Join us on our cooking retreat in the South of France

The French Meal: Market Shopping and Cooking in the South of France

with Julie Francis, Donna Covrett, Maria de la Torre

For all details and full itinerary, download the full brochure here.

Dive into the art of French cooking as a philosophy, aesthetic, and attitude towards life. Whether the rich, concentrated flavors are from the halls of French gastronomy or the provincial home cook, a French meal is an ennobling experience, feeding soul and body. Join us in the enchanting region of Languedoc-Roussillon and be seduced by the succulence of the local specialties as we explore the cuisine de terroir, shopping at nearby village markets, meeting local food artisans, touring wineries and the cobblestone streets of medieval villages, as well as cooking and dining together.

Enjoy a slow-paced food retreat under the gorgeous blue Mediterranean sky, experience the flavors and traditions that make France resonant with good living, and are sure to inspire your own home kitchen. From the excellent local cheeses and wines to the historical and architectural interests, plus cooking and yoga classes and market-fresh meals in the garden, we guarantee ‘l’art de vivre’!

Note: this retreat is open to eight guests.



Chef Julie Francis, a Cincinnati (USA) native, has fond memories of her trips to Paris with her family to experience the markets and the amazing small chef owned bistros that they loved. In her professional career as an acclaimed Cincinnati restauranteur and chef of Aioli and Nectar restaurants, (2001-2017) she promoted seasonal and local sourcing before it became popular. During her career, Julie was proud to participate in many Cincinnati culinary events like 1 Night 12 Kitchens, Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic, Luminosity, and Zoofari. She was honored to be invited to cook at The James Beard House with other esteemed Cincinnati Chefs in 2014. Julie was drawn to start her personal chef business, Nectar Personal Chef Services, after seeing the enjoyment that families and individuals experienced with her in home cooking, and how providing delicious, healthy food made people happy, and let them relax at home.


After 20 years in the culinary industry in the USA as a pastry chef and restaurateur, Donna moved behind the scenes into food journalism—five years with an alt-weekly publication and eight years as the food and dining editor for Cincinnati Magazine. In 2014 she co-authored a cookbook for Chef Dan Wright’s popular restaurant SENATE, and launched Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic, a festival featuring local and national chefs, food artisans, brewers, winemakers, and storytellers showcasing their talents through demos, seminars, competitions, and tastings. Along with a storied career in the culinary industry, Donna has long-held an equally passionate career in the healing arts teaching yoga, mindful movement, and meditation in public classrooms and workplace environments, as well as working individually with clients to provide tools for optimal mobility.


Originally from Colombia, Chef Maria has been cooking for some 30 years, earning a Cordon Bleu diploma along the way. In recent years she has specialized in spices and sugarcraft, giving courses in UK, France, USA, and Colombia. To widen her spice knowledge, Maria has taken courses in India and Thailand, and often invites chefs from other countries to teach in her cooking school, Sugar and Saffron. Fluent in English, French, and Spanish, Maria regularly teaches in all 3 languages. The school moved into custom premises in the south of France in 2018, with its own herb and spice garden. Maria has also started a non-profit, the Little Conservatory of Flavors, to collect, video, and teach old recipes that are not being passed on to today’s microwave generation.

Details, Details

Session: Sept. 17 to Sept.24, 2019

For all details and full itinerary,
download the full brochure here.

What: The Art of Shopping and Cooking in Southern France

When: Arrive Tuesday September 17th, 2019; Depart Tuesday September 24th, 2019

Where: 45 Rue du Moulin d’Huile, 30260 St. Clément, Gard, France
Sugar and Saffron Cooking School


  • Julie Francis, private chef
  • Donna Covrett, pastry chef and yoga teacher
  • Maria de la Torre, Cordon Bleu chef and owner of Sugar and Saffron Cooking School

Cost: USD $2500, payable one month in advance, which includes:

  • All meals (with the exception of a few restaurant meals), plus local wines and cheeses
  • Modest single or double occupancy room in nearby house, some with private bathroom, some with shared bathroom
  • All cooking instruction, ingredients, and equipment
  • Yoga classes, yoga mats, and props
  • Transportation to and from Montpellier airport (MPL) or Nîmes TGV train station
  • Touring in 9-seater mini-bus, plus knowledgeable tour by guide Tim Fallen-Bailey

The following services / upgrades are at an additional cost:

  • Transportation to and from Marseille airport (transportation to or from other airports or train stations beyond Montpellier, Nîmes, or Marseille must be arranged by traveler)
  • Accommodations in a nearby hotel if you prefer (we will make the arrangements)
  • Meals and beverages in local restaurants
  • Private yoga class, yoga therapy, or Thai Massage

Contact Tim Fallen-Bailey

For all details and full itinerary,
download the full brochure here.

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