Avignon – Cuisine, Markets and Gardens of Provence

10 – 15 October 2022


Our tour is centred on the tastes and flavours of Provence, a region famous for 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 in the highly regarded kitchen of Hotel La Mirande.

This is an exceptional opportunity to enjoy hands-on experience under the guidance of head chef Florent Pietravalle, recipient of a Michelin star. We have a wonderful insight into the secrets of the chef’s approach to Provençal cuisine, as well as a chance – as guests in the hotel – to taste a wide range of dishes based around fresh, seasonal produce.

The hotel is situated just behind the Palais des Papes. It has a quiet, walled garden and delightful interiors that have been restored by the present owners.

To enjoy a well-rounded experience of “La Provence gourmande”, we include wine tasting at a château in the Ventoux hills, a visit to Sault to taste artisanal nougat, and a day spent around the 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”: the particular characteristics of a local area where food and wine are produced.

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 10 OctoberD

Depart London St Pancras by train via Lille to Avignon.  Afternoon arrival and transfer to Hotel La Mirande, ideally situated in the medieval centre, just behind the beautiful Palais des Papes.
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 bistro restaurant.

DAY TWO – Tuesday 11 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 12 OctoberBL

Leave for the ancient and atmospheric walled town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where we explore the vibrant, colourful weekly market. We go on to visit the private garden of landscape architect, Dominique Lafourcade with its raised-bed potager, hens and orchard. Lunch in the conservatory, which has the feel of 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 13 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 Sault in the lavender-growing hills to visit an artisanal nougat maker: His lavender flavoured variety is particularly good.
We enjoy dinner in the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant with a menu prepared by Florent Pietravalle.

DAY FIVE – Friday 14 OctoberBLD

Morning visit to an organic goat farm near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence 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 we are introduced to the local tapenade recipes, with an opportunity to sample different versions of this typically Provençal 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 15 October

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



Tour Costs

£3,670 per person sharing
Single occupation of double room supplement £1280

Included:

Train travel, transport in a comfortable minibus, 5 nights’ accommodation, delicious meals where indicated, visits, services of guides and chefs. The tour will be led by Susan Worner.

Not Included:

Drinks at lunchtime, tips (hotel staff and driver) and items of a personal nature, comprehensive travel insurance with full cover to be taken out on payment of the deposit.

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.

Meals included are shown as B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner). Often guests meet for drinks before dinner (optional).

Wifi is available in both hotels.