Sojourner Tours

A boutique tour company specialized in gastronomic sojourns in France. Go beyond the typical tourist trip: immerse yourself in French culture and discover authentic places loved by the French.

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Book early. SPACE IS ALWAYS LIMITED.

Groups are kept to eight guests so you can visit authentic places, stay in charming boutique hotels and eat in the real restaurants where locals dine. 

  CULINARY IMMERSION

This program is approved for 32 continuing education hours toward the initial or recertification application for American Culinary Federation certification.   

Note: These programs are not endorsed, accredited, or affiliated with ACF or the ACF Certification Program.

(7 DAYS)

June 2-8 2018 **PRICE before February 15: $3375, after February 15: $3875

ENJOY THE LUXURY OF WALLET-FREE TRAVEL: Read more about the all-inclusive price.

**Traveling alone: add $542 for a private room (rates are based on double room occupancy).

(Minimum Age: 18 )

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Treat yourself to a lavish educational vacation and discover the savors and charm of a French region on the Swiss border, with a distinct cultural heritage, natural beauty, and delicious cuisine that has remained traditional and authentic. This sojourn brings together the most exhilarating culinary experiences from the French-Swiss borderland's Best-Kept-Secrets and Off-the-Beaten-Path sojourns and pairs them with educational and practical learning experiences. 

The cultural significance of the local food and wine are the focus of daily excursions that feature mouthwatering gastronomic experiences. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • You'll experience the meaning of great French cuisine by eating in: restaurants of some of France's most renowned (Meilleur 0uvrier de France awarded) chefs who are ambassadors of local foods; as well as, Michelin star establishments where you'll experience the highest caliber of service and exquisitely prepared dishes featuring the best local products.  
  • With optional morning lectures by Dr. Mathieu, you will have the opportunity to learn about the historic development of the refined French culinary tradition. 
  • With trips to the vineyards of the Jura and Bourgogne, you'll  taste and learn about wines of some from France's most famous and most unique wine-countries.
  • You'll learn first-hand about the AOC/AOP food appellation system by visits to alpine meadows where cows graze and discover how their milk is made into France's number 1 small batch cheese at the closest dairy. 
  • A visit to Louis Pasteur's home/laboratory museum in the heart of the Jura wine-country will reveal the role of pasteurization in food preservation;
  • You'll take home practical knowledge about the appellation system that you can use while shopping for French products.

 Whether you are a professional chef or passionate foodie, you will have fun tasting your way through the French countryside. 

YOUR BASE

Besançon is a small city of 120,000 that is the capital of a region that draws nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over Europe. It is a hidden gem that owes much of its rich history and architectural charm to its surprising and unique mix of Roman, German, and Spanish influences. Read more about Besançon.

You'll stay in a locally owned boutique hotel in the former religious quarter of the old city center: until just a few years ago, the hotel was a convent. The hotel belongs to your guide's father who renovated the building with the help of his wife. Genuine antiques decorate the hotel, many of which give a mischievous wink at the building's religious past. You'll have a buffet breakfast every morning in the charming dining room.  Read more about the hotel.

Hotel Le Sauvage

Hotel Le Sauvage

The sitting room where you'll meet the group before excursions.

The sitting room where you'll meet the group before excursions.

Breakfast includes fresh squeezed orange juice, locally baked breads, fruits, eggs, local meats & cheeses.

Breakfast includes fresh squeezed orange juice, locally baked breads, fruits, eggs, local meats & cheeses.

YOUR GUIDE

Francis Mathieu France Tour Guide

 

You will be traveling with Dr. Francis Mathieu (part-owner of Sojourner Tours and tenured college professor of French).

"I can't wait to share my hometown with you. As a child, I was surrounded by history.  My parents were antique dealers so I grew up in an apartment over their shop which was full of historic treasures. My bedroom window overlooked the buildings where Victor Hugo and the Lumiere brothers were born. We'll stay in my father's hotel set in a former convent and decorated with antiques and I'll share my knowledge as we visit the city and region. This itinerary includes excursions to the mountainside village where I spent part of the summer with my grandparents as a child as well as visits to artisans who make some of my favorite local products: Comté cheese and Vin Jaune."

Lisa Gustavson, Sojourner Tours' founder, will be assisting your guide.


Culinary immersion tour


SUNDAY:

ARRIVE IN BESANCON, THE REGIONAL CAPITAL

French Culinary Immersion Tour

AFTERNOON: Upon arrival, you have time to settle into your comfortable room in the charming boutique hotel Le Sauvage*. While other guests are still arriving, you can relax at the hotel or start exploring the city as you please.

RECEPTION & DINNER: At 6 pm, you will join your guide and the rest of the group in the hotel to celebrate the beginning of the tour French-style with a typical apéritif and a laid-back dinner catered by the hotel.

*A similar hotel may be substituted if room availability is low: reserve early to help ensure a place.


MONDAY:

 THE FIRST A.O.C. PROTECTED WINES & LOUIS PASTEUR

(Very light physical challenge: Over the course of the day, you will walk 2-3 city miles.)

MORNING:

9:00-9:50 ENRICHMENT CLASS: The History of French Gastronomy 

10:00-10:50 ENRICHMENT CLASS: What is in a Name? An Explanation of the French Appellation system.

 11:30 You will head to the “wine capital” of the region, Arbois, nestled in a valley surrounded by vineyards. 

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING LUNCH: The focus of your meal will be food & wine pairings. You will eat a gastronomic meal featuring regional products in a small restaurant amidst the ochre-stone buildings of central Arbois. Your chef, Jean-Paul Jeunnet is renowned for his masterful pairings of the unusual flavors of the Jura wines with refined dishes made with traditional regional products. Jeunnet's exceptional understanding of these wines is no surprise as his father was one of the best sommeliers in France. On his own merit, Jean-Paul Jeunnet's restaurant earned two Michelin stars.

Michelin star chef Jean-Paul Jeunnet

Michelin star chef Jean-Paul Jeunnet

Strolling Along the Ancient Ramparts in Arbois

Strolling Along the Ancient Ramparts in Arbois

Wine Country

Wine Country

Vin Jaune Observation Barrel

Vin Jaune Observation Barrel

AFTERNOON: VISIT TO PRODUCERS You will visit the local wine co-operative to learn about the area’s locally beloved grape varietals and the ancestral methods used to make some of these unusual wines. The visit will climax with a tasting of these unique wines, including the region’s distinctive “yellow wine”.  

  1. OPTION: VISITS TO HISTORIC CULINARY SITES AND MUSEUMS Take a guided walking tour of the town starting at Louis Pasteur's house museum where you'll learn about the famous scientist's research on wine and its influence on how food is preserved today. Walking along a gurgling stream through the pastoral countryside skirting the town center, you'll re-enter the town at the Cathedral then see some of the remaining fortifications from the time when this was a walled city as you make your way to the regional wine museum to get a historic perspective on wine production. 

 

  1. OPTION: Have free time to explore the winding streets, museums and vineyards on your own (note, if you want to visit the Pasteur house you should go with the group and then break off on your own as they only offer guided visits to sizable groups). Things to do include, among other things: browsing in typical French specialty shops; doing more wine-tasting, exploring the winding back streets lined with historic ocher-stone buildings.

VISIT TO PRODUCERS We will meet at the chocolate shop owned by Hirsinger, one of France's best chocolate makers (awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 1996), a third generation chocolatier where your guides will arrange a visit to the family "museum" of curiosities associated with chocolate-making since the opening of their boutique in 1900. 

 You will be back to Besançon early enough to relax a bit before a late dinner at the hotel.

 DINNER: You will eat a light meal such as a salade-composée at the hotel.


TUESDAY:

FRANCE'S # 1 A.O.C. CHEESE

(Light/Moderate physical challenge: during the day, there will be about 2-3 miles of rocky mountaintop hiking.)

MORNING: 

7:30 You'll rise early this morning for an early departure  in order to watch the milk being processed by a cheese-maker's family.

9:00 VISIT TO PRODUCERS Traveling through lush green mountainous landscapes and pine forests, you will reach a mountainside village where you'll visit a family creamery that makes alpine cheeses and welcomes tourists. At the creamery you will learn how the cheese-making process begins as you watch the milk being processed and put in molds to make one of France's most popular artisan cheeses: Comte. You'll also watch a video about the process, taste cheese samples, and have time to shop in their boutique.

11:00 VISIT TO PRODUCERS You will be driven up the mountain where you'll have a breathtaking view from atop a limestone cliff with sweeping vistas over Switzerland. This is one of local people’s favorite hiking spots. You'll be in the alpine meadows surrounded by the grazing Montbelliard cows who produce the cheesemaker's milk.

Cheesemaker in Metabief

  1. OPTION: Stay on the mountaintop to hike along the cliff, through the alpine pastures and over to the mountain chalet where you'll have lunch. This hike will take you along a tiny portion of the famous GR5 hiking route, one of the longest and most beautiful routes in Western Europe which begins at Hoek van Holland on the North Sea, and ends in Southern France at the Mediterranean. Hiking the whole route takes about three months, but your hike will just take a couple of hours.
  2. OPTION: Hop back in the van to head along the mountain top to the chalet where the hikers will join you for lunch. You'll enjoy an aperitif while relaxing at the chalet. 

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING LUNCH: The focus of your lunch will be smoked meats, grilling and cooking as performance. You will have lunch in a nearby rustic mountainside farmhouse beloved by hikers for their locally sourced meats grilled over an open flame. This restaurant was chosen for its character, secluded location and local popularity.

 

Visit a Creamery

Visit a Creamery

AFTERNOON: VISIT TO PRODUCERS Following lunch, everyone will head back down the mountain so you can continue to learn about the cheese-making process. You will take a tour of a nearby 19th-century fortress that has been turned into a maturing cellar for the pride of the region, the Comté cheese you saw being made at the creamery earlier in the day.  Then you'll continue by car to an “eagle nest” medieval castle perched near the Swiss border. You will take a guided tour of this historic monument to visit its fortifications, towers, and dungeon. The guide will bring color to the unfurnished castle with explanations on its defensive features and stories about the famous prisoners who were interned there.

DINNER: Back in Besançon, you will eat a light meal such as a salade-composée at the hotel.

See the Alpine meadows where the cows graze.

See the Alpine meadows where the cows graze.

France Culinary Immersion Tour
Tour a Medieval Castle.

Tour a Medieval Castle.


WEDNESDAY:

Regional Cooking

MORNING:

9:00-3:00 COOKING CLASS: Details depend on dates and numbers in the group. Classes range from learning traditional recipes in the home of a local to a formal class in a modest Culinary Academy to a group lesson from a Michelin Stared chef in an open-air folk-house museum.  

 

 

AFTERNOON: 

FREE TIME to explore Besancon on your own or simply relax. You will be free to select your own restaurant for dinner (your guide will be happy to make recommendations).

Open Air Market in Besancon  

Open Air Market in Besancon

 


THURSDAY:

SALT

(Light Physical Challenge)

MORNING: 

9:00-9:50 ENRICHMENT CLASS: The History of French Gastronomy 

10:30 VISIT TO HISTORIC CULINARY SITE You will first take a guided tour of the Royal Saltworks in Arc-et-Senans, a UNESCO world heritage site, where you’ll discover a utopian village designed by the ground-breaking 18th century architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux and learn a bit about salt production.  

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING LUNCH: The focus of your lunch will be service and mis-en-place. You will stop in a small riverside village to dine in a Michelin stared gastronomic restaurant set in a modest castle built in the 1700s as a hunting pavilion.Chef: Pierre Basso-Moro.

Michelin Star Restaurant in a Castle

Michelin Star Restaurant in a Castle

Royal Salt Works

Royal Salt Works

AFTERNOON: VISIT TO HISTORIC CULINARY SITE You head to Salins-les-Bains. Along the route you’ll stop in a local ceramicist’s studio where you’ll have an opportunity to buy one of the unusual local salt shakers made of stoneware.

  1. OPTION Visit the Great Saltworks and the Museum of Salt, then stroll around town.
  2. OPTION: Take a thermal salt bath. 

FREE TIME in Besancon

DINNER: You will eat a light meal such as a salade-composée at the hotel.


FRIDAY:

DIJON & the great wines of bourgogne

MORNING:

9:00 MARKET VISIT Your first destination is Dijon, the affluent capital of Burgundy, famous for its mustard and escargots. The lively outdoor market will be in full swing when we arrive. 

  1. OPTION: Start with a 30-minute guided stroll through the medieval city center to admire the half-timbered buildings as well as Romanesque and Gothic churches, before ending at the Palace of the Dukes.
  2. OPTION: Head out on your own right away to discover the city at your own pace.

Everyone will have an extra two hours of free time to continue to explore the city center, its museums and shops. This will be the time to visit the exceptional art museum or buy some Dijon mustard!

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING LUNCH: The focus of your lunch will be plating technique. You will enjoy a light lunch in a restaurant honoring the late great local chef Loiseau who famously committed suicide due to the pressure of maintaining his Michelin Star status. His legacy and star has been kept alive by his family and apprentices. This restaurant, just off the stately square of the former palace of the Ducs of Burgundy, is run by an exceptional chef from the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

 

Dijon

Dijon

AFTERNOON: VISIT TO PRODUCERS After lunch, we will drive down the most prestigious section of the Grands Crus Wine Road, the Côte de Nuits.  We will stop at two old-fashioned family owned wineries to sample the world famous Bourgogne wines (notably Pinot Noir varietals and Chardonnay).

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING DINNER: The focus of your dinner will be the use of local ingrediants: all of your experiential meals were made using the finest local products but only this chef is known as an ambassador for the foods of the region. Set in an 18th-century manor house, our restaurant has one Michelin star AND the cook/owner, Romuald Fassenet, holds a M.O.F. title for being one of the best chefs in France.

One day: TWO Michelin star reastuarants

One day: TWO Michelin star reastuarants


SATURDAY:

Breakfast at the hotel.

10:30-11:00  Check-Out

11:00-11:30Oral Exam, Program Evaluation

11:30-12:00 Certificate Presentation & Champagne reception.


Departure.

Besancon

Besancon

SOJOURNERS: AT HOME IN THE WORLD