ALPINE REGIONS OF FRANCE & SWITZERLAND
ALPINE REGIONS OF FRANCE & SWITZERLAND
PRIVATE TOUR: FARMcurious
August 26-September 6, 2020
Double Occupancy : $6,950 per person
Join Cheese Journeys’ owner Anna Juhl and co-host Nicole Easterday, educator and owner of Farmcurious as we team up to celebrate Farmcurious’s 10th anniversary- in France! This is a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure to one of France’s foremost cheese, food, and wine producing regions.
Stay in a 1,000 year-old newly restored chateau nestled in vineyards at the foot of the French Alps. Enjoy meals prepared by Cheese Journeys' private French chefs, cooking and cheese/wine classes and excursions to visit regional producers including alpage cheesemakers while learning from some of the world’s best wine, cheese and food producers.
Day One - Wednesday, August 26
Our 12-day journey begins with a rendezvous in Geneva. Guests arrive at Hotel Edelweiss in Geneva, Switzerland. The tour opens with an evening welcome event/dinner, providing an opportunity to meet fellow tour guests and relax before an early departure to the Jura region on Thursday.
Day Two - Thursday, August 27
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we depart Geneva and head north to the beautiful Jura countryside to experience the world of Comté and charcuterie. We'll stop at Maison Gresard, an award-winning butcher and charcutier specializing in traditionally-smoked, locally-sourced meats. The craft of smoking meats has been honed and practiced in the region for centuries, and this family-owned business is the perfect place to sample these products!
We'll have lunch at a local farm-to-table restaurant near the picturesque lake at Malbuisson, before meeting up with our dear friends at Fort St. Antoine to explore the beloved “King” of French chees: Comté. The famous Fort St. Antoine - a “Comté Cathedral” - was a military fort built at the end of the 19th century and is now home to over 100,000 wheels of Comté. There, we meet a team of affineurs, experts in the art of aging Comté, to see how they work their magic on these beautiful 90 pound wheels. We finish the tour with Marcel Petite’s finest cheeses paired with unique regional wines, such as the Vin d’Arbois.
Enjoy a fitting end to the day - an evening of alpine specialties and lawn bowling in an ancient small restaurant, La Petite Échelle. Like many trekkers who pass through here, we plan to enjoy a traditional, hearty meal in the mountain pastures on the Swiss border. This restaurant is rustic, as it continues to operate with no electricity - but guests appreciate its simple charms, slower pace, and of course, the candlelit atmosphere. We’ll then return to the valley below for a stay at one of the area’s finest chef-owned hotels: Le Bon Accueil.
Day Three - Friday, August 28
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we will visit a small Comté producer to see how Comté cheese is made before it is aged at the Fort St. Antoine. We'll then enjoy a scenic drive to the Jura's wine country to learn about what makes Vin Jaune and the Cremant of Jura so special.
We'll finish our afternoon with a tour highlight - a visit to Jean Obertino & Fils, the last handmade cowbell producer in the France-Comte! After watching a fascinating cowbell-making demonstration, we'll have the opportunity to purchase these beautiful objects in their shop - the perfect authentic souvenir for an Alpine Cheese Journey!
Back at the hotel, guests will enjoy a private Michelin star dinner prepared by Le Bon Accueil's chef Marc Faivre.
Day Four - Saturday, August 29
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for the mountains of Switzerland and a true alpage experience! We will visit Étivaz cheesemaker Blaise Chablaix and observe how he makes cheese the traditional way: in the mountains, in a copper kettle and over a wood fire.
After a tasting of his cheese, we'll make our way around the mountain for a traditional lunch of fondue, cured meats, and meringues à la double crème. We’ll spend the afternoon in the walled village of Gruyere, looking for souvenirs, tour the château, or visit the Musée Gruérien before our return drive to France.
Day Five - Sunday, August 30
After breakfast at the hotel, we leave the Jura and head south to our château in Savoie. On our way, we spend a leisurely day in one of the most beautiful places in Europe: Lake Annecy and the ancient city with the same name. We'll enjoy a light lunch, shopping at the Sunday market, and then relax on a scenic boat cruise around Lake Annecy – all living local in this pedestrian-friendly city.
A short drive away, we settle in at the Château St. Philippe, a beautifully restored 1,000 year-old-old castle that will provide you with a French country experience and spectacular views. With a France 75 cocktail in hand and a Moroccan–themed dinner, enjoy an “Evening at Casablanca” to relax and just let time go by!
Day Six - Monday, August 31
After breakfast, join our Cheese Journeys hosts for a day of cooking demonstration and wine/cheese education. Join Chef Sylvain in the kitchen as he uses local ingredients to share with you some of his favorite recipes and cooking techniques. Wonder how to buy, select and entertain with cheese? How to talk cheese to a cheesemonger? Cheese educators, Anna Juhl and Nicole Easterday will walk you through the experience so you be a pro! .Indulge in your photographic subjects for lunch and dinner - all in a day’s work!
The evening’s cheese and wine event is again hosted by Anna Juhl and our local wine educator. In the castle’s private wine cellars, we will explore some of Savoie’s finest artisan wine and cheese, and the role of terroir in local culinary history. In this elegant and candlelit atmosphere, guests will hone their palates through a tutored tasting, and enjoy sharing a French party classic: a crusty, mètre de pain, or 3-foot long baguette! A light dinner will follow the class - allowing guests to spend a special evening in the remarkable cellars of the château.
Day Seven - Tuesday, September 1
After a leisurely breakfast, guests have free time to explore the château or take a short hike in a beautiful alpine setting. Then, it’s another day to celebrate the wines of Savoie! Just down the road at our favorite boutique winery, we’ll be touring and tasting with third generation owner Philippe Grissard, followed by a picnic lunch nestled in his private vineyards.
We spend the afternoon relaxing at the château. Consider a game of snooker, a swim in the new pool or watching your favorite movie in the château’s own movie theater! Enjoy cocktails with your hosts followed by a chef-prepared dinner on the terrace.
Day Eight - Wednesday, September 2
After breakfast, we drive to one of our favorite mountain villages - the beautiful Grand-Bornand - for sightseeing and food shopping. This spectacular place is a living, working French village with three obsessions - world-class skiing, Reblochon cheese, and quality alpine living. We will spend the morning at the farmer’s market with Anna and Chef Sylvain to learn how to select and shop for regional alpine cheese, vegetables and saucisson. We will then meet up with our local host for lunch featuring regional cuisine, while overlooking the villages and valleys - all with cowbells ringing in the distance. Dine like a true local - al fresco with a 360 alpine view!
We’ll work our way around the mountain to experience the making of Reblochon, a semi-soft, washed rind mountain cheese that can be traced to the 13th century. Afterwards, we will visit our friends at affineurs Paccard, world-renowned cheese aging specialists and exporters of regional cheeses such as Reblochon, Tome des Bauges, Chevrotin, Abondance, and Beaufort. We will return to the château for a classic French alpine dinner of raclette - delicious melted cheese served over potatoes, cured meats and pickles - while overlooking vineyards and Mt. Blanc.
Day Nine - Thursday, September 3
France in late summer is the perfect time to select fresh fruits to make preserves and sauces that pair perfectly with cheese! Spend time with Nicole in a hands on class making a few of her favorites followed by a pairing with cheeses and wine.
After a chef-prepared lunch, guests have the option to enjoy the chateau, hike in the vineyards, or join Chef Sylvain for another cooking demonstration using seasonable vegetables and produce. For dinner, enjoy a meal featuring a classic chicken dish,, saffron and a regional wine.
Day Ten - Friday, September 4
After an early breakfast, join Anna on a trek to the top of the alpine world for a Beaufort Alpage cheesemaking experience like no other. View the cows in the high meadows overlooking Mt. Blanc and experience the making of this renown cheese up close. Enjoy a picnic lunch and then a trek down through the Bauges mountain region for another breathtaking view of Savoie’s magnificent natural beauty. We’ll slow down and experience rural France as it was a generation ago in the Bauges mountains as we meet up with a classic old-world wood carver before returning to the château for an afternoon swim and dinner.
Day Eleven - Saturday, September 5
Pending local schedules, we hope to experience a true Cow Parade - a traditional event in many alpine villages. Experience the celebrations and beauty of this local event as regional farmers and cheesemakers bring their decorated cows down from the high mountains to the villages below.
If a cow parade is not an option, guests can eagerly spend the morning food and gift shopping at one of our favorite markets in Chambery. Find a few treasures and a little cheese to take back home or go French table cloth shopping with Anna!
Back at the chateau, it’s will be an Italian themed evening- in honor of our neighbors to the east in Piedmont, Italy and a favorite location for one of next year’s cheese journey! Sure to be “A Roman Holiday”!
Day Twelve - Sunday, September 6
After an early breakfast, we depart the château, say a fond Au revoir to our friends in Savoie and head north to the Geneva airport for return flights home. Tour ends when group arrives at airport.
Included in the tour price are: Lodging for 11 nights, 11 continental breakfasts, 11 midday, 9 evening meals, and alcoholic beverages served with meals, classes and tastings. All expenses related to classes and/or tours provided by chef, guest cheese and wine experts and hosts are included. Transportation during the trip is included.
Not included in the tour price: Round trip transportation or airfare to Geneva, Switzerland. Evening meals on Friday and Saturday during stay in Jura. Optional additional wine tastings, personal shopping or market food. Specific alcoholic beverages other than those served at meals and tasting events may be purchased separately.
Disclosure: The itinerary is outlined below. However, we reserve the right to substitute an event if needed. Guests have the option of declining a particular excursion or tour but please note that we are unable to give refunds for any missed meals, classes or events. Please see additional information under “Terms & Conditions” above.