This autumn, I was lucky to be able to participate in one of Gilles Conchy’s cooking classes in Aix en Provence. Gilles leads English cooking classes in Aix en Provence, Eygalières, and Marseille. Each class focuses on Provençal cooking, with a particular regard for the different traditions of the three areas. For example, the Marseille class often focuses on the famous fish stews of Marseille.
Passionate Gilles is trained as many a French person. His mother, grandmother and the local culture, so respectful of good food, have contributed to his local expertise.
Market Tour Aix en Provence
The classes start at 9:30 am and end at 3:30 pm. They start with a tour of the local market (Aix has WONDERFUL markets) where you’ll buy your products for the four-course meal you’ll prepare. I was reminded of the immense variety of fruits and vegetables we’re blessed with here in Provence. I saw that many in the group were unfamiliar with the varieties.
Gilles drove us 10 minutes outside of the city where we found ourselves in fields dotted with painters with their easels overlooking Mount St Victoire. A view made famous by Paul Cézanne’s almost obsessive rendering of the beautiful mountain.
We stopped at Château Henri Bonnaud for an informative wine tasting. These quality organic wines are part of a special, tiny appellation around Aix en Provence called “Palette.” There are only three vineyards comprised within Palette.
Cooking Class Aix en Provence
After wine tasting, we made our way to Gilles’ house in the countryside. There, we learned how to make Provençal stuffed vegetables, including onions! For appetizers, we made mini versions of Pissaladière and roasted red pepper tarts. Dessert was a light pear tart with almond pastry. YUM. The menu changes with each class.
The ambiance is relaxed chez Gilles. Read more about the cooking classes on the Provence Gourmet website. There is a minimum of two people per class and a maximum of eight. The classes and tour cost 145€.