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Are your cooking holidays all inclusive?
The prices we give you include your accommodation in our guesthouse, every single breakfast, lunch and dinner during your stay as well as your drinks: aperitif before dinner, wine with lunch and dinner, water, tea, coffee and soft drinks throughout the day. You even get home-made cookies! The taxes (VAT and local tax) are also included, as well as transportation between Tonneins train station and our house. All entrance fees, when applicable, are covered too.
What will I actually learn?
I try to cover as many techniques as possible in the time that we have, so you don't feel you have just come all the way here to get a few recipes. My goal is to give you bases so you can create your own dishes back home. How to build a sauce, how to make bread, how to braise properly, etc...
How much time will be spent cooking?
There is 1 cooking session per day in the seasonal cooking course, each about 3 hours long. You then come back before dinner and between each course to plate up. There are up to 2 cooking sessions a day in the patisserie course, each between 2h30 and 3 hours.
How much money do I take with me?
Apart from the balance of your holiday(!), you only need to worry about your pocket money. We go to producers and markets, so you might get tempted by a few local delicacies. No purchase is expected from you, we will not take you to tourist traps where you feel you have to buy something, it is all up to you.
What is the easiest way to get to you?
The easiest way to come to us is to fly into Bordeaux. You can then decide to hire a car to drive to us, which is quite straightforward as it is motorway all along and only 1 hour drive. Or you can catch the shuttle bus at the airport that will take you to Bordeaux station, and jump on a train to Tonneins. We will collect you from Tonneins train station at no extra charge.
How does the collection and drop off service work?
As soon as you have your flight details, you should contact us so we can work out which train you will be able to catch. Please bear in mind that we collect and drop off at Tonneins train station only, NOT Bordeaux. We offer this service for free. We collect between 4.00pm and 7.00pm on arrival day and we drop off for the 8:10am train on departure day. There are up to 6 participants needing this service, so please understand that there will be only one collection and drop off per day, so you may have to arrange your travelling time around that (maybe catch an earlier train or a later one). Should the times we offer for collection and drop off not suit your travel arrangements, we will be happy to put you in contact with a local taxi firm so you can arrange your own journey to/from Tonneins at your own expense.
Do I need a car?
You do not need a car. Depending on what you expect from your holiday, you choose to rent a car or not. I make sure you see as much of the area as possible when we go on our morning outings. However, our house is in the heart of the countryside, so after our cooking sessions, you should not expect to be able to walk to town. There is a village 2km down the road with a post office, and a cornershop/bar/tobacconist, but the town is 12km away. The bikes we lend you are purely to have a little cycle around the countryside and NOT a mean of transport.
Do the courses cater for my level of cooking?
We teach traditional French cuisine. All levels are welcome and our programmes will be adapted to cater for your needs. On our seasonal courses you will learn to prepare dishes like soufflés, pâtés, terrines, mousses, stews, stocks, bread, classic sauces, and learn to fillet fish or bone poultry. On our patisserie courses, you will learn to prepare classics like brioche, croissants, macaroons, eclairs, tarts, crème patissière, and entremets. If you already master techniques of French cooking, maybe our courses are not for you.
Can I book if I don't speak French?
Our courses are in English, unless you request a course in French for a party of 4. On our excursions we will meet French producers, but everything will be translated to you, so no worries, you do not need to speak or understand French to enjoy your time with us!
What can I do on my time off?
Your time off will basically be from 4.00pm to 7.00pm, after our cooking sessions, so you can relax in your room, or in the lounge/diner, or even in the garden. A good book or a little siesta maybe? Of course if you have a car, you can explore the area, there are nice places to see not far from our location (why not check Our Location page to get a few ideas). We do have some bikes on site that we are happy to let you use across the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, we will be unable to provide transport for you, so please consider hiring a car if you are planning on going out.
Are all the rooms ensuite?
All our bedrooms have their private ensuite shower room/toilets.
What time can I arrive/leave?
We make sure the bedrooms are ready from 4.00pm for check-in. Dinner is usually served at 7.30pm, so an arrival between 4.00pm and 7.00pm is ideal. If we are picking you up from Tonneins station, we will inform you as early as possible when the collection will take place so all the course participants can be collected at once. On departure day, unless we are dropping you off at Tonneins station for the 8:10am train, check-out should be done before 11.00am so we get a chance to prepare the room for the next guests.
What should I bring with me?
Your linen and towels are provided as well as soap. You should bring your own toiletries. You should also bring an electrical socket adaptor if you need to charge up your own appliances. Sun cream and a hat could be a good idea if you are coming in the summer. As far as clothing is concerned, although aprons are provided for the cooking sessions, you should be wearing comfortable clothes that you don't mind staining (it happens!). We strongly recommend you do not wear open shoes such as sandals or flip-flops in the kitchen for your own safety. You will not be needing cocktail dresses and high-heel shoes, nor suit and ties. You should also think of being able to tie your hair up during the cooking. In case of rain, your shoes might get muddy if we visit a farm, so choose your footwear accordingly. A few of our previous guests have asked us to recommend that you bring along elasticated clothing as you will be eating "gargantuan meals"!! But most importantly, you should bring your good humour and love of cooking, they will be put to good use!
Can my companion come along if he/she does not wish to cook?
Of course, one might want to accompany you on your travels but pass on the cooking, in which case you should refer to the relevant course page on our site (seasonal courses or patisserie courses) to find the respective tariffs. The price you are quoted includes full board, and all drinks too. The non-cooking guests are welcome to join us at no extra charge on our various outings, if there is spare room in our vehicle (our car will only seat 6+driver).
Can my children join the cooking course?
Children are more than welcome to join the courses, under their parents supervision only. They have to reach the workbenches comfortably to cook safely, and we do strongly recommend a minimum of 7 years of age.
I am vegetarian/vegan, will you cater for me?
Unfortunately, we are not knowledgeable enough on vegetarian or vegan food to plan a whole course around it. Although we use an abundance of local fresh fruit and vegetable, our seasonal courses could not be designed to suit your needs. What we have done in the past and would happily do again is design a 3 nights-course or a day-course around fish and seafood if you are booking for a party of 4. If you are thinking of joining us for a patisserie course, we have absolutely no problem with serving you vegetarian food and avoiding gelatin in our pastry making. Unfortunately we are not able to cater for vegans.
I am a fussy eater, can I still participate?
We should be able to find enough ingredients you actually like to produce meals that would tempt you. We do not cook offal, as most of our cooking guests request to give them a miss. If you have a few major dislikes, we will of course avoid the use of those ingredients in our programme. If your palate only cheers up for a very limited selection of ingredients, you might find our courses irrelevant to your needs.
I have allergies, can you cater for me?
If you have a food allergy, just let us know as you book, and we will make sure nothing lands onto your plate that could cause trouble. If you are allergic to pets, you have to know that we have 2 super-friendly dogs and 2 cats, and although we try our best to keep them away from the guests quarters, they will occasionally manage to sneak in to say hello. They are however never allowed anywhere near the guest bedrooms, and have never been.
There is a specific dish I would like to practice, can it be part of the course?
Our primary goal is to make sure you get the maximum from the cooking course. If there is a dish that we can reasonably include in our programme, we will happily do so. However, we stick to seasonal ingredients and seasonal cuisine, so we will not for example make cassoulet in the summer or cook with tomatoes in the winter.
How do I pay?
We request a 25% deposit to secure bookings, which can be paid by transfer or by credit card. Please note there is a non refundable 15 € charge per bank transfer. We do not offer the facility of on-line payment, so should you wish to pay by card, simply give us a call or send us an email with your details. Your balance will be due on arrival, you can pay it by card or cash.
Can I cancel/amend my booking?
We offer a refund of all deposits up to 30 days prior to your date of arrival. Please note that all fees related to the deposit will be deducted from our refund to you, such as bank fees, credit card commission (a few euros as a rule) and bank transfer fees (15 euros per transfer). You can also amend your booking (duration, date, participants), subject to availability, up to 30 days before arrival. Those amendments will be considered final.
What's the weather like in Gascony?
As a rule, you should expect the following: Freezing temperatures between November and February (down to -10°C at night and up to 10°C in the day). Fresh/cold mornings and evenings but warm days from March to May and in October. Hot days from June to September (up to 40°C in July and August).
Is there a wifi connection in the house?
There is a wifi connection available for you free of charge. You will be able to get a reasonable signal in the lounge diner, and a slightly weaker one in your bedroom, but given our rural location, the connection speed is limited in any case.
Do you accept pets?
Unfortunately our guests' pets are not allowed, as we have 2 dogs running outside, and for hygiene no animal is ever allowed in the bedrooms.
Do you offer a laundry service?
We do offer a laundry service at the extra cost of EUR 15 per load washed and dried.
Is the house suited for handicapped guests?
Unfortunately, all our guests bedrooms are on the first floor and are not accessible on a wheelchair.