Friday, September 30, 2016

Group Events with Space Available in October


 A free financial forum for expats will be held at Chateau La Coste, the very-unique, very-beautiful wine domaine not far from Aix. 


Two scenes from the market in Aix. Join a local chef/cooking instructor for an insiders' tour.


The Luberon village of Gordes at sunrise. Ok, so you won't see the sunrise on the Luberon Foodie Bike Tour...but you'll see tons of other gorgeous scenery...and taste some terrific artisan foods.


On Sunday Oct 9, there's a charity lunch and yard sale in St. Remy to benefit the Busoga Trust, which builds wells (like this one) in Uganda.



In an 18th-centry farmhouse in Tarascon, join an Oct 15 small-group cooking class followed by dinner.


In legendary Chateauneuf-du-Pape, learn about the local wines in this cellar dating from the 12th and 13th centuries....then enjoy lunch prepared by a top local chef. 


Two spots remain in a writers retreat taking place at Julia Child's former house in Provence. The dates are Oct 16 to 23.


Rosé wines and goat cheese: two of the four food groups in Provence! You'll enjoy both on the Foodie Tuesday walking tour in St. Remy, October 18 or 25.




In Uzes, who could resist a market-shopping trip with the chef, followed by a cooking class and lunch?


If you’ll be in Provence in October...or are still mulling on a trip...here are some special group activities (market tours, cooking classes, wine tastings, a writers’ retreat, a luncheon for a great cause and more) that still have space available. Joining a group gives you access to activities you might not be able to enjoy otherwise. Plus, you'll almost certainly pay less than you would if going it alone. And sometimes a group is just more fun, right? I also stuck in one free event (on Oct 6) that will interest foreigners already living part or full time in France...and those of you considering it. All of the events below are in English...I hope you find something you'd love to do!

Thursday Oct 6: La Tour de Finance, a free financial forum for expats, will be held at the gorgeous winery Château La Coste, in Le Puy Sainte-Réparade, ten minutes north of Aix. From 9:30 am to about 2 pm, five presentations will tackle how to make the most of your assets in France, international payments, mortgages, pensions, taxes and wealth management. The forum brings together key players who assist expats settling or already living here…and provides a nice opportunity to socialize and share your experiences with others. There will be a free buffet lunch and plenty of time for questions. The Tour de Finance is sponsored by Currencies Direct (FX currency brokers) and Spectrum (independent financial advisors), but they’ve promised me it’s not designed to overtly promote either company. Walk-ins will be welcome but reservations are appreciated. To book or for questions, click here or email: sam.h@currenciesdirect.com. *Note: If you’ve never visited the 600-acre wine domaine Chateau La Coste, definitely plan to walk the grounds; see the privately commissioned collection of sculpture and architectural works; and perhaps even take a peek at the brand-new hotel Villa la Coste, with 12 of 25 suites now finished. Tickets for the art and architecture walk can be purchased on site. 

Thursday Oct 6, Tuesday Oct 11 or Wednesday Oct 12. A Luberon Foodie Bike Tour! Choose your bike--road bike, hybrid or electric bike--and then off you go on a glorious full-day adventure in the Luberon. Depending on the day of the week, your route 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 confiture, the winery made famous in Peter Mayle's movie A Good Year and a tasting of truffle products. (Turns out our English-speaking bike guide is a chef too, with 20 years experience working in Provence and a Michelin star for pastry on his CV. So ask all the questions you like: he knows everything about the local foods!) 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. Taste wonderful artisan foods, go at whatever pace feels perfect to you and enjoy perfect fall biking weather. 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. Price: Cost: 175€ per person. Price includes bike rental, helmets, market tastings, artisanal visits and tastings, restaurant lunch and any museum entry fees. To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

Friday Oct 7 or Friday Oct 14: Join this popular morning walking tour to discover the hidden corners and wonderful food merchants of Aix. En route, you’ll learn a bit of history and find out what gives Aix its special personality. Plus, your charming guide, a local chef/cooking instructor, will also discuss the French way of life and art de vivre, bien sur! Indian Summer will be in full swing so the markets will be overflowing with late-harvest heirloom tomatoes and the sweetest Muscat grapes, for example. This 2.5-hour tour includes all tastings at historic food merchants and in the market, a stop for coffee, a cheese and wine tasting as well as seasonal recipes, a map and restaurant suggestions which are handed out at the end. Eight participants max. Price: 65€ per person. To book: juliemautner@aol.com. 

Sunday Oct 9: Lucy Bakr holds regular fundraising events in Provence for the Busoga Trust, a UK-based charity building wells in rural Uganda, providing clean water for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Lucy’s next event is an all-day yard sale/brocante from 10 am to 4 pm, with a homemade lunch for anyone who wants to join in at 12:30. She hasn’t chosen the menu yet but her meals are always simple, colorful and delicious. Over the years I’ve made some great new friends at Lucy’s table. Lunch costs 20€ per person; all revenues from the sale, raffle and lunch go to Busoga Trust. For the yard sale, just show up at 1 ave. Baltus in St. Remy. To reserve your place for lunch—or to donate something for the sale-- email: lucydavid@bakr.fr. 

Saturday Oct 15. Meet in Châteauneuf-du-Pape at noon for an introduction to the wines of the region with a master sommelier. It's held in a vaulted cellar dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, located at the top of the village, right by the church...in a magical, candle-lit space that once stored wines for the Popes when they were based in Avignon. Your host is a charming raconteur who speaks terrific English…and he loves to make the wines come alive with tasting tips and tales about the personalities behind each domaine. The tasting is followed by lunch, prepared by one of the top chefs in the region. The lunch ends around 2:45 pm and the package costs 100 € per person. The vibe is good fun...not serious! If you need transport, I’m happy to try to arrange it for you. To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

Saturday Oct 15. In Tarascon, 15 minutes west of St. Remy, a small group will gather at 5 pm for a cooking class followed by dinner with wine in a beautifully restored 18th-century mas (farmhouse). If you wish, you can meet at the Hotel Gounod in St. Remy at 4:45 pm and follow the others to Tarascon. The evening ends at roughly 9:30 pm and the class/dinner costs 120€ per person. If you need transport, I’m happy to try to arrange it for you. To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

Sunday Oct 16 to Sunday Oct 23. Due to a cancellation, there are two spots left in this food-writing retreat, to be held at Julia Child's old farmhouse, between Valbonne and Grasse, 30 km from the Nice Airport. Your instructor will be Betsy Andrews (poet, writing teacher, former executive editor at Saveur and current editor-at-large at Organic Life). Price: $2550 per person includes instruction, mentoring, housing and all meals except two dinners. To learn more about the workshop, click here or inquire directly to: nicole@cooknscribble.com. For more about the house and its new owners, see my recent story here. Food writer Julia Moskin recently spent a week cooking in the house and wrote about it for the New York Times here.

Tuesday Oct 18 or Tuesday Oct 25
. Foodie Tuesday! St. Remy is filled with artisanal 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. Rendezvous 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. Then we'll move on to a cheese tasting, enjoyed with a glass of one of one of our favorite local wines.  Along the way you'll get a taste of the rich history of this cobblestoned village ...and a glimpse into real local life from your charming and knowledgeable guide. The tour ends around 12:30 and we'll happily recommend a restaurant for lunch. Price: 70€ 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! To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

Wednesday Oct 19 or Wednesday Oct 26.  This popular cooking school in the beautiful village of Uzès has a few spaces available in their “French Market Class.” The day starts at the glorious outdoor market, with the chef as your guide. Learn to select seasonal produce, enjoy chatting with local producers and be part the atmosphere of a typical French market. Back at the school, you’ll create a three-course menu with the chef’s guidance and instruction. Wine and cheese will round out the meal...and a perfect day in Uzès. Price: 150€ per person. To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

Sunday Oct 23 and Sunday Nov 6. Popular cooking classes in English are offered at the Les Halles indoor food market in Avignon, by an American chef with 20 years of experience cooking in some of the finest restaurants and hotels in Provence. Class starts at 9:30 am when you'll shop the market with the chef and buy the ingredients for the menu, always based around Provencale dishes but with lots of improv. Around 10:30 am, you'll start preparing the appetizer, main course and dessert. At noon, you'll be ready for a nice glass of local wine, followed by lunch...the meal you've prepared, of course! The class ends around 1:30 or when the market shuts down shortly thereafter. Price: The market tour, class, meal and wine  is 100€per person. To book: juliemautner@aol.com.

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