Excited about Food in Occitanie – 2023 edition

September 2 – 10, 2023

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 2, 2023 : 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 for a sommelier wine pairing   and French food experience.

Sunday, September 3: Carcassonne & Minerve

Wear comfortable walking shoes today for your guided walking tour of Unesco Heritage medieval walled city of Carcassonne. After your Cassoulet lunch, on your way back to your demeure in Marseillan, you’ll make a stop for a refreshment in Minerve,  which is qualified as one of the    “plus beaux villages ” (most beautiful villages) of France.   Back in Marseillan, you’ll join the locals for french style tapas at the wine bar next door.

Monday, September 4 : Mèze, Bouziques and Marseillan 

There is an art to eating an oyster. You’ll learn all about the unique and ancestral farming method  on your catamarn outing  on the Thau lagoon.   . The oyster farm tour will be followed by an oyster and seafood feast perfectly paired with the Languedoc’s Picpoul de Pinet.  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.  A French celebration will be in store  for your first your cooking fun with Cheryl.

Tuesday, September 5 :  Montpellier

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.  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,  a stop will also be made at the historic Halles Castellane to admire the local produce and buzzy atmosphere.  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 6 : Sète & the Med

Sète is considered as the culinary capital of the south of France having no less than 9 speciality dishes. You can’t leave Sète without having a  “tielle” which is the most famous local specialty, with a recipe which generations of a family have transmitted since the 19th century . Then off for a stoll at the indoor and outdoor farmer’s market . You’ll be overwhelmed by the senses and flavours of this authentic fishing town and as a special bonus, it will be the big market day where you’ll have free time to shop.  After the busy morning, you’ll love taking your shoes off while having lunch with your feet in the sand at the Ola Beach.   Dinner will be a seafood feast concocted at your residence.

Thursday, September 7 : Roquefort, St Guilhelm du Dessert & Couvertoirade & 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 Couvertoirade, a 12th century knights templar village in a charming Auberge where you will be able to further indulge in cheese based dishes. After lunch, off for a special treat! A combination of science, luxury and excellence à la francaise with a private and exclusive tour and tasting to meet passionate experts making caviar at Chateau Castiollone hatchery near St Guilhelm du Dessert. Occitanie is the largest organic wine producing region in Europe. You’ll be taken to one of the finest estatates of the region to Domaine Paul Mas. Since 1892, they have been producing utltiple award winning cuvées following the principles of bio-dynamic wine making. After this full day of tasting and discovering secret gems of the region, you’ll have your evening off to further explore Marseillan and have dinner at leisure.

Friday, September 8 : Camargue & Aigues Mortes

An adventure-filled morning awaits as you’ll  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 Camarague. 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.  Dinner will be in the quirky, cosy relaxed  Delicatessen restaurant serving authentic homemade dishes in a lovely tree covered square in Marseillan.

Saturday, September 9 : Uzès and Pont du Gard

This will be a fun and busy day starting in the popular medieval town of Uzès where Cheryl’s dear friend American Deborah Bine aka “Barfefoot Blogger” will take you to discover her “home away from home” 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 at Debbie’s favorite haunt Midi à L’ombre, 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. On your final evening, time for a champagne toast at the villa followed by dinner at the Tarbouriech Folie, featuring fresh and regional products highlighted, some products even from the vegetable garden. You will succumb to the charm of the old and the refinement of this iyllic countryside setting.

Sunday, September 10 : Au revoir !

Time to bid farewell and take home unforgettable memories. Transfer to Montpellier airport, Montpellier St Roch station and  Sète train station is provided.



About Cheryl Alters Jamison

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 & SpiceAmerican 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 contributor to our blog page. Read here what she has to say about her passion for the south of France.


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.


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 register for the tour  or in the event of conditions deemed unsafe for our clients, the tour may be cancelled or postponed. If you get sick from Covid or any other disease, before the trip departs or during it you will need to have your own medical and trip cancellation insurance to cover any costs incurred. 

 While we endeavor to operate all trips as described,  we reserve the right to change the trip itinerary owing to circumstances beyond our control or for more interesting and exciting opportunities Any changes will be of similar or superior quality and  content.

Cancellation Policy

This is a package group  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.


We accept all credit cards including AMEX.

Travel with insurance – and rest assured 

Check out  SquareMouth, insurance specialists that compare coverage, including Covid, from 19 reputable providers. Just select what best suits you (Covid-19 cancellation,  Covid-19 medical, cancellation, interruption, medical evacuation…) . Prices are reasonable and well worth it for a stress free trip.

Arrival and Departure

You will be welcomed on arrival by Cheryl at a welcome cocktail and buffet on September 2. Your airport or train station transfers to your accommodation on the first day and last day of the tour are included. (Montpellier airport, Montpellier St Roch train station, Sète train station)

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 an hour , 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, Nancy has other tours for you to join. 


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.


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.




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 2 – 10, 2023
Duration: 8 nights, 9 days
Cost: 4875 euros in single / 4375 euros in twin
Participants: 10


  • 3 hands-on cooking workshops with Cheryl Jamison 4-time James Beard award winning cookbook author
  • Oyster farm tour in catamaran
  • Winery tour
  • Cocktail workshop
  • Camargue safari
  • Sightseeing to Uzès, Pont du Gard, Sète, Montpellier, Aigues Mortes, Camargue, Carcassonne, Minerve, Sète
  • Caviar tasting at hatchery
  • Roquefort caves tour