La Belle France
A Culinary Tour - 10 Days and 9 nights starting in Paris.
This is our time to Journey to La Belle France!
Escape and join our small group Journey through France for a 10 day / 9 nights all inclusive (Land Content) tour of cooking, culture and meeting French foodies at each step of the way. This Journey takes you to foodie heaven in Paris, Lyon and Nice.
The tour is led by Ann Palmer for Culinary Journey. Ann has a passion for all things food but above all things French and food. She has travelled to France on many occasions and has hand picked this tour for lovers of food. You will meet the French cooking, shop where they find their produce and learn the total devotion with which the French approach food. You are also guaranteed fun along the way. The focus of this tour is to immerse you into the French way of life in a way that you could not get from any other tour. There are some cultural diversions away from food as well as some free time for you to chill out or do your own thing. Ann can provide plenty of unique suggestions.
Itinerary in detail
On the first evening we meet at our hotel in the centre of Paris for a relaxed evening to get to know each other over dinner and discuss in detail how the days will unfold. Transfers to our hotel are arranged for you from Charles de Gaulle airport.
The next morning after our breakfast we become Parisian – we jump on Le Metro and travel to the 15th Arrondissement. Here we meet our first Chef. The day starts with a journey to her local market where we pick the ingredients for the meal to be cooked. This is not a supermarket – this is where and how chefs and French home cooks come each day to collect fresh ingredients from an open air market. Ask as many questions as you like of your hosts and of the various merchants. Try using your French language skills – bad as they may be if you start off this way the French will engage and help the conversation along. You will be mesmerised by the passion they have for the food. Return to the apartment and prepare the meal lead by our Chef. Learn some special French technique, again ask questions – this is about your experience. The best bit now – we get to enjoy our meal.
You have worked hard! If we were in Spain it would be siesta time. We return to our Hotel on Le Metro where you are free until the evening where we are off to a different place for another experience. We meet in the foyer of the hotel for our next experience of Le Metro at 5:00pm.
We travel this time north to the 18th Arrondissement to our class. Here you will be treated to an exclusive experience of a meal prepared by a French Chef and wine served by our Sommilier. The meal will be cooked in front of you and you have exclusive access to ask as many questions as you like to understand the passion the chef has for what is being prepared. Your Sommilier will be at hand to match wine to the food, to give some explanation of the French wine regions and wine types. French wine is much more subtle than Australian wine. You will experience the delicate nuances of flavour on your palate and gain an understanding of how the terroir of the wine environment has a subtle effect on the vigneron’s art. Only too soon we are finished. We escape the washing up and return to our Hotel for a restful sleep in preparation for our next day as Parisians.
In the morning after breakfast we reunite with our Sommilier from last night. Today Le Metro is not our transport. Today we have exclusive use of a minivan. We are off to the Champagne region and the city of Reims with our own special expert for a day of “tasting” stars.
We take a Champagne day trip from Paris to discover the enchanting city of Reims famed for its world-class champagnes and impressive heritage. The day includes the wine tasting visits of champagne.
Our Sommelier will take you on a fun, informative day trip to two champagne houses and also take you to a traditional Brasserie for a delicious champagne lunch. You will visit two private cellars and learn all about champagne wine making and the history of the region.
Along with the traditional lunch you will also explore the Cathedral de Reims, one of the most famous gothic French Cathedrals where the kings of France were crowned. This monumental architecture is so elegant and luminous; you will understand why historians speak of "lace work in stone". You will also discover the extraordinary statues of the façade with the famous "The Laughing Angel".
Reims is the heart of the great champagne houses famously known throughout the world, and now the temple doors are open to you! Private tours of the champagne cellars are exceptional moments. You might hear about the history of the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, a monk of course - but oenologist above all! The history of this wine is an adventure, known since Roman times, promoted by the English fans of "Sparkling wines" and saved by the progress of the glass in the eighteenth century as the first bottles were exploding! You will hear these stories, while sampling some famous AOC wine of champagne, wine with bubbles that taste like stars.
We return to Paris. The evening is yours and Ann has some suggestions - you can choose to dine in a number of local establishments or explore Paris by night – or spend the night in...
After breakfast we take a walking tour through the Latin Quarter on the left bank. This is the location of the Sorbonne – the Paris University and is and has been the haunt of students, literary and artistic greats. We meet our guide and visit the local food market, a pâtisserie, a butcher with charcuterie, an olive oil merchant of note and a fromagerie (lots of lovely cheese). At each establishment we will collect some of the fare and share this in a local café for lunch. We will also visit the narrowest street in Paris and a famous book shop on the Left bank of the Seine. We return briefly to our hotel.
In the afternoon we are off to our chef in the 15th – for a dessert class. We learn the French art and precision of dessert making and with café – devour what we have made. Back via Le Metro to our Hotel for a siesta. We meet later in the evening of our hotel for a dinner in the local area. Now off to bed!
The morning and early afternoon are yours to explore Paris. Ann has a number of suggestions. Lunch is on you!
We meet again in the foyer of our Hotel. We are back on Le Metro to the 18th Arrondissement, not for cooking but for a walking tour of Montmartre. We visit Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, van Gogh’s House, Montmartre Vineyards, Place du Tertre, the famous windmills and the Montmarte cemetery.
We return briefly to our hotel and the in the evening via Le Metro for a trip to the Lido Cabaret where we will enjoy the famous show and enjoy dinner with Champagne – you can never have enough Champagne especially in Paris!
We travel back to our hotel. Now off to bed! We need to be up early the next morning. Too soon we leave Paris.
We breakfast early and leave the hotel for Gare de Lyon. We travel on the ultra-modern, ultra-fast TGV train to Lyon.
We arrive in Lyon at lunchtime and book into our hotel. We take a light lunch and meet our chef in Lyon. This afternoon guided by our Chef we visit the famous train tunnel where the French cheeses of Hervé MONS* are matured.
"When we are maturing a cheese, we are rearing it; we are leading it towards its second life. It requires delicate and appropriate care in relation to the family and the region the cheese belongs to; wood, straw, stone and soil are our allies. They help us maintain the various atmospheres of our cellars."
Hervé MONS is "Meilleur Ouvrier de France fromager". The cheese tunnel is located in Roanne, about 75 minutes from Lyon. Yes, they will let us taste the cheese!
We arrive back at our hotel and bid au revoir to our Chef until the morning.
After we freshen up we take a short stroll to a small street of Lyonnais Bistro where we will have dinner. Dinner is on you – so you can choose from the various delights. After dinner we stroll back to our hotel. We all need to be in bed early – we have a busy day tomorrow!
We breakfast early in time to meet with our Lyonnais Chef once more. We will spend the day with our Chef who will take us to see culinary delights in Lyon. First we visit the famous French Food Hall in Lyon – Les Halle de Paul Bocuse where our chef will guide us through the magic of the produce on display. Our Chef has worked with Paul Bocuse so knows the area. We will then travel back to his cooking school to meet with his wife and to cook. Our cooking class consists of:
- welcome with coffee, tea
- Chef introduces the recipes
- the group cooks a three course gastronomic menu (two dishes and dessert)
- lunch around the table with our Chef and his wife
- aperitif with “home-made feuilletés”, wines+ coffee/tea included
- each recipe will be given to each participant
- apron and towel are at your disposal
- flat or sparkling water during the class
We will eat the meal and discuss our day so far. We will head off on another visit - either to the Pastry of "Bernachon", the best pastry in Lyon (by the daughter of Paul Bocuse), one of the only pâtisserie that makes its own chocolate from cocoa beans. We may even get to taste some.
Alternatively we may visit the famous Guigal Vineyard in Ampuis, very famous for the "Cotes Roties" (Côte du Rhône) wines. It is located about 45 mins from the cooking school. You will taste some wines!
We return to our Hotel and bid farewell or perhaps au revoir to our Chef. The evening is yours – but do not be back too late – tomorrow we re-join the TGV for our trip south to the French Riviera, to Nice.
We must breakfast early in time to leave our hotel and travel to catch the TGV. We travel south and then along the French Riviera, to Nice. The city is called Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Niçard). Nice until relatively recently was part of Italy so has a mix of French and Italian culture and sun! You will need to get a bite to eat on the TGV – we arrive after lunch.
We check in to our hotel and freshen up for our cooking class in Nice. We travel to meet our Chef in Nice for an afternoon cooking class and dinner with the meal we have cooked. At this time the Chef does not have a set menu but will cook to the produce in season. This can be discussed and decided before our Tour of La Belle France commences.
We return to our hotel where the evening is yours to explore the open air restaurants and stroll along the edge of the Mediterranean on the Promenade des Anglais (‘the Walkway of the English'). The natural beauty of the Nice area and its mild Mediterranean climate came to the attention of the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century, when an increasing number of aristocratic families took to spending their winter there. The Promenade des Anglais owes its name to these earliest visitors.
Ann will provide a brief guide to the attractions before leaving you to your own interests. Please take note of the open air dining just behind the Promenade des Anglais as we visit the Cours Salaya for coffee. In the morning you will see this transformed!
We breakfast early in time to leave our hotel. We take a quick visit back to the open air dining area and see it has been transformed into a flower and produce market filled with spectacular offerings. We return to our hotel to be whisked away by minivan on our own "French Riviera Tour". We visit Cannes, the Beverly Hills of France, renowned for its film festival, its major designers, its prestigious hotels, and its sandy beaches. This is the French home of the Film Festival by the sea, where the famous Palm d’Or (French equivalent of the Oscar) is awarded in a glamorous annual pageant.
We travel via the coast through picture perfect seaside to the fortified town of Antibes. We can admire the gorgeous French Riviera marina and enjoy the view of the Bay of Angels from its fortification wall. Here we have time to visit the local market and fortifications against invasion from the sea.
We travel to Saint-Paul de Vence inland from the Mediterranean for you to explore. Soak in the jewel of Provence, where great painters and artists have stayed. Lunch is on you in the many cafes. Spend some time looking at the art in the shops. Recall that the clear air and soft light has been of particular appeal to some of Western culture's most outstanding painters, such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Arman. This tradition continues and you may find a future treasure in some of these corners of the town!
We leave Saint-Paul de Vence and travel to the ancient town of Eze perched on the cliffs above the Mediterranean. There is time to explore the unique shopping before we travel a short distance to the fragrance factory. We will have a personal tour and have an opportunity to purchase at factory prices. French perfume - oh la la!
We travel across the “border” into the Principality of Monaco, to Monte Carlo. Visit Monaco's Old Town, the cathedral, the course used for the Formula One Grand Prix, and the famous Place du Casino with its luxury boutiques. Here you will have some guidance from our driver but you will be free to explore. Visit the famous Casino; see the church where Grace Kelly was married.
We return to our hotel and change for dinner. This is regrettably our final night together.
We breakfast at our leisure, check out of our hotel and wish each other au revoir. Come back to us and see what we are doing next. Au revoir for now!