La Varenne Cooking School, founded in Paris in 1975 by the wonderful Anne Willan, added courses in Burgundy, at Château du Feÿ, in 1988. Students got to live in the château while learning the essentials of French cooking. It had always been a dream of mine to earn a diploma from La Varenne, but the stars just never aligned. I did have the incredible good fortune, however, to meet Anne when she moved to Los Angeles many years ago. She and her husband Mark have become good friends.

Over lunch recently they told me they had sold the château and that the new owners would be taking it over in the next few months. They loved the place, but the time had come to pass the property on to the next owners (they will be the eighth). They knew I had a trip to Paris planned and offered to arrange a visit of the château if I liked. I quickly accepted and started looking at the train schedules from Paris to Sens, a nearby town.

The Market at Sens.
The Market at Sens.

My dear friends, Billi and Marni, and I visited the famous covered market of Sens and had a little lunch in town before calling a taxi to take us to the château. The approach, in the rain, was magnificent, a treat for us and our taxi driver. Click here for another way to arrive.

Le Château du Feÿ.
Le Château du Feÿ.

The caretaker took us around the almost 400-year old building and into the gardens, including the potager, which Amanda Hesser wrote about in her book, The Cook and the Gardener.


I could imagine my friends living there, walking through the forest, greeting guests, laughing, and being thankful.

I’m happy I was able to visit a place that is so special to them.


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