A Château Adventure in Normandy
with Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray
Château de Saint Paterne
Normandy, the land of Camembert, calvados, cider, and cream, with its villages of timbered houses and picture-perfect rolling hills, is among the richest and most beautiful countryside in France. With miles of coastline bordering the English Channel, Norman cuisine abounds with the delicacies of the sea. Dover sole is king, but monkfish, turbot, and flounder are plentiful, as are oysters, scallops, and mussels.
Come savor these splendors with us at the lovely, 15th, 16th, 17th century Château de Saint Paterne, once the love nest of Henry IV. Charles-Henry de Valbray, a young man of “infectious enthusiasm and exquisite taste,” and Ségolène, his lovely wife, have restored the family’s château with great care.
Tourte de Carottes
For six days and five nights, Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray will be our hosts as we visit farms and tiny villages, stopping to taste perfectly ripened Camembert and fresh cider made the traditional way. Our cooking classes will be in Charles-Henry and Ségolène’s delightful new kitchen in the château, where we will learn to prepare such delicacies as Tourte de carottes, Sole meunière, Souris d’agneau, and Tarte Tatin with Calvados. Our gastronomic exploration will be enhanced by visits to the Normandy Beaches and the American Cemetery, Saumur and a tour of medieval Le Mans. Cooking classes are limited to 10 participants.
• Afternoon rendezvous at the train station in Le Mans.
• Visit to the medieval town of LeMans with its celebrated cathedral and fortifications dating from the 3rd century.
• Aperitifs and festive welcome dinner at St. Paterne
• A full day on the Normandy coast.
• Morning visit to the Peace Memorial in Caen followed by a visit to the Normandy Beaches and the American Cemetery with an English-speaking guide.
• Lunch by the sea (not included).
• Dinner at “home” in our château.
St. Paterne Dining Room
• Morning cooking class at Château de Saint Paterne.
• Lunch at Château Saint Paterne.
• Free afternoon for relaxing, shopping or visiting the local town of Alençon.
• Dinner at “home” in our château.
• A day in the Loire Valley visiting a local winemaker with a visit and tasting in his cave.
• Lunch included (fixed menu) including wine.
• Free time for shopping or exploring the charming town and castle of Saumur.
• Dinner at “home” in our château.
St. Paterne Pintade à la Normandie
• A visit to a local bustling market and food shopping.
• Stroll through picturesque St. Ceneri le Gerei – listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
• Lunch in Saint Ceneri at a local auberge (not included).
• Cooking class at the Château.
• Elegant Farewell dinner at St. Paterne.
St. Paterne Breakfast
• Departure in the morning after breakfast.
• Transportation provided back to Le Mans (TGV station).
Accommodations & Cost
Trip Dates: Trip will begin on a Sunday and end on a Friday.
Accommodations: All participants stay at the Château de Saint Paterne, a beautifully restored 15th/16th/17th century château owned by Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray. Each room includes a private bathroom.
Included in the cost: 5 nights accommodations; all breakfasts (5); 2 lunches and 5 dinners, including aperitifs and carefully selected regional wines, soft drinks, etc.; 2 full cooking classes; and all sightseeing and private visits as described above.
Not Included in Cost: Train fare from Paris to Le Mans and return; alcoholic beverages except as specified in the program, and meals not specified.
Cost: $3790 per person, single supplement $500. Important note: substantial changes in the value of the dollar may require changes in the price of the tour.
Deposit: $1000. per person.
Register for this trip by contacting Patti Ravenscroft at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org — check-out the general information section about Les Liaisons Délicieuses trips — see what other travelers have to say — check for when this trip is scheduled or discuss a custom trip based on this itinerary.
A Sublime Sojourn in Morocco
with Patricia Ravenscroft
Morocco is a land of endless surprises. Stunningly beautiful blue skies, lush gardens, and intricately carved buildings sit amidst rustic dwellings and the bustling, simple daily life and rituals of the Moroccan people who are amazingly warm, intelligent, and a true pleasure to get to know.
We will begin our Moroccan adventure in Fes, an imperial city founded in the year 808, rich in history, culture, art, and architecture with an amazing continuing tradition of local craftsmanship. To fully appreciate the exotic and often breathtaking beauty of Morocco, we will stay at the Ryad Alkantara, which has recently been restored to its former glory. All rooms encircle the central terrace with a pool and a large garden which is filled with fragrant orange trees whose branches dance over the many lovely marble fountains. After exploring the city’s winding streets, we will savor mint tea in the balmy evening air, pungent with a host of magical scents. We will continue on to Marrakech, where we will stay in the palmerie at the luxurious Jnane Tamsna guesthouse with owners, Meryanne Loum Martin, a talented designer, and her husband, Gary Martin, a passionate ethnobotanist. Several days will also be spent in the old Portuguese port of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast.
Through a series of cooking classes we will be taught the authentic way to prepare the most delicious tagines, keftas, pastillas, and couscous. We will be introduced to the very best Islamic art and architecture by expert local guides, who will take us to palaces and gardens of striking beauty. And, of course, shoppers will delight in the open-air markets (souks) in the medina full of countless treasures at bargain prices!
Arrival at the Fes airport in the afternoon. Our chauffeur and guide Mohammed will drive us to our hotel in the medina, with a tour of the city, en route to the exquisite Ryad Alkantara. After settling into our rooms, we will be served tea in the beautiful courtyard garden. After tea our guide, Mohammed Bouftila will take us on an introductory walking tour of the medina, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. We will enjoy an aperitif in the garden with owner M. Saffar, who is from Fes and is a master plasterwork artisan as well as an Oxford educated intellectual. An early dinner on our candlelit terrace will follow.
A neighborhood market
After breakfast, our guide Mohammed will take us to all of the best addresses in the souk for carpets, leather goods, ceramics, embroidered linens, jewelry, copper and countless other treasures. Lunch will on the rooftop restaurant, La Medina. The afternoon is free to enjoy the pool, the hammam, or to treat yourself to a massage. For dinner we will enjoy musicians and delicious tagines at the Ryad La Maison Bleue.
Moroccan Bread Making
In the morning, Mohammed will continue showing us the treasures of this multifaceted imperial city. We will have lunch in the medina and return to our Ryad mid-afternoon. M. Saffir will show us all of his extensive property in the medina and he will personally demonstrate the art of intricate plaster carving. Our first cooking class will begin in the late afternoon with Fatima, who will teach us how to prepare her favorite local specialties. We will dine in the garden, feasting on our carefully prepared delicacies.
We will journey by train from Fes to Marrakech, arriving at the Jnane Tamsna in time for aperitifs and dinner in the garden. We will tour Gary Martin’s organic vegetable garden before dinner.
Food & Spice Market
After breakfast, we will visit the exquisite Majorelle gardens, restored by Yves St. Laurent, as well as other important monuments in Marrakech. We will lunch in the medina and after lunch will explore the food and spice markets in the souk. In the late afternoon, we will have our first cooking class with chef Baija which we will enjoy by candlelight in the garden.
Today we will spend the day in the desert at La Pause, a magical oasis in the Marrakechi Desert. We will arrive in time for a delicious lunch on one of the many terraces. After lunch we will have a camel ride or a nap in a hammock by the pool before returning home to Jnane Tamsna where we will dine simply under the stars.
Our final day in Marrakech will begin with a second cooking class with chef Baija followed by lunch in the garden. The afternoon is free to enjoy the pool or visit the souk with our guide for additional shopping. We will say goodbye to Marrakech at a gala dinner with Andalous musicians at Jnane Tamsna.
After breakfast, we will depart for the seaside town of Essaouira, an old Portuguese port. After checking into our hotel, another lovely Ryad, we will enjoy lunch at a restaurant on the beach. The afternoon is free to explore the old town, the port, to visit the many charming shops, or to have a camel ride on the beach. In the evening, we will dine at a wonderful new restaurant in the medina.
Fresh Mint at the Market
In the early morning, we will visit the vegetable, fish, and spice markets followed by a cooking class and lunch. Our chef will show us all the secrets of turning the freshest fish into the most delicious seafood tagines. The afternoon is free for shopping or an exciting dune buggy ride over the amazing sand dunes. Our farewell dinner tonight will be at a small romantic candlelit restaurant overlooking the beach.
In the morning , we will visit the Argon oil cooperative just outside of town. This cooperative and a few others like it, all run by women, support many divorced and widowed women who previously had no possibility of earning a living in Morocco. The oil itself has both medicinal and culinary uses. It is great for the skin and makes a delicious vinaigrette – two different preparations of the oil! After lunch overlooking the port, we will drive back to Marrakech and will spend our last night in the medina at the Maison Arabe. Costumes are welcome at our Gala Dinner in the exquisite interior garden by the pool.
Transportation will be provided to the airport in Marrakech after breakfast.
Accommodations & Cost
Accommodations: All bedrooms include a private bathroom and direct dial phone service.
Included in the cost: Ten nights accommodations; all ground transportation; all meals including aperitifs and carefully selected wines; all cooking classes; and all sightseeing and private visits as described above. Limited to sixteen people.
Not Included in Cost: Airfare to and from Morocco; alcoholic beverages except as specified in the program.
Cost: $7,790.00 per person, double occupancy, with a single supplement of $1,200. Important note: substantial changes in the value of the dollar may require changes in the price of the tour.
Deposit: $1500.00 per person.
Register for this trip — check-out the general information section about Les Liaisons Délicieuses trips — see what other travelers have to say — check for when this trip is scheduled or discuss a custom trip based on this itinerary.
Savoring the Flavors of the French and Italian Riviera
with Patricia Ravenscroft
Preparing borage and spinach ravioli
Imagine immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, aromas and tastes of the French (Cote d’Azur) and Italian (Riviera Dei Fiori) Riviera, the heart of the Mediterranean at its very best. Unlike any other earthly paradise, the Riviera is filled with abundant sunshine, soft, refreshing breezes, exquisite gardens and dramatically perched villages overlooking the brilliant blue Mediterranean sea. The food is heavenly as well. The Ligurians and the Niçois devour the lightest ravioli, gnocchi, and fettucine dressed with pesto, a creamy gorgonzola sauce, or often simply with a perfectly ripe fresh tomato sauce. The region is rich in fruits and vegetables, including delicious peaches, pears, figs, artichokes, wild greens, olives, fava beans and tomatoes. The citrus fruits grown around Menton are legendary and basil is the region’s heraldic leaf, with sage and borage close behind. And, of course, the Riviera is known for its succulent, fresh crustaceans and fish, notably langoustine, dorade, loup, sardines, calamari and shrimp. (more…)