FOOD, WINE & COOKING EXPERIENCES

 

To book or ask questions: whattodoinprovence@gmail.com

 

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND ST. REMY 

 

One Day Artisan Food Tour

St. Remy

 

Our favorite tour by far! Your fully bi-lingual guide will pick you up at your hotel or rental villa around 9 am…or rendezvous in St. Remy. And then we hit the rue running! First stop: a visit to the only olive mill in St. Remy, where fifth generation brother-and-sister farmers tend 5,000 trees and make a wide range of fantastic products. We’ll comparison taste the various olives and oils…plus tapenades, anchoiade, sun-dried tomato spreads, confitures and all sorts of other homemade goodies. Then we’ll head back to the village where we’ll roam from shop to shop, tasting artisan chocolates, cookies, candies, nougat, macarons, flavored salts, honey and more. At some point, we'll take a break for a wonderful coffee, with a few macarons on the side...gotta keep our energy up! After lunch in one of our favorite local spots, we’ll head over to an excellent local patissier for a two-hour hands-on class where you’ll learn to make four or five different popular French treats such as croissants, pain au chocolat, macarons, lemon tart or other goodies. Then we’ll pop in at our favorite goat farm, to meet the goats, of course, and taste a few of the delicious award-winning cheeses made there.  If there’s time, we’ll slip into a local winery, to learn a bit about the varietals and wines of the AOC Les Baux and be led in a short tasting. The day ends around 7 pm. Note: this tour can be expanded to multiple days…or skip the baking class and we’ll replace it with other visits and tastings. This fully escorted one-day food tour is 300€ per person for adults, including lunch, baking class, all tastings. Under 18s pay 150€ (min age 14, please). The max is six people per group. Sorry, we can’t go out with fewer than two people but if your schedule is flexible, we’ll try to pair you with other fun foodies. 

 

Foodies on the Loose!

A half-day walking tour in St. Remy

 

St. Remy is filled with artisinal food producers, working in traditional ways, keeping local food traditions alive. And luckily many of them have shops and workshops, right in the heart of the village. To give you a taste, we're now offering our most-popular full-day tour--St. Remy for Foodies--in an additional way. You can still book an artisan food tour privately any day you like--meaning you and your peeps have the driver/guide to yourself for the day. (That day includes visits to an olive mill, a goat farm/cheesemaker and a baking class.) But just about any dayof the week can offer an edited version of the full-day tour...on foot...for mixed groups.  This means you'll be paired with other travelers (tours are ten people max) for a very-full, very-filling, very-fun morning! Your guide will rendezvous with you at the Tourist Office at 10 am. And then we hit the rue running! Staying in the heart of the village (with minimal walking) we’ll roam from shop to shop, tasting homemade chocolates, cookies, nougat, flavored salts, honey, olive oils, tapenades, confitures and more. We might take a break for coffee with a few macarons on the side...gotta keep our energy up! Then we'll probably move on to a cheese tasting, enjoyed with a glass of a favorite local wine. Along the way you'll get a taste of the rich history of this cobblestoned village ...and a glimpse into local life from your charming guide. The tour ends around 12:30 and we'll happily recommend a restaurant for lunch.  2018 Prices: 75€ per person for adults, 50€ for ages 12 to 18 and 30€ for kids 6 to 12. Kids under 6 are welcome to join the party free, as long as they're fearless and willing to taste! If you're solo and we don't have others on the tour, we'll be delighted to tour you for 150€. Available: On demand, year round, whatever day your prefer. 

Easy Rider: An Ebike Tour for Foodies

Discover the striking, natural beauty of the Alpilles Mountain region from the comfy seat of an electric bike. Your guide will choose a route based on your biking level and interests. Along the way you'll visit a few of our favorite local artisan food producers: a goat farm where they make delicious chevre and sometimes raise adorable baby pigs; the family-owned olive mill where they make 6 award-winning oils and a wide range of other delicious local products such as tapenade and confiture; a manade (ranch) where they raise bulls and make saucisson; a bee farm to taste the honeys; a beautiful and historic winery, etc). Plus, you'll enjoy some of the most-stunning scenery around. If you choose a full-day tour, we'll break for a casual picnic or have lunch in one of our favorite local cafes or bistros; the cost of lunch is extra. The half-day tour price includes electric bikes, helmets, bottled water, all tastings and your foodie guide.  2019 prices: Half day: two people, 175€ pp. Then add 30€ per person. Kids prices depend on age and size (kids under 3 usually use a bike seat; ages 3 to 8 use a trailer. Ages 9 and above usually ride their own bikes). Available: year round

 

Cooking Classes and More...at a Foodie B&B

Tarascon

 

In addition to providing an enchanting setting for your stay in Provence, this lovely B&B offers cooking classes in a beautifully restored 18th-century mas (farmhouse) in Tarascon, 15 minutes west of St. Remy. The multi-lingual chef/owner is a wonderful hostess and instructor who after 40 years abroad decided to settle in charming Tarascon and dedicate her time to her passion: food. "In my family, it's a religion," she says. While the entire property is charming--it has lovely gardens, a pool and a wisteria-draped terrace for outdoor dining--building the perfect kitchen for cooking, teaching and entertaining was of course priority #1...and today it's the heart of this historic home. Throughout the year, different menus will transport you across France and the five continents. Clients from California who cooked here in 2018 wrote me: "We LOVED our class! It was incredible. We had fun, learned a lot and had a delicious meal. The chef could not have been more accommodating and welcoming."  In summer, a late-afternoon class followed by dinner is 120€ pp (min: 4 people). If you prefer to have your lesson and take what you prepared with you, then it's 80€ pp.  In winter, morning classes--with or without market tours--are also available. The nearby markets are Tuesdays (Tarascon), Wednesday (St. Remy), Thursday (Beaucaire) and Sunday (Chateaurenard). Price for market tour, cooking class and seated lunch or dinner: 150€ pp (min: 4 people). Offered year round: Private chef service in villas throughout Provence, with or without cooking classes (dinner only begins around 70€ pp; villa dinner and cooking class around 120€ pp); dinner drop off in villas throughout Provence (around 40€ pp); and full party- and event-planning services. 

One Delicious Day: A Cooking Class and More

St. Remy

 

This lovely hotel in St. Remy offers cooking classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, led by a chef who worked in Parisian Michelin-starred kitchens before a coup de foudre drew him to the sun-drenched south. The day begins at 9:30 with coffee and croissants, then you’ll head out to buy your ingredients: to the goat farm for fresh chevre, to the potager for vegetables, to the butcher for lamb or the poissonerie for fish. Cooking starts around 11 am. By 1:30, you’ll be seated in the shaded garden, ready to savor your quintessential, Provencal meal: tapenade on toasts; a puff pastry tomato/pesto tart with arugula salad; leg or rack of lamb (with confit garlic, olive oil-mashed potatoes and a vegetable tian); cheeses made in St. Remy and fondant au chocolat. Wine, coffee and mignardises are also included. For those who don't want lamb, chef will adapt the menu...and he promises that all dishes will be do-able back at home. Available year round except in July or August. 2019 Price: 145€ pp.

 

Outdoor Market Shopping + French Cooking Class 

St. Remy

 

A well-known local catering company recently moved into a sparkling new facility in St. Remy, where the husband and wife owners have built a large professional kitchen and a comfortable room for cooking classes. (Before coming south, he worked in Paris at Guy Savoy and Ledoyen while she has an equally strong background in catering.) Students usually make a three-course French meal with a side dish: a typical menu might be velouté de courge, sauté de veau minute, artichauts et legumes and tarte tatin. You’ll eat the meal you prepare with other students, with a nice glass of wine to accompany. Depending on the day of the week, your class may start with a food-shopping trip to the local market: Tuesday in Avignon, Wednesday in St. Remy, Thursday in Maussane, Friday in Eygalieres. With the market visit, you’ll start around 9 am and finish around 2pm. Without market visit, classes usually run 10 am to 1:30 pm.  Afternoon classes (followed by dinner) can also be arranged.  In summer (June, July, Aug, Sept), classes are Monday through Thursday only. The rest of the year, classes are upon request, any day of the week. Prices: 80€ pp plus ingredients for two or more people...and you may be paired with other students. (Ingredients usually run about 20€pp depending on the menu du jour.) Maximum is 20 people per class. Private one-on-one classes are 140€.  Available: Year Round.

 

The Chef Invites You…

Near St. Remy, Graveson, Maillane

 

Our chef is a firm believer that cooking and eating should be, above all, fun. So this self-admittedly eccentric culinarian—who has cooked, run restaurants and appeared on TV all over the world—offers an interesting twist on the cooking school experience in Provence. He welcomes guests into his charming kitchen/workshop not far from St. Remy; it’s located in an 18th-century building on the grounds of the former hunting lodge of the Roi René in the 15th century. There you’ll listen to music (chef has 300-plus discs to choose from), cook side by side then enjoy the meal you’ve prepared, with great wines or whatever else you care to drink. Surrounding the house are farms and gardens (60 acres of sunflowers alone!) and he sources the very-best fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. When the weather is nice, you’ll cook outside, under the platane trees, to the sound of the chirping cigales. ‘’I don’t see food as a business,” he says in perfect English. “I see it as a wonderful means of expression. I hate stiff formal kitchens, I hate boring. I love cool, interesting people and I love foreigners! You come, we’ll cook, we’ll eat, we’ll talk, we’ll have fun.’’ Details: Three-hour morning workshop (at 10 am) followed by lunch with wine: 150€ pp. Three hour late-afternoon workshop (at 5 pm) followed by dinner with wine: 180€ pp (includes four courses, plus a small gift cookbook in French). Group size: Normally it’s two to six people but larger groups are welcome. One of my recent clients wrote me about her workshop/dinner here: "Loved it - more than I expected - he's a gem! One if my best days in Provence so far and I've lived here for three years!" And my friends' well-traveled 20-year-old son said ''I think that was the best meal we've ever had.'' If needed, chef will provide pick up and drop off, within 1/2 hour of St. Remy, for 50€ round trip. If you'd like to add a market tour with the chef before your class (or in the morning of an evening class), add 100€ total to the price, no matter how many people. This chef also works privately and is available to prepare meals in rental villas and other venues. Available: Year Round. 

 

Teach the Kids to Cook

Near St. Remy...and in Other Locations

 

The more they learn now, the more they'll cook for you later! Kids cooking workshops are 60€ pp. This super-fun two-hour morning class is followed by a picnic lunch in the garden. Drop them off at 10:30 am and pick them up at 2 pm. What a great idea for a birthday party or just to get them away from their video games! Please note this class is available pretty much any day but we need four kids minimum to hold the class. It's also available in your own rental villa (for a small extra charge), and available evenings (hours would be roughly 4 pm to 8 pm). Available: year round.

 

Garden Fresh Cooking Class

St. Remy

 

At this popular B&B outside St. Remy, one of the many attractions is the large, lovely garden…with 3000 rose bushes, herbs, vegetables, lavender, olive trees, fruit trees and much more. Owners Philippe (an artist/sculptor) and Anne-Marie offer cooking classes on request for two to six people at a time (larger groups are also accommodated). The day starts at 10 am with a garden visit, after which you’ll all work together to prepare lunch (the class lasts roughly 2.5 hours) and enjoy it around the table with local wines. A typical menu might be Mezze (tapenade, hummus, aioli, brandade de morue), a starter of papeton d’aubergines or courgettes, a main course such as lamb, filet mignon of veal or roast chicken with garden herbs and potatoes...and a dessert such as a blanc mange or a fresh-fruit crumble. Available: Every day of the week, until early October. Prices are: 2 people, 140€ per person. 3-4 people: 125€ per person. 5-6 people: 112€ per person. Available: May to October. 

 

Marketing, Cooking and Eating Together in a Gorgeous Private Home

Eygalieres and St. Remy

Many travelers in Provence want to visit private homes….to see how the locals live, cook and entertain. This day was created to give you a taste of real life in Eygalieres,  with a very-talented home cook  and private chef as your host. “Food and cooking is probably for us the most important occasion to meet, share and enjoy life all together,” says Gilles, who was born and raised in Marseille and lived there until age 30, except for four years in California as a teen. He now divides his time between Marseille, Aix and Eygalieres, where he cooks and teaches in a a charming 1750 farmhouse on a huge gorgeous property. The best day to do this is on Friday (when Eygalieres has its charming market) or on Wednesday (starting at the market in St. Remy). Meet at 9:30 am in front of the Tourist Office in St. Remy on Wednesday or in front of the Town Hall in Eygalieres on Friday. The chef will propose 2 to 3 different menu options and together you'll do the shopping. Then you'll hop into Gilles' van (8 guests max) to visit a local winery for tasting and to buy the wine for your meal. Back at Gilles' house, you'll prepare the meal together, most likely on the lovely shaded patio. Lunch will be served casually,  “which is just how we do it when we have good friends and family over,” Gilles says. The day ends at 3:30 pm. Prices are two tiered. For a private experience (you and your friends/family only), they range from 235€ pp (6 people) to 400€ pp (2 people). For a group experience, you'll be paired with other cooks and the price will be 190€ pp. Please note the group class only happens if Gilles has five people or more. This offering is also available for dinner instead of lunch, in which case you'll meet at 5 pm for marketing at local purveyors. Dinner prices are the same as lunch. Available: year round.

Foodie Fridays

Eygalieres

 

Eygalières is a small, very quaint village not far from St. Remy...and their Friday market is super charming, filled with local farmers and food purveyors such as a bee keeper, a fisherman, a confiture maker, etc.  Leading your tour is my friend Jane, who lives in Eygalieres and loves to share her local market with travelers. She takes terrific care of her clients! You'll start the morning off with a cheese tasting at Chez Emily, a wonderful local cheese affineur. From there you'll make your way through the market enjoying tastes of olives and cured meats, meeting locals and learning about the products. The tour runs approx. 2.5 hours and caps with a drink at everyone's favorite bar, the Café de la Place, on the terrace in the sunshine. 2018 Prices: 80€ pp for two people. 75€ pp for four people. 55€ pp for six or more. Price includes all tastings and one drink in the cafe. Group size max is 10.  

 

Foodie Fridays with Cooking Class

Egyalieres

 

This offering combines so many of my favorite things: markets, food, wine, cooking!  Also, it’s organized and hosted by a great friend of mine who takes terrific care of her clients. The day begins in the village center of Eygalieres, with a market tour and cheese tasting. Then you’ll move on to a French cooking class and lunch, held either in the kitchen of a fantastic farmhouse--owned by a charming French film star (shhh!)--or in a lovely kitchen right in the heart of the village. (Large groups use the large kitchen, small groups use the small.) Your cooking teacher will be a professional French chef...or a talented local home cook...but the emphasis will be on home cooking, using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Recipes included. Available: Fridays, from 10 am to 3 pm. The group size is 12 max. Price: 170€ pp.  Note: Eygalieres is 15 min. east of St. Remy, 20 min. south of Avignon, 60 min. north of Aix.

 

Foodie Market Tours

St. Remy, Vaison-la-Romaine and Eygalieres

 

What’s the difference between saucisse and saucisson? How do you tell a grossane from a bouteillan? Which cheese is stronger, the Banon and or the Picadon? The Tuesday market in Vaison-la-Romaine and the Wednesday market in St. Remy are two of the largest and most popular in the region. There you’ll find a fantastic array of seasonal local products including olives and olive oils, fruit and vegetables, cheeses, poultry, meat, sausages, herbs, spices, seasonings, breads, sweets, wine, fruit juices and much more. This 90-minute tour with a local food expert lets you meet the producers, taste...and learn a ton about the most-famous foods and dishes of Provence. Also available on Fridays in the smaller, very-charming market in Eygalieres, 15 minutes east of St. Remy. Price: 55€ to 75€ per person, depending on which market and which guide. The minimum is usually two people. Tours start around 10 am and are offered year round.

Dinner at Your Door

Within 25 km of St. Remy

 

Maybe you just arrived in town tired from the trip. Or you want a cozy night in your pretty villa or gite but don’t feel like shopping and cooking. Maybe you have guests arriving and want to just relax and share a comforting meal. We work with a few terrific chefs who will deliver a homemade meal to your door. Then you simply re-heat and eat whenever it suits. This is not gourmet food but a delicious, simple, approachable meal…something all ages can enjoy: a main course like lasagna or beef stew or pork roast or chicken in wine sauce…with a seasonal salad…or fresh gazpacho….fresh baguettes…and a tarte or another lovely dessert…and a nice local wine. Clients who have done this rave about it, from start to finish.  2019 Prices: 50€ pp for adults; 25€ for kids up to 14; delivery charge 10€; minimum four people. Dinner drop off also available in the Luberon.

 

A Day in a Michelin Two-Star Kitchen

Les Baux de Provence

 

This legendary hotel and Michelin two-star restaurant in Les Baux is now offering a unique culinary experience. You arrive at 9 am,  get your apron on and jump right in as you'll be sent to various stations to work with the cooks prepping lobsters, chopping vegetables, making sauces, etc. Then, at 11 am, there's a pastry lesson; my very-foodie friends who did this (July 2015) made the hotel's signature crepe soufflé, created in 1947. Cooking class over, you can relax by the pool and then dine in the restaurant or on the patio, enjoying a multi-course meal paired with wonderful wines. My friend, who has taken cooking classes all over the world, reports: "This is a rare opportunity to see the hustle and bustle of a two-star kitchen and what really happens behind the scenes. I would rate this very highly as a Michelin/Provencal/luxury experience. Another highlight is learning about the incredible history of the hotel and its significance in Provence. It was a fabulous day....a bit chaotic but a wonderful experience....and we felt it was very good value." The day ends around 4 pm. Price for cooking class, lunch and wine: 2018 Price: 180€ pp, no minimum # of people (solos are fine). Available: daily, year round.

 

Bouillabaisse Bash!

Within 20 km of St. Remy

 

We work with an amazing local chef, a former restaurateur from Marseille, who makes some of the best bouillabaisse around: chock full of fresh fish and seafood; perfumed with fennel, garlic, saffron and onion; topped with garlicky rouille and homemade croutons. He'll show up at your rental villa with his huge pot, plus everything else you need for the perfect hassle-free party: fresh baguettes for dipping, a green salad, wonderful wines and of course, a terrific homemade dessert. Price: 140€ per person, minimum four people. For more than four people, please inquire about pricing. To book (with 48 hours notice please or more): provenceblog@aol.com.

 

St. Remy Market Tour + Cooking Class + Lunch

 

What’s the difference between saucisse and saucisson? How do you tell a grassane from a bouteillan? Which is stronger, the Banon and or the Picadon? The Wednesday market in St. Remy is one of the largest and most popular in the region. And there you’ll find a fantastic array of seasonal local products including olives and olive oils, fruit and vegetables, cheeses, poultry, meat, sausages, herbs, spices, seasonings, breads, sweets, wine, fruit juices and much more. Tour the market with our chef and not only will you get to taste; you’ll also learn a ton about the most-famous food products of Provence. Then you’ll head back to the chef’s kitchen workshop nearby for a two-hour class…and relax around the table over a luscious lunch that you’ve helped prepare yourself. Price: 180€ pp, minimum two people. Available: Wednesdays year round.

 

Two-Hour Hands-On Pastry Workshop

St. Remy

 

Working with a top local patissier in his workshop/kitchen in St. Remy, learn how to make a number of the most-popular French sweets. These might include croissants, pain au chocolat, macarons, lemon tart, mille feuille and religieuse. This is great fun for all ages...kids are welcome. In addition to new skills and more confidence in French baking, you’ll take home a bag of delicious goodies that you made yourself. The class is 30€ per hour, minimum two hours, per adult. (Most people do a two-hour class.) Kids 8 to 13 are 20€ per hour, with two paying adults. Under 8 is free with 2 paying adults. For those who don’t speak French, we’ll send a translator for an extra 30€ per hour. Please note that we can't provide printed recipes for you to take home...but if you'd like to take notes, photos or even video, you're welcome to. Available: Chef prefers to teach between 1 and 4 pm, Monday through Friday, year round.

 

Cooking Class + Lunch or Dinner at Your House

All Over Provence

 

For travelers staying in rental villas, we've put a great twist on the idea of having a private chef come in to cook: our chef arrives a couple hours early and leads your group in a cooking class. Everyone agrees on the menu...the chef arrives with the ingredients and any necessary equipment...then you all cook the meal together with lots of guidance and tips from a pro! Afterwards, everyone gathers around the table for the meal, paired perfectly with local wines. (This is a very hands-on class but if your group has a few people that don't want the class, that's fine too.) Do a morning class followed by lunch (class at 10 am, lunch at 12:30) or a late-afternoon class followed by dinner (class at 5 pm, dinner around 8 pm). Kids are welcome and wanted, for both the class and the meal. Available: Year round, all over Provence, as long as the right chef is available and you have at least four people. Price depends on # of students, # of eaters and selected menu, but expect to pay 90€ to 150€ per person for adults.

 

Discover the Wines & Olive Oils of Les Baux

 

The famous Vallée des Baux-de-Provence (aka the AOC and AOP Les Baux), has roughly 500,000 olive trees, its farms and 12 mills producing 500 tons of oil per year and another 140 tons of table olives. It’s also known for wine: vast rows of grape vines shimmering in bright sunshine on fertile plots in the foothills of Alpilles Mountains. So why not discover both on the same day? Led by a professional sommelier, you’ll depart St. Remy at 9.30 am (or any village within10  km of St. Remy). By 10:30 you’ll be settled in at one of the best wine domains, having a cellar visit, presentation and tasting. Lunch will be in one of our favorite nearby bistros. At 2 pm, we’ll visit a terrific olive mill, learn about the different olives and the process of pressing oils.  Then we’ll have time for one more winery visit, before returning to St. Remy around 5 pm. This day has everything: stunning scenery, terrific tasting, lots of learning and a lovely lunch!  Prices:  2 people, 345 €.  3/4 people, 145€/pp.  5/6 persons, 115€/pp. Available: Every day except Sunday.  Note: You can also do this as a half-day wine tour only, from 1:30 to 5 pm. (Half-day prices are 2 people, 290€; 3-4 people, 100€/pp; 5-6 people, 80€/pp.

 

Down on the Farm 

 

Provence is known for the quality and flavour of its farm-raised food and the sustainable methods used to grow it. This ½ or full-day tour is led by one of our favorite Provencal food experts, who just happens to be married to a tomato farmer! Join her for a great day visiting local farms, meeting the producers and of course, sampling. Depending on the season and your interests, your tour could include a dairy farm and milk producer, a sheep farm, a goat farm where you can sample just-made cheeses, an olive farm, an olive mill, a tomato grower, a farm producing the famous melons of Cavaillon, a fig farm growing 25-plus varieties (where you’ll taste a wide range of confitures made from the fruit), a vineyard/winery...and perhaps a flower farm that exports vast quantities of blooms to Northern Europe. A half-day tour is three to four hours; a full-day tour is eight hours with a break for lunch (the cost of lunch is extra). This tour is based in the St. Remy/Eygalieres/Les Baux area. 2017 Prices:  275€ half day, 400€ full day, for up to 4 people. For larger groups, please inquire.

 

Why Cook on Vacation: Private Chef Dinners!

Various Villages

 

You’ve rented a villa with a smashing kitchen but don’t feel like cooking on vacation. Or you have guests staying with you and you’d like to really roll out the red carpet. Or you’re celebrating a special occasion. Whatever the reason, having a private chef in to cook is a lovely indulgence…and you deserve it! We work with all the top private chefs in the region and will find one available on your dates. They’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and provide the perfect wines to accompany. Price depends on menu and number of guests but expect to pay anywhere from 75€ to 175 € per person. A standard menu format is: two hors d'oeuvres with Champagne served at 7:15, followed by a four-course dinner--with perfect wines--served at 8 pm. Available: year round.

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN THE LUBERON AND VAUCLUSE

 

Around the Farmhouse Table: The Seasonal Art of Provencal Cooking

Southeastern Luberon

 

In a beautiful 18th century farmhouse in a tiny village in the southeastern Luberon, a charming American has opened a unique and welcoming retreat, combining her passions for hospitality, local food, wine, fitness, art, nature, horses and more. This is a deliciously inviting space where like-minded people can share, learn, cook and grow together...to be active and be still...to experience the wonderful artisans and products of the region...and immerse themselves in the peaceful beauty of this lesser-known corner of Provence. A great way to experience it is to come for a cooking class followed by a traditional 4- to 5-course French meal. Your hosts for the day will include a "local mama from the village" and the goal is to give guests "an authentic all-day immersion into the healthy and seasonal art of Provencal cooking." All ingredients, including wine, are sourced from local producers within 50 km. This 5-hour experience normally runs 10 am to 3 pm but can be adjusted to your schedule. 2018 Prices: 120€ pp (2 person min), with wine pairings extr a at 20€ pp. If you wish to spend the night, B&B rooms and suites are 100€ to 200€ per night and include a traditional French breakfast.  

 

Market-Fresh Class & Luberon Lunch 

In Maubec, 15 minutes east of Cavaillon

 

After 10 years as a chef instructor at The Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, Jean-Marc realized his dream of combining his passion for French cuisine and his love of sharing that passion with others. He opened his own cooking school in 2001 in Lyon, the cradle of French gastronomy. In Spring 2015, he took that dream to new heights and brought his school to Provence, settling in a small hamlet in the Luberon, not far from Avignon.  Here he and his wife Alice work with the bounty of the countryside, using local, seasonal and mainly organic products, and welcome travelers from all over the world. Jean-Marc's standard offering is a one-day hands on class. It starts with a welcome coffee with homemade pastries, during which the students get to know each other and Jean-Marc introduces the day's menu. Then you'll shop for ingredients, either at the outdoor market on Saturday and Sunday or at a farmers’ co-op (“Naturellement Paysan”) where local farms sell their products all year long. With guidance from Jean-Marc, you'll cook a three-course menu plus amuse-bouches, and enjoy the meal with wine, overlooking the Luberon mountains. An “apéritif” is served before lunch. Timing: 8:45 am to roughly 3:45 pm. 2019 prices: 1 to 6 people are 230€ pp. (For larger groups or private classes, ask for pricing.) A two-day package, including a wine tour, is also available.

Days of Wine and Truffles

Southern Luberon

 

This adorable Franco American couple moved to the South of France from Chicago in 2003 to take over the his family's vineyard and find a better quality of life. So just like on Green Acres (remember?), they traded in their high-flying jobs in finance and PR for fresh air, starry skies and organic farming in the bucolic Luberon region of Provence. That was fifteen years ago. Today their 11-hectare farm (in Cadenet, near Lourmarin) produces grapes, olives (1000 trees!), apricots, cherries, plums, apples, pears, pomegranates, figs, almonds, hazelnuts and—wait for it--black winter truffles. Yes, la famille owns 50 mature olive trees and another 950 trees (that they they planted themselves—yikes!) and a stand of oak that regularly produce the prized tuber melanasporum, AKA truffes noirs, AKA Black Gold. They also produce tuber aestivum--black summer truffles--as well. Sign on for one of their truffle tours and you'll learn about how truffle trees are cultivated, the special conditions necessary to grow truffles, the signs nature gives to indicate your trees might have truffles beneath them, dramatic stories about the extreme lengths people will go to in order to steal or even sabotage, all while watching their expert hunter's duo of dogs dig for the hidden treasure and come up with "black gold" before your eyes. You'll learn how to clean and prepare fresh truffles, what dishes taste best with truffles, how to tell the difference between a real truffle and the fakes from China...and then tuck into a sampling of fresh truffle hors d'oeuvres, truffle ice cream with truffle honey, with Champagne, and a tasting of their truffle salt, organic olive and truffle oils. Available: Winter season is roughly Nov 15 to March 15; summer season May 1 to September 30. Summer tours are at 6 pm Monday through Friday. Winter tours are at 3 pm Monday through Friday. Tours take roughly 3 hours. For 2-15 people. 2019 Prices: 84€ for adults (20€ reduction for children, age 10-17).

 

The Luberon for Foodies...by Bike or by Car

 

Choose your bike--road bike, hybrid or electric bike--and then off you go on a glorious full-day adventure in the Luberon, with a professional bike guide leading the way. Depending on the day of the week and the time of the year, your day might include a local market, an olive mill, a goat farm for a tasting of fresh goat cheeses, an ancient bread bakery still in use, a studio making superb confitures, the winery made famous in Peter Mayle's movie A Good Year and a tasting of truffle products. (We work only with English-speaking professional bike guides, one of whom is also a chef with 20 years experience working in Provence.) Plus you'll experience some of the top sites in the Luberon such as the Abbaye de Senanque, The Chateau of the Marquis de Sade and the historic hilltowns of Gordes, LaCoste, Bonnieux, Menerbes and Oppede le Vieux. No matter what's in season (poppies, lavender, sunflowers, olives, grapes, fruit, etc.), you'll experience stunning scenery, taste wonderful artisan foods and best of all, go at whatever pace feels perfect to you. Total cycling is about 60 km or 38 miles but that's flexible. The day starts in Bonnieux around 8:30 am and ends about 5 pm. Available: Every day except Sunday. Price: Cost: 350€ pp for two people. 250€ pp for three to six people. For larger groups, please inquire. Price includes bike rental, helmets, market tastings, artisanal visits and tastings, restaurant lunch and any museum entry fees. Note: This same tour can be done by car, for 50€ less per person, including lunch and tastings.  

 

Cooking Classes on a Lovely Luberon Hilltop

 

On a peaceful hillside in the Luberon, just up the road from an ancient mill, this idyllic farmhouse cooking school (opened in 2014) is a magnet for foodies from far and wide. Here, the charming Italian owner--who hails from Venice--loves to share the secrets of her sun-drenched cuisine, a melange of Provencal, Venetian and Mediterranean cooking perfected over a lifetime in the kitchen. In addition to week-long cooking programs, she offers day and evening classes, with or without market-shopping tours, always ending with meal around a table set with the most-gorgeous things (china, silver, glassware, serving pieces) from all over the world. Menus are seasonal, market-inspired and always highlight the products of the region. Morning or afternoon cooking class with lunch or dinner: 10 am to 4 pm or 4 pm to 10 pm: 170€ pp. Class with market tour (offered Tues, Thurs, Sat and Sun, 8:30 am to 4 pm): 190€ pp. Non-cooks can join the group for the meal for 60€, including wine.  New this year is All About Truffles: learn to make an appetizer, starter, main course and side, then enjoy dinner with wines and Champagne. Truffle class offered Mon, Wed and Fri from 4 to 10:30 pm, priced at 220€ pp. Also new this year is Foraging the Provencal Countryside, priced at 190€ pp.  "We'll go wandering in the magical supernatural market," the chef says, "and then back into the kitchen to cook dishes from starters to dessert." For those who wish to stay overnight, rooms are available either on the property or down the road in the village itself."

Cooking with a Top Chef

Isle sur la Sorgue

 

In beautiful Isle-sur-la-Sorgue--known as the center of the antiques trade in the South of France-- we work with a charming, well-known English-speaking chef who offers cooking classes at his highly regarded restaurant. You'll prepare a starter, a main course and dessert. Classes last two hours, so you can choose either 10 am to noon or 5pm to 7pm, then have an aperitif and a meal (with wine) afterwards. Available every day except Tuesday and Wednesday, year round, for groups of 6 to 14 people. Price: 132€ pp includes class and meal with wine.

 

Discover the Vineyards & Villages of the Luberon

 

Your guide on this private tour is a professional sommelier, formerly of the Michelin two-star L’Oustau de Baumaniere. And she’s got a great day planned, taking you to visit two of the most popular villages in the Luberon and two of the best wine domains. The tour departs St Rémy at 9 am. First stop is the famous perched village of Roussillon, where they mine ochre to make pigments for paint.  Everyone who visits loves it. Then you’ll explore beautiful Gordes, another historic hilltop village, and have lunch. After lunch it’s all about the wine,  with tastings and cellar visits at two of the region’s best domains. The tour returns to St. Remy around 6 pm. (Note: Pick up and drop off is available within 10 km of St. Remy.) Prices: 2 people, 575€ total. 3 to 4 people, 258€ pp. 5 to 6 people, 230€ pp. Lunch is extra. Available: Every day except Sunday. Note: Pick up and drop off is available within 10 km of St. Remy.

 

Winter Truffle-Market Tours

Richerenches, in the Vaucluse

 

The ancient village of Richerenches, in northern Provence,  has the largest black truffle market in Europe!  It’s in the department of the Vaucluse, which produces more than 90% of the exquisite black truffles (tuber melanosporum) sold in France.  The Saturday morning market runs from mid-November to late March…and attracts restaurateurs, exporters and truffle lovers from far and wide. The best way to do the market is with an expert tour guide…and I’ve got just the person. She lives nearby, knows the market in and out, often cooks with truffles…and loves to share her passion. As you poke amongst the stalls, you’ll learn what makes for a great truffle harvest; how to choose, clean and preserve them; what wines pair best with them; what local restaurants specialize in them…and much more.  You may even meet some trufficulteurs (truffle hunters), who work the market with their bulging linen bags, meeting discreetly with “courtiers” who evaluate and buy their precious “black gold.”  You’ll break for coffee at the locals’ favorite café—permanently permeated with the smell of fresh truffles--and visit a few historic Templar sites too.  You might even be able to enjoy a wonderful local tradition: a communal lunch of truffled omelettes (with salad, cheese, bread, wine and dessert) served in the village hall. Tours are 3 hours (or longer if you have lunch) and cost €150 for the first person, 75€ for each additional person. Group prices available and lunch is extra. You’ll meet your guide in Richerenches or at the Bollene exit (#19) of the A7 autoroute.  Available: Saturday mornings, mid Nov to late March.

 

Why Cook on Vacation: Private Chef Dinners!

Various Villages

 

You’ve rented a villa with a smashing kitchen but don’t feel like cooking on vacation. Or you have guests staying with you and you’d like to really roll out the red carpet. Or you’re celebrating a special occasion. Whatever the reason, having a private chef in to cook is a lovely indulgence…and you deserve it! We work with all the top private chefs in the region and will find one available on your dates. They’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and provide the perfect wines to accompany. Price depends on menu and number of guests but expect to pay anywhere from 75€ to 175 € per person. A standard menu format is: two hors d'oeuvres with Champagne served at 7:15, followed by a four-course dinner--with perfect wines--served at 8 pm. Available: year round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND AVIGNON

 

Eat Your Way Through Avignon

 

Join us for a delicious morning...an unforgettable foodie walking tour in lovely, historic Avignon.  This four-hour Taste of Avignon Tour will introduce you to the local gastronomy as well as Provençal traditions and the city's history. You'll visit the best artisan shops, discovering and tasting  unique, high quality products made in traditional ways. From handmade chocolates to freshly roasted coffee, every stop will be a culinary surprise ! You will also learn about the Rhône Valley Wines and enjoy a commented fine wine tasting (AOC). At the colorful Les Halles market you'll meet food producers and purveyors, then enjoy a real "Apéritif Provençal" (olives, cheeses, etc.) Altogether, you'll be offered roughly ten tastings plus drinks. The Taste of Avignon tour lasts about 3.5/4 hours and is offered in English. Other languages (FR, ES, PT) are available for groups on request only. Available Tuesday through Saturday, starting at 9 am, from March to October, except in July and August. 2019 Prices: The Taste of Avignon Tour is 65€ pp adults; 25€ kids under 12 and free for kids under 6. Group size is 8 people max. A second tour, the Food & Wine Day Tour, pairs a morning walking food tour in Avignon (ten tastings) with an afternoon visit to Chateauneuf du Pape, to visit and taste at a family-run winery and a historic chateau winery. Transportation to Chateauneuf provided. The Food & Wine Day Tour is available Tuesday to Saturday, March to October, and is priced at 150€ pp.

 

Avignon Walking Tour, with or without Brunch at Les Halles Market

 

We have a wonderful friend based in Avignon who guides extensively in the region. One of her most popular offerings is a four-hour walking tour of Avignon’s historical center (touring around but not in the Palais des Papes, plus the St. Benezet Bridge, churches, gardens, shopping streets and the Les Halles market). The tour ends with brunch in the heart of the Les Halles covered food market. She orders platters of delicious Provence specialties (olives, tapenades, local cheeses, cold cuts, oysters, bread, etc.) from the various market vendors... and the group eats together in a bistro near the market. Rates: The walking tour plus brunch in Les Halles is 200€ total for the tour (for up to 8 persons) + 25 € / person for the brunch. Available Tuesday through Friday. Tour starts at 9:30 am and ends around 1:30 pm. Meanwhile, she also offers a two-hour Avignon walking tour for 150€ total for up to 8 persons; it's available mornings or afternoons, every day, year round. Full day car tours in the region (in the Luberon, for example) and theme tours (food, wine, lavender, history, etc.) are also available.

 

A Delicious Market Tour and Cooking Demo at Les Halles

Avignon

 

Rendezvous in the morning with one of our favorite Avignon based chefs to peruse the stalls of the lively and colorful indoor food market, where many local chefs buy their meat, fish and produce. You’ll meet the producers and sample the local specialties, learning about traditional Provencale ingredients, dishes and much more. Then enjoy a chef's demo of two tapenade preparations and a third dish, which changes daily. Then everyone enjoys all three together with a glass of local wine. Available Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 to 11:15 am, year round. Price: 40€ per person. Lunch is offered afterwards at an additional cost. 

 

Shopping and Chopping with the Chef at Les Halles

Avignon

 

Similar to the offering above but after your market tour, you get a full on, hands-on cooking class. Available Tuesday mornings (except in July) and also on demand. Class begins at 8:45am, includes market shopping to buy the ingredients for lunch (with tasting, of course!),  a cooking class and a seated lunch with wine. Price is 85€ pp.

 

A Day of Food & Vines

Avignon & Wine Country

 

Les Halles in Avignon is a large, loud, colorful indoor marketplace, with rows of vendors selling every edible imaginable: meat, seafood, shellfish; fruit and vegetables; prepared and packaged foods; olives and tapenades; a fantastic array of fresh cheeses; herbs and spices; and every type of sweets imaginable. The market is open every morning except Monday and this is where the locals-- and the local chefs—come to buy the freshest foodstuffs, gossip with friends, catch up with their favorite purveyors...and then eat and drink together in the market cafes. A great way to experience the scene is with a local food/wine expert and I’ve got just the guy: a sommelier who worked for years at the top restaurant in Avignon. “I spend thousands of dollars at Les Halles and should own the place by now,” he says. “It’s a wonderland of tastes and people just go crazy for it.”  You’ll meet at the market around 9:30 or 10 am and get free tastes of a wide range of local products. All the while, you’ll be picking up this and that to assemble a fantastic lunch. Then you’ll find a table and enjoy a splendid indoor picnic, with a glass or two of wine. But don’t go crazy on the wine...because after lunch you’ll pile into a big comfy SUV for an afternoon of wine touring around the Southern Rhone. You’ll hit two to three wineries, meeting the winemakers if possible, tasting a range of top labels and getting a crash course on the grapes and wine styles of these famous appellations. Return to Avignon around 6 pm. Price: 440€ for a couple; 660€ for four; 880€ for six. Because some clients want a sandwich and others want fois gras, oysters and Dom Perignon, the cost of the lunch is extra. Available: Year Round, every day except Monday.

 

Why Cook on Vacation: Private Chef Dinners!

Various Villages

 

You’ve rented a villa with a smashing kitchen but don’t feel like cooking on vacation. Or you have guests staying with you and you’d like to really roll out the red carpet. Or you’re celebrating a special occasion. Whatever the reason, having a private chef in to cook is a lovely indulgence…and you deserve it! We work with all the top private chefs in the region and will find one available on your dates. They’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and provide the perfect wines to accompany. Price depends on menu and number of guests but expect to pay anywhere from 75€ to 175 € per person. A standard menu format is: two hors d'oeuvres with Champagne served at 7:15, followed by a four-course dinner--with perfect wines--served at 8 pm. Available: year round.

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND AIX EN PROVENCE

 

Around the French Stove:

Cooking Classes in Aix

 

This charming and talented French cook left Paris and a career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing when her husband's job transferred the family to Aix. She enrolled in a school for professional chefs, worked in restaurant kitchens and took all the cooking classes she could from top chefs. Finally, in 2013, she opened the doors of her own cooking school in Aix and it's been embraced by locals and travelers alike. The school is in the heart of historical Aix, close to the daily market which ensures a regular, seasonal supply of fresh produce and ingredients. She offers small group classes (8 ppl max) in a colorful setting, around a central kitchen island which creates a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. After the class, the group shares the meal they prepared, with wine. "I try to put the accent on the French 'art of living,' she tells me, "using traditional Provencal recipes as well as more contemporary ideas that coincide with the seasons. I'm not native English but the courses can be in either language." Classes are offered to the public on Wednesdays with scheduled menus, and privately on request, all on a seasonal theme. 2018 Prices: Market visit & Lunchtime classes (9:45 - 2 pm) are 95€ pp.  Classes run with four people minimum, so you might be paired up. Private classes for two guests can be arranged for lunch or dinner. This chef also offers market & food shop tours on a set schedule or custom basis; see ''A Tasting Tour of Aix" below. Available: year round [except for August].

 

A Tasting Tour of Aix 

 

Our favorite foodies in Aix are a terrific French & American duo who offer private tasting tours for small and large groups as well as daily public tours. From Tuesday to Friday (9:30 to 12:30, €70 per person), enjoy an insiders' discovery of this gourmet paradise of a town. You’ll visit the charming 700-year-old marketplace and its amazing food producers, several historic food shops, taste 8 to 10 savory and sweet specialities along the way, and learn local history and culture, too. A stop for an artisanal coffee or hot chocolate at the best roastery in town is always on the menu. And finally, you’ll finish with a tasting of the iconic rosé wine of the region, along with some cheese or charcuterie.  Most guests walk away having enjoyed the excitement of a market day and, having rubbed shoulders with the locals, feel like they got way beyond the average tourists’ experience and have “tasted” a truly immersive experience.  If a private tour is what you’re after, tell us what interests you and these passionate “foodies” will create just the perfect tour. If the schedule or format above doesn't suit you, they offer private, customized half-day walking tours from 220€ for two people. All tours available: year round [except for August].  All guests also receive a copy of the The Foodies Guide to Aix en Provence, which you'll find super useful for the rest of your trip as it's packed full of shopping and dining tips, and a detailed map of the town, along with cultural advice will serve you throughout all of France. 

 

Market Shopping and Cooking Class with Chef Gilles

Aix-en-Provence

 

How wonderful to explore the city's famous market with a local chef who knows everyone...and then cook with the ingredients you just selected. This day starts at 9:30 am when you meet your chef/guide in front of the Tourist Office of Aix. You'll walk to the fantastic open air market, meet the producers, taste cheese and charcuterie, and buy the ingredients for lunch. Then we'll pop in to a well-known, highly regarded wine domaine to taste and buy the wine for lunch. Back at the chef's modern home--set on 12 acres of pine and oak, with a large vegetable garden-- everyone cooks together and of course, then sits to enjoy a lovely, leisurely lunch. The chef will return you to the Tourist Office by 3:30 pm. 2019 Price: 160€ per person and others may join your group (from 2 to 8 partcipants).  For private class, the charge is 215€ per person for a party of two. Available: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, year round. 

 

Why Cook on Vacation: Private Chef Dinners!

Various Villages

 

You’ve rented a villa with a smashing kitchen but don’t feel like cooking on vacation. Or you have guests staying with you and you’d like to really roll out the red carpet. Or you’re celebrating a special occasion. Whatever the reason, having a private chef in to cook is a lovely indulgence…and you deserve it! We work with all the top private chefs in the region and will find one available on your dates. They’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and provide the perfect wines to accompany. Price depends on menu and number of guests but expect to pay anywhere from 75€ to 175 € per person. A standard menu format is: two hors d'oeuvres with Champagne served at 7:15, followed by a four-course dinner--with perfect wines--served at 8 pm. Available: year round.

 

Boulangerie, Fromagerie, Epicerie...Apero!

French Happy Hour in Aix

 

Everything stops for the French version of “happy hour” as people gather to enjoy the "apero” before dinner, in cafés or with their friends at home.  For an original taste of this enjoyable tradition, our foodie friends in Aix will take you out in the late afternoon for a truly local experience, gathering all the elements for an authentic Apéritif from several food shops. Along the way, you’ll learn a bit of history about the neighbourhood and what makes Aix such a special food destination. You’ll hit the boulangerie for some rustic baguette, visit the fromagerie to collect some wonderful cheese and grab a bottle of Rosé at the friendly Caviste. You’ll visit the epicerie for a tasting of olive tapenade and rare fruffle olive oil. Finally, with all these wonderful treats in hand, you’ll head to a colorful cooking school where you'll prepare and enjoy the apero!  In addition to all the shop-bought elements, we'll cook a simple, hot appetizer called a “Tarte de Soleil” and learn all about what happens when you're invited to a French home. This is a super way to spend the afternoon, before heading out for dinner. Available: Thursdays from 5 pm to 7:30 pm and other days upon on request, year round. 2018 Price: 60€ pp, with a minimum of 4 guests.

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN MARSEILLE

A Marseille Walk for Foodies 

​This popular 3-hour food tour is offered from 10 am to 1 pm with five stops to taste local specialties. You'll learn about French gastronomy and the delicious treats, savory and sweet, for which Marseille is known. We start at the Vieux Port and its famous fish market to meet the fisherman and learn about the daily cash, then move on to taste ham and cheese treats and a very special chocolate made with olive oil. Next it's on to the historic Panier to taste "black ice" and the city's famous cookies called navettes, made with olive oil and orange blossom. The tour ends in the new district Joliette to sip a (local) Pastis, that classic Provencal aperitif, on a sunny cafe terrace. 2019 Pricing: This is a private guided tour for a minimum of two people. The price drops as your group gets larger: it's 132€ pp for two, 100€ pp for four, 72€ pp for six and pricing on demand for larger groups. Available: Year Round.

The Magic of Marseille

​Marseille is a thrilling, fast-changing city, the second largest in France. Dozens of shiny new attractions opened in 2013--when Marseille was the center of the European Capital of Culture--and the momentum continued into 2017, when it was named European Capital of Sport. Today Marseille buzzes with an energetic, artistic and very-international vibe...and we want to share that with you alongside its rich and ancient history. We'll likely start around the Old Port and the winding streets of the Panier (the Old Town, with its shops and galleries and craft shops), taking in the Vieille Charité, the Hotel Dieu and the MuCEM, Marseille's bold and dazzling museum, along with the historic Fort Saint Jean, which has become its annex. Depending on timing and preferences, other visits could include Marseille's colorful street markets... the Maison du Pastis, which stocks nearly 100 different types of Provence's classic aperitif... a workshop/museum of santons (iconic Provencal terracotta figurines)... an artisan making Marseille's traditional Savon de Marseille...and a bakery where the city's beloved boat-shaped biscuits called navettes are made. A short hands-on soap-making workshop is also possible. Depending on timing, this tour could also include Notre Dame de la Garde; the beautiful, ancient Saint Victor Abbey and the Jardin du Pharo. This tour is designed to be done on foot and may use public transport as well. 2019 Pricing: Half-day tour, morning or afternoon, for up to six people: 250€ flat fee. Full day tour for up to six people: 350€. The cost of lunch, public transport and any entry fees are extra. Available: Year Round.

 

Marketing, Cooking and Lunching in a Private Marseille Home

 

Many travelers in Provence want to visit private homes….to see how the locals live, cook and entertain. This day was created to give you a taste of real life in Marseille, with a very-talented home cook as your host. “Food and cooking is probably for us the most important occasion to meet, share and enjoy life all together,” says Gilles, who was born and raised in Marseille and lived there until age 30, except for four years in California as a teen. After meeting in front of the Marseille Tourist Office, recipes in hand, you’ll head out for the day’s shopping. On the Old Port, where the fishermen have sold their catch for generations, you’ll be introduced to the ingredients for Marseille’s famous recipes such as bouillabaisse and bourride. Then it’s off to the next market, in colorful Noailles, to buy local vegetables, fruits, lamb and spices…with the exotic aromas of the Middle East surrounding you. You’ll pass through the old banking district St Ferréol and by the antique shops near the Prefecture before stopping in at Gilles’ favorite wine shop to get suggestions for pairing and your wines for lunch. Back at Gille’s family apartment, your hands-on cooking class begins: tapenades, aïoli, anchoïade…leg of lamb…pissaladière…scorpion fish with tomato sauce, spaghetti with poutargue (a specialty from nearby Martigue), almond-crusted pear tart or pears poached in wine…and more. Lunch will be served casually on the shaded patio “which is just how we do it when we have good friends and family over,” Gilles says. 2019 Prices: 160€ pp for 2 to 8 participants. The day starts at 9:30 am and ends at 3:30 pm. Available: year round, seven days a week ... but the best days are Tuesday & Saturday. 

 

Bouillabaisse in Marseille

 

Our favorite Marseille chef Gilles (see just above) makes an incredible bouillabaisse. So say the word and he'll focus your market tour and cooking class on that legendary dish. After meeting in front of the Marseille Tourist Office, you'll head for the Old Port, where the fishermen have sold their catch for generations, to buy the fresh fish and seafood. Then it's off to the Hall of Justice Farmer's Market, to buy local vegetables, fruits, meat and spices. On site, you'll get to taste some of the freshest, most-delicious seasonal products. Then we'll stop in at Gilles' favorite wine shop to get some suggestions for pairing and buy your wines for lunch. Back at Gilles' family apartment, your hands-on cooking class begins. Then you'll tuck into your bouillabaisse lunch, probably on the shaded patio, with all the traditional accoutrements. 2019 Prices: 160€ pp for 2 to 8 participants. The day starts at 9:30 am and ends at 3:30 pm. Available: year round, seven days a week ... but the best days are Tuesday & Saturday. 

 

CULINARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND UZES

 

Wine and Food Tours From Uzes

 

If you’re staying anywhere near Uzes, here are some great day-tour options for you. In his air conditioned car holding six passengers, our guide (a Canadian with WSET credentials, based in the region for 20+ years) offers popular tours focused on the wine and food of the region. Vina Nostra Wine Tour (145€ pp for 2 ppl; 120€ pp for 3 to 4 people; 110€ for 5 or 6 people). Visit and taste at three top local wineries (one organic), learning how the winemakers coax the best flavors from the soil. With a break for lunch, this is a terrific one-day immersion in the wines and grapes of the region. Wines and Local foods of Uzès (same prices as Vina Nostra tour above). Visit two excellent local wineries and experience the farmers’ market in Uzès or St. Quentin, where you’ll pick up local cheeses, olives, pâtés and breads for a picnic lunch. After lunch, taste at a premium olive oil producer before heading to the last winery of the day. Half Bottle (90€ pp for 2 people ; 80€ pp for 3 to 4 people ; 65€ for 5 to 6 people ). A ½ day, morning or afternoon overview of Uzès wines, grape varieties and production methods, with two local winery visits. Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gard Côtes-du-Rhône (175€ pp for two). Visits and tastings at two domains plus a top Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer. Tours include free pick up and drop off within a 15 km radius of Uzes; clients staying further afield can pay a small fee for pickup/dropoff or rendezvous at the Uzes Tourist Office (there’s a large car park next door). Custom tours in the Languedoc, Rhône Valley, Arles, Orange and Uzes/Pont du Gard area are also available; rates range from 210€ pp (minimum 2 people) for a nine-hour day; five or more people pay 170€ pp. A custom tour might include winery visits, an olive oil producer, the Roman Theatre in Orange, a visit to the Château Suze-la-Rousse and private tasting at its University of Wine), the new Van Gogh Foundation in Arles and more. 

 

Why Cook on Vacation: Private Chef Dinners!

Various Villages

 

You’ve rented a villa with a smashing kitchen but don’t feel like cooking on vacation. Or you have guests staying with you and you’d like to really roll out the red carpet. Or you’re celebrating a special occasion. Whatever the reason, having a private chef in to cook is a lovely indulgence…and you deserve it! We work with all the top private chefs in the region and will find one available on your dates. They’ll prepare a multi-course dinner using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and provide the perfect wines to accompany. Price depends on menu and number of guests but expect to pay anywhere from 75€ to 175 € per person. A standard menu format is: two hors d'oeuvres with Champagne served at 7:15, followed by a four-course dinner--with perfect wines--served at 8 pm. Available: year round.

 

WINE ACTIVITIES IN VARIOUS REGIONS

 

One for the Wine Lovers...

 

Our favorite wine expert is a charming American sommelier who has worked for top Michelin starred chef Alain Ducasse in Paris, Monaco and Las Vegas...and was the sommelier at the highly regarded Christian Etienne restaurant in Avignon for six years. He's considered one of the leading experts in Rhone Valley wines and he knows everyone in the biz; he teaches sommeliers, in fact, and other industry insiders who want to learn about Rhone wines. His stomping ground? The world-class wine villages of Chateauneuf-du-Papes, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venise, as well as the lesser-known Seguret, Sablet, Crestet and beyond. He'll do just about anything when it comes to wine, but his most-popular offering is a day of wine touring. This is a custom-designed day during which you’ll hit three to four wineries...with talk, touring and tasting at each. And of course, lunch at one of your guide's favorite spots. For this we charge €500 (one couple) and €200 (each additional couple), using a 4x4 Land Cruiser that holds up 6 passengers comfortably or 7 passengers squished. If you have more people in your group than that, we rent a mini-van for 8 passengers (about €200 per day) or use a driver/bus combo (about €750 /day), both of which are charged on top of  the guide's fees above. Lunch is extra and large group prices are negotiable. You'll be picked up at your hotel or villa at 9 am and dropped off around 7 pm ‘’depending on if you’re in a hurry or we’re all having too great a time to quit.’’ Another option is a seated tasting for you and your friends in your hotel, villa or other locale. We can also lead a Nez du Vin class: a fun 2.5 hour session that improves your palate by teaching you to ID wine’s most-common sensory components. Available: year round.

 

Discover the Wines of Legendary Chateauneuf

 

Your guide on this private tour is a professional French sommelier, formerly of the Michelin two-star L'Oustau de Baumaniere, fully bi-lingual.  And she's got a great day planned, giving you a delicious immersion into the wines of the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You'll be picked up at your hotel or villa at 9 am, get an overview of the region and an introduction to its wines...then hit one fantastic domaine/cellar for tasting before lunch. Next stop is a great meal in a popular Châteauneuf bistro...followed by two more tastings at two more highly regarded domains. You'll be returned home around 5:30 pm. 2019 Prices: 2 people, 350€ total. ¾ people, 500€. 5/6 people, 600€. Lunch is extra. Pick up is available within 10 km of St. Remy (otherwise you can rendezvous with the guide in a convenient location). Tour is available: Every day except Sunday.

 

Another for the Wine Lovers


This fully bi-lingual French guide is passionate about wine (and also very expert in the food, history and culture of the region). Having settled in France 20 years ago, he offers cultural, wine and food tours to destinations all over Provence. During his full-day wine tour in Chateauneuf du Pape you'll enjoy fantastic scenery, get insights into the grapes and wine styles of the region and visit two to three top domaines.  As time allows, you'll also stroll through the village itself and see its historic crumbling chateau and charming streets lined with tasting rooms. This tour may be available to other Southern Rhone wine regions as well and one winery visit can be replaced with something else (olive mill, goat farm, chocolate tasting, etc.) if desired. Price: 500€ flat fee for a full day, for up to 4 guests. Or, your guide can rent a vehicle holding 8 guests, for an extra charge of roughly 200€. Lunch is also extra. Available: Year Round.

 

A Day of Food & Vines

Avignon & Wine Country

 

Les Halles in Avignon is a large, loud, colorful indoor marketplace, with rows of vendors selling every edible imaginable: meat, seafood, shellfish; fruit and vegetables; prepared and packaged foods; olives and tapenades; a fantastic array of fresh cheeses; herbs and spices; and every type of sweets imaginable. The market is open every morning except Monday and this is where the locals-- and the local chefs—come to buy the freshest foodstuffs, gossip with friends, catch up with their favorite purveyors...and then eat and drink together in the market cafes. A great way to experience the scene is with a local food/wine expert and I’ve got just the guy: a sommelier who worked for years at the top restaurant in Avignon. “I spend thousands of dollars at Les Halles and should own the place by now,” he says. “It’s a wonderland of tastes and people just go crazy for it.”  You’ll meet at the market around 9:30 or 10 am and get free tastes of a wide range of local products. All the while, you’ll be picking up this and that to assemble a fantastic lunch. Then you’ll find a table and enjoy a splendid indoor picnic, with a glass or two of wine. But don’t go crazy on the wine...because after lunch you’ll pile into a big comfy SUV for an afternoon of wine touring around the Southern Rhone. You’ll hit two to three wineries, meeting the winemakers if possible, tasting a range of top labels and getting a crash course on the grapes and wine styles of these famous appellations. Return to Avignon around 6 pm. Price: 440€ for a couple; 660€ for four; 880€ for six. Because some clients want a sandwich and others want fois gras, oysters and Dom Perignon, the cost of the lunch is extra. Available: Year Round, every day except Monday.

 

Food in the Morning, Wine in the Afternoon

Avignon & Chateauneuf du Pape

 

Similar to the tour just above, here's one that provides a perfect one-day immersion into the food and wine of the region. The Food & Wine Day Tour pairs a morning walking food tour in Avignon (with ten tastings) with an afternoon visit to Chateauneuf du Pape, to visit and taste at a family-run winery and a historic chateau winery with one of the top wine guides in the region. There's a break in between, so you can grab lunch on your own, and then round trip transportation to Chateauneuf will be provided. The Food & Wine Day Tour is available Tuesday to Saturday, March to October, and is priced at 150€ pp.

 

Discover the Vineyards & Villages of the Luberon

 

Your guide on this private tour is a professional sommelier, formerly of the Michelin two-star L’Oustau de Baumaniere. And she’s got a great day planned, taking you to visit two of the most popular villages in the Luberon and two of the best wine domains. The tour departs St Rémy at 9 am. First stop is the famous perched village of Roussillon, where they mine ochre to make pigments for paint.  Everyone who visits loves it. Then you’ll explore beautiful Gordes, another historic hilltop village, and have lunch. After lunch it’s all about the wine,  with tastings and cellar visits at two of the region’s best domains. The tour returns to St. Remy around 6 pm. (Note: Pick up and drop off is available within 10 km of St. Remy.) 2019 Prices: 2 people, 575€ total. 3 to 4 people, 258€ per person. 5 to 6 people, 230€ per person. Lunch is extra. Available: Every day except Sunday. Note: Pick up and drop off is available within 10 km of St. Remy.

 

Discover the Wines & Olive Oils of Les Baux

 

The famous Vallée des Baux-de-Provence (aka the AOC and AOP Les Baux), has roughly 500,000 olive trees, its farms and 12 mills producing 500 tons of oil per year and another 140 tons of table olives. It's also known for wine: vast rows of grape vines shimmering in bright sunshine on fertile plots in the foothills of Alpilles Mountains. So why not discover both on the same day? Led by a professional sommelier, you'll depart St. Remy at 9.30 am (or any village within10  km of St. Remy). By 10:30 you'll be settled in at one of the best wine domains, having a cellar visit, presentation and tasting. Lunch will be in one of our favorite nearby bistros. At 2 pm, we'll visit a terrific olive mill, learn about the different olives and the process of pressing oils.  Then we'll have time for one more winery visit, before returning to St. Remy around 5 pm. This day has everything: stunning scenery, terrific tasting, lots of learning and a lovely lunch!  2019 Prices:  2 people, 380 €.  3/4 people, 500€.  5/6 persons, 600€. Available: Every day except Sunday.  Note: You can also do this as a half-day wine tour only, from 1:30 to 5 pm. Half-day prices are 2 people, 300€; 3-4 people, 380€; 5-6 people, 500€.

 

Insiders Wine Tour with Lunch

 

One of the nicest wine tastings and visits in the area is up in the Ventoux region, not far from Vaison la Romaine, at a luxury, organic property that offers tours, tastings, classes for all levels of wine lovers and a few lovely lunch options. This is an historic, world-class property that’s home to 35 hectares of vines, a highly regarded wine school, an organic garden, a B&B and a large villa available for rent. The multi-lingual staff loves welcoming visitors, personalizing every visit and sharing the history of this unique property. The standard offering is an “insider” tour of the vineyard, barrel room and state-of-the-art cellar with a tasting of 6 cuvees (rosé, white, red), followed by lunch. The visit generally lasts 1.5 hours but can be longer upon request. For lunch (prepared by the on-site chef using ingredients from his kitchen garden),  choose from a picnic basket (with a map of the best picnic spots on site); a bento box selection of Provencal specialties; or a three-course, seasonal Provencal meal. One of my clients who spent the day here in summer 2018 wrote me afterwards:  "Loved it, loved it, loved it! We had an exceptionally wonderful afternoon! We did the box "picnic" lunch outside on the terrace (not really a picnic at all as it was quite involved and delicious), toured the vineyard and the cellar and then did a tasting. I would tell all your clients to DO IT!!  The owner’s daughter was our guide and she was just lovely.  Everyone else there was terrific too and we couldn't have asked for a better day!"  Tastings and tours available all year; lunches from April through October.  Pricing: The visit and tasting is 12 € pp person.  Lunch ranges from 20€ pp for a picnic basket without wine to 84€ for a 3-course “farm to fork” meal with wine pairings. An “Intro to Tasting” workshop is 42€ pp and a blending workshop called “Winemaker for a Day” is 60€ pp. The VIP Package (200€ pp) includes an in-depth vineyard and cellar tour (in English or French), a tasting with old vintages in the private wine library, a 3-course lunch paired with wines, the Winemaker for a Day blending workshop and a gift. Group prices available. Please reserve at least two days in advance, longer in busy season, to get your preferred time slot. 

CULINARY AND WINE ACTIVITIES ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA

 

Market Tours, Cooking Classes, Pastry Workshops... 

Nice

The fresh scent of a Menton lemon. The melting texture of long-cooked onions. The bracing chill of that first sip of rosé. These are just a few of the pleasures of a day spent shopping at the Cours Saleya market in Nice and then preparing an authentic Niçois meal in France's most-Italian city. Our favorite foodie here is a native English speaker, food writer, Cordon Bleu-trained cook and longtime French resident who leads popular food tours and hosts cuisine and pastry classes in her custom-designed cooking studio on the Old Town. The most popular program is the Cours Saleya Market Tour, Cooking Class and Lunch, a fabulous intro to the culture and cooking of Nice. Visit the market, learn about the city's history and food culture and then head back to the kitchen through the narrow streets of the Old Town, where you'll pick up wine and cheese to accompany the meal. A couple of hours later you will be enjoying the results of your efforts, enhanced with great conversation and local wines. Note: this is not a private experience...you'll almost certainly be joined by others. Hours: 9:30 am to 3 pm, every day except Monday, two people minimum. 2019 Price: 195€ pp or 180€ pp for a group of 4 or more; maximum 8 people. As of 2019 Rosa is also offering the Liberation Market Tour, Cooking Class and Lunch, focusing on Nice's biggest and most local food market with a group limited to six people. Hours: 9 am to 3 pm, Fridays, two people minimum. 2019 Price: 210€ pp or 195€ for a group of 4 or more; maximum 6 people. Another option is the three-hour Private Nice Street Food Tour, an exploration of the city's unique culinary traditions. Nice is the only city in France that's famed for its street food, a reminder of the days when the county of Nice belonged to the Italian-ruled Kingdom of Savoy. You'll taste pissaladière (caramelized onion tart), socca (chick pea pancakes), fougasse (Provençal flatbread) and tourte de blettes (a sweet Swiss chard pie). Plus, you'll sample Provençal olive oils, flavored vinegars, exquisite cheeses....visit an artisanal butcher..and get our expert's list of recommended restaurants for the rest of your stay. Tour hours: 9.30 am to 12.30 pm, every day except Monday, on request. 2019 Prices: 135€ pp for two people, decreasing as the number in your group increases. The Macarons and Choux Pastry Classes, demystify these French classics and draw on local, seasonal flavors. Hours: 10am to 12.30pm Sundays and Mondays, and on request for a minimum of three people. 2019 Price: €90 per person. All classes and tours are available year-round.

Yay, Rosé! A Two-Hour Guided Wine Tasting with Niçoise Snacks

Old Town Nice

How great does this sound? Discover a selection of fantastic rosé wines from Provence and the French Riviera. Learn professional tasting techniques from a charming female sommelier. Nibble traditional Niçoise snacks. And do it all in a beautiful studio in Old Town Nice, with like-minded travelers. from all over the world. Yes, it seems that everyone is falling for the crisp Rosé wines of the Mediterranean coast, which conjure up deep turquoise water and a refreshing sea breeze with every sip. But how is rosé produced and what makes certain bottles stand out? Under the expert guidance of a certified sommelier and cookbook author, you'll learn how modern rosé came to be born in Provence, discover several different rosés from the region and learn to identify your preferred sipping style. While she's sharing her best tips and wine-making tales she'll be uncorking bottles from her favorite producers. Because rosé is an integral part of la merenda, Nice’s famous street-food tradition, nibbles will be served and you'll learn about pairing rosé with foods from the Mediterranean and elsewhere. 2019 Pricing: 75€ per person. Available from 5 to 7 pm on Fridays with other days upon request. Min # of people is 6; max is 12. If fewer than 6 people sign up, your deposit will be refunded. Available: Year Round.

 

Cooking and Foodie Fun in Cannes

 

This easy-going, professionally trained Dutch chef--with a French mother--worked in Paris, Burgundy, the UK, Switzerland and the Caribbean before opening her own place in Cannes seven years ago. Today her French/Mediterranean kitchen offers one-stop shopping for foodie fun on the Cote d’Azur. She offers a wide range of classes, a Chef’s Table dinner, picnics with a boat ride, Culinary Walking Tours, catering services and more. Read on! All times and prices are for 2017.

 

CLASSES AND MARKET TOURS

* French Bistro Cooking & Lunch ( noon to 2.30 pm, Tues to Sat, 85€ pp, 10 ppl max).

* French Appetizer Class (noon to 2.30 pm, Tues to Sat, 85€ pp, 10 ppl max).

* Mediterranean Cooking Class & Lunch (noon to  2:30 pm, Tues to Fri, 85€ pp, 10 ppl max).

* Intro to Wine & Cheese Tasting (Three wines, four cheeses, charcuterie, bread, fun!  Noon to 1:30 pm, Tues, Thurs, Fri, 85€ pp.)

* Market shopping, 3-course cooking class and lunch (9:30 am to 3 pm, Tues to Sat,€190 pp).

 

Evening versions of some of these classes are upon request.

 

CHEF'S TABLE

The Chef’s Table offered by our favorite foodie in Cannes has been Michelin-recognized since 2015 and has won multiple awards for “Best Small Table in Cannes.”  Book your dinner there for 2 to 14 guests; unless you book as a group, you’ll be seated with strangers (“that’s part of the charm and tradition of a table d’hotes!” chef says). The Chef’s Table is offered Tues thru Sat, with one seating only, between 7 and 8 pm. Three-course menus made from seasonal market-fresh ingredients change daily; expect refined and innovative cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Prices start at €46 pp, wine not included.  Because these dinners are very popular and are usually fully booked in season, you must reserve ahead and pay in advance.

 

PICNIC AND BOAT RIDE

For those who want a day out on the Med, the chef has teamed up with a local charter company to offer a boat ride and gourmet picnic. Priced at €85 pp, it includes a cruise to Isle Saint Marguerite with time to explore the island, a picnic packed in a cooling bag and a bottle of wine. 10:30 am to 4:15 pm. Must be booked 3 days ahead; available May 1 to Sept 30 for 25 guests max.

 

CULINARY WALKING TOURS

Cannes first and only culinary walking tour; our "Flavors of the Cote d'Azur" stroll gives hungry foodies the opportunity to experience this elegant and iconic beachside resort like a true local, in a neighborhood where people live, eat and shop. This is a teriffic way to acquaint yourself with the delicious French & Mediterranean flavors that capture the culinary essence of this sun-drenched region! Tours start at 10 am and run February through November. Not suitable for kids under age 10, please. Price: €85 pp includes all tastings and your bi-lingual guide. 

 

FIVE-DAY COTE D'AZUR CULINARY IMMERSION

For those who want a more in-depth experience, we're offering a 5-day all-inclusive package which consists of accommodation in a lovely villa in Cannes, a series of cooking classes, chef's table dinners, Provencal BBQ, wine tasting at a winery, lunch and a shopping trip to the market across the border in Italy, goat cheese-making on a farm in the Cannes back country, a picnic, a boat trip and more. Price and dates are upon demand, for up to 8 people max...solos are welcome but will join other travelers. This is a great opportunity for visitors to dive into the Cote d'Azur and its culinary delights!

 

CATERING

And if you’re having a special event, this chef happily provides full catering services for weddings, business or family gatherings...for up to 150 guests max.