For the 50+ Traveler

One of the great joys of visiting Paris is the opportunity to participate in a French cooking class. From the prestigious Cordon Bleu school where Julia Child first learned French cooking, to the state-of-the-art kitchens at the Hotel Ritz Paris, to private lofts where French chefs will teach you the art of French cooking, Paris offers a wide range of cooking classes for beginners to seasoned chefs. One of the other great things about taking a cooking class is that many of the classes include a trip to the iconic French food markets where you shop for your ingredients.

Here’s a detailed list of our favorite cooking and baking classes. Bon appetit!

1. Charlotte Puckette

Charlotte Puckette is an American expat from Charleston, South Carolina, who has been living in Paris for over 25 years. She is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who gives small group (up to six people) and private cooking classes in her fabulous, commercial kitchen in her private 5-story townhouse near the Eiffel Tower.

Her lunch and dinner classes include a visit to her local food market, where you shop for the freshest produce, cheeses, meats, and fish for the dishes you are going to make. Charlotte shares about the sources of the ingredients and how they are made and grown, particular vendors at the market and their specialties, and the high government standards that the French impose on the quality of their foods. After you visit the market, Charlotte and the clients return to Charlotte’s kitchen, and she serves coffee and snacks while she discusses the menu. Charlotte and the guests then prepare a three-course meal in the course of about 3 hours, and when lunch or dinner is ready, everyone sits down for the meal and a glass of wine. In between the main course and dessert, a traditional French cheese platter is served with bread.

Puckette is also a food writer, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Classes are taught in English with Charlotte’s distinctive Southern drawl.

2. Cook’n With Class

French chef Eric Fraudeau traveled to Central and North America perfecting his version of French cuisine at luxury hotels including Four Seasons, The Ritz, and Sofitel. In 2007 Fraudeau returned to his native France and began doing market visits and cooking classes for just a handful of clients in a small loft in Montmartre. His company, Cook’n With Class, has grown by leaps and bounds since then and now has a duplex atelier with classes, wine tastings, a full staff, and an extended list of classes. He also opened another school in Provence.

The Paris school offers a market tour and cooking class, the popular macaron class, classes for children and parents, croissant making, French breadmaking, a French sauce class, and a gluten-free dessert-making class. Cook’n With Class also offers multiple-day courses such as a 7-day French Cooking Vacation that includes cooking instructions and tours of Paris and the Champagne region. Larger groups of up to 25 people can also be accommodated for classes and courses.

An idyllic village in Provence, Uzes is where Cook’n With Class takes to the beautiful countryside of France and its special cuisine. Fraudeau works hands-on with small groups no larger than six people, teaching and entertaining clients with his passion for Mediterranean and Provencal foods and recipes. The seven-day class includes accommodations.

Cook’n With Class recently started online classes at 45 euros per person with groups no larger than eight people. Live classes start at 99 euros for dessert and pastry classes, and the lunch market and cooking class is 175 euros per person, which lasts 5.5 hours.

3. Ecole Ritz Escoffier

Study French cooking at the school that began modern French cuisine. Chef, restaurateur, and culinary writer Auguste Escoffier invented classic French cooking in the late 1800s with his haute cuisine along with recipes for five sauces, which is the basis of almost all French recipes. Today Ecole Ritz Escoffier continues the traditions that Escoffier established at the legendary Ritz Hotel.

Ecole Ritz Escoffier has a professional-level school with long-term classes and individual classes for non-professionals. The classes have three levels, Introductory level, lasting 5 weeks, Intermediate level, lasting 5 weeks, and Advanced level, lasting 2 weeks. Professional pastry classes are also given and have the same levels and schedules as the cooking classes.

The highest-level class and the ultimate chef training is the Ritz Escoffier Culinary Arts Diploma, a 24-month cuisine and pastry-making curriculum along with an optional 8-week training session in the kitchens of the Ritz Paris, which costs 40,200 euros.

Another option at Ecole Ritz Escoffier is the individual, non-professional classes. Class instruction includes a Prestige foie gras class, where you learn to prepare two dishes using foie gras, A Taste of the Ritz where you learn to cook the chef’s favorite dishes, a festive meals course, and a Ritz Kids class where children ages 6 to 13 can participate.

All individual classes include a printed book with the recipes you prepared, an award certificate for completing your class, and an Ecole Ritz Escoffier apron.

Pro Tip: Classes are taught in French and simultaneously translated into English.

4. La Cuisine Paris

La Cuisine Paris, owned by an American expat couple, offers an extensive list of French cooking and baking classes. Conveniently located in the Marais district and near Notre-Dame, La Cuisine has small group classes that include a French Bistro Lunch, where you learn to cook crepes and souffles, a French market tour and four-course lunch class, and a wine and cheese class. There are macaron, croissant, eclair, and fruit tart classes for pastry and dessert lovers, plus a new bread masterclass. Their technical classes will have you master French sauces and learn how to deconstruct poultry and also make authentic chicken stock.

La Cuisine Paris can also arrange events in their space and customized culinary experience.

5. Patricia Wells

New York Times bestselling cookbook author Patricia Wells has written over a dozen books about cooking in France. Wells also teaches French cooking techniques in her Paris apartment and her farmhouse in Provence.

The 5-day classes in Paris run Monday through Friday and are limited to eight participants. The program consists of 4 days of cooking lunch with Wells, where she also teaches about kitchen design and organization and gives an insider's look into Paris’s markets. Another part of the program includes wine and oil tastings, a visit to a master baker, and lunch at a three-star Michelin restaurant. Students also receive a personalized embroidered apron and a book with 50 recipes.

For the Provence classes, Wells teaches a little bit more of an advanced program. The 6-day course starts on Sunday with a welcome dinner and ends with lunch on Friday. In between, students participate in hands-on cooking lessons in the two kitchens at Chanteduc, in addition to visits to local markets, vineyards, shops, and Wells’s favorite restaurants.

Pro Tip: All classes are taught in English. Book your class at least 6 months in advance, as the classes sell out way in advance.

6. Alain Ducasse Cooking School

The most celebrated chef in France, Alain Ducasse, who has more Michelin stars than the constellations, has added a cooking school to his culinary empire. The Alain Ducasse Cooking School, located in a quiet, residential neighborhood, has an expansive, 6,000-square-foot space with four state-of-the-art, professional kitchens with Miele appliances, a wine cellar, meeting spaces, a culinary boutique, and an outdoor patio.

The classes at the Alain Ducasse Cooking School include cooking for beginners, spotlight cooking, where students prepare a single signature dish from Ducasse in categories such as macarons, lemons, truffles, scallops, and lobster, cooking for a special event featuring holiday and festive dishes, and healthy cooking classes, specializing in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes.

The school has three wine classes on different levels, wines to discover, essential wines, and exceptional wines, taught by the head sommelier. There are also specialty classes focusing on a particular wine regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, and Champagne.

7. Le Foodist

Fred Pouillot was a chemical engineer working for a major corporation who traveled the globe extensively for his job. During his travels, he took the time to absorb the culture and the food of each destination and realized how connected they were.

Pouillot left his corporate job to pursue a more self-satisfying career, and in 2012 opened his new business Le Foodist, which directs Pouillot’s passion for connecting people with food through culture.

The courses include lunch and dinner classes with and without market visits, a vegetarian class, and a knife skill and French sauce class. Baking, pastry making, and dessert classes include techniques in how to make croissants, bread, chocolate eclairs, souffles, madeleines, chocolate mousse, and creme brulee.

Le Foodist offers food tours in the Latin Quarter and Les Halles, and a pastry and chocolate tasting tour. One-week cooking vacations in Provence and the Loire can also be arranged by Le Foodist and include accommodations, six breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and six cooking classes. Wine is offered at all lunches and dinners.

Fred’s wife, Amanda, is part of the Le Foodist team, and she teaches the vegetarian classes and some of the pastry classes, and Stephane is the resident sommelier.

Pro Tip: All the establishments listed above teach classes in English, except for Ecole Ritz Escoffier, where the classes are taught in French but are translated into English.

If you want to experience international cuisine at home, here are seven cooking classes that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own kitchen!