Mike Batt, Composer

Gastro Academy, Creative Writing, Songwriting - 2023 Lineup!
Top chefs, new tutors and songwriting legend Mike Batt!

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Summer Songwriting with Mike Batt – Available Now!

Mike Batt, Songwriter and Composer

Now we are pleased to announce the return of our fabulous 4-day Songwriting Course in June 2023. Better still, with a multi award-winning musical maestro tutor: Mike Batt!

Read about our all-new songwriting course here. Places will disappear quickly, so be sure to secure your place and develop your musical skills with a living legend!

Dates: 9th – 12th June 2023
Price: £995, £850 for non-participants sharing room and £60 single-occupancy supplement
(5% discount if you’ve attended a previous course!)

Book or enquire now!

We’re Back! – Cookery and Creative Writing 2022

Here Comes the Sun…

French House Party’s shutters have been closed for almost three dismal years.

But as governments open borders again, it looks like the end of the misery is nigh. Huzzah! Our fingers might still be lightly crossed behind our backs, but our eyes are firmly fixed on the horizon, and a new dawn of blissful normality.

Which means a big ‘Bienvenue’ from all of us on the FHP team. We can’t wait to welcome visitors once more, to visit Carcassonne’s super restaurants, markets, castles and vineyards, to swim in the pool, soak up the sunshine and gaze upon those sunflower fields of South-West France.

And naturally, our plans are in place for 2022’s residential learning courses at The French House Party, Carcassonne.

Gourmet Explorer – Michelin Star Cookery Courses

The first Gourmet Explorer break will begin on Friday 6 May and ends on Wednesday 11 May – six days of lavish and sophisticated creativity with our star chefs Jean-Marc Boyer and Gregory Legros plus extras such as outings to the top restaurants and vineyards of the region.

Already that course is almost full but there are still a couple of places left, and we have another course planed for September (dates tba). Within those 6-day courses we offer 3-day Cuisine in Brief breaks, or even a single session of instruction with lunch or dinner included. Plus, we’re in the process of scheduling another cookery course in September too. Click here to see all our course dates, and please let us know if you’d like to be informed about courses as they become available!

Creative Writing

And our amazing Creative Writing tutor Sarah Hymas will be back in June. Can it really be her twelfth annual visit? So far we plan just one week, from 13 – 18 June, but Sarah might be persuaded to stay on to operate a second week’s course, depending upon demand. Find out more!

Click here to book, for more information, or to get in touch… See you in France!


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: www.rosiegarland.com

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 frenchhouseparty@gmail.com


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 frenchhouseparty@gmail.com



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.