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Come to the Secret Garden, in France, where you will enjoy a wonderful cooking holiday tailored to your skills and experience. Rinus and Lesley Woermeijer welcome you to join them in their beautiful old farmhouse, dating from 1834, and orchard, tucked away in the Loir Valley of France, where you will work with Lesley, the chef and the teacher, during the day, in the various hands-on cooking sessions, and in the evening, you will enjoy the food you have prepared and cooked.
The Secret Garden-France is set within the grounds of L’Huiliere, a historic farmhouse dating before 1834, and the buildings and property have changed over the years. In early 2000, the stable was converted into a 2-bedroom gite, this being now the center of the cooking school. With the stable now hosting the large fully-equipped, open-plan kitchen on the ground floor with double height ceiling and traditional oak beams, the venue keeps the character of the building and period. There is a large dining / lounge area for relaxing and one of the four double / twin en-suite bedrooms.
The further three bedrooms are located in the newly converted barn; two bedrooms have double beds and the third one had twin beds. All three bedrooms have new en-suite shower rooms, again keeping to the character of style of the building. There is a small kitchen area so you can help yourself to tea and coffee.
Aim to arrive between 14:00 and 16:00, allowing you time to settle into your room, before meeting up for welcome drinks and evening meal prepared for you by Lesley, the chef, so you can be introduced to the others attending the course with you.
Enjoy a continental breakfast between 07:30 and 08:30, before joining the group in the kitchen to start the day at 09:00. You will start with some basic kitchen rules, etiquette, and hygiene, to ensure everyone has a good starting point for the course. This morning, you will be cooking for lunch and preparing for this evenings meal.
The aim is to have lunch from 12:30 and you can discuss the morning class and activities for the afternoon session. You will enjoy good food and a chance to explore the house and garden before starting up again. You will start the afternoon session at 14:00, continuing with the preparation work for the evening meal. The aim is to finish the session around 17:30, where you will have some free time before meeting again at 19:00, in the kitchen, to complete the menu and plate up the evening meal you have prepared during the day.
Enjoy a continental breakfast between 07:30 and 08:30, before joining the group in the kitchen to start the day at 09:00. Today, you will be cooking in the morning for lunch and then, you will have the afternoon and evening off to relax and enjoy the area. If you have access to a car, you can head off into the local towns, or maybe go a little further into Le Mans, Tours, or the Lakes of Marcon. You are also welcome to stay at L’Huilerie enjoying the gardens, orchard, and Secret Garden terrace, reading or chilling out, and you are more than welcome to use the facilities to cook your own evening meal, with the ingredients you can purchase in the local town or supermarket.
Enjoy a continental breakfast between 07:30 and 08:30. Today, you will be heading to the local market, where you will have the opportunity to wander through the many stalls enjoying the sights and smells of France.
You will meet up for coffee, before heading back to prepare lunch and get ready for the afternoon session. Lunch will be between 12:30 and 14:00. You will meet again in the kitchen to prepare the evening meal. Again, the aim will be to finish the session around 17:30 for some free time, before meeting in the kitchen at 19:00 to complete any outstanding work and plating up for the evening meal.
Enjoy a continental breakfast between 07:30 and 08:30, before joining the group in the kitchen at 09:00, for you last full day of cooking. You will cook your lunch and prepare for your farewell meal in the evening. You will have the opportunity to put all your skills and knowledge you have learned through the week into practice for the evening meal. Lunch will be between 12:30 and 14:00 and you will start in the kitchen again at 14:00 for the afternoon session, finishing around 16:00, so you can head off to a local wine cave where you will have the opportunity to walk through the caves and sample with the view to purchase local wines for you to enjoy back at L’Huilerie or take home.
On return, you will have a little free time before meeting again in the kitchen at 19:00, for the finishing touches to your farewell meal.
Enjoy a continental breakfast between 08:30 and 09:30, before heading off back to your rooms to complete your packing and saying your farewells ready for departure by 11:00.
Courdemanche is a small village in the heart of Loire Valley, located 40 minutes south of Le Mans, famous for the 24-hour car racing circuit, and 50 minutes north of the University City of Tours; it is a blend of old and new town and fantastic city to enjoy the French life style.
The menus are based on French cooking with some European additions. They are developed on the requirements of the guests attending each of the courses, as Secret Garden caters for allergies and foods that people just will not eat.
The nearest airport to the location is Tours Val de Loire Airport (TUF).
You can take the Eurostar to Paris and then, you can cross Paris and pick a train from Montparnasse to Le Mans, where Secret Garden can arrange a taxi pick-up for 75 EUR per person return, and if there are more than two people arriving at the same time, Secret Garden will re-calculate the price per person. Also, you can take the local bus to Brives.
Secret Garden can be reached by ferry from Calais, Le Havre, and Caen. The Eurotunnel offers cheap off-peak bookings and there are many ferry providers travelling to French ports.