Frequently Asked Questions
Workshops are held between April-November. Days depend the session.
Cooking & Déjeuner are available any day of the week to suit your schedule, or get in touch (below) to let me know what works best for your travel itinerary.
Le Poisson classes are best on Thursdays or Fridays to ensure the freshest products.
Brocante Sundays are a fixed point on the calendar, held on the second Sunday of every month between April-November, to coincide with the monthly Brocante flea market held in the main square in Fourcès.
French Market classes depend on the market day and there are several options. Do you have a day in mind? Would you like a 1- or 2-day workshop? Send me an email and let’s see what works.
Please see the Terms & Conditions for the cancellation policy and the COVID policy.
If you have a specific day and date in mind, or if you’re not sure exactly when you’re travelling or what session is best, don’t worry; please do get in touch so we can get the conversation started!
All levels are welcome. My aim is sharing French culture through food, instilling confidence and enjoying the kitchen together; these sessions are designed to run with whatever skills you have. These are not professional courses; they are an opportunity to experience and taste French food and the high quality local ingredients here in the Gers region. They are always culturally enriching but there are no certificates at the end. Just happy, well fed people!
All ingredients and equipment are included and you will receive a copy of all the recipes.
It takes a minimum of 3 cooks to run the workshops, so if your group is less than 3 cooks, please enquire to reserve your preferred date and I will confirm with you as soon as we have at least 3 cooks. Two cooks and 2 paying companions can be an option too so let me know what you’re thinking.
I prefer to keep workshops to 6 cooks to allow plenty of time for discussion and hands-on work. If you group is slightly larger, there are some options so please get in touch to discuss.
As soon as a Workshop is fully booked, or 8 weeks before the Workshop date whichever comes first, I will email all the participants to confirm. There is an option on the booking form to tell me of any food allergies and aversions and it is very important to fill this out. It helps ensure the workshop content is suitable for all participants.
Cooking & Déjeuner Workshops generally run from 10:00 – 4:00, which includes stopping to eat around 1:30. Lunch is enjoyed around a communal table and includes everything we’ve cooked, which is generally a 3 course meal, plus an apéro to start, a thoughtfully sourced cheese platter and local wines.
A number of themes are suggested for you to indicate to me where your interests lie. Selecting one kind of theme is not a guarantee that the workshop will be exactly on the theme you indicate; it may be the exact theme if you are booking with friends and all of you want the same thing. But, if you select one option and another person books for the same day and indicates a different option, the workshop will run as a hybrid of the two. For example, a hybrid of New Seasonal French and Home Cooking might combine Tarragon Chicken with a starter course of some contemporary crudités. The themes are essentially very similar to one another and they allow me to craft a workshop that allows you to cook the sorts of food you enjoy.
Brocante Sundays are abridged versions of the full day workshops combining hands-on cooking with demonstrations, and some dishes may be prepared ahead to allow time for browsing the antiques stalls. These workshops are a lovely way to combine antiquing and cooking. And eating! The lunch follows the same model as the Full Day Workshop offering: aperitif, déjeuner with dessert, cheese course and local wines. These are only offered once a month, on the second Sunday of each month to coincide with the very popular Fourcès Brocante Market. If you like to shop for vintage French anything, you will absolutely love these sessions.
French Market Workshops start early so allow for a full day of shopping and cooking. You will need your own transport to and from the chosen market and then back to Fourcès. Market day classes are slightly different, with shopping and cooking and eating staggered through the day, but there will be time at the end to sit down and enjoy an aperitif and food in the garden so no one will go home hungry! For the best experience, these can also be planned over 2 days, with market shopping & some prep on Day 1 and final cooking on Day 2. Get in touch to discuss.
Cheese Tasting Sessions do not include any cooking but they do end with a communal eating session in the garden.
I do ask that all workshop participants are over the age of 18. For younger cooks, please enquire about the Family class option. These are bespoke and have a minimum of 3 participants which includes the parents; menus can be adapted to suit all palates; ask me.
Everyone cooks in the hands-on sessions but not everyone cooks everything or we would never get lunch on the table on time!
All classes are conducted in English. French speaking sessions can be arranged, get in touch to find out more.
Enrollment in any of the workshops requires payment in full and the invoice is confirmation of the booking. Please see Terms & Conditions for the full booking and cancellation policy.
I will follow French COVID regulations, please see the Terms & Conditions, and this currently means all participants, me included, must be fully vaccinated and be able to show a recognised certificate on the day of attendance.
Not everyone you are travelling with likes to cook? No problem. A popular addition for all of the workshops is the Companion’s Place which costs €50 per person for the same menu. Places are limited so do make sure to book this when booking your class.
French food, what else!
For the Cooking & Déjeuner Workshops, I suggest a range of themes. It is my intention to allow you to have a sense of the sorts of food we will cook and eat on the day, and for you to let me know where your interests lie but there are no set menus, like at a restaurant.
For all of the Workshops however, it is important to stress the menus are not cast in stone or pre-determined because I always use the best, in-season ingredients and, because this can vary from one week to the next, the workshop content varies too.
All of the workshops will have plenty of vegetarian options and, if you are vegetarian do please let me know. Sadly, it is not possible to cater workshops for vegans at this time.
Also, in the interest of planning and making sure you get what you need, please ensure you communicate to me well in advance regarding any food allergies or aversions or restrictions. There are places to do this on the booking form or simply get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Food Allergies’ + the date of your workshop in the subject line. Thank you!
About 8 weeks before your confirmed workshop, you will get an email with more information about your chosen class. And please remember that you can also email if you have any questions.
Château de Fourcès
The Atelier is on rue du Château and there are 3 residences on the street. Mine (the Atelier), my neighbours’ house and Le Château. So, if you’re looking for a place to stay, with a pool on beautiful grounds, the Château de Fourcès is a 5-room luxury B&B conveniently located just opposite! It is a popular spot and sells out quickly because there are only 5 rooms so early booking is advisable.
In this neighbouring village, you will find a highly-rated hotel, part of the Logis de France chain, with a restaurant attached, Auberge de Larrissingle, where you can dine on high-quality local food as you take in breathtaking views of the Gers countryside.
Hotel Le Logis des Cordeliers is a charming family-run two-star hotel in the nearby town of Condom. Rooms are no-frills but comfortable, especially those on the top floor overlooking the pool. Parking is available on a first-come first-served basis and it is situated in a quiet setting within easy walking distance of the town centre.
Condom has a weekly covered market and is approximately 10 minutes east of Fourcès. Film buffs might recognise the town as it featured in the 1995 French comedy Le Bonheur est dans le Pré, about life in the Gers, the virtues of long lunches and foie gras, amongst other things.
☼ ☼ ☼
Just outside of Condom you will find the luxurious Les Bruhasses. An expansive 18th century property situated in the countryside but with all the mod-cons, including insect screens on the windows! Hosts Hélène and Jean will make you feel instantly welcome and they also offer wonderful breakfasts every day plus table d’hotes meals by reservation. There are suites, rooms and self-catering apartments. An absolute gem in the heart of Gascony.
A stunning hilltop bastide town in the Gers, this village also has a lovely upmarket hotel and spa: Hotel des Doctrinaires. There is a wonderful market in the centre of the town every Friday. Lectoure is located approximately 40 minutes east of Fourcès.
The town where author Joanne Harris spent her childhood holidays is believed to be the basis for the fictional town in her novel Chocolat. If you haven’t heard of the book, perhaps you saw the film released in 2000 with Johnny Depp?
In the centre of town is the Château Henri IV and directly opposite is a very pleasant gîte which consists of 2 apartments, one above the other. These can be rented separately or together for large groups. Nérac, a beautiful town on the Baïse river, has a lively Saturday market and is about 20 minutes north of Fourcès.
There is also Maison de la Fontaine which is a comfortable and updated rental home, owned by a food writer, very near the town centre, with a private courtyard garden and room to sleep 2-7 people.
Montréal du Gers
Just outside Montréal, a neighboring village to Fourcès, you will find Le Pelot. It is an exquisite property, with a kitchen that makes me envious. It often hosts wellness retreats, a testament to its beauty and serenity. The owners of this 4-bedroom villa with summer kitchen and pool, and an additional separate 1 bedroom annexe, are also happy to arrange vacation rentals.
An equally beautiful place nearby for a large group is the stunning 18th century manor house Le Panblanc. Its 7 bedrooms can accomodate up to 12 guests, and this sensitively restored domaine has preserved its originality with wooden beams, stone fireplaces and floors. This comfortable house offers total privacy and breathtaking views of the rolling landscape. It has a large pool and a private tennis court too.
Le Petit Cochon is a stylish 4 bedroom B&B in a beautiful 19th century merchant’s house conveniently located close to the main square of Valence. A stay here will guarantee a warm and friendly welcome, with comfy and relaxing bedrooms each with private ensuite facilities, wonderful breakfasts and great coffee. Not to mention the garden, which is lovingly tended by its green-fingered owner and offers a commanding position on the old bastide wall with expansive views over the Gers countryside. Valence-sur-Baïse is a leisurely 25 minute drive south of Fourcès., As
Fourcès is just under an hours’ drive from Agen and it is pretty much equidistant from Bordeaux and Toulouse, about a 1h45 drive from either city.
However you get here, a car is indispensable for getting around and visiting the region.
When your workshop booking is confirmed, we can discuss travel options and how to find it in more detail.
By Train: There is a TGV service between Paris-Bordeaux and Paris-Toulouse with stops at Agen. Your destination station would be Agen and it takes about 3 hours via TGV from Paris Montparnasse station. In Agen, there are car hire options right by the station.
From Agen it is about a 50 minute drive, through beautiful countryside, to get to Fourcès. Train travel is my recommendation for getting here. The TGV trains are excellent and very comfortable and often an upgrade to First Class is very reasonable. If you would like to discuss train travel, get in touch.
By Air: The nearest airports are either Bordeaux or Toulouse and there are several car hire options from both airports. There is also the possibility to take a train to Agen from both airports, either via a shuttle to the train station or with a taxi. Once at Agen, there is car hire available.
By car: Depends where you’re coming from! Your booking confirmation email will have all the information you need to get here.
For travel planning in general, there is a very handy website called Rome2Rio which offers all transport options to a given destination.
The Atelier is here to celebrate French ingredients and cooking but… we like food from everywhere!
From time to time, the Atelier will be home to other food writers and chefs hosting workshops in Fourcès. It is not always just French food.
Sign up to the Newsletter to be informed, or drop me an email and ask!
I welcome enquiries from other chefs and food writers wanting to work together so please get in touch.
Fourcès is in the north of the Gers region of south-west France, inland from Bordeaux and north of Toulouse. The entrance to the village is marked by a bridge over the river Auzoue, with the church to one side and the imposing castle to the other. The road from the bridge leads to the main square, which is actually a circle. Fourcès is one of a few circular villages in France.
It is a charming, curving bastide with arcades, half-timbered medieval houses and an imposing castle. It is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.
In addition to my cooking workshops, Fourcès is home to a wonderful little grocery store full of regional goodies and everyday items too. Plus there is a wine shop featuring regional wines and armagnacs, an art gallery, a bistro (L’Auberge) a restaurant (Le Carousel Gourmand), a handmade soap shop, an armagnac store (Ladevèze), a jewellery store and gift shops, and my favorite has to be the most marvellous antique/brocante store you have ever seen. And, there is Boubou’s Bar⏤a wine and tapas bar at the château in the warmer months.
In April, Fourcès hosts a renowned flower festival and in the past there have been many live music concerts in conjunction with the main Jazz Festival in Marciac, Gers. The second Sunday of every month is the Brocante, a bustling flea market in the center of the village. NOT to be missed!
In summer there are many village fêtes, including La Fête Gasconne plus ceramic markets and drawing & painting days. The village has a pétanque club and you will often see members honing their skills in the main circle. There is always something going on.
Here are some links to articles about the village and the region:
The Local Tourist board information, in English
The Jewel of Gascony, which is pretty accurate in my opinion
An informative piece giving lots of history