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Authentic France Cooking Vacation

Your school is set in the heart of France and The Touraine is without question the home to European Renaissance which brought with it a rich and diverse culinary history and depth. Your chefs are both qualified and award-winning who have competed and won gold medals at an international level, as well as having cooked by demand for heads of states, celebrities, and finally, on several occasions, on-demand for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!

Meet the instructors

Alison & Sidney
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  • Enjoy a visit into Château Chenonceau
  • Cooking classes and culinary activities daily
  • Receive a personalized apron and recipe folder
  • Daily breakfast and meals as per the itinerary
  • 3 glasses of selected wine with meals
  • 6 nights accommodation


5 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: French
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
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  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Tennis court
  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Bar
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi

Le Calabash strives to ensure you have comfort, service, and attention to detail second to none during your stay. You will be staying in one of the following two accommodations, depending on the availability.

Relais Manor House

This is a charming 18th-century coach inn, just three minutes from Le Calabash. It has been renovated to the most modern standards of comfort to provide one of the region's finest hotels. However, the owners have ensured it has retained its charm and character.

Set in the small tranquil French village of Yzeures sur Creuse on the river Creuse in the Loire Valley, it overlooks the village square and church, which includes a 15th-century shrine and the museum of ‘Mado Robin,’ France’s famous opera soprano as this is where she was born.

The beamed bedrooms are all of a superior standard and decorated in period style, with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV. The bar and lounge offer a comfortable area to relax with a grand fireplace. You can also enjoy the calm of one of the two picturesque gardens with a glass of Loire wine.

If you enjoy the outdoors, there is a swimming pool and a tennis court, and you are provided with canoes to explore either the Creuse or Gartempe Rivers or discover the area by bicycle on the numerous cycle routes which are also provided. You are on the doorsteps of the Brenne, famous for its birdlife, lakes, and endless walks.

Les Loges du Parc

This charming, four-star hotel is situated in the center of the pretty spa town of La Roche Posay. The hotel with its imposing Belle Epoque façade, surrounded by its rose garden and pivoineraie, thermal pool, and a large terrace with linden trees creates a unique and exceptional place in the village.

Completely renovated in a chic country spirit with a hint of a “British touch”, it offers tasteful large hotel rooms and suites where each room has its own identity; wood, amaranth, coriander, and green countryside. The exterior has kept its Art Nouveau charm with its architectural frieze.

The hotel offers a relaxing pool and bathing area where guests can soak up the French sunshine. Inside, there is an atmosphere of peace and authenticity with the solid wood floors and fireplace in the lobby. It is comfortable with character and charm. Les Loges du Parc four-star hotel is part of the prestigious Châteaux and Hôtels Collection (Alain Ducasse Group).


Day 1

Arrival after lunch and check into and settle into your accommodation. At 7 p.m., a welcome champagne cocktail and the opportunity to meet and get to know your fellow culinary adventurers, followed by Alison and Sidney’s "Taste of the Loire Valley" dinner in the Old Stable at le Calabash.

Day 2

At 8 a.m., enjoy a traditional French breakfast. Today, you'll share French Mediterranean dishes with you which are known for their seasonal, local, and fresh ingredients, something they passionately believe in and strive to share with their culinary family. During all your classes, you will be exposed to accompaniments or side dish preparation as well. You will prepare several Mediterranean dishes using local ingredients that will include Quiche Touraine, flatbread, grilled Piperade, and Provençale salad.

At 1 p.m., for lunch, enjoy your morning's cooking. This afternoon, continue your Mediterranean journey beyond the French borders; and Sidney shares some of his favorite memories with you, cooking with his mentors and as a young chef, and prepare your brioche dough as it needs to rest overnight. Alison shares with you two desserts that are enjoyed all over the globe, with a twist.

  • Roasted garlic and Camembert brioche
  • Gnocchi of the moment
  • Free-range Chicken
  • Burnt pannacotta and homemade gingerbread
  • Chocolate crème crulée

You'll also make your brioche dough that needs to rest overnight. At 5:30 p.m., enjoy leisure time until dinner at 7:30 p.m., tonight, enjoy the dishes you prepared together

Day 3

This morning, you will enter the world of ice cream and all things sweet and nice.

  • Salted caramel ice cream
  • Spicy chocolate ice cream lollies
  • Lemon and coconut ice cream
  • Chocolate marshmallows
  • Mousse au chocolate

At 1 p.m. for lunch, you will enjoy the "Classic Croque Madame" followed by a contemporary take on the "Pain Perdue", both using the brioche you have made together. This afternoon, 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.

  • Exotic chocolate macaron
  • Seasonal macaron creations

At 7:30 p.m., enjoy a dinner using recipes from Alison and Sidney’s book, "Le Calabash: A Culinary Journey".

Day 4

At 8 a.m., depart for tours. Today, you'll experience Culinary France and Cultural Loire Valley and a day out of the kitchen. Visit Tours best bakery to choose your breakfast pastries which you will enjoy in a little market coffee shop. This morning, explore both the indoor "Les Halles Food Market" and the twice-weekly outdoor market.

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.

Have lunch at 12 p.m. and after, depart for Chateau Chenonceau where you'll have the afternoon to explore Chenonceau at your leisure. Property of the Crown, then a 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, 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.

At 12:30 p.m., enjoy Lunch in Chenonceau and at 8 p.m., have a relaxed evening discovering French cheeses and charcuterie and local wines.

Day 5

At 8 a.m., enjoy a traditional French breakfast. This morning at 4 a.m., the fish delivery arrived off the boats that came in late last night at the Atlantic port of La Rochelle, a two-hour drive from le Calabash. You will be taught the best catch for each season, how to identify your fish and how to ensure it is fresh. The day will include techniques for preparing and cooking fish dishes. Fish will include hands-on tuition of:

  • Preparing and working with mussels, fresh from the Atlantic coast.
  • Prepare a seasonal Fish course using your fresh ocean catch of the day.

For lunch, enjoy one of the dishes you prepared this morning. This afternoon, embark on a hands-on savory and sweet souffle adventure.

  • Savoury souffle of the moment
  • Passion fruit soufflé with coconut and lemongrass ice cream
  • Soufflé of the moment

At 7:30 p.m., return to Le Calabash for a tasting of Loire Valley wines and French chocolates followed by dinner. 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!

Day 6

At 8 a.m., enjoy a traditional French breakfast. This morning, enter the world of breadmaking. They will share with you how easy it is to prepare an array of freshly baked bread using fresh and dry yeasts including laminated dough which can be used for pastries.

Have lunch at 1 p.m; "Fire and Spice" reflect both Alison and Sidney’s adventurous side to cooking. Having met and tied the knot in Africa and having lived in several African countries, they have a passion for cooking on the barbecue or over the coals of the fire pit.

Alison and Sidney take on a hands-on cooking class that will leave you with a new and exciting approach to cooking outdoors and the depth, flavors, and techniques of what they call "Taking a Walk on the Wild Side".

At 5:30 p.m., enjoy leisure time until dinner. At 7:30 p.m., there will be a certificate presentation and champagne, the farewell "Fire and Spice" evening.

Day 7

Have a traditional French breakfast and departure by 11 a.m.

Included excursions

On Day 4, you will have an excursion day wherein you'll visit Tours, Les Halles Food Market, and Chateau Chenonceau, among others.





Le Calabash ‘Petit Conservatoire de la Cuisine’ is located on the river Creuse in the Loire Valley, set in a small French hamlet on the edge of the local forest. Initial concerns about the level of cooking skills required are immediately dispelled by the informality of the environment and the realization that the only qualifications needed are a love for food and the desire to learn about cooking.

The region is home to the finest goat’s cheese producers and winemaking has been deeply rooted here for centuries. This area is simply known as France’s "Bread Basket".


Daily breakfasts are included in the price, as are the welcome champagne cocktail and buffet on day one, lunches and dinners on days two, three, four, five, and six.

The breakfasts are usually traditional French meals, except for the one on day four when you will have pastries for breakfast instead. For lunch, you will have artisanal cheese and freshly baked bread on day two, and a traditional French lunch on day four. On day five, you will enjoy for lunch the dishes you prepared that morning. Finally, for the farewell dinner on day six you will have a Zulu barbecue.

On day five, there will also be a tasting of Loire Valley wines and French chocolates. Three glasses of selected wine will complement the meals.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
  • Seafood
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Daily cooking classes
  • Daily breakfast and meals as per itinerary including three glasses of selected wines with meals
  • Personalized apron and recipe folder
  • 6 nights accommodation
  • Entrance into Château Chenonceau
  • Transport for all activities in the itinerary

What's not included

  • Airport transfers
  • Optional excursions or meals not listed in itinerary or any additional expenses ordered personally
  • Drinks that are personally ordered or excess wine consumed at meals
  • Laundry
  • Phone calls
  • Additional nights’ accommodation (195 EUR including breakfast, subject to room availability)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports are all within an hour and a half by train to Chatellerault; Tours and Poitiers Stations where le Calabash will transfer you from to your culinary adventure. RYANAIR flies from London Stanstead to airports at Poitiers and Tours. RYANAIR also offers flights from Dublin, Barcelona, Marrakesh, Nice, Porto, and Manchester to Tours and Poitiers.

Arrival by train

Eurostar then the highly reliable TGV. There are two ways to get here. The TGV runs three trains a day directly from Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport to ‘le Calabash’ which is a 1.5-hour journey.

Eurostar from the UK and change platforms at Lille for the TGV to Tours (note station name ‘Saint-Pierre des corps’) or Poitiers. It's approximately an hour from either city or Eurostar to Paris, Gare du Nord, and then a bit of sightseeing perhaps before catching the TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Chatellerault, a short 20-minute drive from Le Calabash.

Please go to Rail Europe's website for bookings. If you would like Le Calabash to assist you with your travel plans, please do not hesitate to contact them and they can book and issue your tickets for you at additional costs.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 24.2% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Pricing information

Please note that the non-participating partner rate excludes all classes and lunches. For more information, please send an inquiry.

Saturday June 4, 2022
(7 days / 6 nights)

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