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Traditional France Cooking Holiday

The new flavors, techniques, and skills that you will learn during your French culinary vacation at Le Calabash will enable you to follow your own flair and imagination back home on Christmas day. All you need to bring to the class is a love for food and the desire to learn about cooking. The course provides a supportive learning environment with plenty of hands-on opportunities to develop your culinary skills, as well as the chance to be on vacation in some of the most beautiful surroundings.

Meet the instructors

Alison & Sidney
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Highlights

  • Prepare classic recipes with cooking classes
  • Learn from qualified and award-winning chefs
  • Enjoy daily tours and visit various food markets
  • Receive a personalized apron and recipe folder
  • 3 glasses of selected wine with some meals
  • Daily breakfast and meals as per itinerary
  • Entrance into Chateau Chenonceau
  • 8 nights accommodation

Styles


8 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: French
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
11:00

You will spend five nights in the Loire Valley and three nights in Paris. Le Calabash strives to ensure you have comfort, service, and attention to detail second to none during your stay. During your stay in the Loire Valley, you will be housed 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).

Program

Your Chefs are both qualified and award-winning chefs who have competed and won gold medals at an international level as well as having cooked by demand for heads of state, celebrities, and finally, on several occasions, on-demand for her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Day 1

  • Arrival after lunch and check into and settle into your accommodation.
  • 19:30 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

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • After breakfast, visit the local goat's cheese farm and producer where you'll taste and experience what is known as the best goat’s cheese in the world, St Maures AOC.
  • When you return from the goat’s cheese farm, use the cheese purchased to prepare two Le Calabash classics: Cep and goats cheese ravioli with nut butter and the art of the "Pithiviers".
  • Enjoy your morning's cookery for lunch.
  • This afternoon, you will prepare one of Le Calabash's most popular dishes: beef wellington with light truffle jus, pomme fondant, and a medley of seasonal vegetables.
  • Dinner

Day 3

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • Today, you will enter Alison’s world of desserts and pastry where she will share with you her passion for creating and preparing some of the world’s most sought-after classics, which she has put her own stamp on. Dark and white chocolate delice with spiced pear and speculoos and lemon soufflé with a Christmas berry Ice cream.
  • Lunch
  • You will be taught the best catch for each season and how to identify your fish and how to ensure it is fresh. Dishes will include olive oil poached salmon with foie gras and spicy lentils and pan-roasted monkfish in a creamy mussel and curry sauce
  • 17.30 Leisure time till dinner
  • Tonight, Alison and Sidney take you to dinner with their friend, Michelin-star Jacky Delay at the renowned promenade restaurant in Le Petit pressing.

Day 4

  • Traditional French breakfast: Festive croquembouche with nougatine, a wonderful table centerpiece for your Christmas lunch
  • Lunch
  • Chateau Chenonceau to experience its décor at this festive time of the year. You have the early 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, 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.
  • Dinner in Amboise: The royal château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise. Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favored royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. King Charles VII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel, and where you can visit the chapel in which Leonardo de Vinci is buried.

Day 5

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • Depart and spend the morning on Tours where you can enjoy Les Halles food market and do a little sightseeing.
  • 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 Closure 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 is the 16th-century tomb of Charles VII and Anne de Bretagne's two children, and the stained glass.
  • Lunch today, enjoy a traditional French lunch at Le Calabash, prepared by Alison.
  • This afternoon, prepare and learn how to make and present a spectacular centerpiece, Bûche de Noël for your Christmas table. The traditional dessert served near Christmas in France, Bûche de Noël originally referred to the yule log itself, and was transferred as a dessert only after this custom had fallen out of use, presumably during the first half of the 20th century.
  • Dinner tonight, the Bond family will be your hosts for a Le Calabash approach to a festive table.

Day 6

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • This morning, prepare a trio of festive macarons using praline, caramel beurre salé, and chocoholic.
  • Lunch
  • Depart for Paris.
  • Check into the hotel and settle into the room.
  • Tonight, they leave you to enjoy the Christmas market along with the Champs Elysees just a short walk from your hotel where you can enjoy the festive atmosphere and partake in the street food and have a glass of mulled wine.
  • Dinner is for your own account tonight

Day 7

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • 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 festive meal back home on Christmas day.
  • Lunch: Au Pied de Cochon is situated in the Les Halles area and is a Parisian institution. Au Pied de Cochon is also highly regarded for its setting, typical of leading Parisian brasseries and its huge terrace overlooking a pedestrian street with a view of the Saint-Eustache Church
  • This afternoon, visit the Christmas market at the Trocadero with its chalets selling artisanal Christmas gifts and decorations. Here stands the Eiffel tower which is adorned with its golden covering and which sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour whilst its beacon shines over Paris, the city of lights.
  • The Christmas market at Place de la Trocadero
  • Tonight, your adventure continues with champagne and the show at the world-renowned Moulin Rouge, best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the Can-Can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the Can-Can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Today, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. The club’s decor still contains much of the romance of fin de siècle France.

Day 8

  • Breakfast: 45 breakfast
  • After breakfast, they take you to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps to indulge in a little time on your own to do some last-chance Christmas shopping.
  • Visit the Marché ‘l’estaminet’ des Enfants Rouges in the heart of le Marais where you have the choice of several little restaurants to have a light lunch for your own account. Le Marais is the closest you will get to the feel of medieval Paris and has more pre-revolutionary buildings and streets left intact than any other area in Paris.
  • This afternoon, they share with you a few of Paris's unknown and secret little shopping streets with small boutique styled shops where the locals do their festive and day to day shopping.
  • Farewell dinner at Alison and Sidney's favorite restaurant in Paris, Le Train Bleu.

Day 9

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • Departure by 11 a.m.

Instructors

Alison

Sidney

Location

This vacation will take place in the Loire Valley and in Paris, in France. Le Calabash Petit Conservatoire de la Cuisine is located on the river Creuse in the heart of the Indre et Loire region, set in a small French hamlet on the edge of the local forest. The region is home to the finest goat’s cheese producers and wine-making has been deeply rooted here for centuries. This area is simply known as France’s ‘Bread Basket’.

The Touraine is without question the home of the European Renaissance which brought with it a rich and diverse culinary history and depth. Set in a small hamlet surrounded by fields of sunflowers, rapeseed, wheat, and corn on the edge of the local forests, the school is also close to the river and quaint little villages which you can stroll or cycle through.

Le Calabash shares the Loire Valley and its culinary and cultural heritage with you, using only the finest and freshest ingredients available seasonally.

Food

Daily breakfasts and three glasses of selected wine with meals are included in the price, as are most lunches and dinners. There is no dinner included on day six, and no lunch on day eight.

The culinary holiday begins with a welcome champagne cocktail and y Alison and Sidney’s "Taste of the Loire Valley" dinner in the "Old Stable" at le Calabash on Day 1 and ends with a farewell dinner on Day 8 at Alison and Sidney’s favorite restaurant in Paris, Le Train Bleu.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Drinks

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

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
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 tours
  • Cooking classes
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • Entrance into Chateau Chenonceau
  • Daily breakfast and meals as per itinerary (including three glasses of selected wine with meals)
  • Transport for all activities in the itinerary
  • Return trip to Paris
  • Personalized apron and recipe folder
  • Free Wi-Fi

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Optional excursions or meals not listed in the itinerary or any additional expenses ordered personally
  • Drinks that are personally ordered or excess wine consumed at meals
  • Laundry
  • Phone calls

How to get there

Recommended Airports

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.

They are 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 or call them for bookings. If you would like Le Calabash to assist you with your travel plans, please do not hesitate to send an inquiry and they can book and issue your tickets for you.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% 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
Food
Location
Quality of activity
9 days / 8 nights
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Availability

Arrival: Sunday December 4, 2022
Departure: Monday December 12, 2022

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