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!
“I convinced a group of friends to acompany me, to celebrate my 50th birthday. Chateau de La Barbée was the perfect setting. Mary and Xavier welcomed us into their home (home for them is a Chateau!), and Mary's program of cooking and sightseeing was the perfect combination of education mixed with touring mixed with relaxation and fun. And the food was fantastic. Can't recommend this more to anyone interested in a very special vacation. The countryside is gorgeous, and off the beaten track, not too touristy. Such a nice change of pace! Highly recommended!”
“After whirlwind trip around France for my 40th, my husband and I paused for a much needed break at Chateau de la Barbee, WHAT a fabulous time we had - everyone back home was so jealous. Mary is great fun and her husband, the 'lord of the manor' is just hilarious - he and my husband got on like a house on fire. Everyday was packed full of cooking and eating and drinking - it was like a gourmet all inclusive. The wine never stopped! We learnt some great recipes and Mary will be proud to hear that we have indeed done most of them since we got home AND I have never used store-bought salad dressing since! The recipes vary from simple to complex so there's something for everyone. It was not as hands-on as we would have liked but the size of the class was perfect, the people were fabulous, and the chateau.....well, wow. What a treat. You stay in a chateau that has been in the family since it was built. We were there for 4 days, 3 nights which was just perfect. Thanks, Mary, for an epic end to our adventures!”
“Mary & Xavier were the most gracious hosts. Not only was the Château beautiful but also the surrounding with the refreshing river close by. Mary made the cooking fun and all the fancy dishes we made seemed easy. I will make them all for sure back home! We really got to see the French country side at its best and I wish to go there again and again and again....”
“I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a night here over the weekend before Thanksgiving with a group of other American exchange students currently living in Angers, France and I can't think of a more rewarding and special way that we could have spent that time! Mary was amazing and her cooking direction was superb - our food for both lunch and dinner was absolutely mouthwatering! I loved being able to stay in her château, and the culture and history surrounding me was absolutely phenomenal. If you have the chance before you leave, I absolutely suggest walking the grounds of her château if you get the chance - her rose gardens and the back path are absolutely gorgeous! And her pets are pretty cute too!”
“I recently spent a totally delightful stay at the Chateau de La Barbee, cooking, eating, and sightseeing under the wonderful direction of Mary Pochez. We were a group of 6 women friends celebrating the 60th birthday of one with a 2-day stay in Paris and a 5-night stay at the chateau. The chateau itself is incredibly beautiful and charming, filled with antiques and lovely art and portraits, but also very lived in and comfortable. You don't feel that you are in a museum, but rather in a home that has been loved and cared for by many generations of Mary's husband's family. Xavier is a very charming co-host with lots of knowledge about French history, the chateau, and local wines. Everywhere you look, both inside and out the windows, you see beauty. The French cooking classes were fantastic- so much fun and so well taught. Mary is a very knowledgeable and casual cook and makes you feel that you can make the dishes with ease. She instills confidence along with all her recipes and tips. Every single dish we prepared (and ate!) was mouth watering delicious, from the fish baked in salt to the beef Bourguignon to the cheese souffle to the potato dishes to the baked peaches and chocolate cake. We all had fun cooking in her wonderful kitchen with walls of copper pots and and fresh cut flowers and produce everywhere. We learned a lot of dishes and loved them all! And the program of excursions was wonderful too- the drives through the charming villages to visit other chateaux, the evening at an ancient abbey listening to monks sing Gregorian chants, the local farmers' market, the 14th century tapestries displayed in the chateau in Angers. This is a trip I will remember, in detail, my whole life. It was educational, fun, and lovely in every way. Get together a group of friends and go! Or go with your partner! You will love it too! THANK YOU for sharing your home and your vast knowledge of all things French, Mary and Xavier!”