Cookery and Creative Writing – Autumn 2021

Has Lockdown left you lost for words?
Suffering from stimulation starvation?
Are you yearning for learning?

French House Party Carcassonne has the perfect quick-fix answer to all this. Raise a cheer because TWO six-day residential courses are on the horizon over the next month.

From 24 September our celebrated Gourmet Explorer cookery course will whet a few appetites – and as well as that on we simply can’t wait until 2 October when the first Creative Writing course in two years will take place. Hurrah for freedom!

There have been a couple of exciting tweaks in tutor line-ups for both courses (see details below) but the biggest new factor is that to ensure safety for everyone, in accordance with the law in France we will need all-comers to have proof of their doubly-vaccinated status. (For returners to the UK, we will help you with any PCR arrangements which are needed.)

Here are the facts:

Friday 24 – Wednesday 29 September 2021 Gourmet Explorer Cookery Course

Jean-Marc Boyer

Chef Gregory Legros

Gregory Legros

Leading the culinary team is our regular super-chef Jean-Marc Boyer, owner of the Michelin* Le Puits de Tresor in Lastours. It is now 12 years since the inspirational Jean-Marc began teaching at FHP (he’s had his Michelin star for even longer than that) – and he will no doubt be working his usual magic this month with guests whose desire is to raise their cookery skills to a higher plane.

Joining him will be another local star, Gregory Legros. Greg is a world-class chef whose career has taken him to the kitchens of some of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in the world. This year he returned from the five-star hotel in Oman where he was head patisserie chef; prior to that, he spent years in the same role at the impressive Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados.

Now he’s back in the Languedoc with his wife and family and aside from his teaching role training other professional chefs in the region, his own separate enterprise is creating magnificent cakes to order.

Along with outings to restaurants and other food and wine production visits, guests on this course are guaranteed an amazing six days of using and learning about the region’s delicacies from French House Party’s masters of the culinary arts.

All-inclusive Gourmet Explorer price: £1390 pp (single occupancy supplement £200; non-participant sharing participant’s room £200 reduction). Click/tap here to enquire or book!

Saturday 2 October – Thursday 7 October 2021: Creative Writing Course

Whether you’re new to writing or an established author, whether you’re a poet or a prose-writer, this course offers the chance to write, play, experiment and share your work under the guidance of an experienced writer and creative writing mentor.

Creating character, atmosphere and coherent structures; studying plot, pace, dialogue, imagery, the power and economy of language – these are topics which will be explored.

Rosie Garland is the talented tutor for this course. Rosie writes poetry, long and short fiction and sings with post-punk band The March Violets.

Her work appears in The Guardian and elsewhere. Her latest poetry collection ‘What Girls do the Dark’ is shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2021. She has long experience of running workshops – notably with the Arvon Foundation – and is a creative writing mentor with The Ruppin Agency.

She’s written three novels: The Palace of Curiosities, Vixen, and The Night Brother, which the Times described as “a delight… with shades of Angela Carter.”

For more impressive information about Rosie, consult her website:

Rosie Garland

NB. Our regular Creative Writing tutor Sarah Hymas will be back with The French House Party from 11 June, 2022

All-inclusive Creative Writing course price: £995 pp (single occupancy supplement £60; non-participant sharing participant’s room £150 reduction). Click/tap here to enquire or book!



Life is Sweet! FHP Newsletter Spring 2019

What’s Your Poisson?

At French House Party Carcassonne we’re considering introducing one or more additional speciality 3-day cookery courses in 2019.

But oh dear me, what intensive course or courses would people most like us to offer?

With vegetarianism – and even veganism –hitting a new high in popularity, inspiring UK food manufacturers to diversify their product range in recognition of ‘The Vegan Pound’, should we have a purely vegetarian course?

Or with the Mediterranean only an hour’s drive away, what about three days concentrating on preparing fish, crustaceans and shellfish?

So, in search of a helping hand, we launched an ad on Facebook recently, asking foodie followers to state their preferences – A, B, C or D out of a choice of four specialist courses:

A for Just Desserts: Patisserie and Baking
B for Vegetarian
C for Fish and Shellfish
D for Starters: Soups and other Entrees

Are you wondering what the result was? Well, let’s hear it for the fish! This was far and away the most popular, the only contender being the vegetarian cuisine option.

So it looks like we might be adding ‘Poissonset Gambas’ as a dedicated course later this year. We will keep everyone informed.

Meanwhile, we would be delighted to hear from anyone else who wants to add their vote. Please feel free to send me your choices from A,B, C and D.!


Life is Sweet

The two big Gastro Academy hits which we introduced last year weren’t just candy-coated but honey-centred too.

Because into our course schedule for 6-day Gourmet Explorers and the weekend Cuisine in Briefs we added cakes and chocolate – in a big way.

First came a new chef to join the ranks of Jean-Marc Boyer – who was our original chef (complete with his Michelin star) in 2009 when French House Party began the cookery programme – and Laurent Jeannin, a super chef who joined us more than two years ago.

The 2018 newcomer was junior in terms of age, but just as starry: Remi Touja runs his own patisserie shop down one of those atmospheric cobbled streets in the centre of the city of Carcassonne. He is the proud holder of the national Sucre d’Or patisserie prize which he won when he was head patisserie chef at Le Parc, Carcassonne’s only 2*Michelin restaurant.

Remi began doing a Sunday morning patisserie session with us last May and his creative genius and bouncy personality went down a storm with clients – as did the macaroons they made. Remi showed other 2018 groups how to make French pastry specialities such as eclairs, Paris Brest, the spectacular two-storey Religeuse – plus a variety of fruit tartes.


Chocs Away

And then there’s the chocolate-making.

Our chocolatier, Marion, has become a regular fixture and we take our groups to her chocolate laboratory in Pennautier, a tiny walled village on the outskirts of Carcassonne.

From the moment you step through the door and are overwhelmed by the wonderful scent of melted chocolate, to the moment you leave, your own box of personally-made chocs in your hand, it’s sheer pleasure.

Are you wondering whether we will be including Marion’s chocolate masterclasses in this year’s cookery courses too?

Yes – I should cocoa!

Cuisine in Brief 2019 (3 days)
Price £625.00
• April 26 – 28 2019
• April 29 – May 1, 2019
• May 31 – June 2, 2019
• June 3 – 5, 2019
• Sept 6 – 8, 2019
• Sept 9 -11, 2019
• Oct 4 – 6, 2019
• Oct 7 – 9, 2019

Gourmet Explorer 2019 (6 days)
Price £1,390
• April 26 – May 1, 2019
• May 31 – June 5, 2019
• Sept 6 – 11, 2019
• Oct 4 – 9, 2019

To book or for more information please get in touch with Moira on


Creative Writing – A Big Thank-You!

Since 2007 the inspirational Sarah Hymas has been our Creative Writing tutor. We started out then with an annual beginner/intermediate course ‘Write Like No One’s Watching’.

It proved so popular that a few years ago we added a second week: this time a tutored retreat for more seasoned writers who are usually working towards publication of their work. That’s been a success too. So much so that we now have a small set of returnee scribes each one of whom is almost guaranteed to be delighted to find a familiar face or two when they come to Carcassonne on the ‘Pen&Think’ retreat.

Amazingly, last summer four of the seven guests already knew each other from previous years. For one or two it was their third and even fourth time. This is really great for new participants when it comes to settling into the course with people who already know the ropes and can welcome them. It’s also a huge pleasure for Sarah and me (Moira) to reconnect with lovely and creative folk whom we now regard as chums.

Plus, it’s so relaxing for us! Some returning clients choose their bedroom in advance. They recognise the super restaurants we visit or request trips to familiar places – last year we sauntered again around the medieval book-town Montolieu in the scorching heat. Mealtimes are relaxed and jovial: first-timers fit in right away and that makes organisation a breeze for the French House Party team.

So we must affectionately thank all our regular and enormously talented returnees who make our Creative Writing programme a summer highlight: Thank you!

*Oh yes, and there’s also a bit of mutual admiration going on if our TripAdvisor reviews are anything to go by. See the reviews here.

• “Write Like No One’s Watching” 17-22 June. 6 days, 5 nights. All-inclusive from £895.
• “Pen&Think” 24-30 June, 7 days, 6 nights. All-inclusive from £995.

Custom Building

One of the things at which French House Party excels is custom-building breaks for private groups.

When they – whether they’re friends,families or corporate clients – book their tailor-made break with us, this is where the final word of our company name really comes into its own.

For starters, when everyone already knows each other –and hopefully likes each other – the first few hours after arrival are not spent ice-breaking politely with a set of new people.

Instead, everyone usually hits either the wine or the surface of the swimming-pool with total abandon and the Day One dinner can be a jovial – and even hysterical – party affair.

In comparison, our clusters of strangers can take up to 24 hours to reach this level of reckless jollity. Although be assured: they do usually get there.

In 2018, as with most years we had a few groups for whom we advance-planned their holiday down to the last detail. Among them was a party of women who wanted a relaxation break, a large family celebrating a parent’s ‘big birthday’ with their own by-arrangement Gourmet Explorer cookery week, and a very large corporate gathering of top sales stars from a prestigious UK company.


This last memorable crowd was made up of side-achingly funny people who gave us – the FHP team – a feast of entertainment, whether on giggle-filled car journeys to gorgeous restaurants or during other organised trips, and even at home, where they crashed out for only some of the time.

In this instance, the 8-bedroomed FHP house could not accommodate everyone, so nearby friends, Neil and Vickie Malyon turned over the bedrooms in their beautiful gite complex to half of our group (click here to see Neil and Vickie’s place). Like a well-oiled machine our team of drivers chauffeured the outliers to and from the main venue outside the hours of slumber (which, to be honest, were few).

What did we plan for them? A chocolate-making session with our chocolatier Marion (see above), ten-pin bowling, fizz-tasting at one of Limoux’s producers of Cremante, meals out in medieval Carcassonne and at a fine restaurant … and a special five-course dinner at home cooked by our own famous chef Jean-Marc Boyer. A good time was definitely had by all.

Custom-building is something we are good at. For a group booking, we discount individual prices by 10%, which can mean that one person’s place is free.

If anyone would like to find out more, learn about the sort of events we are able to arrange and discuss a programme for this year or for 2020, please email Moira on



This is a beautiful painting of the house done last year by Gabrielle O’Donovan, one of our Creative Writing course regulars, thanks too to her fellow Pen&Thinker Tanya who took the lovely photo (above) of Moira and Sarah at medieval Carcassonne.

A taster of a Jean Marc Chef Encounter day in 2017

This is a tiny movie but the shrimps sautéed in whisky and cream are giants!

French​HouseParty​ ​featured​ on​ ​+​ ​GIVEAWAY!!

Dear friends! Today we are thrilled to announce that our​ 4-Day​ ​Songwriting​ ​with​ ​Dean Friedman​ ​Workshop​ ​has been declared an​ ​Unordinary​ ​Trip​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Month​ by, the #1 travel portal on the Internet specialized in the out-of-ordinary, special interest vacations. Although it might seem a bit unusual for a songwriting workshop to be featured under Unordinary Trips, it is a rare and exclusive opportunity to spend four days at French ​House​ ​Party​ learning the techniques of composing with a performer frequently compared to Billy Joel and Paul Simon – and described by one music critic as “A genius. An original. A musical craftsman of unrivalled expertise”. We hope to see even more amateurs and professionals from all around the world to come and attend this workshop!

In connection with this, we are glad to offer my customers a special prize! Any of you who book a class with French​ ​House​ ​Party​ before February ​1,​ ​2018​ may be eligible for a very special prize from InfoHub’s sister-company GPSmyCity – publisher of travel apps for Apple and Android. The GPSmyCity app features offline city maps, self-guided walking tours and travel articles for 1,000 cities worldwide, using which you can turn your mobile into a personal tour guide. With this app in hand you can explore many major urban destinations in France and further afield on your own, at your own pace. The GPSmyCity app works offline so there’s NO need to worry about roaming charges when traveling abroad.

A lucky winner, chosen at random, will get a one-year full membership of the GPSmyCity app including access to ALL the GPSmyCity content – over 6,500 self-guided city walks and travel articles – to the total value of over $8,000!!!

Book now and enjoy songwriting experience with French​ ​House​ ​Party​ and Dean Friedman!

Website Payment System Live!

From 1st July 2017, you can make a payment for tickets, bookings, deposits etc. with your card directly on our website. Click or tap here to visit our payments page!

Welcoming Willy Wonka & the Sauce Wizard!

Autumn 2016 Newsletter
2017 – New Year, New Chef-Tutors

Chef Laurent JeanninExciting changes to the French House Party kitchen!

After pleasing guests for the past seven years with his gentle wisdom and exceptional teaching of haute cuisine at French House Party, Chef Robert Abraham has finally succumbed to semi-retirement and scaled down his tuition with us.

So we shall be seeing less of Robert, but more of our new chef-tutor Laurent Jeannin (right) – a sauce-maker extraordinaire who has joined the team to work with Jean-Marc Boyer in presenting our Cuisine in Brief and Gourmet Explorer courses.

Laurent greatly impressed recent cookery course participants with his culinary flair, enthusiasm and warmth of approach – as a quick look at our Trip Advisor page will illustrate.

More about Laurent later, but as if 2017 isn’t looking sweet enough, there’s another huge treat in store. Pay attention you chocoholics!


Chef Gregory LegrosYou know how they say that 90% of people say they love chocolate – and the other 10% always lie?

Well, if you’re among the honest 90% who admit to their sweeter-than-sweet tooth (eg. if your Miss World wish would be for world peace – and a chocolate bar bigger than your dog***) then our Spring residential course with a spectacular chef who has worked as Head Chocolatier and Pâtissier in some of the world’s very finest hotels will make you swoon.

Our very own Willy Wonka is Gregory Legros (left), whose 3-day workshops will be devoted purely to creating the most amazing desserts and chocolates. And since this course takes place just before Easter, it’s bound to be choc-full of eggs too.

If you want a Golden Ticket to attend this all-inclusive weekend course, read more about ‘Just Desserts’ with Gregory below.

Note: Oompa-Loompas need not apply 😉

*** A dog the size of, say, a chocolate Labrador…


Creative Writing and Song Writing

The pens and notebooks were out in force  in July when our two Creative Writing courses were closely followed by Dean Friedman’s Songwriting course.

Dean travelled, as usual, from his home in New York, putting his punishing 40-city sell-out summer tour in Great Britain and Ireland on hold to hang out for a few days with songwriting enthusiasts who learned a thing or two from the master singer-songwriter.

DF class of 2016

DF class of 2016

It was Dean’s seventh year at French House Party and this summer we received a fair bit of media coverage – on Radio 2 especially, where Dean was a guest performer on the shows of Michael Ball and Claire Balding among others, and spoke about the joys of our songwriting course.

Sarah Hymas’s annual journey to France is somewhat shorter, not involving trans-Atlantic travel. She has been coming from Lancashire in the UK to operate her Creative Writing courses for more years than Dean – but the praise she routinely draws from participants seems to have escalated with every year that passes.

Sarah’s mentoring week “Pen &Think” – for writers working on specific projects – is scheduled a couple of days after Sarah’s tutored course so we introduced an option for anyone booking on both courses to stay free of charge for the two intervening nights. This applies in 2017 too, when the course dates are at the end of May and beginning of June.


For only the second time a Creative Writing course coincided with Bastille Day, which meant an excursion to watch the annual spectacle of a choreographed firework display over the battlements of the medieval castle in Carcassonne. Then the discovery that the Tour de France would be passing through nearby Mirepoix meant another thrilling expedition – this time to watch those cyclists hurtle past at close range.

Fireworks Carcassonne

After such excitement, it was good news that we had someone in the house trained in meditation and relaxation therapy: Sarah’s husband Floris offered short sessions after breakfast each day and everyone joined one or more of them. Floris will be with us again next year and will offer a similar optional programme.

Pen&Think 2016

2017 dates:

Creative Writing: “Write Like No One’s Watching”: Monday May 29 to Saturday June 3.
Creative Writing: “Pen&Think”: Monday June 5 to Saturday June 10.
Songwriting with Dean Friedman: Friday July 28 to Monday July 31.
Dean Friedman in Concert: Saturday July 29


Laurent Jeannin Our new Chef-Tutor Laurent Jeannin modestly claims to be something of a whizz when it comes to sauces.

Could that be because he was born in France’s ‘capital of gastronomy’ Lyon, where his culinary education and training came from a number of Michelin-Star chefs?

Then again, maybe the later experience of running his own restaurants or being Head Chef in Vienna, Cannes, Florida and North Carolina gave him valuable insight into making the sort of food which draws rounds of applause.

Last month Laurent joined our own regular Michelin-Star chef Jean Marc Boyer to teach on a French House Party Gourmet Explorer course and he delighted our guests with his talent and good humour. Not to mention his wizardry with sauces.

Again and again, guests booking with us have declared that French sauces are high on their list of learning ‘wants’, so Laurent’s specialist and unusual sauces went down a treat during his first time with us: the fabulous coffee sauce with guinea fowl and the out-of-this-world grapes-enhanced sauce he served with quail were to die for.

Below are some photographs of Laurent and recent participants.



What does the celebrated Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados have in common with French House Party?

Greg with chocsWell, the most important connection is Patisserie Chef and Chocolatier M. Gregory Legros who will tutor our special ‘Just Desserts’ weekend from Friday 31 March to Sunday 2 April, 2017.

The 3-day all-inclusive course will be as its title suggests, the sole focus being cakes, puddings, patisseries, macaroons, cooking with chocolate, hand-making your own chocolates – and much more – with a specialist tutor with an international reputation.

Gregory Legros was six when he decided to become a chef and this ambition remained with him, but after his chef’s training he centred his gaze on patisserie, spending a further three years under the tutelage of an inspirational pastry chef. “He was my mentor, teaching me the solid basics which enabled me to fly by myself,” says Gregory.

And fly he did. After a decade spent working in various Michelin restaurants in France, including Michel Rostang in Paris, La Bastide Sainte Antoine in Grasse and Le Majestic on the Croisette in Cannes – a historic luxury hotel built in 1926 which is teeming with movie stars during the Cannes Festival – Gregory left his country to live and work abroad.


Greg spreading chocBetween 2004 and 2015 he worked in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world’s leading hotels, among them the SkyCity luxury 5-star in New Zealand, Intercontinental’s grand hotels in Vietnam, the breathtakingly elegant Chedi Muscat in Oman and in recent years the legendary Sandy Lane in Barbados where he was Executive Pastry Chef until 2015.He decided to leave Barbados and return to the Languedoc with his wife and small son so that he could put down roots close to his family and create his own chocolate ‘laboratory’ and patisserie enterprise. And now he is going to share his phenomenal skills with French House Party course participants.

The all-inclusive cost of ‘Just Desserts’ will be £595 per person and there will be a three-hour hands-on session on each of the three days. The course begins with lunch on the Friday and ends after lunch on the Sunday. As with all our cookery courses, the price includes full board, wine with meals, a visit to a nearby market and airport transfers.

The provisional plan…

DAY 1: Chocolate workshop:
Chocolate décor for dessert and cake
Easter chocolate showpiece dessert
Chocolate bonbons

DAY 2:  French Plated Desserts:
Spring fruit gratin,
Mascarpone ice cream
Dark chilli cream
Grué nougat
Cocoa biscuits in Chocolate balls

DAY 3: Easter Chocolate Cakes:
Chocolate hazelnut cake

Does all this sound utterly brilliant? I should cocoa!!

Contact to learn more about this exciting all-inclusive weekend.

Dates: Friday 31 March – Sunday 2 April, 2017
Cost: £595 per person sharing room for 2

Dean Friedman in Concert Sat 30th July 2016

Dean Friedman Songwriting in Concert July 2016

We also have places left on Dean’s legendary French House Party summer songwriting course (now running for 7 years), and have some crazy last summer discounts!

To book tickets or to learn songwriting under Dean’s tutelage you can contact us on twitter, call us, email us or fill in our booking enquiry form.

But be quick, Dean’s course and Summer concert in southern France are less than a week away!

New FrenchHouseParty site goes live!

After much cogitation, deliberation and experimentation, our new website is live. Among the new features is a cleaner layout and design, responsive layout that plays nice on mobile devices and better speed navigating around the site.

Watch out for updates to content, course details and more news over the coming weeks. And don’t forget to follow us on twitter to be notified of the latest happenings at French House Party!