Cuisine & Culture in Paris and Champagne

Dates by arrangement

France is known all over the world as the home of fine dining, and no on takes this fact more seriously than the citizens of Paris. It has been a destination for culinary enthusiasts since at least the middle ages. It is also a mecca for learning the arts of food and wine, whether it is becoming a chef or a restaurant owner or a sommelier. It’s also a wonderful place to get lost in food markets and specialty culinary equipment stores as we will do.  The hotel base for the tour is La Cazaudehore in St Germain-en-Laye, just 14 miles from Paris. It is well-placed for our excursions to Chartres, Versailles, Fontainebleau and the Champagne region.

Several of the restaurants on the tour are historic and were started during the Belle Epoch of the 1890’s as well as the Eiffel Tower. Other fun excursions include stops at E Dehlerin and La Epicerie.

Champagne – the very names evoke images of decadence and luxury and breaks out the bubbly by the millions of cases every year, drawing thirsty travelers the world over to taste its unparalleled sparkling wines and explore the chalky caves in which the Champagne matures. The surrounding countryside is rife with deep forests, rolling limestone and bright waterways. The tour will highlight two of its most unique boutique champagne estates as well as lunch in Riems.

Delicious highlights

  • Welcome dinner at La Cazaudehore Forestiére, St Germain-en-Laye
  • Meals at top Paris restaurants including Drouant, Taillevent and the Eiffel Tower
  • Visit to the E. Dehillerin, a famous Parisian shop known for its cooking tools and kitchenware
  • Wine tasting with cheese pairing
  • Day trip to the Champagne region and tasting at two estates
  • Three cooking classes including one pastry class
  • Shopping trip to La Epicerie, an epicurean delight in the old Bon Marché building

Sightseeing highlights:

  • Panoramic bus tour of Paris
  • Visit to Pompadou Art Center
  • Visit to Versailles, including Petite and Grand Trianons and the Queen’s Hamlet OR
    • Visit to Fontainebleau & the Maurice Denis Priory & Museum
  • Visit & guided tour of Chartres Cathedral

Included in your tour is:

  • Seven nights at the four-star La Cazaudehore La Forestiére, St Germain-en-Laye
  • Breakfast daily
  • 5 lunches and 6 dinners
  • Private transportation as per itinerary by insured carriers
  • All sightseeing and activities as indicated in the itinerary
  • Gratuities for drivers
  • Single group transfer to and from Charles de Gaule Airport

Day 1 
You arrive in Paris in the morning and will be greeted by your hostess upon arrival. Transfer to your hotel and time to relax.  This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye. Meals: D

Day 2 
Your day starts with breakfast after which you will transfer to RER train station. You will then take the RER to Paris city center with our guide. Our driver will meet us at the exit of the RER for our panoramic tour of Paris. Follow the tour we will enjoy lunch at Chez Françoise near the Quai d’Orsay.  After that we will go to the  Pompidou Art Center, which is both an arts center and a cultural hub and enjoying its 40th anniversary.  Next, we will walk to the E. Dehillerin shop, famous the world over for its copper cookware and every imaginable cooking and pastry utensil!  Dinner tonight will be at Restaurant Drouant, opened in 1880 and now under the care of Chef Antoine Westerman since 2006.  Drouant celebrates the hors d’oeuvre tradition and uses only the freshest ingredients.  At the end of the day you will transfer back to the hotel by bus and stay overnight at hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière Relais & Châteaux in Saint Germain en Laye.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye. Meals: B, L, D

Day 3 
Your day starts with breakfast after which you can choose between two options for the day:

Option 1
A Morning visit to Chateau Fontainebleau, which started as a hunting lodge and became home to France’s kings.  Lunch will follow at the Hôtellerie du Bas-Bréau’s restaurant in Barbizon, which is famous for its traditional hunting fare and its role in the development of Barbizon as the home of the artists’ group called the “Barbizon School”.  On the way back to the hotel, you will detour to the Maurice Denis Museum & Priory.  Maurice Denis was a member of the Nabis artist movement and the museum is a little-known retreat and home to some of the movement’s paintings, graphic works, sculptures as well as a small chapel with interior paintings by Denis.

Option 2
This option starts with a short drive to Versailles where you can spend a leisurely day immersed in the history of France’s kings, beginning with the main Palace.  After lunch at Le Petite Venise on the grounds, you will see the Petite and Grand Trianons and finish at Marie-Antoinette‘s Hamlet. Return to the hotel for dinner at leisure.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye. Meals: B, L

Day 4 
After breakfast and a leisurely start, we will drive to Chartres and enjoy lunch at Le Petit Bistro, a cosy and intimate restaurant where they take pride in preparing the best of season, local and fresh cuisine.  Following lunch will be a guided tour of the Cathedral.  On the way back to the hotel you’ll stop for a cooking class at a unique school in Viroflay.  After dinner you will transfer back to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye. Meals: B, L, D

Day 5 
Your day starts with breakfast followed by your transfer to Champagne region.  There is a stop at Champagne Pannier before going on to Reims for lunch at Le Café du Palais.  After lunch you will get a closer look at the center of Reims in a short walking tour, which includes a visit to the cathedral.  Next is another champagne estate visit with a tasting.  Then we return to St Germain with an en-route stop in Ferté-sous-Jouarre to have dinner at Auberge du Petit Morin.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye.  Meals: B, L, D

Day 6 
After breakfast, you transfer to RER train station for the quick 20-minute ride into Paris where our bus and driver will meet us.  We will visit a food market and then enjoy a cooking class and lunch with Chef Olivier Berthé.  What better way to follow a lunch than a wine tasting?  Before we go on to dinner at Les Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, we will enjoy some free time.  Return to the hotel by bus.

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye. Meals: B, L, D

Day 7 
Your day starts with breakfast and a relaxing morning after which you will transfer to Paris city center by bus.  You can enjoy some free time and lunch at leisure before your final cooking class with Chef Olivier Berthé.  We will make some time for exploring and shopping at La Epicerie and then go on to a farewell dinner at Taillevent.  Transfer back to the hotel by bus

Overnight at Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestière in Saint Germain en Laye.  Meals: B, D

Day 8 
This nis departure day. Start the day with breakfast and then check out for transfer to CDG airport.

Biscuits de Reims

These sweet, fine biscuits from Reims are widely known under their French name “Biscuits Roses” or “Biscuits de Reims“. Those typical French pink treats were first a perfect accompaniment for champagne, but the French now enjoy Reims Biscuits with a cup of tea or as an ingredient of the typical Charlotte cake. The biscuit was created in Reims in 1690 when a Champenois baker wanted to take advantage of the heat of the bread oven in between batches. He had the idea to create a special dough and bake it twice.

The little cookies were originally white, but the vanilla beans used to flavor them left unappealing brown spots so the baker used a natural red dye to cover them. Et voilà – the biscuit rose de Reims was made! The biscuits are best enjoyed dipped in champagne.

INGREDIENTS

4 large eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour  

1/3 cup cornstarch  

1 tsp baking soda

1 drop of red food coloring 

powdered sugar for dusting the biscuits 

pastry bag with ¼” smooth tip

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and baking soda into a bowl and set aside

Mix the yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl using a hand blender with a whisk attachment, on increasing speeds over a period of 5-6 minutes. Beat in 2 of the egg whites for another 2 minutes. Beat in the remaining 2 egg whites and the food coloring for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture begins to form stiff peaks.

Fold in the dry ingredients gently with a spatula. You want a final result that is smooth and uniform in color. Scrape it into the pastry bag.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it with butter. Squeeze out strips of the mixture that are ¼”to ½” wide and about 3” long. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (You don’t want the biscuits to start browning though, or else they won’t be pink!)

Take the biscuits out, sprinkle them with more powdered sugar and place them back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes. When you take them out, quickly cut the edges of the biscuits so that you have even rectangles. Do this before they cool, or else they become rather difficult to cut. If they cool before you finish, you can place them back in the oven for a few minutes to soften. Serve with a semi-sweet Champagne and enjoy! Alternatively, you can buy the biscuits from Maison Fossier, manufacturers of the pastry since 1691!


“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

– Ernest Hemingway

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