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Culinary Tours

French Culinary Adventures at La Combe en Périgord

Whether you're an experienced cook or just love food, you'll be enchanted by a trip with us to the French countryside.

French Culinary Class

A La Combe en Périgord culinary adventure week with the Jamisons includes:

  • Seven nights lodging in a luxury suite at La Combe on a double-occupancy basis
  • All meals and wines, including many at great local restaurants
  • Group transfer from and back to the Angouleme train station
  • Local van and car transportation for daily tour activities
  • Admissions to all scheduled activities
  • Hands-on group cooking instruction for 3 full meals with Cheryl and Bill
  • Full set of recipes from Cheryl and Bill
  • Great camaraderie and a lifetime of memories

On a rural road outside the village of Les Eyzies de Tayac, one small sign indicates the turnoff to La Combe en Périgord. Nothing about the simple marker prepares you for where you're heading, a magnificent eighteenth-century manor in the scenic Dordogne countryside in southwestern France. Wendely Harvey, the owner of La Combe, greets you at the gate and ushers you into a courtyard between the main house and a venerable barn that's been converted to luxurious guest suites. It's a grand entrance into an exciting weeklong culinary adventure.

You're almost there

La Combe en Perigord
Wendely hires guest chefs-us in this case-as tutors for a maximum of eight paying guests. Since 2003, we have brought guests once or twice a year to La Combe from all over the U.S. and as far away as Australia. They have ranged in cooking experience from accomplished amateurs to a retired corporate executive who had never boiled water, and have included groups of friends traveling together, couples, mothers and daughters, and solo travelers. Few spoke any French (language skills are not required) and most arrived and departed the country via Paris, taking the high-speed TGV train from there to Angouleme, where guests are picked up and dropped back at the beginning and end of the La Combe week.
Our job is to introduce everyone to the simple glories of regional French home cooking. Wendely and staff handle the tough work, organizing and leading daily excursions to nearby markets, restaurants, special shops, castles, and much more. They give us a first hand-look at a part of the world where mail is often still delivered by bike and all shops close up for the traditional two-hour French lunch.
On three of the seven days, we guide guests through the preparation of a local dinner. Doing it the French way, we all take off together in the morning to shop for fresh food in nearby open-air markets. Generally, we do some sightseeing along the way, enjoy a leisurely lunch out, and then return to La Combe in the mid-afternoon to start the meal preparations around the massive kitchen table.

Fabulous market ingredients
The cooking takes on a house-party atmosphere, particularly when the knife work is done and the wine comes out. We assemble again at dinner time and relish the fruits of our labor with dishes that vary by the season. The starter might be a gougere or olive-and-walnut tapenade, followed perhaps by chilled terrine of local foie gras or seared foie gras with fig confit and frisée. The main course could be grilled hanger steak with basil and tomato relish, duck breasts glazed with lavender honey, or a hearty cassoulet, any of which might be accompanied by potatoes Dauphinois and haricots verts drizzled with walnut oil. Regular desserts include a dark chocolate gateau with Armagnac ice cream and strawberry clafouti with strawberry sorbet.

Participants making fruit tarts
in the La Combe kitchen
While we focus on the dinners, Wendely, always a delightful and witty host, gives the group an insider's look at one of France's most attractive and romantic regions. Activities vary by season and availability, but always mix the culinary and cultural with a hearty dose of fun. We often visit a local duck farm to learn how the French use every bit of the bird, from the quack to the tail, and sometimes go to impressive formal gardens, medieval fortified villages, and an innovative truffle farm. We always try to fit in a visit to the Lescaux caves, world-renowned for their prehistoric paintings, and allow time for the curious to see the national museum of pre-history in Les Eyzies.
We might lunch one day at a Wine Spectator-lauded restaurant, savor a simple charcuterie meal the next, then dine in Michelin-starred splendor the following day. We come across castles or chateaus on every hilltop and usually stop at a few, perhaps the beautiful Château de Cluzeau or Chateau Milandes, the former home of American-born entertainer Josephine Baker.
Other sample highlights include a trip to a traditional water-powered walnut mill, a visit to the caves of a mushroom cultivator, and local cheese tastings. We try to spend at least a few hours marketing and shopping in ancient Perigueux, founded by the Romans, in picturesque Sarlat, a Renaissance town, and in historic villages such as Domme, Roque Gageac, Rocamadour, and Beynac, where the opening scenes of Chocolat where filmed. Guests often end up carrying or shipping home antiques, brocante, tableware, linens, china, and, of course, a variety of food items.
The lodging at La Combe is in lovely two-level suites with private baths in the manor house's stately renovated barn. There's an adjoining pool to use in summer and some participants like to hike, run, or bike around the country roads. Bon Appétit, in an article about La Combe in 2003, glowed with praise for all aspects of the experience. Even at times when the American dollar is taking a beating abroad, guests almost always call their week "an extraordinary value".

Cheryl and Bill can arrange La Combe adventures for groups of six to eight people. To discuss the possibility, please email us through the Contact page.

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