home (home for them is a Chateau!), and Mary's program of cooking and sightseeing was the perfect combination of education mixed with touring mixed with relaxation and fun. And the food was fantastic. Can't recommend this more to anyone interested in a very special vacation. The countryside is gorgeous, and off the beaten track, not too touristy. Such a nice change of pace! Highly recommended!"
"Mary and Xavier was the most gracious hosts. Not only was the Chateau beautiful but also the surrounding with the refreshing river close by. Mary made the cooking fun and all the fancy dishes we made seemed easy. I will make them all for sure back home!"
"We really got to see the French countryside at its best and I wish to go there again and again and again."
"It's a beautiful and incredible place, I totally recommended for holidays, or a weekend."
La Vie Du Château Facebook, edited
"I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a night here over the weekend before Thanksgiving with a group of other American exchange students currently living in Angers, France and I can't think of a more rewarding and special way that we could have spent that time! Mary was amazing and her cooking direction was superb. Our food for both lunch and dinner was absolutely mouthwatering! I loved being able to stay in her chteau. The culture and history surrounding me was absolutely phenomenal. If you have the chance before you leave, I absolutely suggest walking the grounds of her chteau if you get the chance. Her rose gardens and the back path are absolutely gorgeous! And her pets are pretty cute too!"
La Vie Du Chateau Facebook, edited
"The warm welcome and relaxing pleasure of staying with a real family is the best experience one could have when traveling. The hosts at La Barbee were terrific. They were so down to earth, wonderfully friendly, kind and generous in sharing their beautiful home with us. I could spend days in their fabulous garden wandering amongst the fruit trees and the rose bushes. This is the perfect escape from the intensity and rush-rush of Paris."
La Vie Due Facebook, edited
"Chateau de La Barbe was the highlight of our visit in France. There is something completely different about a stay in a foreign country when you experience day to day life. Mary is an amazing cook and Xavier is completely entertaining. It's such a fun time. "
La Vie Due Chateau Facebook, edited