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You will embark with Le Calabash on a culinary tour throughout France that will introduce you to a world of new flavors and techniques. You will gain new skills during your hands-on cooking classes that will enable you to follow your own flair and imagination back home. Throughout this authentic food tour of some of the most enchanting places in France, you will have the opportunity to develop your culinary skills and also sample some of the best French dishes.
You will spend your nights in double or twin rooms in different locations in France. Le Calabash strives to ensure you have comfort, service, and attention to detail second to none during your stay. You will be staying in various accommodations in Bayeux, La Roche-Posay, Bordeaux, Avignon, Nice, Lyon, and Paris.
09:30: Meet your hosts Alison and Sidney at Charles de Gaulle Airport. You will make your way to Normandy where you begin the Culinary Tour de France in the picturesque village of Camembert.
Camembert is a soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese, it is a true symbol of France. In just two centuries it has become so familiar to us that it is now considered part of French national gastronomic heritage. A local specialty that is also very popular beyond French borders, it is paradoxically the epitome of French refinement.
In 1791 during the French revolution and just a short distance from here in Beaumoncel manor, Camembert was born out of an encounter between a cantankerous priest and Marie Harel - a farmer living in the Auge.
In the heart of the village of Camembert a late 18th / early 19th century, building has been restored to become home to the Maison de Camembert. It offers a showcase for the most emblematic of French cheeses and pays tribute to Marie Harel in the historic place in which this great saga began.
13.00: This afternoon, you visit a dairy farm that is still producing raw-milk, ladle-molded Camembert cheese traditionally in the village of Camembert. Then, you leave Camembert and head to Victot Pontful on the Route de Cider.
16.00: Here you visit a family domaine of over 30 hectares where they have been making Normandy’s famous Cider, Pommeau and Calvados for many years.
You will enjoy a tour of the Estate unveiling the secrets of the transformation of apples into Calvados, followed by a tasting paired with local cheese, charcuterie and patisseries where you will be able to appreciate the richness of the Pays d’Auge.
You will make your way further up to the coast where you will check into a charming guesthouse in the picturesque town of Bayeux.
20.00: Tonight you will enjoy dinner close to the guesthouse in a charming French creperie on a sunny quiet terrace next to the river.
At 9 a.m., after breakfast, you go to visit Omaha Beach, one of the Normandy landing beaches during the Second World War.
Omaha Beach was the most intensely fought after beach on D-Day on June 6, 1944. Omaha Beach was six miles wide – the largest of all the five beaches. The whole of the beach at Omaha was overlooked by cliffs which made attacking the area very difficult. The Americans were given the task of doing just this.
Many of the soldiers were drowned during the approach from ships offshore or were killed by defending fire from German troops placed on heights surrounding the beach. By nightfall, the Americans had gained a hold on the beach and its immediate hinterland.
The Americans suffered 2,400 casualties at Omaha – and this is principally why the attack is remembered. It is easy to overlook the fact that despite the casualties, 34,000 troops had been landed by the end of the day on this blooded beach.
You will also visit The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France located in Colleville-sur-Mer, on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944.
This is the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of the military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.
On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.
After enjoying a picnic overlooking the beach, you will be spending the afternoon at the renowned Mont Saint Michel where you will be free to explore the island.
The Mont Saint Michel is one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. Set in the mesmerizing bay where Normandy and Brittany merge, the island draws the eye from great distances.
The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. It is listed as a World Heritage Site.
Dinner is for your own account. You all will meet and leave the Mont Saint Michel at 21.00.
At 08:00, after an early breakfast, you leave for le Calabash, Alison and Sidney’s cooking school set in the Loire Valley, the heart of France’s finest food region. You will enjoy hands-on cooking classes with award-winning chefs in a pleasant and peaceful hamlet.
12.00: you arrive in the Loire Valley by noon and will enjoy a light brasserie type lunch in a local restaurant.
This afternoon you will master Soufflés, a culinary specialty known for their lightness.
You will also learn how to master one of le Calabash’s renowned Ice creams.
Settle into your hotel in the quaint spa town of La Roche Posay a unique place to stay surrounded by a rose garden and a spacious terrace overlooking the pretty square. At 8 p.m., enjoy dinner at Le Calabash.
Early morning, you depart for Tours Market, one of the finest in France. You visit Tours best bakery to choose your breakfast pastries which you will enjoy in a little market coffee shop. This morning, you explore both the indoor "Les Halles Food Market" and the twice-weekly outdoor market.
You visit the old town which clusters around place Plumereau; its old houses restored to their former glory. Today this is the place for pavement cafes and people watching in the summer but stroll the smaller, narrow streets like rue Briconnet and you step back into the historic medieval city.
To the south, you’ll find a Romanesque basilica, the Cloitre de St-Martin and the new Basilique de St-Martin. You’re in the place which was once on the great pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. St-Martin was a soldier who became bishop of Tours in the 4th century and helped spread Christianity through France. His remains, rediscovered in 1860, are now in the crypt of the new Basilique.
The other old part, the cathedral quarter, on the other side of the main Rue Nationale, is dominated by the Cathédrale St-Gatien, a flamboyant Gothic building with 12th-century decorated stonework covering the outside. Inside the highlights are the 16th-century tomb of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne’s two children, and the stained glass.
For lunch, today you enjoy a traditional French lunch at le Calabash, prepared by Alison. At 2 p.m., Alison will share with you her passion for creating and preparing one of the world’s most sought-after classics, the Macaron, on which she has put her own stamp.
At 7:30 p.m. tonight you dine with the Bond’s friend, Michelin Starred, Jacky Dallais at the renowned Promenade Restaurant in le Petit Pressigny. Enjoy the menu with wine pairing.
Enjoy traditional French breakfast. At 8:30 a.m. this morning Sidney will share with you traditional French Bouchon dishes. At noon, you will enjoy one of these delicious dishes for lunch. Then, at 1 p.m., you depart for Chateau Chenonceau where you have the morning to explore Chenonceau at your leisure.
Property of the Crown, then royal residence, Chenonceau Castle is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history.
For the historical background, the “Château des Dames” was built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, and successively embellished by Diane de Poitiers then Catherine de Medici. Chenonceau was protected from the hardship of the revolution by Madame Dupin.
16.30: You depart to visit Vouvray one of France’s finest white wine and sparkling wine areas where you will be taken on a guided tour of 3 kilometers of wine caves, holding on average 4 million bottles of wine, petillant and sparkling wine. You will be given an in-depth tour of the production and bottling plant and then return for a wine tasting.
19.30: Tonight, you will have a chocolate and wine pairing followed by the Art of Paella, by ‘le Calabash’
Chocolate is the confectionery match to wine. Perhaps this is because the process of making chocolate is very similar to wine. Both cocoa beans and wine are fermented with the very same type of yeast. No wonder there are so many wine and chocolate lovers!
Paella is a Valencian-Catalan word which derives from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of calasparra rice, green vegetables, chicken and rabbit, land snails, beans and seasoning as saffron, rosemary and occasionally lemon.
At 8:30, you depart after breakfast and drive to Saint Emilion. Then, at 1 p.m., enjoy lunch in St Emilion on your own account.
Saint-Émilion's history goes back to prehistoric times and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with fascinating Romanesque churches and ruins stretching all along steep and narrow streets. The Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint-Émilion as early as the 2nd century.
In the 4th century, the Latin poet Ausonius lauded the fruit of the bountiful vine. The town was named after the monk Émilion, a traveling confessor, who settled in a hermitage carved into the rock there in the 8th century. It was the monks who followed him that started up the commercial wine production in the area.
You take a stroll through the streets of Saint-Emilion’s World Heritage town. Then, you head to the hotel, driving through the impressive vineyards to the beautiful city of Bordeaux.
Tonight, you will be free to explore the city and make your own plans for the evening. Of course, the staff will be on hand to help you with your restaurant choices. Dinner is for your own account tonight.
At 8:30 a.m. after breakfast, you set off on a gourmet trail through the vineyards. During the day, you discover the Chateaux and taste their wines and enjoy a picnic lunch in the vineyards driving through one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.
At 9:30 p.m. tonight you enjoy dinner at the brasserie Le Quatrième Mur. Enjoy the menu with wine pairing.
In the very heart of the Opéra National de Bordeaux, Michelin star and celebrity Chef Philippe Etchebest has opened his chic and contemporary brasserie “Le Quatrieme Mur”. True to his values of sharing the menu reflects his uninhibited, generous and elaborate cuisine.
At 8 a.m. after breakfast, you head to the medieval town of Carcassonne. Occupied since the Neolithic, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between two great axes of circulation linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées.
Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire and was later taken over in the fifth century by the Visigoths who founded the city. Also thriving as a trading post due to its location, it saw many rulers who successively built up its fortifications, until its military significance was greatly reduced by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
You have the afternoon to discover this beautiful town, before heading off to Avignon in Provence.
Lunch is for your own account, you could choose to enjoy Cassoulet, one of the dishes the area is famous for. Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin and white beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.
The region once known as the province of Languedoc is the traditional homeland of cassoulet, especially the towns of Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Castelnaudary, the town which claims to be where the dish originated.
You check into the hotel on arrival.
At 7:30 p.m., Alison and Sidney take you out to dinner to a traditional French restaurant, with a pretty courtyard of majestic centennial trees, in the center of the City of the Popes.
This morning you are free to go back through history in the medieval town of Avignon which is known as a World Heritage Site. Discover the ‘’Palais de Papes’’ from the 12th Century, the Cathedral of Avignon and the famous ‘’Pont d’Avignon’’.
At 12.00 you meet before lunch and visit a producer of local olive oil where you will enjoy a lunch on the terrace under the Provençale sun.
The Olive Oil Mill of the Chartreuse is one of the oldest in France. It was created in 1358 by the Cartesian Order with the benediction of Pope Innocent VI. In 2009, the buildings housing the Olive Oil Mill were listed with the Historic Monuments of France.
In 2008, the Bronzini family took over the Olive Oil Mill and worked at furthering the quality of its traditional production. For this, they have been granted several awards, such a gold medal for products of excellence and a silver medal. In 2010, Philippe Bronzini undertook considerable restoration work in order to enhance the historical parts of the building.
You leave this historical town and make your way to ‘’Nice la Belle’’, the beautiful city of Nice. You check into the hotel and freshen up before taking a stroll along the outstanding Mediterranean seafront on the Promenade des Anglais with its many bars and restaurants and of course the famous Moules et Frites. Dinner is for your own account tonight.
At 9:30 a.m. after breakfast, you will take a walk through the Niçoise markets. At 13:00 you enjoy a delicious lunch in the heart of Nice.
The rest of the day and evening you are free to stroll around the city, do some shopping, have a drink on the famous Promenade des Anglais or simply relax and enjoy the beach. This evening, you can make your own plans for dinner. Le Calabash will of course give you any advice you need. Dinner is for your own account tonight.
Today you have the whole day to yourself to relax and enjoy Nice. With its mix of real-city grit, old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and stunning seaside location, Nice is the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur, and a must-see for every visitor.
A magnet for sunseekers and high-rollers since the 19th century, this bewitching coastal city has so much going for it, it’s almost embarrassing – fabulous markets, an enticing old town, glorious architecture and a wealth of super restaurants.
Places of interest are La Promenade des Anglais, which takes you all the way down the beachfront, you can stop have a drink or go and lie on the beach. It is possible to book a lounger on the hotel’s private beach, this must be done the day before.
You can visit the Palais Masséna, which tells the Nice story from Napoleon through to the mid-20th century. You could take a stroll through the old town or better known as the “Vieux Nice”, the market also takes place in this area “Le Cours Saleya”. Filled with bars, coffee shops, small restaurants, boutiques, souvenir shops.
Nice also has a few museums such as the Musée Chagall or the Musée Matisse. Nice is also home to gorgeous monuments and buildings, all over the city, in the old town, one of the hotspots would be the Russian Cathedral, it is the most visited monument in Nice.
The cathedral’s interior “symbolizes the universe returned to its initial beauty through the grace of the Risen Christ”. This was clearly an initial universe as conceived for Russian tastes – very gold, shiny, studded with jewels and other treasures brought from Russia.
At 7:30, you will be taken to enjoy dinner in a Michelin star restaurant. Enjoy the menu with wine pairing.
Ten years ago, Elise and Mickaël Gracieux opened their restaurant in Nice. In 2010 they were awarded a Michelin star, creating dishes that are “a delight for the senses”. L’Aromate offers modern, creative cuisine, made from fresh local produce.
At 8 a.m., enjoy an early start for breakfast after which you depart for one of France’s major cities for French cuisine, Lyon. You head to Tain l’Hermitage and le Cité du Chocolat home to the best chocolate in the world, Valrhona.
Located on the site of Valrhona’s historic chocolate factory, the Cité takes the general public and professionals on a behind-the-scenes exploration of fine chocolate.
During a mouth-watering, eye-opening trail through the heart of the Cité, you will discover all the secrets of how chocolate is made, and the array of expertise possessed by Valrhona and its customers. Whether you’re a gourmet enthusiast or simply love chocolate, whether you’re an amateur or a professional, come and savor a magical experience with this most exceptional of ingredients!
The Valrhona boutique is located within the Cité du Chocolat, exactly where it has stood since the 1950s. Enjoy preview tastings of the brand’s latest products, explore the complete Valrhona range and the book area, or pick a souvenir of Debuyer pastry utensils, as well as biscuits and marshmallows made with Valrhona chocolate...
At 12:30 p.m., enjoy lunch in a local bistro. Then, check into the hotel. At 8 p.m. tonight, you enjoy dinner in a traditional Lyonnais Bouchon.
A Bouchon is a small, family-owned bistro and cannot be found in any other French city. They are the only place to taste and enjoy traditional homemade Lyonnais meals.
The forbearers of these bouchons were the taverns or inns where silk merchants stopped in the 17th and 18th centuries to have a meal, clean their horses, and, perhaps, rest overnight. They derived their name because the term bouchon was used then to describe the twisted straw brushes used to clean the horses.
Each year, L’Association de defense des Bouchons Lyonnais certifies those bouchons that meet its standards of authenticity. The restaurants, which number around twenty, proudly display their designation on their windows.
After a leisurely breakfast, you will visit the Vieux-Lyon. You will walk through the famous cobbled alleyways of the Saint Jean area, via its internal courtyards and traboules. You will discover the atmosphere which is very characteristic.
Urbanized as early as the Middle Ages, the area now boasts 24 hectares of buildings mainly dating back to the 15th and 16th century, combining Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Go back to the times of the great fairs that secured the wealth and celebrity of the city and relive the history of leading local and Italian families who left their mark here.
Secrets will be revealed and anecdotes that have made the reputation of this historic area, which is the first area in France to have been preserved and inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
At the end of the morning, you head to the famous market Les Halles. In 1971, Les Halles was opened in the neighborhood of La Part-Dieu close to Lyon’s main train station.
Extensive renovations took place in 2004 resulting in the now 13,000 square meters of food vendors over three floors. The final touch was undoubtedly master chef Paul Bocuse adding his name to the title of the market and securing its reputation as one of the finest places for food anywhere.
Les Halles is a remarkable indoor food market offering the very finest produce available anywhere. The several bars and restaurants make this an ideal location to sample Lyon’s gastronomical delights and it’s as well suited for a family visit or a romantic evening.
You will be able to enjoy a light lunch from the many stands at Les Halles (for your own account). You have the afternoon free to discover Lyon, here are some tips:
The Fourvière Basilica: This magnificent church, ever visible on the Fourvière hill to the west of the city is one of a series of iconic hill-top churches built in major French cities in the late 19th century. The basilica is in the oldest part of the city, Lyon’s pilgrimage site and where several Roman sites have been discovered.
Musée des Beaux Arts: Housed in a former abbey from the 1600s, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is France’s largest fine art museum after the Louvre in Paris. There are 70 rooms here, with paintings from the 1300s to the 1900s, sculpture, and displays of both Egyptian and Oriental art.
You don’t need more than a passing knowledge to be impressed by the wealth of famous French and European artists on the show: Degas, van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, El Greco, Canaletto, Picasso, Max Ernst, and Francis Bacon, and that’s just an overview. The Antiquities department is a trove of some 600 Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including reliefs, busts, statuettes, and sarcophagi, as well as monumental gates recovered from the Medamud temple.
Lyon Cathedral: The city’s fabulous cathedral is a mostly gothic construction built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The majority of the original stained-glass windows are still here and date to the 1300s. They had been dismantled and packed away during the Second World War to save them from bomb damage.
The most captivating are the north, south and west roses, as well as the apse’s lancet. The astronomical clock inside is nine meters tall and was installed in the 1300s. Under the main clock-face is an astrolabe, added in the 1600s, that can show the position of the earth, sun, and moon.
Lyon is also home to many great boutiques and shops in Le Carré d’Or area, in the Vieux Lyon area and La Croix Rousse area.
At 8 p.m. tonight, you dine at Paul Bocuse’s renowned three Michelin star restaurant. Paul Bocuse is the "king of chefs" and "chef of kings." He has been holding his three Michelin Stars since 1965 and is known as one of the greatest chefs in the world.
Enjoy the menu with wine pairing.
At 8 a.m., have an early departure after breakfast to the city of lights, Paris. At 2 p.m., you take part in a cheese and wine tasting workshop in a 17th-century cave. Check into the hotel where you can relax and the late afternoon is yours to enjoy Paris. At 8 p.m., you will have a glass of Champagne on the lawns of the Eiffel Tower.
At 10:30 a.m., after a leisurely breakfast, you meet the guide who will be taking you on an exclusive food tour, through Paris’s best pastry, chocolate, charcuterie and cheese shops. At the end of this tour, you will enjoy a lunch with all of these specialties whilst being told about the history and stories behind them.
You visit Rue Montmartre, home to Paris’s Kitchen and Chef Shops where you can purchase some of the small pastry and kitchen pieces of equipment you may need to prepare your meals back home.
For your last evening together, you will have a farewell dinner at 8 p.m. at the famous Le Train Bleu where you will reminisce on your culinary adventure through France together and make a toast to all those wonderful memories!
Enjoy the menu with wine pairing.
After breakfast, you say, "au revoir!"
Alison is an award-winning chef, with many years of international experience. After meeting her future husband in Swaziland, they have cooked together, including for several heads of state, among which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Richard Attenbourgh, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Cher, Sylvester Stallone, U2, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. Alison has won recognition by major food guides and has won medals internationally. Alison and Sidney like to introduce exotic flavors to traditional French cooking, and give personal attention to all guests
Sidney is an award-winning chef, with many years of international experience. Since meeting his future wife in Swaziland, they have cooked together, including for several heads of state, among which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince William, as well for celebrities like Madonna, Cher, and Sylvester Stallone. Apart from the recognition of major food guides, Sidney has won international medals. Sidney was Captain of The British Craft Guild Team for 2000/2001 when they achieved a record medal total.
This food tour will take place in various locations throughout France. You will visit Normandy (with Camembert, Bayeux, Omaha Beach, Mont Saint Michel), the Loire Valley (Tours), Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, Dune du Pilat, Carcassonne, Provence (with Avignon), Nice, Lyon, and Paris.
Meals are included as indicated in the itinerary as well as half a bottle of selected wines with meals as indicated. For the days on which dinner is not included, Le Calabash will give you any advice you need with choosing a restaurant. There will be plenty of cheese, oyster, wine, and chocolate tasting sessions throughout this food tour.
In Nice you will have some free time to stroll around the city, do some shopping, have a drink on the famous Promenade des Anglais, or simply relax and enjoy the beach.
You will also have a free afternoon to discover Lyon, here are some tips. The Fourvière Basilica - this magnificent church ever visible on the Fourvière hill to the west of the city, is one of a series of iconic hill-top churches built in major French cities in the late-19th century. The basilica is in the oldest part of the city, Lyon’s pilgrimage site and where several Roman sites have been discovered.
Musée des Beaux Arts - housed in a former abbey from the 1600s, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is France’s largest fine art museum after the Louvre in Paris. There are 70 rooms here, with paintings from the 1300s to the 1900s, sculpture, and displays of both Egyptian and Oriental art.
You don’t need more than a passing knowledge to be impressed by the wealth of famous French and European artists on show: Degas, van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, El Greco, Canaletto, Picasso, Max Ernst, and Francis Bacon, and that’s just an overview. The Antiquities department is a trove of some 600 Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including reliefs, busts, statuettes, and sarcophagi, as well as monumental gates recovered from the Medamud temple.
Lyon Cathedral - the city’s fabulous cathedral is a mostly Gothic construction built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The majority of the original stained-glass windows are still here and date to the 1300s. They had been dismantled and packed away during the Second World War to save them from bomb damage.
The most captivating are the north, south, and west roses, as well as the apse’s lancet. The astronomical clock inside is 9 meters tall and was installed in the 1300s. Under the main clock-face is an astrolabe, added in the 1600s, that can show the position of the earth, sun, and moon.
Lyon is also home to many great boutiques and shops in Le Carré d’Or area, in the Vieux Lyon area and La Croix Rousse area.
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