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Gascony, France - a FOodie's Paradise
Gascony Gascony Gascony Gascony

May 7th - 13th, 2017

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Southwest France is a foodie's paradise and the specialties of the region will speak to your palette like no other. Duck confit, prunes, Amagnac, fois gras, are just a few of the regional specialties that we will indulge in. Gascony is ancient and seems to have no boundaries, but most consider it to be roughly bordered by the Garonne River, which arrives from the Pyrenees and runs northwest through Toulouse and Bordeaux before splashing into the Atlantic. It is also the area where pilgrims wondered on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The food, the drink, the agriculture and the people will capture your hearts.

Kate Hill founded Camont as a cooking school and retreat in 1991, where we will have our cooking classes. We will meet her favorite vendors at the weekly markets before our cooking classes, followed by feasting on all the seasonal and local foods we have prepared. Our cooking classes will use classic French techniques, creating exemplary seasonal menus that define Terroir in the cooking of Southwestern France.

Château de Mazelières is a 17th Century castle, built in the land of Gascony. It lays in the centre of a historical region, only 10km from Nerac, where we will enjoy our visit and stay in the castle of King Henri IV of Navarre. Nestled in the heart of the vineyards of Buzet, on the edge of the land of Armagnac, the Castle offers appellation Buzet "Chateau de Mazelieres" as one of its most prestigious wines, and one of my favorite wines each year!


Sunday, May 7th Arrive in Agen and be picked up by our driver and taken to Chateau Mazeliere near Nerac. The Chateau is beautiful and nestled in the heart of the vineyards and surrounded by gardens that match the beauty of the Chateau. The tension of travel will melt away as the food and great wine soak in. We will dine at the Chateau this first night in the lovely dining room that has history galore. We will enjoy our first of many meals featuring the fresh local ingredients that make Gascony a culinary dream and delicious local wines to pair with our feast.

Monday, May 8th The Kitchen at Camont, Kate Hills Stone Farm kitchen near St. Colombe will be our first Cooking Class in Gascony. Our class will feature the local foods from farmers and market vendors that Kate has worked with for years. Our lunch will be feasting on all the delicious menu items we have prepared and shared on the beautiful garden patio. This evening our dinner will be at one of Kate's favorite local restaurants L'Art de Vivre, in our local village of Nerac with a great young Chef.

Tuesday, May 9th Our morning starts with the hustle and bustle of the morning market in Lavardac. There we will meet Dominique Chapolard in his red beret, at his market stall, selling the fresh farm raised meats that we will be cooking with this week. We will meet the local farmers and vendors and gather fresh ingredients for a class at Camont today. We will feast on the “Retour de la Marche” menu. After the feast of the morsels we have prepared we can stroll through a local village or on the grounds of the Chateau with a wine tasting to send you off for the night.


Wednesday, May 10th Since Armagnac is another astonishing product of the region we will travel to Fources, known to be one of the most beautiful villages in France as well as famous for it's Armagnac. Armagnac tasting with lunch will be a highlight today. We will have a lesson in proper tasting so we will be qualified tasters too. After a visit to one of the special confiture and marmalade producers, we will enjoy the lure of a few historic villages in the afternoon. Dinner will be a Gascon Cuisine meal featuring the best of the best of local foods. Prunes are a major crop of the region and farmed then prepared with pride. It is amazing how succulent they are and the chef's of the region create the most scrumptious dishes with these plump treats. Dinner after shopping in one of our favorite villages.

Thursday, May 11th Today we will visit Lectoure and its weekly market and enjoy a chocolate demonstration and tasting from one of the regions most respectable chocolatiers. Lunch will follow for those not too full of the chocolates of their choice. Lectoure is also famous for Les Bleus de Pastel preserving, an ancient art of preparing Woad for dye. Woad was known throughout Europe as far back as the Egyptians, who used it to dye the cloth wrappings used for the mummies. In the Middle-Age, it was used for its medicinal and healing properties, according to the archives of the city of Marseille. A regional dinner and wine tasting at the Chateau tonight.

Friday, May 12th Foie gras and farm fresh goat cheese will be our interest today. There's no avoiding foie gras in Gascony and we will get a chance to see the age old methods used to produce this delicacy as well as visiting our favorite dairy and creamery that supplies us with our fresh daily goat cheese. Dinner will be at a fabulous 1 star Michelin restaurant, Auberge Le Prieure in Morax, a village perched on a hilltop with a view forever. We will be surrounded by the food, the drink, the agriculture and the history from the middle ages and it will capture your interest as we move from village to village.

Saturday, May 13th The end of our trip this morning can take you to the Train station in Agen to return home or with options like:

  • A visit to the famous Art Museum in Agen before parting
  • A few extra days in Gascony riding bikes or boating on the canals
  • Train to Toulouse a historic city not to be missed) then on to Paris
  • Train to Bourdeaux to enjoy the wines that have such a great reputation, then on to Paris
  • South to Barcelona and a taste of Spain
  • There are easy flights out of Toulouse to go north and south if the train is not your first choice.

Booking Conditions

  • We invite you to join us, and invite your best friend or partner.
  • We will be a small group of no more than 10, so early sign up is suggested.
  • Since it is a Chateau all rooms are varied. Room styles are given on a first sign up preference.
  • Due to unforeseeable circumstances, it may sometimes be necessary to alter the scheduled activities or itinerary. All efforts will be made to keep any changes to a minimum and, where they are necessary, or to make alternative arrangements which are of an equally high quality.
  • The Savory Spoon Cooking School, Janice Thomas and Kate Hill are not responsible for any injury, loss or damage to person or property while guests are in route to and from or while on this culinary trip or participating in any of our activities.
  • Bring comfortable shoes since we will be walking in ancient villages and an umbrella since it is Spring.
  • Dress is smart casual and a dress for the farewell dinner if you wish.

$500 deposit will be required by December 30th to reserve your place (sign up early to confirm)
Balance of $4,495 due by February 5th, 2017
$500 single supplement

Download the application form here (pdf)

Price includes:

  • 6 nights at the Chateau Mazelieres.
  • All meals with the group.
  • Delicious breakfasts daily.
  • Cooking classes and all ground transportation.
  • Airfare not included.
  • Sign up early. Maximum of 10 guests.
  • $500 deposit is required to confirm your place on this trip.
  • $500 single supplement .
  • Balance of $4,495 due by February 5th, 2017.

Cancellation Policy

  • Refund considered only if we can fill your place

We highly recommend Travel Insurance, which is valuable planning. Ask your travel agent when planning your flight:

  • MedJet Assist: MedjetAssist is a membership program that arranges air-medical transport to the member's hospital of choice within their home country.

Checks written to Savory Spoon Cooking School

Send your deposit checks to:
Savory Spoon Cooking School
1822 Highview Road
Ellison Bay, WI. 54210

All questions will be answered at

Janice ThomasJanice Thomas

Janice owns the Savory Spoon Cooking School in Ellison Bay WI, established in 2004, and is known for her personal approach to cooking, creating memories with every recipe. She is the primary cooking instructor at the Savory Spoon and a Culinary Guide in Mexico, France, Italy and China. Traveling with her students gives her creative and imaginative cultural ideas to share with her students year after year. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Women Chefs of America and has over 25 years of experience in the culinary world. Janice invites you to join her and indulge yourself in an unforgettable experience.


Kate Hill

Kate Hill, author and professional cook of 30 years, founded Camont as a cooking school and retreat in 1991, after moving to the fruitful area of France called Gascony. Kate is a mentor, coach and teacher willing to share her passion for growing and buying seasonally food from local farmers to make great Gascon food at her old stone farm. We will indulge ourselves at cooking classes with Kate at her school and learn the inside stories of her love affair with Gascony.

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