La Vendée is an amazingly beautiful and historic region of France, well-known to the French, but not to the rest of the world. Just south of Brittany and less than 3 hours west of Paris by high speed train, it is a region not to be missed! There are over 150 miles of coastline and white sand beaches with islands and picturesque villages scattered about. The charming port of Les Sables d’Olonne has a fabulous spa and a particularly wonderful restaurant, Fleurs de Thym, with delicious, inventive, and very reasonable food.
Highlights of your time at the privately owned Château de la Bijoire will include a cooking class and dinner with chef Lionel Guilbaud, a day at the J. Mourat Winery, visits to La Rochelle and the port of Les Sables d’Olonne. And, finally we will have an amazing day at the Logis and Jardin of Alain Durante and Marc Barbaud, former head gardener at the Elysée Presidential Palace in Paris.
- Arrival in La Roche-sur-Yon by TGV.
- Lunch at Chef Lionel Guilbaud’s restaurant, “Les P’tits Ventres de Terre”.
- Arrival at Chateau de la Bijoire mid-afternoon.
- Champagne Talk about La Vendée.
- Festive welcome dinner at “home” in the château.
- Morning visit to a prehistoric dolmen en route to the beach.
- Late morning walk or bike ride on the beach in Les Sables d’Olonne.
- Lunch at Fleurs de Thym.
- Afternoon in Les Sables d’Olonne.
- Dinner at “home”
- Full day at the J. Maurat winery.
- Breakfast followed by a tour of the vineyard and the winery.
- Wine tasting.
- Lunch paired with wines from the winery.
- Late afternoon cooking class with Chef Lionel Guilbaud at the Château de la Bijoire.
- Dinner with Chef Lionel Guilbaud at the château.
- Full day exploring La Rochelle.
- Dinner at “home”.
- Morning visit to the Logis de Chaligny, owned by Alain Durante and Marc Barbaud, former head gardener at the Elysée Palace in Paris.
- Coffee with the owners, Alain Durante and Marc Barbaud.
- Flower arranging course with Marc Barbaud.
- Apéritif and lunch with Alain and Marc in their lovely dining room.
- Digestive and promenade in the gardens of the Logis de Chaligny.
- Farewell gala dinner at “home” at the Château de la Bijoire.
- Return to the train station in La Roche-sur-Yon after breakfast for a train back to Paris
Accommodations & Cost:
Accommodations: Château de la Bijoire was built in the mid-19th century. It has been in family of Hugues de Bretagne continuously. Hugues, a prominent Parisian architect, and his wife Catherine have meticulously restored his family château. It has 12 bedrooms, each with a new “American bathroom”. There is a new, modern kitchen, perfect for preparing festive meals or having cooking classes. There is a swimming pool and an art studio, where Catherine de Bretagne, a Parisian painter and teacher from Les Beaux Arts, gives week-long painting classes.
Included in the cost: Five nights accommodations; all ground transportation; all meals including aperitifs and carefully selected regional wines, all classes, and all sightseeing and private visits as described above. Limited to 10 participants.
Not included in the Cost: Airfare; train fares; alcoholic beverages except as specified in the program.
Deposit: $1000.00 per person.
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