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Country Cooking Holidays in France

A deliciously hands-on week for people who enjoy cooking and want to discover more about the food of France. You will be using the best of ingredients, locally sourced or fresh from the garden, to make the tastiest meals. Mornings in the kitchen with demonstrations by Alex and practical work. The optional afternoon sessions might even include preparing some of the dishes for the evening dinner. You will end up with a folder of fine recipes and a fresh approach to creating great French food.

Meet the instructors

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  • Local markets tour
  • 7 or more hands-on cooking classes
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner accompanied by wine
  • Dine on dishes prepared in class
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Unique location


7 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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LAge Baston has 20 acres of gardens, woods and meadows for you to enjoy; large paneled salons and a dining room with rare 17th century tapestry. The spacious bedrooms are decorated in traditional style; most are en-suite with modern bathrooms. All the rooms have lovely views. Take a dip in the solar heated salt-water pool, relax on the patio sun loungers, borrow a bike or a book, or enjoy a trip to the nearby historic town of La Rochefoucauld.

The entrance hall has beautiful Minton-style floor-tiles, paneled walls, and doors off to everywhere. Turn left and you come to the sitting room; bright, sunny and paneled with views of the courtyard at the back and of the terrace at the front. People often meet here for aperitifs. From here you go into the dining room with its 17th century Flemish tapestry. You have breakfast here and sometimes sumptuous candle-lit dinners when there is no feas held in the courtyard.

Continue on the ground floor and you reach the kitchen from whence cometh all good things to eat and drink. Slip upstairs by a 19th century walnut staircase and you find three of the charming bedrooms. One of the bedrooms has a delightful view over the drive and the others have lovely views over the courtyard. If you turn right out of the main hall you pass the main staircase and then the little library. Through yet another set of doors (there are 32 doors on the ground floor) and you come to the first French language rooms.

The walls are paneled and the floor tiles have ancient Sanskrit good luck symbols. This room also has a guest computer with internet access and printer. Next is the grand salon, a huge paneled room with original oil paintings and lots of mirrors. Blessed with beautiful views out over the front meadows and copse, the grand salon is sometimes used for French in daytime. There is UK and French TV, a DVD player and a Wii. Leading from the French room is your guest kitchen. Help yourself to teas, coffee and an almost constant supply of biscuits at any time, day or night.


Glide up the 17th century main staircase of oak to find five more of the delightful chteau bedrooms. These are en-suite double and twin rooms with beautiful beds, lush fabrics, antique furniture and old fireplaces. Each is an astute and comfortable blend of historic charm and modern comfort. Polished wooden floors, high ceilings and generous spaces give a period ambiance and the views into the courtyard and over the valley are outstanding. To wake refreshed in your bedroom at LAge Baston, with the morning light peeping through the shutters and the sounds of the house coming to life around you, is an experience to be treasured.

Guardians house

Just across the courtyard is the guardians house; an independent dependence complete with two bedrooms, bathroom and simple kitchen facilities. Ideal for friends coming together.


This French country cooking holidays are for people who enjoy food and cooking. If you want to know more about regional French food, this cooking course is for you. You will cover all stages of the process; from raw materials to tempting presentation.

Your French cooking course tutor Alexandra is keen for you to have as much hands-on experience in the kitchen as possible and there will be at least one kitchen session every day and often two. With a maximum of five students in the kitchen you will have the time and attention you deserve.

Kitchen sessions at L’Age Baston are focused on acquiring techniques, learning about ingredients and practicing recipes. You will also be dealing with menu planning, presentation and safe ways of working in the kitchen. You will probably also be laughing a lot.

You may well be preparing and cooking some of the dishes for your fellow guests. So what you make really does get eaten and, because you are being taught by Alexandra, whatever you put on the table will be brilliant. After all, that’s why you cook - for you to eat and enjoy food together and everyone always does enjoy it at L’Age Baston. “Taste without waste” is a key part of the French country cuisine and long may it remain so.

You will not be spending the whole time chained to the kitchen. The French country cooking students will get out and about visiting local sources of some of the ingredients you will be using. Perhaps to see a walnut oil mill or the trout farm at the Sources of the Touvre. You may visit one of the local cheese makers or any one of three Chocolatiers (including the “Trois Palais” where you can make and take away your own). You may have trips to Cognac and Pineau producers, saffron farmers, the local cave at St Sornin where your lunchtime rosé comes from, and of course, the mighty markets of Piegut Pluviers and Rouillac.

By the end of your holiday and your French cooking course, L'Age Baston wants you not just to have enjoyed making dishes and meals in a particular style but also to feel more confident about your own approach to creating good French food. There’s even a folder of all the Château L’Age Baston recipes that you will have cooked during your stay for you to take home and enjoy all over again.

French Country Cooking Sample Menus

Déjeuner (Lunch)

  • Salade Charentaise (Lardons with garlic croutons, lettuce and mushrooms with mustard and lemon dressing)
  • Avocat, ananas et poivrons rouges à la mayonnaise (Pineapple and red pepper, avocado mayonnaise)
  • Aubergine méditerranéenne (Aubergines with olives)
  • Plateau de fromage (A selection of light cheeses from the board)
  • Clafoutis aux cerises (A light, local dessert cooked with L'Age Baston's own cherries when in season)
  • Servi avec le rosé local de la cave de St Sornin (Served with a local rosé from the cave of St Sornin)
  • Coffee, teas, tisanes

Dîner (Dinner)

  • Terrine de Poulet aux pruneaux (Chicken and prune terrine)
  • Truite de la Touvre à l’orange et aux artichauts (Trout from the Touvre with oranges and artichokes)
  • Fromages: Chaource, Istara, Bleu de Causses (The Château L’Age Baston's suggestions for the cheese board)
  • Tarte aux fraises (Strawberry tart)
  • Servi avec des Bordeaux rouges et du blanc (Served with Bordeaux red and white wine)
  • Coffee, teas, tisanes

Included excursions

There are lots of things to do and see in the area. If you want to explore on your own, your host will be happy to help you to make the most of your time in this relatively undiscovered part of France.

You are welcome to join visits and afternoon excursions in an air conditioned mini-bus. The program changes depending on the season, the courses, and local events. Here is an idea of the places you might visit.

  • Angoulême’s Old Quarter - A visit to Angoulême’s old quarter with beautiful little cobbled streets, exquisite boutiques, lovely pavement cafes and restaurants and super murals and trompe d’oeils on the buildings. You can walk the old city walls, known as the ramparts, take in the magnificent views across the valley to the river Charente.
  • Château of La Rochefoucauld - Visit the Ducal Château that L’Age Baston, swore fealty to. Home to the long line of Dukes one of whom (Francois 6th) was the author of a world famous collection of bitter, cynical and misanthropic maxims. See the Medieval kitchens, the solid 14th Century square keep, fairytale style turrets, renaissance galleries and the superb, swirling Da Vinci staircase.
  • Chocolate Making at Trois Palais - The Chocolaterie Letuffe is an old established and highly reputable maker of fine chocolates and confectionery. They not only sell great chocolate but they do demonstrations and workshops that you can join in too. It’s great fun and you get to eat what you make.
  • Cognac Distillery - There are lots to choose from and they all offer tastings. Before or after your tour, you can explore the town of Cognac, especially the old town with it’s narrow streets lined with medieval timber framed houses and handsome 16th century mansions that were once home to wealthy merchants. Sometimes we leave aside the big Cognac houses in favour of one of the small artisan producers where you get a more intimate look into the mysterious alchemy of making Cognac.
  • Piegut Pluviers Market - You often visit the weekly Piegut Pluviers market in the Dordogne. This is one of the largest markets in the South West of France. You will find everything here from artisan foods, arts and crafts, clothes and shoes to household goods right down to livestock. Whether you come to shop, taste, paint or simply look, it’s a lovely morning out.
  • Villbois Lavallette - A hilltop Château overlooking a pretty little town that has a wonderful wooden open market building in the center and one of the least modernized cafes in France. The Cafe Reunion is not to be missed.

Some of the other places you visit include:

  • Brantome - The “Venice of the Charente”, rivers, caves, architecture
  • Châteaux: de Peyras, de Bayers, Chalus
  • Sources of the Touvre - major resurgence and magical spring (trout as well)
  • The archeological park at Cassinomagus (Chassenon) - a Roman baths and healing sanctuary
  • The medieval village of Tusson: rural life museum, exhibitions, herb gardens
  • The Moulin de la Verger Paper Mill genuine handmade paper made by genuine characters
  • The prehistoric caves of Bandiat-Tardoire during the summer excavation program


Alexandra Waddington
Your host and French country cooking tutor, Alexandra Waddington, has been resident boss of the L’Age Baston kitchens for the last 20 years. Her specialties are pastries, tarts, terrines and sauces and she favors dishes that have a distinctive regional character using produits de terroir like Pineau, Cognac, walnuts, saffron, soft and subtle goat cheeses, rillettes, canard (the list is quite extensive). Her repertoire is large and her recipe book is impressive. Her ability to create memorable meals from fresh, simple ingredients is outstanding.


This location will take place in Saint-Projet-Saint-Constant, France.


All meals are prepared in-house using local fresh ingredients, wherever possible from the chteau garden. Keen to grow as many of the fruit and vegetables used in the kitchen as possible, Alex and John have plans to expand the garden plots and plant more fruit trees to compliment the crop of walnuts in the orchard.

Things to do (optional)

Outside of the L’Age Baston regular trips program, other activities can be found locally such as:

  • Canoeing: It’s a great way to get a perspective on the countryside and get a peek at riverside Châteaux and mills. There’s always the chance of a Kingfisher or two. You get taken up stream to your point of launch with all the kit and then canoe back down to where you started. The River Charente and the Vienne are popular with longer distance canoeists while the River Tardoire is local and great fun for all canoeists from beginners upwards.
  • Cycling: L’Age Baston has bikes available if you would like to cycle into La Rochefoucauld. Alternatively, you could borrow a map and head out further afield to discover the beautiful surroundings. Cycling around L’Age Baston is great fun; not excessively hilly and with the traffic density of the UK like it must have been fifty years ago.
  • Fishing
  • Golf: There is a spectacular course at La Prèze, just outside Montbron. It’s a beautiful location with hills, woods and lakes. It offers a main 18-hole course, a driving range and 9 hole pitch and putt as well as a lovely club house. This is apparently a not unchallenging course. (Please note proof of handicap may be required to use the 18 hole course).
  • Horseriding
  • Karting
  • Tennis
  • Walking: If you visit L’Age Baston on week when they are running a walking course, you may join in on any of the morning guided walks for a local charge of 25 EUR. Most of the walks last 2.5 to 3 hours. If you visit L’Age Baston when they aren’t running a course, they would be very happy to loan you maps and offer suggestions on where to go and things to see.

What's included

  • 7 nights accommodation at the château
  • Local excursions and afternoon visits
  • Transfers from/to the local station/airports
  • Wine with lunch and dinner

What's not included

  • Activities not mentioned above
  • Airfare
  • Train tickets

How to get there

Driving directions

Chteau LAge Baston is approximately 7 hours from Calais and 5 hours from Caen. Guests travelling by car can plan their route via the AAs route planner or via Michelins route planner. If you enter your departure postcode and destination postcode (16110), the route planner will schedule your journey for you. You can also choose to set a via points if you wish to stop somewhere en route. The best time for you to arrive at LAge Baston is mid-afternoon.

Arrival by airplane

The nearest airports to the location are Limoges - Bellegarde airport (LIG) or Bordeaux - Mrignac airport (BOD). LAge Baston will pick you up from any of these 2 airports. The pick-up is complimentary. If you arrive at Paris - Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG), then you can take the train to Angoulme where LAge Baston will pick you up. The pick-up is complimentary.

Arrival by train

Eurostar from London St. Pancras via Lille or Paris, then TGV to Angoulme. Free collection service to Chteau LAge Baston. Please note that Eurostar and TGV reservations can only be made up to three months in advance of your departure date.


  • Caen - 5 hours
  • Calais - 7 hours
  • La Rochefoucauld town - 20-minute walk

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 100% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
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