Taste of Europe Tours began in 2009 when we took our first group of women to France to cook with Jill Wilcox, of Jill’s Table in London, Ontario.
Since then hundreds of guests have joined us on more than thirty tours with Jill to explore the culture and cuisine of Occitanie, Provence and the Loire Valley in France, and Sicily and Tuscany in Italy. Over the next few years Northern Portugal and Northern Spain will be added to our scheduled tours.
We love Europe and in 2004 bought and renovated our own small house in the south of France. Renting the house to families and groups of friends has been a great way to share our passion for the area but renting a vacation home doesn’t work for everyone. The cooking tours were born when we noticed that some women couldn’t collect friends to visit the house with them and weren’t comfortable traveling alone. And it wasn’t difficult to find a group who wanted to travel with Jill.
The first tour with eight women was a great success and we quickly learned that smaller groups were best! These days our tours are like intimate house parties, usually a dozen of us altogether, and while most people don’t know each other at the beginning of the week, we share so many interests – food, wine, beauty, history, travel, Europe – that we’re friends by the end of the week. It wasn’t long before men were asking to come with us, and since 2014 many of our tours have been mixed.
Accommodation is always in a beautiful home typical of the area – a chateau or converted monastery in France, a villa in Tuscany, a castle in Portugal. Spacious, elegant bedrooms are very comfortable for two guests and each room has an en suite bath.
Transportation is in our own small bus with a driver. Breakfasts and dinners are at home and lunches are in our favourite restaurants. Every day we travel to markets, wineries, olive mills, ancient villages and historic sites. Jill shares her recipes, tips and thoughts while guiding us through the markets and shops, and her daily classes are highlights of every trip.
Please take a look at our upcoming tours and let us know when you’ll be coming with us to experience your Taste of Europe.