Living France - - A LA MANSION -

The monthly ‘Cook Club’, a fourhour, hands-on cooking course cov­er­ing a wide va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent cuisines, has al­ready started, and has at­tracted other ex­pats in the lo­cal area.

“The classes are held in English at the mo­ment as my French isn’t good enough, but we’re both hav­ing lessons and it would be lovely if I could of­fer lessons to the French as well at some point,” says Louise. “Any­body is wel­come though and we’ve had a mix of na­tion­al­i­ties so far. It’s as much about hav­ing a nice cooking ex­pe­ri­ence as it is about learn­ing or im­prov­ing skills. We re­ally do want to im­merse our­selves as much as we pos­si­bly can in French cul­ture, and as I’m also of­fer­ing fam­ily days I think it would be re­ally nice to get French chil­dren in­ter­ested in cooking too.”

A full-day fam­ily course be­gins with a cooking class for the par­ents while the chil­dren en­joy them­selves in the grounds and make the most of the swim­ming pool (with adult su­per­vi­sion), then af­ter lunch it’s the kids’ turn to have some fun in the kitchen while the par­ents re­lax out­side. And as Louise says, she’s the one who has to clean up af­ter­wards!

The ‘Cook and Dine’ course in­cludes an af­ter­noon of cooking be­fore ev­ery­one then sits down to en­joy the fruits of their labours in the evening – with a glass or two of lo­cally pro­duced wine, of course. Res­i­den­tial cour­ses are avail­able too, with ac­com­mo­da­tion pro­vided at The Court­yard at Sainte Cather­ine, a gîte and cham­bres d’hôtes run by Louise’s friends Stephanie and Char­lie May. Yet more fa­mil­iar names – the cou­ple were fea­tured in the Au­tumn 2015 is­sue of Liv­ing France when they shared the story of how they ren­o­vated their prop­erty to set up a hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness. Louise and Ian met the Mays when they stayed at The Court­yard them­selves af­ter first mov­ing to France.

“There was a gap of three or four weeks be­tween mov­ing out of the gîte and into the rental prop­erty, and luck­ily Steph had some space and was happy to ac­cept our dogs,” ex­plains Louise. “We clicked im­me­di­ately – we have a lot of shared in­ter­ests and both love food. She’s a great cook, and ob­vi­ously if I’m run­ning cooking cour­ses I need to know that my guests are stay­ing some­where where the food is re­ally good. It’s got to be fairly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of me, and Steph’s cooking style is very sim­i­lar to mine.”

For the first cou­ple of years, Louise in­tends to see how well it works hav­ing the cour­ses and the ac­com­mo­da­tion for her guests in two sep­a­rate places (The Court­yard is about 35 min­utes away from Louise’s home), but the ul­ti­mate aim is to have a prop­erty where they can also of­fer on-site ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“Luck­ily we have a re­ally large kitchen, and Ian is very handy – he’s cre­ated two large is­lands, one for me to demon­strate from and an­other one on wheels which can com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date up to eight peo­ple on a course”

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