How does an autumn excursion to France sound?
You could join Blandine Brutel on her "Culinary Trip," a 14-day tour from Paris to Lyon. Brutel, who runs the The French Kitchen cooking classes in Colorado Springs, grew up in Lyon and will be returning to France with a dozen lucky foodies, Sept. 15-28, 2015.
This tour is on my bucket list as it promises to be the trip of a lifetime. For those who don't have time to spend 14 days in Europe, there are two other options and price categories: gold is the whole shebang; silver is eight days, joining the group in Lyon; and bronze is the first five days in Paris.
Here's a peek at a few of the highlights:
The first five days: The Paris experience includes lunch at Palais Brongniart, with three-Michelin-star chef Yannick All?o heading the kitchen. The afternoon includes a cruise on the Seine River with stops for pastry- and tea-tasting at Mariage Freres, maker of fine teas. The day wraps up with dinner at a typical Parisian bistro.
The next day includes a cooking class at Cyril Lignac Cooking School with another Michelin-starred chef. After a lunch of dining on the foods cooked during class, the group will visit the Marais district to prowl around the oldest market in Paris. That evening, dinner will be prepared by Denni Imbroisi, a chef contestant in the 2013 French Top Chef series.
What would a trip to Paris be without a stop at the Eiffel Tower? The group will eat there, too. Alain Ducasse, one of only two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars, owns the restaurant Jules Verne on the second floor of the tower. Later that day, the group will prepare a couple of recipes at the Alain Ducasse Cooking School, which is the site of dinner that evening.
Day 6: After a day of exploring Paris, the group will take the high-speed train to Lyon, often referred to as the capital of gastronomy of France. That evening concludes with dinner at L?n de Lyon brasserie, where chef Jean-Paul Lacombe will prepare a meal using local ingredients.
The following morning kicks off five days of cooking classes at the renowned Bocuse School, owned by Paul Bocuse. The famous French chef lives in Lyon and adds to the city's lofty culinary reputation. Attendees will learn to make macaroons, petits fours, madeleines, croissants, breads and sauces. Lunches most days will be at Saisons, the teaching restaurant of the Institut Paul Bocuse in the Ch?eau du Vivier. The graduation dinner will be at Bocuse's restaurant, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, a three-Michelin-star temple of classic French cuisine. Graduates will leave the last cooking class with a certificate, a bounty of recipes, a set of knives and an apron.
After class, the group will spend a day resting and enjoying dinner at a bouchon, a type of eatery found only in Lyon that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine such as sausages, duck p??and roast pork. On the final day in Lyon, it's off to the French Alps for shopping and, of course, dining.
The bottom line: Costs per person, based on a double room, are $8,500 for the gold package, $5,300 for silver and $3,900 for bronze. Single rooms are extra. Hotels, most meals, cooking classes, tours and Brutel's services as the personal guide are included. Visit tfkcc.com for more information.