With croissants, crèmes brûlées and more pastries than you can shake a French stick at, some of the world’s best-loved foods are just a short hop across the English Channel. With so many gastronomic diversions on offer, there are few greater pleasures than enjoying a boeuf Bourguignon in the heart of Burgundy, or sweet madeleines from an authentic Alsatian bakery. Just imagine if you could learn how to cook real French food for yourself so that you could recreate your favourites at home too.
As part of our #rediscover campaign, we’re forgoing the typical French tourism draws to bring you something new and exciting. Take more than just a souvenir home with you and learn a lifelong skill with our guide to quick courses and cooking schools in France.
Short courses in Paris
Paris might be one of the world’s most significant cities, but you’ll still find a real sense of community in its many local shops, markets and cafes – and those are often where the best foods can be found. A short cooking course between bouts of sightseeing makes the perfect place to start your culinary adventure, and you’ll leave armed not only with a new skill, but great recommendations for other foodie locations to hit afterwards too.
Le Cordon Bleu is one of the world’s most prestigious cooking schools, and has produced reams of professional chefs throughout its 120-year history. But don’t be intimidated by its illustrious past – the institute offers one-day workshops for novices alongside its professional diplomas. In just a few hours, you can learn anything from how to make the perfect French éclair to pairing cheese and wine like a true city dweller – all under the instruction of a master chef.
Source your own ingredients with truffle hunting and food picking
Of course, a meal doesn’t begin in the kitchen. Even before you cook up a delectable French dish, there’s something incredibly rewarding about sourcing the delicious ingredients for yourself. Pick-your-own farms, known as ‘cueillettes’, are popular both with locals and tourists alike, and are housed in some of the most beautiful settings in France. You’ll feel twice as proud making something entirely from scratch.
A fertile 12 hectares of environmentally-friendly farmland nestled within the Loire Valley region, Meslay Gardens allows visitors to pick their own vegetables, flowers and fruit every day from April to November. Choose from plump tomatoes, gargantuan aubergines and deliciously ripe strawberries, before touring the nearby Grange de Meslay wine cellar nearby.
Further afield, Provence is full of culinary treats, and is one of the best places to spot France’s famed truffle. See how these morsels are found on the hunt, explore the truffle fields and sample your findings at Les Pastras, in Cadanet. Afterwards, take part in a traditional grape stomp and tour the olive fields, all while learning about the history of Provincial cuisine.
Learn to create classic French cuisine on a cooking course
Surrounded by plush Burgundy vineyards, the fortified town of Beaune is a wine lover’s dream. But take a walk down its traditional cobbled streets and that’s not all you’ll find. Held inside a 17th century Beaunois structure, The Cook’s Atelier is a culinary boutique, wine shop and cooking school, which marries fresh local produce with fine food recipes. Lessons are conducted after a joint trip to the nearby Beaune market, and what you pick up there will greatly influence what you’ll be making in class.
With a firm belief that cooking should be fun, their courses include wine and cheese tastings and long French lunches, as well as one, three and five-day programs – where you can learn how to cook traditional, seasonal dishes, including tarte au citron.
If this has inspired you to plan your very own adventure, check out our Rediscover Travel page for more.
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Main image by Kārlis Dambrāns