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A cooking holiday in France should not only be spending time at the stove. It should also be an immersion into rural France, giving you an insight into French food-culture. Lot-et-Garonne region is famous for prunes of Agen, fat duck, Bazas beef, hazelnuts, cpes de Bordeaux, gariguette strawberries, melon, white asparagus, marmande tomatoes, Buzet and Ctes du Marmandais wines, and more delicacies. During this cooking holiday you will get not only a real taste of France, but a taste of beautiful Lot-et-Garonne.
Despite the derelict state of this 1850 stone farmhouse, when Le Gargantua Cooking & Patisserie Holidays in France was first saw in 2004 by its actual owners, it was love at first sight! It was renovated it for 3 years, keeping all the original features and eventually opening in 2007. Bedrooms are situated on the first floor; four spacious and comfortable double bedrooms of an average size of 22 square meters (227 square foot), all with private en-suite facilities.
The Pantagruel room has twin beds, while the Gargamelle room and the Grangousier room have a double bed, and the Melusine room has a four poster double bed. Furnishings and decoration are of traditional French country style. The house and bedrooms have bags of character, with exposed stonewalls and sloping ceilings, showing original oak beams. The perfect mix of rusticity and elegance.
This is the time of year when nature wakes up, flowers start blooming, new vegetables appear, everything gets colorful again, including your plates. The spring cooking course celebrates just that! Among many other ingredients, your host cooks with the organic asparagus grown by their neighbur, prepare succulent desserts with the local "gariguette" strawberries (from April), and make the best of the beautiful farm-bred poultry that spent the winter eating and getting nice and plump. Classic spring dishes include Navarin of lamb, Blanquette de veau, veloute of asparagus, strawberry tart, and poule au pot.
Summers in Lot-et-Garonne are quite hot, be prepared! You will make the best of the abundant fruit and vegetables that we will pick from from one of the local markets or our own garden. During your cooking classes you could prepare the basque fish soup (the "cousin" of the bouillabaisse), make terrines, fresh pasta, soufflés with local goat cheese, tarts with the garden peaches, cherry clafoutis... You could also smoke salmon or trout. As you will rather grill meat and fish in summer than stew them, it is the perfect occasion to practice all classic French sauces like mayonnaise, aïoli, béarnaise, and beurre blanc. The weather is also perfect to prepare beautiful sweet iced parfaits, chilled mousses, bavarois, or millefeuilles.
The scenery is changing, yellows, oranges and browns appear all around, nature is getting ready for winter. This is the return of the pot-roasts, the season of game and fat duck. The whole region catches the "blue disease" (this is how they call the hunt for wood pigeons). When possible, you will enjoy your evenings outside, gathered around the outdoor chimney. The cookery courses include pâtés, rillettes, coq au vin, rabbit in prunes, quails, tarte Tatin. You also make the best of the local apples, hazelnuts, grapes and figs.
At this time of year, you need to come back to a cozy home, enjoy the warmth of the comfort food, and give in to our appetite for rich soups, stews and other belly-warmers! It is also time to make good use of the local kiwis, pumpkins and squashes, apples, and root vegetables. Your winter cooking course will teach you to make the local garlic soup (tourin), the unmissable Cassoulet, the hearty Garbure, boeuf bourguignon, croustade (apples, prunes and armagnac in pastry).
The dishes you make depend wholly on the seasonal produce available. Your daily outings will give you a "good feel" for the region.
This retreat will take place in Gascony, Anzex, France. Lot-et-Garonne is known as the garden of France, the landscape is quite unspoiled, nature and wildlife are preserved, and agriculture is thriving. The surrounding colors are the ones of wheat and sunflower fields, vineyards, and the deep green of the pine forest of the Landes de Gascogne. It enjoys a very pleasant climate, mostly dry and sunny. This is a land of eventful history, featuring Richard the lion heart, the musketeers and Henry IV. Many old stones still stand, silent witnesses of the region's historical heritage. Discover the Gallo-Roman relics, Romanesque churches, the impressive castles, and the old wash-houses.
People of Lot et Garonne, and the south west in general, love their food, and love it traditional. The local cuisine is probably the most diverse in France, as it was influenced by the nearby cuisines of the Basque country, Perigord, Limousin, Languedoc, Pyrnes Mountains, and the Atlantic Coast. The closest to an accurate description of the local food is a hearty, peasant, tasty, beautiful for its simplicity, satisfying, interesting, and honest, without compromise.
Lot et Garonne is known as the land of the geese, the fat ducks, and their foie gras. But it is also known as the land of game, cpes mushrooms, prunes, gariguette strawberries, sweet melons, white asparagus, and Marmande tomatoes. Your daily continental breakfast will consist in bread and croissants, fresh fruit, coffee, English tea, cereals, yogurts, home-made jams, and local honey. Lunches and three-course dinners will include wine.
On the wine side, this is the region of Buzet, Ctes du Marmandais, Ctes de Duras, Ctes du Brulhois, Vin de Pays de Gascogne, and Vin de Pays de l'Agenais. The first vines of Buzet are about half a mile away from Le Gargantua cooking school. Local markets are exceptional for the abundance, variety and quality of the produce. They are so lively, and the traders care about their food very much. It is such a pleasure to walk round, smell, feel, and even taste the food!
The scenery is changing: yellow, orange, and brown appear all around; nature is getting ready for winter. This is the return of the pot-roasts, the season of game and fat duck. The whole region catches the "blue disease" (this is how they call the hunt for wood pigeons). When possible, you will enjoy evenings outside, gathered around the outdoor chimney. The cookery courses include pts, rillettes, coq au vin, rabbit in prunes, quails, tarte Tatin, and other delicacies. You will also make the best of the local apples, hazelnuts, grapes, and figs.
This is the time of year when nature wakes up, flowers start blooming, new vegetables appear, and everything gets colorful again, including your plates. During spring, among many other ingredients, you can cook with the organic asparagus, grown by Le Gargantues neighbor; prepare succulent desserts with the local gariguette strawberries, starting in April, and make the best of the beautiful farm-bred poultry. Classic Spring dishes include navarin of lamb, blanquette de veal, veloute of asparagus, strawberry tart, and poule au pot.
Summers in Lot-et-Garonne are quite hot, so be prepared. You will make the best of the abundant fruit and vegetables that you will pick from local markets or Le Gangantues own garden. During your cooking classes, you could prepare the Basque fish soup (the "cousin" of the bouillabaisse), make terrines, fresh pasta, souffls with local goat cheese, tarts with the garden peaches, and cherry clafoutis. You could also smoke salmon or trout. The weather is also perfect to prepare beautiful sweet iced parfaits, chilled mousses, and bavarois.
At this time of year, you need to come back to a cozy home, enjoy the warmth of the comfort food, and give in your appetite for rich soups, stews, and other belly-warmers. It is also time to make good use of the local kiwis, pumpkins, squashes, apples, and root vegetables.
Your time off will basically be from 16:00 to 19:00, after the cooking sessions, so you can relax in your room, or in the lounge, or even in the garden, with a good book for a little siesta. Of course, if you have a car, you can explore the area, there are nice places to see not far from the location. There are some bikes on site that you can use across the surrounding countryside.
Grab a picnic and spend the day on the coast. Nature parks, water theme park, and near Arcachon, you can see and climb the highest sand dune in Europe: Grande Dune du Pyla, 107 meters high. There is a breathtaking view from the top, on the ocean, Landes forest, and even the Pyrenees Mountains, if the sky is clear enough.
Of course everyone recognizes the name for being one of the best known wine appellation in the world. But Bordeaux is so much more! A breathtaking city, listed as world heritage. There are so many different faces to Bordeaux, that everyone can be charmed. Stunning architecture, great shopping, beautiful food, and wonderful museums. Although Bordeaux is the fifth largest city in France, it has a real village feel to it, and you will love wandering its old cobbled streets, or walking the beautiful promenade along the river.
It was one of the four capitals of the region. It is bordered by pine forests and it is a pretty market town. Discover the charming Maison du Roy, used by the office of tourism, the impressive church Notre Dame and the original 15th century colombages, with timber, stone and bricks faades, as you wander down the narrow back alleys. Spend a day on the beach at the lake of Clarens, enjoy the colorful farmers market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, have a little fun at the casino, play a round of golf or get pampered at the thermal spas.
Several pools, each with their own features - jets, relaxation, paddling, bubbles, and slides - in a roman style, surrounded by greenery and mineral beaches; you will find a snack bar on site.
The southwest of France is the ideal place for golfing, it has it all: beautiful settings, lovely weather, and great courses. You have a choice between the following 2 local courses:
With 18 holes, par 72, 6468 yards long, putting green, and driving range. It is located next to the charming lake of Clarens, bordered by the pine forest of the Landes, and offers panoramic views.
Golf d'Albret, Barbaste
With 18 holes, par 72, 6384 yards long, putting green, and driving range. Also surrounded by the Landes forests, this course is very hilly. You might see deer or hares between the mature oak and willow trees. Magnificent views of nearby villages, vineyards and forests.
Le Gargantua Cooking & Patisserie Holidays in France will be happy to provide you with maps of the hiking and biking trails, approved and maintained by the tourism authorities. It is a superb way to discover the region. There are many loop circuits around here, and bike rides are particularly nice along the canal latral, in the shade of the secular plane trees.
There are two riding centers within 15 minutes away from the house. They organize rides in the country, in the forest, and outings with horse and carriage.
Superb 13th century fortified village, selected as one of the prettiest villages in France. Take a stroll around the square under the arcades, and admire the condition of this exceptional historical legacy, as well as the breathtaking view from the top of the fortification.
This beautiful town became the capital of the Navarre region in the 16th century, under the influence of the royal family of Albret. Nrac is surrounded by the vineyards of Buzet and Base River runs through it. Nicely preserved and maintained, a walk through the old town takes you back in time. You will also find in Nerac the chocolaterie La Cigale which inspired the author Joanne Harris for her best seller, Chocolat, lately transformed into the film starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. Take a stroll in the royal park of La Garenne, visit the remaining wing of Henry IV's castle, now a museum, the imaginary castle, the fortified four-tower mill in nearby Barbaste, or go for a cruise on the river.
This stunning medieval city is listed by UNESCO world heritage; a must-see for its location, its historical monuments, its vineyards and numerous Grands Crus. There is plenty to do and see. You will be particularly busy if you like a bargain, as there are vide-greniers (boot fairs / flee markets) in the nearby towns and villages several times a week in the summer. Most towns and villages have their own celebration day with all sorts of games and events and the day ends with a big banquet, which is generally a themed one like snails, sardines, paella, and barbeque.
You can vary your swimming locations in Casteljaloux: the lake of Clarens and its sandy beach, the thermal spa center with its various heated pools and finally the public open-air swimming pool, which is open from June to September and its four Olympic pools (25 meters, paddling and diving).
Get off the motorway at exit number 6 (Aiguillon)
Follow the sign to Casteljaloux on the road D8
Get onto the D11 to Casteljaloux, for about 8 kilometers (5 miles)
Turn right onto the D120 towards Anzex / Villefranche (do not turn to left into Anzex)
The house is on that very road, about 2 kilometers from the junction, on the left hand side
Follow the sign to Agen
Take a left onto the D11 towards Damazan / Anzex, for about 5 miles
Turn left onto the D120 towards Anzex / Villefranche (do not turn to left into Anzex)
The house is on that very road, about 2 kilometers from the junction, on the left hand side
The closest airports are Bordeaux-Mrignac Airport (BOD) and Bergerac Dordogne Prigord Airport (EGC). Rental cars are available from both these airports.
There is a shuttle service between Bordeaux-Mrignac Airport (BOD) and Bordeaux train station, called Jet Bus. Departing from terminal B (arrivals level) at the airport, the Jet Bus shuttle connects Bordeaux-Mrignac Airport (BOD) to Bordeaux train station, via the city center every hour, 7 days a week. The ride from start to finish lasts around 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
You can catch a Eurostar from London to Paris, or a fast train from most cities in Europe to Paris. You then need to get to Paris Montparnasse station, to catch a train to Bordeaux or Agen. Lot-et-Garonne local train station is Tonneins. There are TGV (fast trains) or slower regional trains coming to Tonneins from Bordeaux or Agen. There is approximately 1 train every hour.