(Option: Customized Itineraries)
Bordeaux, France - 3 nights
Available February to July
Savor the wines, foods and landscapes that define this southwestern corner of France between Bordeaux and St. Emilion. Your stay in the "Entre Deux Mers" AOC region is a unique way to get to know French people and to share their culinary passions. Your hosts are a French-American couple who invite you into their home, a comfortable renovated 18th century forge, and their nearby vineyard farm.
This holiday is an opportunity to taste and cook traditional and locally grown foods: wine from their vineyards, shellfish from their seacoast or mushrooms from their forests. Your hosts for the week are an American who has been living in France for more than forty years and her French husband, a doctor and nutritionist who also holds a degree in French cuisine and the founder of the "Confrerie des Cusiniers, Medécins et Gastronomes", an organization interested in expanding medical profession's knowledge of good food and good health.
During your stay you will participate in cooking classes in home kitchens and professional workshops. Dinners are often in private homes or in your hosts' favorite restaurants and cafés.
We try to keep a little time each day for walks if you'd like (at your pace) through the vineyards and villages, on the Atlantic's beaches or on the nearby bike trails. You can also relax in the garden or in the winter, in front of the fireplace. No matter what the season you will indulge in delicious tastings and simply immerse yourself in everyday French life.
Although cooking and wine are the main themes of your stay, the usual 3 day (4 night) stay can be prolonged and organized around your personal interests, whether it be food and wine, gardening, antiques, contemporary art or a night at the opera, can also be included in your stay. Your hosts can introduce you to the best the area has to offer. *Take a look at the seasonal propositions at the bottom of the page.
Arrival, Exploring and Private Kitchen Cooking Class
After a mid day arrival at the train station or airport you will be met by your host who will take you to the wine region of Entre Deux Mers and your home for the next few days, a lovely bed and breakfast a family house in the country at the edge of a small village. If you come with your own car you will be sent directions to come directly to the home.
Cooking Class and Wine Tasting
Breakfast at home before going to nearby Libourne's bustling Sunday market (there's a nearby outdoor market every day) to pick up the ingredients for your afternoon cooking class. Then to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Emilion for a wine tasting class, lunch and visit around this French wine mecca. The wine tasting class will help you discover the many and varied Bordeaux wines whether you're a wine connoisseur or an enthusiastic beginner. Back at home you can relax or stroll along marked walking paths before heading over to your hosts farm. You will cook in a home kitchen in a little hamlet built around a 14th C water mill. One of your hosts or one of the other professional chefs will take you through step by step for a hands-on preparation of Piperade Basque, Canelés, stuffed duck, or other dishes from southwestern France. The menus are seasonal and will be chosen with you and the chef when you arrive.
Wine and Pastry
Today you will spend the morning in the workshop of a professional baker and pastry chef, Marc, with some hands on participation. You’ll leave with a box of what you made, ready for your gourmet picnic lunch at an heirloom vegetable garden where you'll perhaps taste a nettle quiche and chocolate covered « amour en cage. »
Then you'll be exploring and tasting the wine of the chateaux in this Entre Deux Mers AOC region. Your visit to the village of La Sauve and the ruins of a 12th century monastery will give you a panoramic view of the countryside and a moment to stretch your legs before another good meal! A stop at the local cheese maker and then you will head back home for a dinner inspired by the days' wines and cheese.
Bordeaux and au revoir...unless you want to prolong your visit for a few more days with more wine and food discoveries and new French aquaintances to make.
After breakfast you will head back to Bordeaux (depending on your departure schedule) for a stroll though this UNESCO classed World Heritage Site with its 18C architecture and new urban gardens for some last minute gourmet shopping before getting back on the train or plane for your next destination.
If you have decided to extend your French experience, by now you will have discussed your particular interests with your hosts, perhaps drawing from the asterisked list below, and making plans for new discoveries in the coming days. Meanwhile, your day in Bordeaux also starts with a stroll through the city but it continues with lunch at one of your host's favorite little restaurants and a visit to one of the city's great museums or a wonderful wine cellar and some local galleries before heading back to put your feet up at the bed and breakfast and enjoy another good dinner.
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc. Menus are samples and may vary according to the season
For those focused primarily on food and wine, additional sample days follow. All such plans can be made in advance of your trip.
* After breakfast we'll leave for the bay of Arcachon to visit the oyster beds, see the daily work of French oyster farmers and walk along the oceanside. A seafood picnic lunch right along the bay and then for those who want more exercise after all this wonderful food we'll go to Europe's highest sand dune that looks out to the ocean on one side and on the other to a sea of pine trees in the famous forest of the Lands. Then back to Entre Deux Mers for dinner at the home of one of your hosts' friends who has invited us all for dinner!
*A morning of cooking with Philippe, a professional private chef or Xavier a teacher for future chefs at the region's Lycée. They will have you discover their delicious dishes and easy cooking techniques and will have you perfect your own skills. Then back to the other nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site: 12C St Emilion for an afternoon of exploring on your own. With its monolithique church, wine cellars, narrow little streets and boutiques the afternoon will go by quickly before coming back to the bed and breakfast for your farewell dinner with some of the new friends you have met during your week.
* An extra day in Bordeaux visting the best gourmet boutiques and markets with exclusive visits to the workshops of a chocolatier and a pastry chef. We can try to find time to add on a few antique shops or what ever else your interests might be as your guide knows most all the addresses!
* A day in the Pessac Léognan AOC wine country with private visits to the best château and lunch at the elegant but casual Caudalie spa. (with a supplement wel can also organize a half day for you at the spa) and a visit to the historical château Le Bred where Montesquieu wrote his « Esprit des Lois ».
* A day in the Sauterne or Medoc AOC wine country with private visits to some of the most famous château as well as those wonderful little addresses only known to the locals..a ferry across the Garonne river, gourmet picnics or a riverside restaurant. Yet another facet of the Bordeaux wine country.
**Inquire about additional itineraries. A special holiday can be personalized for you with many possibilities for the activities including:
*Wine and more wine!
*Cooking with Heirloom Vegetables
*Traditional and family pastry cooking
*Le Cochon, everything you want to know about pork, pates and terrines (in the winter)
*Le Canard, the French duck from foie gras to boned stuffed duck (in the fall and winter)
*Atlantic coast seafoods, fish, oysters and more
*Walking through Bordeaux's vineyards
*Holiday menus "le Saint Sylvestre": New Year's Week
*Garden visits and compare notes with knowledgeable gardeners
*Cycling the many bike paths
*Pampering yourself at a chic French spa
DAY COOKING CLASS (10am - 2pm or 4pm - 8pm)
Choose from a morning or early evening cooking class in the kitchen of a 14th C restored water mill! You will be going to the market or to the local artisans with Carol or the chef (i.e. butchers, bakers and fish markets), coming back for your hands-on class which will include appetizer, main dish, vegetables and dessert.
You will learn how to select the cheeses and wines to accompany the meal. Then you can sit down, relax and enjoy what you have cooked with your host chef. Bon appetit!
Sample Menu - Blanquette de Veau (Veal Blanquette) - For 6/8 persons:
500g of tendron of veal and 800g of breast or shoulder, 1 onion stuck with 4 cloves, 1 clove of garlic, bouquet garni (thyme, laurel & parsley), 1 carrot, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 cups dry white wine to cover the meat, 50g butter or olive oil, salt and pepper.
For the roux: 50g butter, 40g flour, 1 yolk, 2 tablespoons of cream, mushrooms, lemon juice.
Melt butter or olive oil, add the pieces of veal. Sweat the veal, sprinkle the flour and add garlic, onion, carrot, the bouquet garni, white wine, salt and pepper. About 5/10 mn, add more white wine (or water) until the meat is covered. Cook gradually for about 1 hour or cook in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.
Make the roux: melt 50g butter with 40g of flour, thicken with 2 cups of the blanquette bouillon and ½ lemon. Out of the fire, mix the yolk with cream and add it to the roux.
Clean, slice the mushrooms and cook them with the butter. You will sprinkle them completely at the end on the blanquette in a service dish.
*You can serve the blanquette with steamed potatoes or boiled rice and can make the same recipe with lamb or chicken.
A minimum of 3 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 6 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
Closest Airports: Bordeaux Airport (Bordeaux Merignac) - 45 minutes from accommodation
Closest Train Station: Bordeaux St. Jean (35 minutes from accommodation), Libourne (20 minutes from accommodation)
*These details are provided as additional information. Please check below to see if transfers are included in this tour.
THREE NIGHT PROGRAM
ADDITIONAL NIGHTS AND DAYS
Double Room/US$450 per person
Single Supplement/US$35 per additional day
ADDITIONAL DAY COOKING CLASSES
US$250 per person - Private cooking class with a chef, lunch and wine tasting class
US$150 per person - Morning hands on pastry class - any day Tuesday through Saturday
US$200 per person - Home kitchen hands-on cooking class (Wednesday or Friday morning with Wednesday morning including a market visit)
*For day cooking classes, there is a minimum of 4 required and maximum of 6.
Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation.
After availability is confirmed, a 30% non-refundable deposit per person and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due no later than 75 days before your arrival date.
Available year round, excluding August. Based on availability. Please inquire.
*Inquire about our special New Year's Eve program
THREE NIGHT PROGRAM
*Three nights' accommodation with breakfast
*All meals and wine
*All local transportation
*All that is included in the final client-approved itinerary
*An English-speaking guide and chauffeur
*All wine and cheese tastings
*Transfers to/from airport/train station
DAY COOKING CLASS (10am - 2pm OR 4pm - 8pm)
*Pick up at local airport or train station
*Four hour hands-on cooking class with meal and wine
*Market or local artisan visit with host chef and all local transportation
Airfare and personal expenses are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Lexi C., Norfolk, United Kingdom"We had the best time ever. Beautiful home to stay in, very warm welcome from our hostess and all her friends that we did the cooking/wine tasting with. You cook up these amazing meals, then the best part is you sit around the table in these lovely homes eating drinking telling stories and laughing. I would and I have already recommended this holiday. Top 10!!! Plus the countryside is to die for. I will be going back for sure. Many thanks...xx"
Anna and Chris O., Fernandina Beach, Florida"AGH made our 40th anniversary trip planning incredibly simple! Once we settled on a date and program, we were sent regular communications, updating us on everything from a detailed itinerary to general information about the region. We even received aprons for our classes! It is truly a 1st Class travel guide!"
John and Joan M., Vineland, New Jersey"Great hostess, beautiful B&B and exceptional experience.We should have stayed longer. We completely enjoyed everything."
Lyn & Mike, Citron-Bainbridge Island, Washington
"We found ... the Bordeaux region...an interesting stop for a few days when we were driving from Paris to the Basque region. We underestimated the time it takes to enjoy and explore this unique part of France, and immediately planned a second visit. The location is absolutely ideal for wine lovers, cyclers, walkers, and those who appreciate the ability to experience the charm of a beautifully restored home in a small French village. We honestly can't give enough credit to Carol for making our stay so enjoyable. She is relaxed, bright, friendly and easy to be around while providing a WEALTH of knowledge about the area and the activities offered. Equally impressive is Bruno, Carol's friend with whom we had the privilege of taking a one-day cooking class. Four of us gathered in the kitchen on Bruno's beautiful farm, and made an absolutely excellent lunch. Of the four, we had one "expert," two moderately adept students, and one who was clearly there because of his partner's passion. I know I speak for everyone when I say we all had a wonderful time. Bruno involved everyone equally at a level where they felt comfortable. He is a very talented chef, but is also aware that people are on vacation. His easy temperament is much like Carol's, and he is indeed a delight."
Mary and Gregg K., Oconomowoc, Michigan
"Dear Jo-Ann - it was a lovely trip and we enjoyed "the la forge" alot :). We had perfect hosts. They arranged our week absolutely including everything we had asked for - the wineries, the education by a wine expert, the garden tours and the cooking classes, the opera in Bordeaux were better than we could have hoped! (attaching a photo) wearing our aprons from you. Thank you again for the connection!"
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.