Posted by Admin in News on February 1, 2023
So here we are at last. The 2023 newsletter.
After three years of almost-total disruption, French House Party is embarking on the new year with some sensational events planned, as well as maintaining the winning formula of our learning courses which have been established for years.
Here are some 2023 highlights – and keep your fingers crossed that none of those pesky pandemic variants which are sometimes mentioned in Chinese Whispers are robust enough to mess again with France’s borders – or anyone else’s, for that matter.
So without further ado, as they say in this land of sun, wine, cheese and those blue and white stripey jumpers, on y va!
Last year was not a business abyss, like 2020 and 2021 had been. As the world returned to normal, so we managed a handful of successful courses at French House Party, among them our acclaimed cookery holidays.
The Gastro Academy has never run short of plaudits during the 14 years since its inception. From client reviews, commendations in prestigious newspapers like the UK’s Telegraph and Times, to inclusion in the National Geographic book, 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life, our cookery courses always get full marks.
The main reason why – and it’s obvious when you think about it – is that our amazing French chef-tutors have been blessed by the Magic Goddess of Culinary Genius.
Jean-Marc Boyer was just a 30-something stripling youth in 2009 when, with his help, we launched our terrific cookery courses. But though he was but a boy, his restaurant in Lastours had a Michelin star and he had been anointed by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse. Back in 2006, Ducasse had hailed our J-M as being destined for culinary stardom.
And the most recent treasured provider of FHP enchantment in the kitchen is Gregory Legros, a patisserie specialist with a penchant for chocolate creations and an extensive international CV, having been head chef at some of the most famous and impressive 5-star hotels and restaurants around the globe.
Sometimes, in idle (and yes, smug) moments, I wonder whether any other residential cookery course holidays in France could possibly be as inspiring as ours with the same sort of stunning tuition, value for money and all-inclusive prices. Do any others have a Michelin Star* chef as tutor?
Which is when I start Googling and discover that actually, no: they don’t have all that. For cookery courses which last longer than a morning, instructors with those much-coveted stars are thin on the ground – although you wouldn’t think so from the price-tags of any of them.
On French Google I find a residential cookery course also in South-West France, of comparable length to our Gourmet Explorer break. It has no starry chefs – but plenty of chargeable extras on top of a NOT-all-inclusive £3,400 per person!
But France isn’t short of other Michelin-star chefs and Google unveiled several in Paris who offer teaching sessions. Not residential, you understand – just a single cookery class or a demo. And again, very pricey, so no real competition for us there.
I turned to Google.UK and found celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli’s cookery class. He is certainly easy on the eye – but to watch him do a day’s work costs £695 per person. Include dinner and a night at a nearby hotel and that increases to £995.
Then there’s the £2,000 one-night stay with a 5-hour cookery class at Le Manoir des Quat’Saisons. This is Raymond Blanc’s signature restaurant in the UK and the famous Monsieur Blanc has Michelin stars coming out of his ears. But here’s the snag: he doesn’t actually instruct; one of his chef minions does that.
Seeing you’ve read this far, a small reminder is in order:
French House Party’s 5-night/6-day Gourmet Explorer costs £1460 per person and it’s £660 for the 3-day Cuisine in Brief. We have two virtuoso chefs and a Michelin star factored into the genuine all-inclusiveness.
Is that magic or what?! Find out more!
What’s Cooking for 2023?
ATTENTION WRITERS! Whether you’re aspiring amateurs or experienced writers, published or non-published, creators of poetry, fiction or non-fiction, you’ll be excited to know that French House Party has another Creative Writing tutor for 2023!
Anne Caldwell will be holding her first course with us from 7 to 13 July this year, and it’s thrilling to have found someone so well-qualified to teach and run workshops embracing all genres – Anne’s countless appreciative past students will be in complete agreement.
Just look at Anne’s tremendous CV: She’s a Creative Writing lecturer with the Open University, has a doctorate in the subject and she specialises in poetry, life-writing and short fiction.
She’s an award-winning poet, a writer, an editor, a mentor and she has published four books of poetry and one of non-fiction. She is also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Huddersfield University. In between all that she fits in some fun as part of a poetry performance group!
How fortunate are we to have someone who is such a whizz running this stimulating week-long course? Just as fortunate as those writers in search of inspiration and an imagination-boost who are enrolled on it when southern France’s hot summer July days are at their most delicious.
The awe-inspiring Mike Batt is coming to French House Party in June to share his mind-boggling multitude of magnificent, marvellous and miraculous songwriting skills (that’s enough superlatives beginning with ‘m’ – Ed.).
A multi-platinum artist, Mike is one of Europe’s best-known and respected writer-producer-arrangers of hit songs. His creative achievements have included TV, classical and pop music, film-scores, orchestral composition and conducting many of the world’s greatest orchestras.
Along with the singers, writers and musos attending Mike’s residential course of instruction there’ll be a wider audience too: one highlight of that June weekend will be an al fresco Batt gig in the garden when locals will be able to come and see a legend in action.
We’ll re-locate the piano outside and our sound and lights man Eddie will sort out all the ‘techy’ bits. Under trees strewn with fairy-lights, there’ll be café-tables and we’ll be serving some wine and food. Sheer bliss is on the menu.
Which of Mike’s hundreds of successful compositions will he choose to play? I’m putting money on Bright Eyes … Caravan Song … some Katy Melua numbers.
And if he’s feeling especially jolly, maybe even a Wombles classic or two.
Roll on Summer!
PS: I wonder what the French translation for ‘Womble’ is?
In addition to our scheduled courses, we build bespoke breaks for groups. It could be a golfing group. Or people with their own tutor – art or photography, for example. Or maybe a party of friends with no organised requirements at all beyond swimming, sunbathing, drinking wine and eating well.
Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the options on your tailor-made programme. We’ll work out an all-inclusive price for you, beginning from your arrival at one of our nearby airports or train stations where you’ll find a driver waiting to transport you home!