University & College Programs
Experiential learning, or learning via direct interaction with a subject, is one of our academic specialties. We have extensive experience adapting general education courses in science and culture to provide students with a short-term summer study abroad experience for credit. We develop the curriculum and serve as instructors of record for your college or university to teach your students in France.
The Food & Culture of the Dordogne Region
The Dordogne region (named after the great Dordogne River) in southwest France is rich in unexpected ways. From the cragged, forbidding precipices which Paleolithic humans called home 40,000 years ago to poor soils that paradoxically yield extraordinary foods from walnuts to truffles, this region is a treasure trove and natural classroom. In this program we go back in time to study the dramatic cultural and biological transitions that are the hallmarks of human prehistory. We also study food and culture in France – from the family farm and the local marché to global export – to learn about specific food industries (e.g., truffles, cheese, wine, etc.) and develop an appreciation for how food traditions have influenced culture and society in France.
The Dordogne is an exceptional area for exploring themes in science and global cultures. The science curriculum focuses on human evolution during the Pleistocene (the "ice age"), the evolution of culture in the upper Paleolithic of Europe, and adaptations and evolution of ice age faunas in Europe. For global cultures, we examine food traditions and culture/society in France. We focus on specific food industries (e.g., truffles, regional cheese, wine, etc.) in the southwestern region of France, and their historical and economic significance. Students also study food and commerce in regional France – from the family farm and the local marché to global export.
Days 1-4: Paris
We lead off in Paris for an overview of prehistory, food, and culture in France. Excursions include our popular “Pastry Crawls” and visits with food artisans such as cheesemakers and merchants at iconic French marchés. Science excursions include a scavenger hunt at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Lunch and dinner destinations are carefully chosen to showcase traditional and non-traditional French cuisine. Students learn about the history and production of French wine at the Musée du Vin. Evening excursions include the Eiffel Tower. Afternoon free time allows students to visit museums not on our agenda.
Days 5-18: Dordogne region
After traveling from Paris to the Dordogne via Bordeaux on the high speed train (TGV), we spend two weeks exploring the food, culture and prehistory of the world-renowned region of the Dordogne. Excursions include visits to prehistoric caves and archaeological sites, as well as stops at artisinal fermiers to learn about cheesemaking, snail rearing, walnut harvesting, chocolate making, etc. We visit castles and explore medieval French villages such as Sarlat and Beynac. We tour of a hospitality school that provides vocational and professional training in all things French gastronomy. As food is integral to French culture, students form cook groups during our extended stay here where we have a large kitchen at our “gîte”. Cook groups take turns meal planning, shopping the marché and cooking for the entire group.
Days 19-20: Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne
We move east to the Quercy region for a taste of the truffles, cheeses and wines that are unique to this region. More UNESCO World Heritage sites await us here, including Rocamadour. A visit to the Grotte de Padirac takes us on a guided tour on water through underground limestone caves.
Days 21-21: Bergerac
We start to wind our way back to Bordeaux with a two day visit to the wineries of Bergerac where there are 13 “appellations d’origine contrôlées” that are unique products of the soil, climate, and wine making traditions in this region.
Day 23-24: Bordeaux
We conclude our program with an excursion to the remarkable Bordeaux vineyards of Château Corbin, followed by a visit to St. Emilion.
From Farm to Fork in Provence
Provence in the south of France is world renowned for its culture and climate, as well as its food, wine and other things "Provencal" such as lavender and truffles. We begin in Paris for four days for an overview of food, culture and commerce in France. We follow this with 15 days in Provence where we explore these themes in three major regions (Bouches-du-Rhȏne, Vaucluse, and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence).
Here we study food, culture and commerce in Provence from a "farm to fork" perspective that integrates biodiversity and sustainability. We will also learn about specific food industries (e.g., truffles, regional cheese, wine, etc.) in Provence, and their historical and economic significance. We will explore how food traditions have influenced culture and society in France and the effects of industrialized agriculture on cultural traditions, biodiversity, and climate change. Finally, we examine trends, practices, and policies in organic food production in Provence (and France in general) and small-scale practices that protect and/or restore biodiversity and promote climate change solutions.
Days 1-4: Paris
We lead off in Paris for an overview food, culture and sustainability in France. Our excursions here include our popular “Pastry Crawls,” in addition to visits with food artisans such as cheesemakers and merchants at iconic French marchés. Lunch and dinner destinations are carefully chosen to showcase traditional and non-traditional (including "plant-strong") French cuisine Students visit Rungis, France's largest market (with its own postal code!). Evening excursions include the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre. Afternoon free time gives students the opportunity to visit museums not on our agenda.
Days 5-17: Provence
We travel from Paris to Aix-en-Provence on the high speed train (TGV). Aix is our base for exploring marchés (markets), wineries, and producers of Provençal specialties such as calissons. After a few days of the city, we travel to the tranquil region of Provence Vert for a taste of Provençal country life. We explore vineyards, specialty industries and farms such as apiaries, olive oil and lavender cultivators, truffle growers, local marchés, and the “Grand Canyon” of Europe, the Gorges du Verdon. Also on the agenda is a half-day Provençal cooking class. Our week here also features our popular "gîte dinners" where small groups take turns meal planning, shopping the marché and cooking for us all (and the following night, someone cooks for you!)
Days 18-19: Avignon
Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its rich cultural history. Several of its most distinctive features, including the Pont Saint-Bénézet and the papal palace, were built during 12 to 14th centuries. It is one of the few remaining villages in France still enclosed by ramparts built in medieval times. En route to Avignon, we will stop at the medieval village of Gordes.