2022 Excited About Food – in Occitanie!

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September 10-18, 2022

A Culinary Adventure on the Mediterranean Coast

Award winning cookbook author Cheryl Alters Jamison shares her passion for food, wine and the south of France with other food lovers.

Hosted by four-time James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook author, Cheryl is a lifelong Francophile. She made her first trip to France nearly five decades ago, in college, and has spent as much time as she could there. Her twenty cookbooks, many written with her late husband Bill—including Smoke & Spice, American Home Cooking, and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining—have been widely recognized as standard setters, and have sold some 2 million copies. For a decade, she led culinary adventure groups to the Dordogne. After a few years’ hiatus, she has decided it’s time again to share her love of the country’s South with other food- and wine-obsessed travelers, by pairing up with Absolutely Southern France.

Saturday, September 10: Welcome to Occitanie !

Your culinary adventure in the south of France begins with airport and train station transfers from Montpellier to settle into your vacation home away from home in family run Demeure Térisse **** in the historical center of quaint Marseillan village. Meet and greet with your host Cheryl Alters Jamison and fellow food lovers at a wine pairing and French food experience.

Meals included : Welcome buffet dinner at your residence

Sunday, September 11 : Carcassone and Limoux

Wear comfortable walking shoes today for your guided walking tour of Unesco Heritage medieval walled city of Carcassonne. After your Cassoulet lunch, another ancient treasure awaits you in the Abbey where the ancestor of champagne first appeared made by benedictine monks in Limoux. On return to your residence, a “do it yourself” workshop with plants from the “garrigue” will be offered.

Meals included : Lunch and dinner

Monday, September 12 : Bouzigues and Marseillan

The Art of Eating an Oyster. Learn about the unique and ancestral farming method, on a catamaran outing to oyster beds on a lagoon. The oyster farm tour will be followed by an oyster and seafood feast pefectly paired with the Languedoc’s Picpoul de Pinet.

After lunch, a surprise stop will be made for a regional culinary delight. On your return to Marseillan, you will be greeted by a cocktail master for a vermouth based cocktail workshop in the “room of secrets” at renowned Noilly Prat. Founded in 1813, their vermouth is an outstanding wine which is macerated with a rich assortment of herbs and spices. Dinner will be on the harbourfront in Marseillan.

Tuesday, September 13 : Combaillaux and Montpellier

Travelling on countryside roads in September in the south of France can offer quite a spectacle with the odd looking contraptions at work during the grape harvest and olive picking. You’ll be able to join in the fun on a tractor ride in olive groves followed by a tasting at Domaine Oulivie.

Off to Montpellier’s historical center on a walking tour through 1000 years of history in the medieval streets in France’s largest pedestrian district to admire the Arch of Triumph, courtyards of private mansions, and more. Lunch will be in Montpellier’s historical district followed by time off to shop. We’ll take you to a hardware store which dates back to 1896 where a treasure trove of quality French kitchen items and accessories can be found. As you will be put to hard work on your return to Marseillan to prepare your dinner with Cheryl, you may join her on the shopping spree at the Monoprix upmarket grocery store in center town. A stop will also be made at the best Farm2table butcher shop in town.

Cheryl has concocted a menu of fabulous seasonal and local food items which you will be preparing with her to later feast upon for dinner.

Wednesday, September 14 : Sète

Sète is considered as the culinary capital of the south of France having no less than 9 speciality dishes. On your visit to the street market as well as the indoor farmer’s market, you’ll be overwhelmed by the senses and flavours of this authentic fishing town. After shopping at the market for your afternoon cooking session, you will be taken to meet Francois on his tuna fishing boat for a picnic lunch with local delicacies.

Before heading back to Marseillan, you will get an exclusive visit to the kitchens of the chef who makes the best octopus pie in town. The “tielle” is the most famous local specialty, with a recipe which generations of a family have transmitted since the 19th century.

Dinner will be a seafood feast at your residence.

Thursday, September 15 : Roquefort, St Guilhelm du Dessert & Caux 

Enjoy the drive through the countryside to the village of Roquefort to visit the cellars where all of the Roquefort from the entire world is produced. Your guided tour will end with a tasting of their range of products from the mild to the premium “moulds”. You might want to bring along something to cover up today. The temperature in the caves is a constant 18 degrees C ( 64 degrees F).

Your tour will be followed by lunch in the tiny illage which has only 4 restaurants where you will be able to further indulge in cheese based dishes if you wish.

After lunch, you’ll get a special treat – a combination of science, luxury and excellence à la francaise with a tou and tasting to meet passionate experts making caviar at Chateau Castiollone hatchery near St Guilhelm du Dessert.

Occitanie is the the largest organic wine producing region in Europe and September is the harvest. You’ll be taken to one of the most prestigious wineries of the region Chateau Paul Mas.

The story began in 1892 with  17 hectares of family land. The vines are grown using sustainable viticultural practices, certified Terra Vitis and organic. They  carefully follow the basic principles of biodynamic wine production.  A combination of hand and machine harvesting is used. Château Paul Mas hosts collections designed by unbelievable talented local and national artists and craftspeople: wood workers, mosaicists, textile artists, watchmakers, painters, interior decorators, and so on. These beautiful works of art are a key part of the setting in which visitors can discover our gastronomic treasures and wine tourism. The wines are made and aged in cement or stainless steel tanks or in small oak barrels as well as standard size French or American oak barrels.After the tour of the facilities and a tasting, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy a three course dinner at their restaurant overlooking the vineyards.

Friday, September 16 : Camargue & Aigues Mortes

An adventure-filled morning awaits as we go on a 4×4 Safari into the heart of the Camargue. Learn about this natural wonder and UNESCO protected site, famous for its pink flamingos, white horses, black bulls and salt flats. Afterwards lunch will be at Le Dit Vin in  13th century walled town of Aigues Mortes that sits at the entrance of the Camargue. You’ll have time to shop for the famous red rice of Camargues in this  ancient town where we can imagine Crusaders departing from here to the sea which once reached this spot. You will end the day with a guided mini-train tour through the rose- colored salt marshes and learn how the famous “fleur de sel” is harvested by hand, as it has been for centuries.

A French celebration will be in store on return in Marseillan for your cooking fun.

Saturday, September 17 : Uzès and Pont du Gard

This will be a fun and busy day starting in the popular medieval town of Uzès. You’ll be enchanted by the mase of small streets and the shaded plazas, quaint shops and views of the Place du Duché. The timing will be perfect to shop for souvenirs and gift items such as pottery made in the neighboring town called St Quentin la Poterie as it will be market day! Uzès is considered as being the most beautiful and popular market in Provence. After lunch on the central square chez Terroire, you’ll be drawn back in time at your next stop. The Pont du Gard is  a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited ancient monument in France. You will discover the well-preserved Roman aqueduct and cannot miss the photo op in front of the 1000 year old olive tree.

Your farewell gourmet dinner will be at the refined Table d’Emilie in a classified historical building .

Sunday, September 18 : Au revoir !

Time to bid farewell and take home unforgettable memories. Transfer to Montpellier airport or high speed train station provided.

 

About Cheryl

A four-time James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook author, Cheryl is a lifelong Francophile. She made her first trip to France nearly five decades ago, in college, and has spent as much time as she could there, as well as in the French Caribbean. Cheryl has taught cooking classes in venues across the United States, as well as appeared numerous times on the Food Network, NBC’s Today Show, and on other television internationally, from China to the UK. She’s the former culinary editor of New Mexico magazine and host of a weekly food radio show and podcast, Heating It Up. Her twenty cookbooks, many written with her late husband Bill—including Smoke & Spice, American Home Cooking, and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining—have been widely recognized as standard setters, and have sold some 2 million copies. For a decade, she led culinary adventure groups to the Dordogne. After a few years’ hiatus, she has decided it’s time again to share her love of the country’s South with other food- and wine-obsessed travelers, by pairing up with Absolutely Southern France. She lives just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico with a small flock of hens with outsize personalities. Find out more about Cheryl at her website, excitedaboutfood.com. Cheryl is also a guest contributio to our blog page. Read here what she has to say about her passion for the south of France.  

 

 

Deposit

To secure a place on our tour, we ask that you fill in our reservation form, which indicates that your deposit of 30% will be required when it is clear the tour will proceed as planned. The balance will be due 2 months prior to the tour. If travel restrictions are re-introduced in France, the payment(s) will be applied toward a rescheduled tour, in September 2023.

Included

All meals with wine included.
Local tour leader throughout your stay.

Not included 

Roundtrip airfare to France, Train to the South of France, Any Spa Treatments desired, Any personal souvenirs or purchases, Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals, Travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).

Terms and Conditions

If insufficient numbers of participants or in the event of conditions deemed unsafe for our clients, the tour may be cancelled or postponed. 

Cancellation Policy

This is a package tour and non-refundable with no refunds even in case of injury or illness or personal emergency. Cancellation must be notified by email to nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com.

Payment

We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Arrival and Departure

You will be welcomed on arrival by Cheryl followed by welcome cocktail and buffet on September 10th. Your airport or train station transfers to your accommodation on day of arrival and departure from Montpellier are included.

What to Pack

Please wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be at times walking on cobblestones and uneven sidewalks, sometimes for more than an hour.

Physical Requirements

Our tour is “physically active.” You may be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. That means if you need help climbing in a tour bus or if you are winded after walking 50 feet, you will want to explore other tour options.

Accommodation

You are staying in a fully private boutique residence in the center of a historical village. Temperatures should be pleasant. We expect clear sunny skies with average daytime temperatures between 22C / 72F and overnight lows of 15C / 57F.

Transportation

You will be travelling in a comfortable air- conditioned coach driven by a professional driver as well as in safari jeeps driven by guides who are also professional drivers.

Additional Services

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France is happy to assist with roommate matching as well as pre and post tour travel planning.

CONTACT US

To reserve your spot or request additional information,  please fill out the form below. Nancy will then contact you to discuss the tour details and arrange your booking.

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Tour Details

Dates: September 10-18, 2022
Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Cost: 4225 € single occupancy * consult us for double occupancy rate
Participants: 10 participants

Tour HIGHLIGHTS

  • 3 hands-on cooking workshops with Cheryl Jamison 4-time James Beard award winning cookbook author
  • Oyster farm tour in catamaran, fish market, Roquefort cellars,  wineries
  • Cocktail workshop
  • Camargue safari
  • Tractor ride in olive grove
  • Sightseeing: Uzès, Pont du Gard, St Quentin la Poterie, Sète, Montpellier, Aigues Mortes, Camargue
  • Cathar country and Carcassonne walled city Unesco heritage site
  • Caviar tasting at fishery
  • Roquefort caves tour

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