Susan Worner Tours

Avignon – Cuisine, Markets and Gardens of Provence

19 – 24 October 2020


Our tour is centred on the tastes and flavours of Provence with its lively and colourful weekly markets and mouth-watering local produce. We offer an irresistible blend of visits to producers and markets, and cooking demonstrations, with a chance to enjoy hands-on experience in the Michelin-starred kitchen of Hotel La Mirande.  It is a wonderful insight into the secrets of the chef’s approach to Provençal cuisine, as well as a chance to taste a wide range of dishes based around fresh, seasonal produce, as guests in the hotel.  The hotel is situated just behind the Popes’ Palace, has a quiet, walled garden and delightful interiors having been restored by the present owners.  Florent Pietravalle is their head chef who has been awarded a Michelin star and who looks forward to showing you some of his specialities.

To enjoy a well-rounded experience of “La Provence gourmande”, we include wine tasting at a château in the Ventoux hills, a visit to Gordes to taste artisanal nougat, and a day spent around beautiful town of St Rémy-de-Provence where we discover traditional cheese and olive production returning there again on market day. The emphasis is on ‘terroir’.

This region of the south of France combines the grandeur of steep limestone hillsides with attractive countryside, imposing plane trees, and extensive wine and olive estates. Many towns are of great historic interest, with narrow and winding cobbled streets, Roman remains and a profusion of garden courtyards. Autumn is an ideal time to visit: After the summer rush, when the days are warm and mellow, and nature’s colours and produce are richly rewarding.

We travel comfortably by train to and from Avignon on Eurostar and TGV. The group will be small, with a maximum of 10 participants.

Itinerary

DAY ONE – Monday 19 OctoberD

Depart London St Pancras by train to Avignon. Afternoon arrival and transfer to Hotel La Mirande, ideally situated in the medieval centre, just behind the beautiful Papal Palace. As an introduction to this delightful town, we have arranged a walk through the historical centre accompanied by an excellent local guide, Laurence. Welcome aperitif to meet the chefs and hear a short talk on the programme, followed by dinner in the hotel restaurant.

DAY TWO – Tuesday 20 OctoberBL

Starting with a morning visit to the superb covered market on La Place Pie in Avignon, our chef introduces us to delicious local, seasonal produce at different specialist stalls – cep (or porcini) mushrooms, muscat grapes, juicy black figs. On our return to the hotel, we join the chef in the kitchen to help prepare a three-course meal – to be enjoyed at lunchtime. Free evening.

DAY THREE – Wednesday 21 OctoberBL

Leave for the ancient and atmospheric walled town of St Rémy-de-Provence, where we explore the vibrant, colourful weekly market. We go on to visit to the private garden of landscape architect, Dominique Lafourcade with her raised-bed potager, hens and orchard. Lunch in her conservatory evoking an Italian limonaia.
Return to Avignon for a pastry and dessert preparation course with the hotel’s patisserie chef, followed by afternoon tea served in the covered courtyard. Free evening

DAY FOUR – Thursday 22 OctoberBL

A morning at Château Unang, situated in the limestone foothills of Mont Ventoux. Here, predominantly Grenache grapes are cultivated for the production of delicious wine. We explore the vines and forests on foot, before wine tasting and a visit to the cellar followed by a buffet lunch of locally grown or reared specialities. We move on to the beautiful perched village of Gordes in the lavender-growing hills to visit an artisanal nougat maker: His lavender flavoured variety is particularly good.
Return to Avignon. Free evening.

DAY FIVE – Friday 23 OctoberBLD

Morning visit to an organic goat farm near St Rémy to taste their hand-crafted cheese, as well as ham from the home-reared black Gascony pigs. Lunchtime at La Cave aux Fromages in St Rémy for tastings and a talk given by the owner, who is a ’Maitre Fromager’. Our afternoon visit is to an olive oil mill where are introduced to the local tapenade recipes, with an opportunity to sample different versions of this typically Provencal dish.
Our final evening takes us into the Hotel La Mirande wine cellar for wine tasting with the focus on local wines. We then proceed to the original old kitchen, where the chef will prepare and explain how to make a real bouillabaisse – to be enjoyed together at dinner.

DAY SIX – Saturday 24 October

Depart at lunchtime by TGV from Avignon to Lille, with onward journey by Eurostar to London St Pancras.



Tour Costs

£3,150 per person sharing
Single occupation of double room supplement £980

Hotels

Hotel La Mirande, Avignon
www.la-mirande.fr

Activity Level:

Reasonable amount of walking required for the visits.

Notes:

October often has warm, mellow days in Provence though cooler in the evenings.
Layers are recommended during the day and good trainers/comfortable shoes for the vineyard visit. Smart casual in the evening.