Explore, Paint & Cook in Provence
~ A Week Long Villa Vacation ~
Day 1 – (Saturday, May 23): Arrival day at the villa with champagne reception and welcome dinner
We’ll meet you at the Marseille airport or Aix-en-Provence TGV station and take you to your luxury villa in the countryside just outside of Aix-en-Provence. A light buffet lunch will be waiting for you. You’ll have the afternoon to settle into your room and relax poolside, on the terrace outside or on one of the comfy sofas in the common room.
In the evening we’ll have a champagne welcome reception. We’ll talk about all the fabulous events, tastings and excursions for the week ahead and then enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2- (Sunday, May 24): Exploring the villages of the Luberon Valley – Dinner at the villa – Painting class with wine tasting
We’ll start the vacation off with visits to some of the most beautiful spots in Provence, villages of the Luberon Valley. The first of our villages is Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a romantic village built on and around the Sorgue River. You’ll have time to wander the huge Sunday antiques market and the streets that wrap around the river. From there, we’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of the best restaurants in the Luberon before heading over to another village built upon a river, Fontaine du Vaucluse. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the hilltop villages of Gordes (stopping for a photo op) and the ochre cliffs of the village of Roussillon. If time permits we’ll stop and have an aperitif and appreciate the ultimate in village café life in the main square in Lourmarin.
We’ll paint one of the scenes from the day during our first painting class together. Dinner will be a picnic-style buffet of typical Provencal dishes. Wine, cheese and French pastries will be available during painting class.
Day 3 ~ (Monday, May 25): Arles visit and walking tour – Visit to the hilltop village of Les Baux-de-Provence – Olive oil tasting – Painting Class
We’ll visit Arles, the city where Van Gogh spent much of his time and used much of the scenery in his paintings. We’ll take a guided walking tour of the city, its Roman ruins and the sites of many Van Gogh paintings, particularly “Café at Night.” After our walking tour, we’ll have a gourmet three-course lunch together at a restaurant in Arles.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit the hilltop village of Les Baux-de-Provence and take in the breathtaking views from high above Provence. After some free time to explore Les Baux on your own, we’ll visit a nearby olive oil farm and learn to expertly taste olive oils.
In the evening, we’ll have another painting class at the villa, painting one of the lovely scenes from our day. Chef Kathy will create a Provencal dinner for you at the villa.
Day 4 ~ (Tuesday, May 26): Market Day in Aix – Pastry shop visit and tasting - Market-to-Table cooking class
We’ll spend the day in Aix-en-Provence, a city with a rich and ancient heritage, thousands of years old. We’ll wander the tree-lined streets with 17th and 18th-century mansions and see the many fountains that fill the historic city center. Chef Kathy will give you a guided tour of the big Tuesday market in Aix and a guided visit to a pastry shop, with several tastings along the way.
After our walking tour, you’ll have time to wander the market before our market-to-table cooking class in the center of Aix. During the cooking class, we’ll create a lavish 4-course meal, including the all-important French cheese platter, using the best ingredients we find at the market that day.
In the afternoon, you’ll have another hour or so to explore Aix-en-Provence on your own before heading back to the villa for an evening to relax. Dinner will be at the villa.
Day 5 ~ (Wednesday, May 27): Seaside Villages along the Mediterranean Coast (Sanary-sur-mer and Cassis) – Boat tour of the Calanques - Painting Class
We’ll spend the morning together at one of my favorite coastal villages in Provence, Sanary-sur-Mer, and visit its huge Wednesday market, one of the biggest and best of the region. You’ll have time to stroll the port and check out the colorful array of pointu (pointed) boats along the harbor.
We’ll head over to Cassis for lunch along the port, where you might want to try a seafood platter or the famous Provencal dish, bouillabaisse. After lunch, we’ll take a boat ride along the Calanques (French for Fjords). You’ll have some free time for a stroll through the cozy town.
In the evening, we’ll have our third painting class together painting a scene from one of the villages along the sea. Your private chef will create a Provencal dinner with local wines at the villa.
Day 6 ~ (Thursday, May 28): Morning at the Market in Aix – Market-to-Table Cooking Class – Afternoon enjoying the Thermal waters at the Spa in Aix – Painting Class
Today we’ll spend the day in Aix-en-Provence. You’ll be able to explore the market and Aix-en-Provence at your leisure. Then, we’ll create another 4-course gourmet meal from ingredients at the market.
You’ll have the afternoon free to wander Aix-en-Provence or take in the thermal waters of Aix at the spa in town. After your relaxing afternoon, we’ll return to the villa for our fourth and final painting class together. Dinner will be a picnic-style buffet before class.
Day 7 ~ (Friday, May 29): Morning in the walled-city of Avignon – Wine tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape – Farewell Dinner
We’ll spend the morning in the walled-city of Avignon, visiting the old city center, Les Halles market, Palais des Papes and the famous bridge Pont Saint Benezet. You’ll have time to explore and shop in Avignon. We’ll have lunch at a gourmet bistro.
Our afternoon will be in the Southern Rhone Wine Valley. We’ll visit two wine chateau in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine region. We’ll learn about and taste some of the wines of the area.
Our farewell dinner together will be at one of the best restaurants in Aix-en-Provence.
Day 8 ~ (Saturday, May 30) Perfectly French Breakfast and Farewell Provence
We’ll end the week, with morning breakfast of pastries, baguettes and cheese together before your departure. Then we’ll transport you to either the Marseille Airport or Aix-en-Provence TGV station and say our au revoirs. Along with the memories from your dream vacation, you’ll leave with new friends, your paintings and recipes from the week.
Ready to join us?!! Book your dream vacation in Provence now; only 12 spaces available
Vacation Dates: May 23 to 30, 2015
Vacation Price: $4,150 per person based on double occupancy
Single supplement charge: $700
To Book Your Vacation:
To reserve your spots on this exclusive vacation, request a booking form via email at chefkathyayer [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Pay the non-refundable deposit of $1,000. Pay via PayPal or by check.
Final payment is due 90 days prior to the vacation start date, on February 23, 2015.