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Gascony, France - a FOodie's Paradise
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May 14-20th, 2018

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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!


We suggest that you arrive in Bordeaux on Sunday May 13th so you can adjust to the European time and feel fresh for our week together. Our group will depart the Hotel Intercontinental Le Grand in Bordeaux on May 14th at 3:00 P.M. in the lobby.

Monday, May 14th Plan lunch in Bordeaux with Janice who will meet you in the lobby at the Hotel Intercontinental Le Grand in Bordeaux at 12 noon. After lunch, our driver will take us 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.

Tuesday, May 15th Our morning will feature a tour and overview of the Chateau wines with our Chateau winemaker. We will enjoy a gastronomic picnic lunch with wine near Larrissingle one of the many picturesque villages in our area. 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 its Armagnac. We will also have a special Armagnac tasting and a lesson in the proper tasting methods so we will be qualified tasters. Returning to the Chateau after our special tasting we can relax and then have aperitifs in the Orangerie. This evening our dinner will be at one of our local favorite restaurants, L'Art de Vivre, in our local village of Nerac with a great young Chef.

Wednesday, May 16th 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. Our morning starts with the hustle and bustle of the morning market in Lavardac. 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. We will move into the evening with a Cooking Class, aperitifs and a lovely garden supper at Camont.

Thursday, May 17th Our morning will be to stroll and enjoy the magic of Agen, a great pedestrian shopping street, market and historic church will keep you charmed this morning. Join me at my favorite cheese shop that supplies us with some of our fresh local cheeses. Explore the secret streets and hidden treasures of Agen. We will meet for lunch at Café Foy, a typical French Bistro.

Foie gras and farm fresh 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 Ferme Souleitlles and the museum of Fois Gras. We will return to the Chateaux for a Cooking Class with Kate and Phillipe Bon accompanied by a wine tasting. We will enjoy an evening of a piano concert and a Music Soiree in the music room at the Chateaux as we dine on the morsels of the region.

Friday, May 18th 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 rest at the Chateaux before aperos by the pool and sharing stories of the day.

Dinner will be at a fabulous one 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 19th Nerac is our local village and we will enjoy its Saturday market, followed by independent exploration of the Henri IV Chateaux, the old town , a boat ride on the Baise river or a stroll on its waters edge. Boutique shopping is also an option before lunch or pastry at a café. Our afternoon will begin with a visit and tasting to our local winery Buzet to discover the Cote de Buzet AOC. Our last evening in Gascony will be a Cooking Class at Camont with Kate featuring La Gasconnade a French BBQ. Our aperitifs and our festive farewell dinner will be in the garden by candlelight.

Sunday, May 20th This morning we will depart from the chateau at 10:00 am after our last of many delicious breakfasts. Our driver will return us to Bordeaux where you will either meet your train, plane or spend a few additional days discovering the region and wines. Ideas Galore

  • A few extra days in Gascony riding bikes or boating on the canals
  • Train to Toulouse, a historic cit,y then on to Paris
  • South to Barcelona and a taste of Spain
  • There are easy flights and speed trains out of Bordeaux

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.

$1,000 deposit will be required now to reserve your place (sign up early to confirm)
$3,995 due by January 15, 2018
$600 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.
  • $1000 deposit is required to confirm your place on this trip.
  • $600 single supplement .

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
P.O. Box 423
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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