Active Gourmets in Bordeaux
(Option: Customized Itineraries)
Bordeaux, France - 3 nights
Available year round (excluding July and August)
Savor the wines, foods and landscapes that define this Bordeaux culinary getaway. Staying in a private French home is a unique way to get to know French people and to share their family's and friend's culinary passions. This holiday is an opportunity to taste and cook traditional and locally grown foods: wine from their vineyards, vegetables from their gardens, shellfish from their seacoast or mushrooms from their forests. This program is offered for a couple or a family with one or two adolescent children ages 12-19. In the guest suite there is a room with a double bed and next to it is a children’s room with adult size bunk beds.
Just a two-hour train ride southwest of Paris lies Bordeaux, a city that epitomizes what, for many people, may be France’s biggest appeal - a combination of elegance, culture, beautiful 18th century architecture, and excellent food and wine.
You’ll stay in the guest room of a private home, a 10-minute tram ride from Gare St. Jean, where your hosts will welcome you as new friends and help you discover some of the city’s epicurean delights. You will have the opportunity to get to know French people and share their culinary passions by cooking—or, in some cases, just enjoying—traditional food, most often made with local ingredients, such as vegetables from nearby farms, shellfish and fish from the seacoast, and mushrooms from the region’s forests. And then, there is the local wine, of course!
The option of hands-on cooking and pastry classes in homes and professional kitchens has always been a central offering of Active Gourmet Holidays (AGH). In this holiday experience, your hosts will be Carol, a French/American who has lived in France her entire adult life, working in French cultural affairs and welcoming visitors from abroad, and her French husband, Bruno, a retired physician and nutritionist who also holds a degree in French cuisine.
Carol and Bruno have worked with AGH from its beginnings, hosting a B&B gourmet experience from their large family home between Bordeaux and St. Emilion. When they recently traded country life for urban living, they decided to continue hosting from their renovated Bordeaux-Begles* home with its small but sunny garden. Today they offer a whole new Bordeaux-based program of cooking and pastry classes, wine pairings, and market visits! In this smallish city, everything is easily reachable by walking or using the area’s remarkably clean and efficient above-ground transit system. (So, bring comfortable shoes and be ready to people watch).
Carol and Bruno’s own culinary interests have led them to meet and get to know many of the city’s young professional chefs and pastry cooks, most of whom have studied in France’s most prestigious culinary schools. Their professional experiences vary, including working with MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), in starred restaurants, in French embassies, and as private chefs. Carol and Bruno have invited several of them to share their passions with you though exceptional personalized encounters.
On this holiday, you’ll focus on some classic French cooking and baking techniques. Among your experiences might be, for example, creating a three-course meal; adapting classic techniques to create a vegetarian or vegan meal; making your own French paté; producing professional-level pastries; and understanding how to pair pastry with wine. Following each class, whether in a home or professional kitchen, you’ll sit down with the chef and/or hosts to enjoy your creations together.
No matter what season you come, you’ll also experience delicious wine, cheeses, and samples of Bordeaux’s inventive cuisine. You’ll enjoy some of your hosts’ favorite restaurants and cafés—immersing yourself in Bordeaux life.
Carol and Bruno know that even the most ardent foodies are likely to have additional interests, so your itinerary includes one open afternoon. Some might choose to spend it with a nap or a book. Others might decide to explore some of Bordeaux’s many clothing boutiques, antique shops, galleries, and museums; simply meander the streets of this ancient city and visit its Roman ruins; or pick up some gifts to take home. You can go on your own or, if you wish, Carol will be happy to accompany you.
As evident in the sample itinerary below, even with a free afternoon, your schedule will be a full one, starting at arrival. So, those who suffer from jetlag might wish to start their Bordeaux holiday after spending some time in Paris or, if coming straight from a different time zone, plan to arrive in Bordeaux a day early to rest and get ready to fully enjoy the ensuing experience. The itinerary for the 3-night, 4-day visit can be somewhat tailored to your tastes and interests, although always dependent on dates and season, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc. Any specific requests should be discussed before reserving. Several weeks before your arrival, the chefs will provide options from which you can choose what you want to cook or bake.
ARRIVAL, EXPLORING BORDEAUX & FIRST COOKING CLASS
Upon your mid-day arrival at the train station or airport, Carol will take you to her home, to let you settle in and have a little bite to eat if you haven’t yet had time for lunch. You’ll then travel by tram to the center of Bordeaux where, over coffee or tea in a little café, she will share some of the history of this beautiful city.
Afterward, back at your holiday home, you’ll have your first cooking class: Working with a private chef, you’ll prepare and then enjoy a three-course evening meal featuring a seasonal meat or fish dish, starter and dessert.
OUTDOOR MARKET, WINE TASTING, GOURMET VEGETARIAN DINNER
Downstairs for an early breakfast, you may find Bruno’s home-made pain-aux-raisins waiting to be enjoyed with your coffee or tea, yogurt, and if you wish, eggs. You’ll then take off to a favorite weekly outdoor market to purchase ingredients for the evening’s vegetarian or vegan cooking class.
After dropping your market purchases at home, you’ll head into the heart of the city to discover its wide variety of interesting shops, followed by a late morning “apero” at a very special Bordeaux wine cellar where, whether you’re a wine connoisseur or an enthusiastic beginner, the “caviste “will help you taste some of the many and varied wines from France’s southwest, including from his own family vineyard. Together, you’ll choose a wine for the evening’s dinner. Then, it’s off to lunch just down the street at one of his—and your hosts’—favorite restaurants … on the terrace if weather permits.
Before returning home, you’ll stroll toward the river, through the heart of Bordeaux’s UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Back at home, another cooking class awaits, this one taught by a different chef. She will help you turn your morning market purchases into a surprisingly gourmet vegetarian meal, which you’ll enjoy with your new bottle of wine.
PASTRIES, ART DECO BATH HOUSE, FREE AFTERNOON
After breakfast with your hosts, you’ll welcome into your holiday home kitchen today’s guest teacher who is not only a pastry chef but also an oenologist specialized in pairing wines and pastries. She’ll teach you to make sophisticated tartlets and pastries that you’ve chosen in advance from her amazing list of pastry-making options. When they’re out of the oven, you’ll have a little taste as she helps you understand how to pair pastry with the wine she has chosen. But you’ll save most of what you’ve made to enjoy as your after-lunch dessert.
After bidding adieu to your pastry teacher, you’ll walk down the street for an off-beat lunch experience at a renovated 1930s Art Deco bath house. Then it’s home again to enjoy your freshly made desserts, followed by a free afternoon, however you decide to spend it. Just don’t spend it trying every interesting café you’ve seen and wondered about, because this evening, you’ll dine at one of the Bordeaux’s newest and most talked-about restaurants.
MORE PASTRY MAKING & DEPARTURE
You’ll spend your morning in your hosts’ kitchen baking with another professional patissiere just for you. In addition to having another good recipe to revisit in your own kitchen, you’ll receive a travel box so you can safely bring the pastry itself home to share with family or friends. Your class will be followed by a light lunch before you leave your French home or, if you prefer, you can opt for a picnic to take on the train or plane, to which Carol will deliver you.
ADDITION TO DAY FOUR AND AN ADDED NIGHT
FOR THOSE WHO’D LIKE A LITTLE MORE WINE BEFORE LEAVING
After the morning’s pastry class, you’ll go by car with Carol to her friends’ 700-year-old chateau (dating from the 14th century), located between Bordeaux and St Emilion, for lunch in their lovely new restaurant. You’ll enjoy a menu that incorporates local produce and wine from the chateau. Then comes a tour of the chateau’s production and cellars, ending with a wine tasting atop its tower where you’ll be wowed by a panoramic view of the vineyards and countryside of Entre Deux Mers. Don’t worry, you won’t have to climb the small winding staircase; there’s a modern glass elevator!
Afterward, it’s back to the city, where Carol will deliver you to the ultra-modern Cité du Vin, on the edge of the Garonne River — an amazing contrast to the 14th Century chateau. At this wonderful and expansive wine museum, you’ll plunge into the wines of the world with a self-guided, interactive sensory visit and tasting. For dinner, you may choose to dine at Le 7, the museum’s restaurant, which overlooks Bordeaux, or, alternatively, take the tram back to Carol and Bruno’s before heading out on your own to their favorite neighborhood restaurant, which is just down the street from their home.
The next morning, after breakfast, Carol will take you to the train station or airport.
*Chefs may vary depending on their availability
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc.
*Menus and activities may be arranged to your tastes and interests and vary according to the season
A minimum of 2 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 4 participants. (A couple or a family with one or two adolescent children ages 12-19).
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
Closest Airports: Bordeaux Airport (Bordeaux Merignac) - 30 minutes from accommodation by taxi or 55 minutes by tram
Closest Train Station: Bordeaux St. Jean (15 minutes by tram from accommodation)
*These details are provided as additional information. Please check below to see if transfers are included in this tour.
2024 Fees Per Person
THREE NIGHT PROGRAM
Double Room/US$1450 (based on 2 persons: one couple OR one parent and one teen sharing one room with a double bed)
Double Room + Children's Room/US$1175 (based on 3/4 persons: one couple and one or two teens OR one parent and two teens)
Double Room + Children's Room/US$1550 (based on 2 persons: one couple and one teen)
Your accommodation is an independent family suite that is well adapted for a couple or a couple with one or two teenagers. For the teens, the second room is a large children’s room used by the hosts' grandchildren (21-5 yrs olds) with 2 adult size bunk beds. This is not a boutique bed and breakfast, but yet an authentic French family home that many will never be able to experience!
FOUR NIGHT PROGRAM
Please inquire about pricing.
Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation.
After availability is confirmed, a 30% non-refundable deposit per person and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due no later than 75 days before your arrival date.
Available year round based on availability (excluding July/August)
THREE NIGHT PROGRAM
*Three nights' accommodation at B&B with breakfast
*All meals and wine (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners - the wine you choose in the restaurants is not included)
*Two (2) hands-on cooking classes with wine and meal with chef and hosts
*Two (2) hands-on pastry classes
*Two (2) wine tastings for the adults
*All local transportation
*All that is included in the final client-approved itinerary
*An English-speaking guide
*All tastings: wines and cheeses
*All excursions and entrance fees
*Transfers to/from airport/train station
ADDITIONAL NIGHT INCLUSIONS:
All that is included in the three night program + chauffeur
*One (1) additional nights' accommodation at B&B with breakfast
*One (1) additional lunch
*One (1) additional dinner in wine museum
*One (1) visit to wine museum
*Two (2) additional wine tastings
Airfare, wine at restaurants and personal expenses are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Lexi C., Norfolk, United Kingdom
Anna and Chris O., Fernandina Beach, Florida
John and Joan M., Vineland, New Jersey
Lyn & Mike, Citron-Bainbridge Island, Washington
"We found ... the Bordeaux region...an interesting stop for a few days when we were driving from Paris to the Basque region. We underestimated the time it takes to enjoy and explore this unique part of France, and immediately planned a second visit. The location is absolutely ideal for wine lovers, cyclers, walkers, and those who appreciate the ability to experience the charm of a beautifully restored home in a small French village. We honestly can't give enough credit to Carol for making our stay so enjoyable. She is relaxed, bright, friendly and easy to be around while providing a WEALTH of knowledge about the area and the activities offered. Equally impressive is Bruno, Carol's friend with whom we had the privilege of taking a one-day cooking class. Four of us gathered in the kitchen on Bruno's beautiful farm, and made an absolutely excellent lunch. Of the four, we had one "expert," two moderately adept students, and one who was clearly there because of his partner's passion. I know I speak for everyone when I say we all had a wonderful time. Bruno involved everyone equally at a level where they felt comfortable. He is a very talented chef, but is also aware that people are on vacation. His easy temperament is much like Carol's, and he is indeed a delight."
Mary and Gregg K., Oconomowoc, Michigan
"Dear Jo-Ann - it was a lovely trip and we enjoyed "the la forge" alot :). We had perfect hosts. They arranged our week absolutely including everything we had asked for - the wineries, the education by a wine expert, the garden tours and the cooking classes, the opera in Bordeaux were better than we could have hoped! (attaching a photo) wearing our aprons from you. Thank you again for the connection!"
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.