Active Gourmet Holidays
Active Gourmet Holidays

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Mayenne, Loire, France - 5 nights
Available April to October - Saturday to Thursday


Located one hour and 40 minutes from Paris, the Mayenne region in the Northern Loire of France provides you with a magical setting for your French cooking vacation. Learn cooking techniques using the beautiful foods of this exquisite region. You will stay in a renovated farmhouse and will experience fun, informal and inspirational classes taught in English with no more than six guests to the chef so everyone gets the personal attention they require, regardless of your skill level, with extensive hands-on time in the kitchen.

Have you ever wished that you could cook and present gourmet food as seen on TV or in restaurants? Here, in the Loire, northern France, our professional chef is waiting to share with you his wealth of experience and to take your cooking to the next level. From knife skills that chefs use, stocks and sauces to create those mouth-watering sauces you only ever find in top restaurants, to crisp precise presentation that will impress and delight your friends and family, you will learn all of this and so much more! 


Arriving mid-afternoon on Saturday, the course begins with an introductory talk to discuss the course's aims and structure. Later in the evening, after complimentary champagne and canapés, the theme of the course is emphasized with a 6-course gourmet dinner, where the style and standard of the food you will be cooking is presented. This gives you the perfect opportunity to relax and get to know your fellow guests.

Each day after breakfast, the morning begins with hands-on lessons, ranging from making bread, pasta, basic butchery, fish filleting, pastry work (chocolate piping, caramel cages, tuiles). This is followed by preparation of the gourmet dishes for the evening meal, where you will be creating dishes such as "Spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce " or "Chicken & Foie Gras tortellini with a truffle foam". Among the things you will learn are: how to prepare fish and meat and choose quality produce, how to make your own stocks, how to make tagliatelle and ravioli as well as learning the secrets of making divine ice cream. After a light lunch you will have the opportunity to experience part of the local culture with visits to a 19th century windmill still milling buckwheat flour in the traditional way, and meet the charming proprietor, Monsieur Lemoine, who comes from 12 generations of millers. We also have a local artisan boulanger/patissier visit to teach croissants and macaroons. After your relaxing afternoon it's more hands-on fun in the kitchen, where the final preparations for the evening's dinner will continue. It is then time to sit down and enjoy the incredible food you have prepared.

On the last day you and your new friends will cook as a team, with only a little guidance from our chef, using all the skills and knowledge acquired during the week. However, to relieve the pressure, in the afternoon, a gourmet barbeque is served followed by games in the garden, such as croquet and boules. Then back to the kitchen for final preparations, before sitting down to your gastronomic feast. 


Your accommodation in the renovated farmhouse “traditional longère”,  is set in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where the chef grows most of his produces the natural way, without chemicals. 


The two luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms with exposed beams are situated on the first floor, and can accommodate up to four people. The high quality bedding (box spring and upholstered mattress), made up of two large twin beds (90×200) is particularly appreciated by tall people with sensitive backs. A third bedroom is also available, to be used for a group booking. Coffee and tea facilities in all rooms, free Wi-Fi point.


The property professionally equipped kitchen is located on the ground floor of the farmhouse and has been exclusively designed for these culinary vacations. A spacious lounge area with log fire, high standard ensuite bedrooms and tranquil grounds, makes it perfect for a relaxing gourmet break.


In clement weather, guests are welcome to relax and unwind in this quiet and elegant setting, and enjoy a genuine experience of leisure, pleasure, gastronomy and wellness within the premises.





Day one - saturday


5pm - Introductory talk - Discussing aims and course structure
5.30pm - Complimentary champagne 
6.00pm - Dinner, 6-course gourmet dinner



Homemade foie gras terrine with Sauternes jelly
Seabass filet, mussel risotto and a pink grapefruite beurre blanc
Gin and Tonic Sorbet
Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
Raspberry and lime bavarois, honeycomb and meringue
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and petit fours


Day Two - Sunday


8.45am - Breakfast (to include fresh croissants, breads and preserves, cereals, orange juice, yogurts, tea and coffee.)
9:15am - Kitchen. Welcome, explore kitchen/equipment etc: Hands-on Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julienne of leek, vierge dressing.
11.00am - Demonstration: Leek and potato soup served with croutons.
11.15am - Seasoning techniques: How to bring the best out of your ingredients
11.45am    Hands-on Bread making; plain, focaccia, caramelized onion & thyme, mixed seed & nuts, brioche
1.00pm - Lunch. Fresh soup produced from our garden, cheese, pickles, salads and home-made bread 
2.00pm - Demonstration Chicken & foie gras mousee, braised oxtail, chutney
Hands-on Chicken butchery, stuffed chicken ballotine
3:00pm - Demonstration: Prep salmon Gravlax of salmon; Hands-on Scallop in shell lutee, oysters, mackerel
3.30pm - Demonstration: Chicken stock (white & brown), veal glace, fish stock, Crab bisque & home-smoked mackerel, smoked onion
4.30pm - Finish
5.00pm - Apertifs and nibbles
5.30pm - Back in the kitchen to finish prep
6pm - Dinner 


Scallop in her shell lutee
Chicken and foie gras mousse, apple and cinnamon chutney Toasted brioche
Pear williams Sorbet
Seared fillet of salmon served with artichoke ....and hollandaise sauce
Iced Tiramisu parfait
Cheese and biscuits 


Day three - monday


8.45am - Breakfast

9:15a,  Menu Explanation Kitchen: Demonstration 

Pasta dough 

10.45a, Demonstration/hands-on Tortellini; filled with braised oxtail and chicken mousseline, ravioli and tagliatelle. 

Hands-on Menu Prep
celeriac purée, beef Wellington, crème brulée, pralin, ice cream, Brandy snap, caramel cages. 

1pm Lunch Tagliatelle with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits. 

2pm Excursion – Visit of a local goats farm, cheese and yogurt making, Cheese and Wine Tasting 

5pm Aperitifs and nibbles
5:30pm Back in the kitchen to finish prep 

6pm Dinner 


Braised Oxtail ravioli, celeriac purée and truffle foam 
Thai Tiger prawn and crab bisque
Apple and Calvados Sorbet
Filet of beef Wellington, braised shallot and vegetable, wild mushroom sauce ~
Pear and lemon verbena crème brulée, brandy snap and pecan pralin ice cream ~
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and truffles


Day Four - Tuesday


8.45am Breakfast

9.15am Menu Explanation 

Demonstration / hands-on 

Sugar work, and chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets plus tuile work.
Sweet pastry, choux pastry,
Braised pork belly. 

Hands-on Menu prep
Seafood mousseline, dressing, sous vide chicken, chocolate tarte, croquembouche, 

1pm Lunch Selection of charcuterie, salads, homemade bread & pickles
2pm Hands-on – Traditional French patissier Master-class 

– making croissants & macaroons 

5pm Aperitifs and nibbles 

5:30pm Back in the kitchen to finish prep 

6pm Dinner 


Seafood mousseline with a tarragon and basil dressing
Cheese soufflé with parmesan crisp and salad
Mojito Sorbet
Medley of chicken with a smoked onion purée & a chorizo & lime sauce

 (sous vide)
Mini croquembouche on a chocolat ganache tarte
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and petits fours


Day five - wednesday


9.15am Menu Explanation Hands-on 

Spring rolls, gravadlax, pork sous vide, charlotte, biscuit à la cuillère, bavarois, chocolate parfait 

1pm Lunch Barbecue.
2pm Leisure time, croquet, boules and generally relaxing. 5pm Aperitifs and nibbles
5:30pm Back in the kitchen to finish prep
6pm Dinner 


Gravadlax of salmon scented with beetroot ~
Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce
Bloody Mary Sorbet
Tenderloin of pork with roasted pork belly
 (sous vide)
Strawberry and coquelicot charlotte, white chocolate and caramelised pistachio parfait
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and petit fours


Day Six - Thursday


9.00am - Breakfast


Departure before midday


*Menus may vary from time to time

*Itinerary may change slightly due to season 





A minimum of 3 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 6 participants.


(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.)





Closest Airport/Train Stations:
Laval Train Station -
30 minutes from cooking school
- 1 hour 
St. Malo/Dinard - 1 hour 30 minutes 
Paris - 3 to 4 hours - 1 hour 40 minutes by TGV, fast train
Nantes Airport - 2 hour drive


*TGV High Speed Train from Montparnasse Train Station in Paris stopping at Laval Train Station (transfer is included in the price for the 15:53 train (3:53pm) - (Leaves Paris at 14:43 (2:43pm). For the return train on Thursday transfer is included for the train that leaves Laval at 10:03am to Paris. These train times are the only ones the school is able to provide a transfer for. (times can vary slightly from year to year so please inquire). 





For further inquiries or to register, click here.

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Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.






Furnished upon request.



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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.

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"Dear Jo-Ann - We just had the most amazing week. It was everything we could have hoped for and more. We are already planning a "make your own pasta party" at our house to introduce friends to the very unique flavours we tried and made! Jo-Ann, the others who came through Active Gourmet - Ed, Cathy and Kelly were all very complimentary about the service they had received from you, as were we. I was hugely impressed with your immediate attention to every detail and I will certainly recommend friends to your website if they are considering similar trips to ours." - Joneen and Ray S., Auckland, New Zealand

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