Updated: Jan 19
Let's day dream a bit ... Imagine your cousin lives just off the coast in a charming village in Brittany. She invites you to come for a week and just cook together, explore and improve your French, all while having fun. There is a multitude of seafood, including freshly gathered oysters, accompanied by crisp apple cider. Every day there is a new adventure: wandering through a picturesque village or searching for a hidden beach along the rugged coastline. Just a silly daydream? It doesn't have to be! She may not be your aunt, but Christine Todd will feel like family by the end of your stay. She has created a unique concept: Cooking with Words. There is no classroom, nor a sterile cooking lab, just her modest family home with a healthy dose of warmth and friendship.
I arrived at 10:30 and we hopped right into Christine's car to get fresh oysters at the port of Brigneau before they closed at noon. We began to chat in French like old friends, and as Christine is perfectly bilingual, she is helpful in correcting any mistakes and offering suggestions.
The owner wasn't there to shuck the oysters for us (it is a challenge!) so we headed to a wine bar, La Cave Kergoat, to buy some cider and get a helping hand. Both were in abundance!
After a lively demonstration and a lovely meal of oysters, bread and "bitter cider", we were off to explore. Elre not only opened our oysters with ease, but explained that there is no added sugar in "cidre amer" so it pairs well with the salty oysters. Listening to him was yet another chance to practice my French.
There are three lovely ports in Moelans-sur-Mer, a picturesque town at the border between the Finistere and the Morbihan departments (40 minutes from Quimper). We continued to explore nearby Pont-Aven (famous for its butter cookies) and the charming Chapelle de Tremalo where Paul Gauguin had painted Le Christ Jaune. A replica of the painting is still there.
Pont-Aven is an idyllic town, much loved by artists thanks to the beautiful water mills, and the inspiration of Paul Gauguin. We had "Kouignettes" (a smaller version of the Breton pastry kouign amann) at Maison Larnicol and the iconic butter cookies of Traou Mad (which means "good things"). In true Brittany fashion, there was a passing shower, but the sun quickly reappeared.
After our fill of lovely shops, streets and scenery, we headed back to Christine's home for apéro and our first cooking lesson. Passionate about travel and world cuisine, Christine ran a crêperie in a small Breton village, then went to the other side of the world to New Zealand, where she turned an Asian restaurant into a Breton crêperie! She is self-taught and has a knack for explaining things simply to her clients. Everyone pitches in to prepare the meals, which are then enjoyed together over rousing conversation!
Here she demonstrates the ease of making homemade mayonnaise.
We used the delicious mayonnaise as a dip for the fresh langoustines. Christine had prepared a mixture of chorizo, parmesan and breadcrumbs in advance. I carefully placed this on top of pieces of cod. A short while later we were enjoying our feast!
The concept is simple: practice your French in a friendly environment by doing things you love! Christine is flexible, bilingual and genuinely loves getting to know others. She offers both weekend stays or week-long visits. While everything is adaptable to your interests, here is what she has to offer:
Arrival on Saturday morning
Visit to the local market to buy the ingredients for dinner
Walk along the coastal path to the picturesque port of Brigneau
Shared meal preparation
Conversation over good food and wine
Walk in Kerfany, one of the beaches of Moëlan-sur-Mer
Crossing by boat to an oyster farm in Riec-sur-Bélon for an oyster tasting and visit of the oyster bed
Return to the house for a cup of tea and a final chat
Upon request, Christine offers cooking workshops and shared activities while speaking French!
Activity : Crêpe cooking
Historical visits Concarneau , Pont-Aven, Pointe du Raz, Lorient submarine base, sailing centre…..
Visits to cider, oyster farms ...
To be designed together !
This bucolic corner of Brittany is worth a detour, whether you take cooking/French lessons or are just passing through. This area has such a rich history, unique architecture and an extraordinary coastline. It is the region of legends, salted butter, and a fierce Breton identity. It is here that we found our new table linens!
We will have a detailed itinerary of Brittany available on our site soon! In the mean time, if you are planning a visit to the region, reach out so we can plan your unique trip together!