Less than two-hours from Paris is a magical land filled with fairy-tale chateaus, quaint medieval villages, and some of the finest wines in France. The Loire Valley has always been a magnet for visitors and a great way to experience it is by staying in an authentic chateau and learning French cooking.
Mary Pochez, a southern California ex-pat has lived in France for over 30 years. After living the in fast lane of Paris for 25 years, she and her French husband Xavier were looking for a quieter life in the countryside and moved permanently to Xavier’s family owned chateau in the Loire, where they had spent many weekends and summers. Chateau de la Barbee has been in Xavier’s family since 1790 and the sprawling estate is over 1200 acres with a working farm, private chapel, and authentic orangerie. Located at kilometer 101, Chateau de la Barbee is on the Voie de la Liberte, "Liberty Way," which is the road that General Patton and the Allied forces took on their lightning campaign from Normandy into Paris.
Mary learned the art of traditional French cooking and the proper way to entertain by her mother-in-law, who was a countess. After preparing extravagant dinner parties and lunches for hundreds of guests over the years, she decided to share her knowledge and love of French cooking with outside guests.
Appropriately called La Vie du Chateau, Mary is offering a three-day weekend culinary program and a six-day program.
The three-day program includes a wine and cheese party, a welcome aperitif and dinner, three cooking classes- one demonstration class and two hands on classes, and a visit to the local fresh food market in La Fleche, an historic medieval village.
For the six-day program, La Vie du Chateau offers an extended version of the three-day program which also includes a wine tour and tasting, a visiting pastry and sauce chef, lunch on the Loir river, an excursion to Angers, and a wine and food pairing class.
Both programs include staying at the chateau.
The good news is that La Vie du Chateau will be offering classes in July and August when most culinary classes in the area are closed for summer holiday.
Guests also learn the history of the chateau, along with planning a menu, preparing a cheese platter, and wine and food pairing. The goal of La Vie du Chateau is to help you learn the basics of French cooking and master dishes you can prepare in your own home.