When you are as passionate about food and travel as I am, you seek out the very best of that magic combination as possible. For me that was travelling through France and Norway, with Walkabout Gourmet Adventure.
It has been a few years now since my first trip with Gabriela and Graeme and I have been counting down the days to go again. Having my own cooking school in Australia one would wonder why go on a food and walking tour.
You would have to take a trip with Walkabout Gourmet to understand! Travelling is not just about fantastic food wine and scenery, but about passion to share your experience with like minded travellers and I think Gabriela and Graeme have got the perfect combination down to a fine art.
Day 1 - Paris
After arriving in Paris we transfer to our accommodation, do a little food shopping then have a much earned champagne, aperitifs and dinner - a relaxing evening for the days ahead.
Day 2 - Paris
After coffee, at 8am we meet our French guide at the cheese shop and spend the next 3 hours on a Gourmet French Food Tour tasting Foie Gras, cheese, wines and specialty breads. After the tour we will visit the fresh food market and do what the Parisians do best, shop for their favourite foods
Day 3 - Paris
This morning we go behind the scenes at a Boulangerie (French bakery) and see how the French bake such wonderful bread. With our very fresh baguette under our arm, we head off to enjoy brunch followed by a Discover Paris tour. Dinner is at our apartment this evening.
Day 4 - Paris
A leisurely breakfast this morning will put us in the mood for a little culture. Our guide will meet us at 9:30am at the Place du Carrousel opposite the Louvre Museum for a (skip the line) tour which includes the Venus De Milo and the Mona Lisa. Our next stop is the Avenue des Champs Elysees, via the Tuileries Gardens. Here we will decide where we should lunch. At 1:30 we head to the Paris RITZ and commence our 3 hour cooking class at the hotels “Ecole Escoffier” which includes dinner.
Day 5 - Paris
After a slow breakfast and a free day, we visit the Eiffel Tower at 5 pm for a sunset (skip the line) tour. Have your camera ready!
Day 6 - Paris
After getting ourselves ready for the trip on the TGV fast train the next day, we enjoy the last of the Magic of Paris and the Ritz Hotel with High tea from 4 pm and then a farewell to Paris drink champagne at the Bar Hemingway.
Day 7 - AIX-EN-PROVENCE
From Paris we travel on the TGV (Fast train) to Aix-en-Provence, for three nights stay at La Bastide Du Cours - at a slower pace. This beautiful city was the home of Cezanne and houses many of his works of art. After we settle into our hotel we enjoy a stroll around the city and dine at a local café.
Day 8 - AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Today we start our day with pastries and coffee at La Patisserie Confiserie Riederer (The “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” Pastry Shop). Then its off to see the beautiful fabrics of Souleaido the original Provencal cloth printed with wooden blocks. Dinner tonight is at Restaurant L’epicurien - rated as one of the best casual restaurants in Aix-en-Provence.
Day 9 - AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Today we go to the vibrant food and goodies market at the Place de la Madelaine and find ourselves some yummy breakfast. Sightseeing, then a restful lunch at the café “A table”- a wonderful mixture of 50s and 60s funky décor. This afternoon we can please ourselves - more shopping - or a museum. A quiet dinner at La Bastide for our last night in Aix-en-Provence.
Day 10 - CASSIS, CALANQUES, Forcalquier
At 10am we meet Gabriela Clarke who with Graeme are the owners of Walkabout Gourmet Adventures. They have guided tours in Australia and Europe since 1986 and are highly regarded in the travel Industry. Today we travel to the charming town of Cassis on the Mediterranean. We view the Calanques, which resemble mini Norwegian fjords. From there we drive the crest road to La Ciotat, then to Domaine Templier near Bandol, to taste their wonderful wines. Leaving the coast, behind we travel to Forcalquier where we settle in to the Hotel Charembeau, have a swim or simply relax with a nice glass of local Pastis. Tonight’s dinner is at a local restaurant with Gabriela.
Day 11 - Forcalquier
This morning after a generous breakfast we journey to a nearby goat farm, to observe the production of the most delicious goat cheeses of Provence, Including the famous “Banon”. Our visit will include a tour of the barn that houses the beautiful brown Alpina Goats. We then return to Forcalquier to enjoy our own first cooking class. Today’s Provencale menu will be warm goat cheese salad, a traditional ratatouille and poulet à l’ail. For dessert we prepare a delicious vanilla and lavender honey parfait. Dinner tonight will be in the dining room of Gabriela’s home, enjoying the efforts of the afternoon, with a bottle or two of excellent local wines.
Day 12 - LURS, GANAGOBIE, Forcalquier
Today we leave the hotel Charembeau, drive to Forcalquier and buy ourselves a picnic lunch. For a bit of exercise, we walk to Les Tourrette , where a small group of interesting farmhouses dot the landscape. We continue along the forest edge at Les Ferailles to the ancient Chapel of Saint Pierre, an ideal setting for our picnic. After lunch we meander through typical unspoiled upper Provence country side where spring and autumn bring tasty mushrooms as well as the prized truffles. This is also an area of the olive groves. Pure natural olive oil is still pressed the traditional way in ancient olive mills. On our way, we visit an ancient mill. We re-join our bus to travel to Lurs and on to Ganagobie, for magnificent views over the sea of poppy fields and olive groves. Tonight we enjoy provincial cuisine at one of the Forcalquier village restaurants.
Day 13 - Forcalquier
Today Forcalquier hosts one of the liveliest markets in the region. Here you will find all the produce of the season. Take time to enjoy this restored old town. Pick up your favourite food for our picnic at the nearby area of Mane, in the fascinating herb garden of the former 12th century Priory of Salagon. This afternoon Christiane will demonstrate making the classic Pâté de Campagne - French country style terrine.
Day 14 - LUBERON, GORDES, ROUSSILLON
We drive to the Montagne du Luberon. These communities date from the Middle Ages, living from cultivation of olive trees, lavender, sheep and silk worms. We visit the abbey of Senanque, then lunch in Gordes. In the afternoon we visit Roussillon. This village dates back to the 14th century and is red from the ochre, extracted from the cliffs. This evening we relax by the pool at Charembeau with an aperitif platter and champagne.
Day 15 - HAUTE PROVENCE
Today we are in for a treat for both palate and senses. In the Alpes de Haute Provence we join Joyce Borgmann at her beautiful country house “l’Oustaou d’Oulivin” for a simple Mediterranean cooking class using fresh regional ingredients. This is followed by a scenic tour.
Day 16 - ORAISON, VERDON, MOUSTIER SAINTE MARIE
This morning we drive to Oraison and the Canyon du Verdon – unique and breathtaking scenery. We stop at the very scenic village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, to see Notre Dame de Beauvoir and its 12th century chapel, and the famous Faience pottery. Our special lunch today is at Chef Alaine Ducasse Bastide in Moustiers, which is rated as 1* Michelin star.
Day 17 - MARSEILLE
Today we leave our hotel Charembeau. We journey to Marseille, arriving at La Residence du Vieux Port, to drop off our luggage. We explore the Chateau d’if - Marseilles answer to Alcatraz. Tonight’s dinner is at the best rated café in town – Le Café Espice.
Day18 - MARSEILLE
Today we enjoy our last day in Marseille leisurely wandering around this great city. A tour highlight is the fascinating herb shop Pere la Baize, a traditional herbal institution in the same family since 1815!… now into its sixth generation! Our last stop is another of Marseilles institution - the Bar de la Marine where we may toast our tour and the friends we have made along the way.
DAY 19 - FAREWELL
Today we check out of our hotel. This concludes our organised tour. Farewell and bon voyage! We hope you have lots of fun photos and fond memories.