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Delve deeper into French cooking techniques, explore chateaus and learn more about artisan food on this five-day sight-seeing and culinary holiday in France. Start on a Friday or Saturday, wrapping up on Tuesday or Wednesday and immerse yourself even further in gastronomy, culture, and history of the Loire. All while picking up more and more recipes and kitchen skills.
Accommodation is on site, so your comfortable bed is but a couple of flights of stairs away. The well-appointed double bedrooms all feature a toilet and shower room tiled in classic French patterns. The first floor rooms offer views of the adjacent church tower and farmland, the top floor rooms offer sweeping views of the river and surrounding farmland of the valley.
Arrive late afternoon/early evening on your first day to a tasting of local wines. Then join Chef Aaron in the kitchen for a hands-on demonstration around the preparation of dessert before sitting down for a delightful three-course meal. Relax with an after-dinner drink in the lounge or library, then off for a pleasant night’s rest in your charming and cozy ensuite room.
After a farmhouse breakfast of local bread, pastries, yogurts, cereals and other delights the next morning, you’ll head off for a tour of the farmer’s market in either Saumur (Saturday) or Neuville or Montsoreau (Sunday). All these markets are in beautiful culturally significant settings with lots of things to see and treats to sample. You’ll also give you time to wander around, have a coffee and daydream. You’ll return to Misse and lunch on the treats you picked up at the market.
Afterward, you’ll gather to menu plan for dinner followed by a series of cookery sessions where you’ll learn techniques, recipes and work hands-on to prepare your evening meal. You’ll have an early evening break to freshen up and catch your breath before sitting down together to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
After breakfast the next morning, you’ll have a cooking session to learn some lunch dishes which you’ll then enjoy together. After lunch, you’ll visit deepen our knowledge and appreciation of local products by visiting a local producer of nut oils, cheese, snails, mushrooms, wine, spirits or other products, depending on the season, for a tour and tasting. The group will return to Misse in time for you to go for a walk, chill in the library with a book or simply hang out before you enjoy a three-course dinner.
The next morning, after breakfast, you’ll have a final cookery session where the group tackle a complex dish or technique that fits with the your interests. After lunch, you’ll visit a chateau or fortress town such as Chinon or Fontevraud. If you have your own car, you are also welcome to use the afternoon to explore independently.
The group will gather again in the kitchen early evening for a cocktail demonstration. Once you've made your drinks, you’ll enjoy them during a hands-on demonstration of some techniques and dishes which will feature as part of your ‘Apero’ (French tapas) dinner party that evening.
The next morning after breakfast, you’ll have your final cooking session focusing on pastry or another specific aspect of French cookery. You will enjoy a picnic lunch, then it’s time for goodbyes as you venture off.
Aaron is the C-of-M's executive chef. He comes from a family of restaurateurs and has been cooking professionally since his late teens. He has enjoyed a diverse career having worked as a violinist and conductor before embarking on a career in new media, working as an internet or “dotcom” evangelist. He has worked in Europe, Asia, Middle East and the USA. Cooking, wine tasting and writing about food has remained a constant throughout. He has been writing and blogging about food since the late 90s, starting with lapasta.com and has continued with contributions to many sites.
Located in the small farming commune of Missé in the most southern part of the Loire Valley, the house rests on the verdant banks of the Thouet River, a tributary of the Loire. Ancient Gallic for “tranquil,” the Thouet forms an oxbow (circles back on itself) here, forming the Cirque de Missé (Circle of Misse), thus the name. The house has fantastic views of farmland, cows, and pheasants. Further down the road, you’ll find vineyards as it is a part of the Anjou wine region.
This location provides dozens of pleasant walks along the river and outstanding hilltop views of the Thouet Valley. Comfortably secluded, although the châteaus and castles of the Loire Valley including Chinon and Saumur are a short drive away, the Thouet Valley exudes peace, relaxation, and contemplation. Add to that the medal-garnering vineyards encircling the area, the beautiful and abundant produce, award-winning goat cheeses and other renowned culinary specialties, and you have the perfect place to eat, cook, and feast the senses.
Built on the grounds of a 12th-century abbey, the house stands next to the Church of Saint-Pierre, on the trail used by Breton and Norman pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. The original bell-cote, sitting in the shadow of the more modern 17th Century bell tower, is visible from the lane leading to the house. The pilgrims' route, now part of the Thouet valley bicycle trail and the French national hiking route, GR36, runs from Ouistreham on the Norman coast to Bourge-Madame on the Spanish border.
The biggest megalithic burial site in the region, consisting of seven dolmens, lies just up the road from Circle of Misse at Taizé.
Just a little further on, sits the beautifully quirky Chateau of Oiron. Now a contemporary art museum, it served as the inspiration for several scenes in the fairy tale Puss in Boots and was home to an eccentric who collected many strange items to fill his cabinet of curiosities. The church at Oiron, also worth a visit, is a jewel of gothic and renaissance architecture.
A half-hour from Circle of Misse, the historic city of Saumur dominates the Loire with its imposing Castle, offering the visitor a true taste of Loire architecture, fine wines, and culture.
Chinon, home of the French author Rabelais, the ruins of Chinon castle, and a prized red wine is also half an hour away. A stroll down the wonderful tiny streets of Chinon reveals a wealth of restaurants, cafes and smart shops. In the 15th century, Chinon castle was the residence of Charles VII, the Dauphin of France. It is the place where Joan of Arc came on March 8, 1429, to recognize the Dauphin and to urge him to declare himself king and raise an army to liberate France.
In the 11th century it was the primary residence of Henry II. He, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their son King Richard I “The Lionheart” and Isabelle of Angouleme, wife of King John “Lackland”, were buried at the nearby Fontevraud l’Abbaye. Snugly in château country, Fontrevraud l’Abbaye serves as a perfect jumping-off point to many of the most famous châteaus and vineyards of the Loire region. Châteaus include Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Ussé, Langeais, Montreuil-Bellay, Villandry, and their accompanying towns and cities. Vineyards include those of: Bourgueil, Saumur, Anjou, Chinon, Thouarsais, Vouvray, Savennières, Touraine, and Haut-Poitou.
Tours Val de Loire Airport
Transfer available for additional US$78 per person
Nantes Atlantique Airport
Transfer available for additional US$111 per person
This is the default choice for transatlantic and long-haul travelers. As the second largest airport in Europe, it has regular flights from/to almost every major city.
On arrival at CDG airport, you can:
Paris Orly Airport (ORY) is the second airport of Paris. There is a direct bus service to Paris Montparnasse, from where you can catch high-speed trains (TGV) direct to Tours (St Pierre des Corps) and Poitiers. Loire Kitchen can provide pickup at Tours or Poitiers stations.
Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE) is the nearest International airport. It is served by flights from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Airport transfers (price each way):
Train transfer fees:
Driving is an excellent option if you want to fill the car with food and wine to take home. There are ample opportunities to visit wineries, cavistes and food stores. The organizer will send directions and GPS coordinates.
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