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French Cooking Courses
in English, authentic Culinary Vacations and the art of French living at Château de La Barbée, in the heart of the Pays de la Loire.

Château de La Barbée
Château de La Barbée

Our 18th Century family château, where cooking courses take place

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Cooking Class
Cooking Class

The open market
The open market

Smelling spices
Smelling spices

Mary smelling spices at the local food market

Château de La Barbée aerial view
Château de La Barbée aerial view

Château de La Barbée aerial view

Mary at the local market
Mary at the local market

Visits to local markets are an important part of our cooking vacations.

French Cooking Course group photo
French Cooking Course group photo

A photo from one of our french cooking courses

Cheese & wine
Cheese & wine

Plate and cuttlery with rose petals in the dining rooom
Plate and cuttlery with rose petals in the dining rooom

Plate with cuttlery and rose petals in the dining room at the château

Quatre-quarts au Chocolat cake
Quatre-quarts au Chocolat cake

A slice of Quatre-quarts au Chocolat, prepared during one of our cooking courses

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New Slide

Tuna salad and tomatoes
Tuna salad and tomatoes

Tuna salad and tomatoes, prepared during on of our cooking classes

Gratin Dauphinois
Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois, prepared during the cooking classes


Our French Cooking Courses & Holidays are all-inclusive, with accommodations at the château, all meals and drinks, hands-on cooking classes and fun excursions around the beautiful regional countryside.

We will cook many of our family’s favorite recipes together. We’ll discuss the history of the château, planning a menu, preparing a cheese platter, and wine and food pairing. Our goal is to help you learn the basics of french cookery and master dishes you will be comfortable preparing back in your own kitchen for everything, from weekday family meals to dinner parties.

Cooking classes take place in the family kitchen, covering the basics, shortcuts, and tips for preparing meals when time is limited.

The cookery courses take advantage of seasonal produce and local farm products and we will make regular trips to the markets to select the freshest seasonal ingredients for our classes.

After meals, relax in the Grand Salon or take a walk by the river.

We’ll explore the diverse local culinary culture and the Loire Valley‘s rich history. We will shop town markets for ingredients; visit medieval villages and historic châteaux; and enjoy private tours of the Anjou vineyards, tastings at their wineries and visits to their cellars–some of which are carved into the hills.

Château de La Barbée is one of many private châteaux in the Loire Valley – but few offer an experience like this. We welcome you into our 18th Century home for an authentic “vie du château” experience, where we live, cook, eat, and play.

The most important thing is to have a lot of fun on your cooking vacation in France. We do!

Thank you for teaching me the joie de vivre a la Francaise!

★★★★★
5 5 1
La Vie du Chateau cooking classes were AMAZING! I took a 5 day cooking class and was so impressed by the beauty of my surroundings, the hospitality of the hosts, Mary Pochez, chef and cooking instructor par excellence and her very well mannered and humorous husband, Xavier, a true French gentleman. The Cookery Course was the perfect balance between the professionalism of the instructions, with the creation of the meals to the artistry and beauty of its presentation, to the conviviality of the hosts and my fellow classmates. Not only did I learn how to cook great dishes, and desserts, but we were also educated on cheeses and wine pairing. Each meal was a feast and a joy. The culinary experience would not have been complete without the three course meals, all prepared by us and all truly gastronomic served on exquisitely laid tables where we shared laughter and conversation about every topic imaginable. In addition to the cooking courses, we had extra curricular activities including a wine tasting, a tour of the local market, visits to historical sites, beautiful towns and their monuments, museums, a meal at a local restaurant, all of which contributed to the overall enjoyment and educational experience.

Enchanted

★★★★★
5 5 1
This past summer my friend and I enrolled in the cookery course at Chateau de la Barbee. On arrival we were enchanted by the chateau , made immediately to feel at home by our hosts Mary and her husband Xavier as well as Ella, Mary's very efficient assistant. Our days were spent reviewing French recipes , then to hands on preparation , and cooking. We enjoyed our culinary delights served on dishes and crystal from the early 1800s in this most wonderfully historic and lavish French setting , and , with the accompaniment of the best of wines. Our lovely double room with a small balcony, was on the second floor and decorated in the fashion and period of the chateau. We felt completely immersed in tradition. Xavier was a wealth of knowledge both historical and present. We lacked for nothing. I highly recommend Chateau de la Barbee and thank Mary and Xavier for a wonderful experience.

What an absolute pleasure

★★★★★
5 5 1
What an absolute pleasure it was to spend 5 days in the French countryside cooking with Mary. Right from the beginning she could not have been more helpful. She sugggested all of the best ways to arrive at the Chateau, and even picked me up from the bus. The Chateau itself was just charming; the real-deal French country house that it appears in the photos. Xavier, Mary and their housekeeper Ella was so incredibly attentive to all of our needs and made our stay so welcoming. We had a lovely few days cooking a wide variety of beautiful sweet and savory dishes, and covered lots of basics like the perfect mayonnaise and vinaigrette. Every meal was a true feast, with all of the amazing food we had cooked, accompanied by locals wines that Xavier was able to give us some real lessons on. Mary was an excellent teacher, and keeping the classes small and fairly relaxed was a great way to help us learn but also make us feel like it was a holiday too! I thoroughly enjoyed my week at Chateau de la Barbee and would recommend it to anyone who loves French food. Mary and Xavier were the most perfect hosts and I hope to be able to go back again one day in the near future!

Merci Beaucoup

★★★★★
5 5 1
Merci Beaucoup A warm thank you to Mary and Xavier (and Ella) for the memorable days at Chateau de la Barbée. It was a dream to cook and converse in such wonderful surroundings. I thoroughly enjoyed myself — loved my chic bedroom; the breakfasts of croissants, homemade jam and filtered coffee; the camaraderie of the kitchen during the cooking classes and the wine pairings that highlighted the memorable meals we made and consumed with such gusto. While is seemed we spent most of our waking hours talking about or preparing food, we also indulged in long walks, gathered eggs from Mary’s chickens, visited a local farmers’ market, a winery and even attended a nearby monastery to hear monks chanting. Experiencing cultural differences — in a chateau, in a foreign country, with others you haven’t met before while sharing your passion sets this experience apart. It was a dream! And it can be yours!

Chateau de la Barbee , c'est merveilleux

★★★★★
5 5 1
This past summer my friend and I enrolled in the cookery course at Chateau de la Barbee. On arrival we were enchanted by the chateau , made immediately to feel at home by our hosts Mary and her husband Xavier as well as Ella, Mary's very efficient assistant. Our days were spent reviewing French recipes , then to hands on preparation , and cooking. We enjoyed our culinary delights served on dishes and crystal from the early 1800s in this most wonderfully historic and lavish French setting , and , with the accompaniment of the best of wines. Our lovely double room with a small balcony, was on the second floor and decorated in the fashion and period of the chateau. We felt completely immersed in tradition. Xavier was a wealth of knowledge both historical and present. We lacked for nothing. I highly recommend Chateau de la Barbee and thank Mary and Xavier for a wonderful experience.

Magnifique!

★★★★★
5 5 1
What a fantastic experience! I had to good fortune to attend a 5 day cooking course at the lovely Chateau de La Barbee this summer. We arrived after lunch, were shown to our beautiful rooms and invited to proceed to the Orangerie for an al fresco wine and cheese tasting and to get acquainted with our hosts, Mary and Xavier, the owner residents of the Chateau. We fell in to an easy daily routine. After a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants, milk from the farm, homemade jams, local honey, the works we hit the kitchen "Aprons on!" around 9. We cooked, tasted, tested and tried lots of recipes all in preparation for our lunches and dinners. One of the things I loved most was Mary's ease in the kitchen. We did not stick strictly to planned menus. On any given day, dependent on what was freshest, most available, etc. we would adjust our menu accordingly. For example, Xavier came home one day with mussels fresh from the sea. He steeped them in a delicious broth and they became the 1st course of our lunch that day. Each day we would go on at least one outing to see and enjoy the local markets and sights. After lunch it was back to the kitchen "Aprons on!" for another lesson and more preparations for our next meal. Evenings would end in one of the many comfortable parlors, a glass of Armagnac in hand listening to Xavier's great stories. The Chateau has been in his family since the days of Napoleon and he is an expert on French history in general and the Chateau and surrounding area in particular. Everything was so special and well run it is hard to pick favorites, but two highlights for me were learning how to make an ice bowl and our final formal dinner in the grand dining room. Mary and Xavier invited 4 friends, we set a beautiful table, dressed for the occasion and feasted on lamb shanks, duck breast and the many dishes and desserts we had prepared earlier. A very rewarding and enjoyable 5 day experience. Completely immersed in the french lifestyle in a fabulous setting with attentive, knowledgeable and gracious hosts. Highly recommend!

Cooking Courses Reviews Overall rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 19 reviews.

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