A Culinary Tour of France, With Dominique Crenn as Your Host
Dominique Crenn is one of the world’s best chefs. Her San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn holds three Michelin stars, and it’s one of the hardest to get (and most expensive) reservations in town. Naturally, she has a well-earned following. So, if you’re one of her ardent supporters, or just want to hang out in France with Crenn and a small group of culinary adventurers, now you can.
Crenn has partnered with Satopia Travel to host a five-day, four-night trip in the Cognac region of France from May 24 to 28. The experience promises to blend molecular gastronomy with art, and give attendees a look into the world of French fine dining. That translates to indulgent meals and the chance to sample rare Cognacs, Champagnes and caviar, plus private concerts and visits to the countryside, as well as masterclasses and intimate discussions with Crenn.
By now, you’ve probably realized that you won’t be staying in hostels or camping outside. No, you’ll spend the night at Domaine des Étangs, a 13th-century chateau that’s been restored into a luxury hotel. The main house is joined by freestanding farmhouse cottages that dot the grounds, and it’s all situated on 2,500 acres of lush rolling hills, with seven lakes and the types of meadows that demand frolicking. Why, yes, there is a private art gallery on site.
Guests will need to get themselves to France and arrive into either Bordeaux or Limoges Airport. A driver will meet you, and your work is done. The first item on the agenda is a welcome cocktail reception, where you’ll meet Crenn and your fellow travelers. That’s followed by an al fresco dinner in the chateau gardens and then an intimate Cognac tasting.
The next few days will feature fresh breakfasts, lakeside picnics and themed dinners — one takes place in the nearby forest and leans into local ingredients, while another channels Champagne.
Each day will also include an educational component, and may see you strolling through the property’s garden with Crenn and a gardener to learn about the land, or attending a cooking demonstration in which Crenn shares her philosophy that food is medicine. You’ll also have some free time to explore the grounds, so be sure to hit the Roman baths or the spa, play tennis or paddle a rowboat around the lake.
Just be sure to reserve some energy for the final evening, because the grande finale involves a Versailles-style masked ball with entertainers, music and magic. Don’t worry, you’ll undergo a guided fitting first to make sure you look the part. And there’s a hangover brunch the next morning to ensure you depart with a full stomach and a clear head.
It’s easy to write this off as the wildly expensive dream of culinary fandom gone too far, à la The Menu. (Fun fact: Crenn played a role in developing dishes featured in the movie, but unlike in the horror-comedy, you’re almost guaranteed to avoid murder and mayhem on this excursion to France.) And to an extent, that feels fair. But it’s worth noting that Crenn performed a ton of impactful relief work during the pandemic and is a staunch advocate for social responsibility in food. So, if you’re going to follow anyone to France for a week of indulgent eating and drinking, she seems like a great leader. And if you have the money, there’s no denying that it sounds like a damn good time. Besides, can you really put a price on five days of food, drinks and chateau-related fun with a three-Michelin-starred chef?
Yes, yes you can. It’s 32,000 euros.
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