French Cooking Retreat at a Château in Normandy

Epitourean •

deal over

Escape Kit

  • A Seven-Day French Culinary Trip in Normandy ($2,298 per Person), Including:
  • Round-Trip Transportation from Le Mans Train Station to Château and Itinerary Destinations
  • Double-Occupancy Accommodations for Six Nights at Château de Saint in Alençon, France
  • Six Breakfasts, Two Lunches, and Two Dinners
  • Two Cooking Classes, Chef-Guided Market Workshop, and Itinerary Day Trips
  • Priced per Person Based on Double Occupancy (See Fine Print)

The Destination
Bordering the English Channel in Northern France, the region of Normandy balances a storied history and an enchanting present within villages fit for a storybook. The French countryside's expanse is pleasantly interrupted by grazing cows near the winding roads that unite the villages—although, these villages are also connected by an appreciation for world-class cuisine, artistry, and history. Nosh on fresh seafood flavored with salted butter while overlooking yachts and fishing boats bobbing in a harbor, or bite into soft cheeses accented with warm apple brandy in the shadow of a centuries-old castle. Snack on a pastry before viewing famed tapestries and paintings, and share your thoughts over a warm stew after visiting the area's iconic battlefield on its 70th anniversary.

The best way explore this region is through taste, and on a seven-day stay with Epitourean, you're sure to feel satisfied.

The Itinerary
day 1: welcome and chef's tasting dinner
You will be welcomed to France upon your arrival to the Le Mans Train Station, and will take a short 20-minute transfer through the winding hills and beautiful landscape of Perche to Château de Saint Paterne. Some guests choose to rent a car instead—the chateau is a 75-minute drive from Paris. Arriving at the Château in the early evening, you will be greeted by Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray (your hosts for the week) with aperitifs and a candlelight dinner. Carefully selected wines will accompany your gastronomic adventure...and the fairytale begins.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Dinner provided.

day 2: tour of d-day landing beaches
After a quiet and early breakfast, you will depart for the Normandy coast and plunge into the history of a war that moved the 20th century. Visit the museum and discover the story of World War II from its origins to the Battle of Normandy. Then follow your guide on the D-Day Landing Beaches—discover the Beach of Arromanches where you will see wide concrete boxes at the surface of the sea. They are relics of the two artificial harbors built by the Allies to land the men, supplies, and equipment necessary for battle. You will then visit the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer with its 9,387 white marble gravestones perfectly lined up on the field overlooking Omaha Beach. This 175-acre site shelters the bodies of the American soldiers who died during the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy. Before returning from your day in history, you will make one final visit to Pointe du Hoc high up on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Breakfast provided.

day 3: hands-on cooking class and gourmet lunch
Your first cooking lesson is led by cookbook author and Château owner Charles-Henry, and will be held in the hotel's new private kitchen. With two cookbooks in circulation, Charles-Henry has earned his stripes, and will guide you through an introduction of French traditional family cooking. Only fresh, local, and seasonal produce—some of it from the Château's own kitchen garden—are used to prepare the menu that you will enjoy at the conclusion of your instructions. After lunch, relax at the Château or visit nearby Alençon, famous for its lace. You'll find this town to be rich in shopping opportunities, and the Château proprietors are happy to share their recommendations.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Breakfast and lunch provided.

day 4: loire valley wine tasting adventure and lunch
After an hour drive through the picturesque countryside you'll arrive at the beautiful town of Saumur. The day will begin near century-old vineyards widely known for exquisite wines and some of the finest sparkling wines outside of Champagne. You will learn how the wine is made from the first fermentation to the labeling of bottles. Years of experience combined with modern production techniques have garnered this winemaker more than 130 awards.

Aside from wine tasting, you will tour the extensive underground galleries that stretch nearly five miles, a Sunken Cathedral, and a display of underground sculptures carved from indigenous "tuffeau" limestone. After your underground stroll, enjoy a delightful lunch featuring local specialties and a tasting of locally produced wines.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Breakfast and lunch provided.

day 5: day of leisure
Château de Saint Paterne is situated in a region that is rich in culture and history with lots of chateaux, antiques shops, museums, and charm that will captivate you. Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray will help you plan your free day and have even put together some proposed itineraries. Take a pleasant drive through the countryside for a chance to discover villages like Deauville (on the coast), Honfleur (a picturesque port village), Mont Saint Michel (an island with a majestic monastery), Chartres (with a famous cathedral that rivals Notre Dame in Paris), Giverny (the home of Claude Monet and his famous gardens), and more.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Breakfast provided.

day 6: chef-guided market workshop and farewell dinner
In the morning, visit the local market in Alençon (pronounced A-lonn-sonn)—a natural staging post with a colorful, military history in the Middle Ages. A visit to this vibrant restored town is like traveling back through time. Among its highlights is the circular wheat market, home to exhibitions beneath a magnificent glass dome. During your market tour, you will select ingredients to be used in your cooking class later in the day with the chef as he guides you through the creation of a multi-course dinner that you will all enjoy at the conclusion of class.
Overnight at Château de Saint Paterne. Breakfast and dinner provided.

day 7: depart
Time to pack your bags along with your newly acquired cooking skills. Transfer back to the Le Mans Train Station before departing on a flight home.
Breakfast provided.

The Dates
Traveling May 2014 through April 2015 ($2,298)
*Priced per person based on double occupancy (see fine print)

  • "You'll often see dishes served à la normande in Normandy, which basically means they'll be served with a sauce made with butter, cream or cheese (sometimes even a combination of all three)."

    -- Lonely Planet

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the fine print

  • Vouchers may not be combined to extend stay
  • Only valid for stays June 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015; must book by May 15, 2014
  • Reservations required and subject to availability; must be booked within 2 weeks of receiving your voucher
  • Not valid toward existing or room block reservations
  • Merchant cancellation policy applies, it is listed at the bottom of the page:
  • Rates are per person based on double occupancy (two people sharing a room). Each of two guests must purchase an Escape and arrange to stay together at the property. Single occupancy requires an additional fee of $700 due at booking
  • Voucher does not include airfare, Passport/visa fees, gratuities, personal or baggage insurance, meals or drinks not specified by itinerary, any costs not specified as included
  • Review the State Department's website for passport/visa requirements and important announcements before traveling to your destination
  • Taxes of 9.8% are not included; payable at booking
  • Nights must be spent consecutively; all inclusions must be redeemed during one stay
  • Other conditions apply • PROMOTIONAL VALUE EXPIRES ON July 31, 2015 • Enjoy By July 31, 2015