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The countryside of Roanne.
The countryside of Roanne.
Catriona outside the Chateau De Matel.
Cooking school.

Vive La France - Language & Cooking School

Thursday, August 2, 2001
Learn how to cook and speak all things French at this beautifully renovated, mid-18th century-style home — Chateau De Matel.

Roanne is a small, provincial city, one of the longest inhabited in France. Parts of it haven't changed for centuries. Every couple of generations, the city's architecture has changed, with old being demolished for new, meaning there are not as many historic buildings there as in other parts of the country.

The city developed because of the Loire River, and from 1850, it became an important textile centre, which lead to lots of inns and restaurants opening up. It is still famous for its gastronomy, and its most famous restaurant is Troisgros, one of France's top 10 restaurants. The attraction of the area extends to other medieval villages such as St Haon le Chatel, Le Crozet, Ambierle and St Jean St Maurice and, because it borders Beaujolais and Burgundy, day trips to vineyards and cellars are easy.

Chateau De Matel is on a site inhabited since the 13th century. It was burned down in the Ligue war in 1596, and rebuilt in 1598. It has been renovated over the centuries, and is now in the mid-18th century style. Early in the 20th century, it was owned by the Citroën car-manufacturing family.

Now it is home to Australian Margaret O'Lean, her husband Rene Dorel and their son Marc. The much-travelled family is realising its dream by living in a chateau, and they run École des Trois Ponts cooking and language school from there.

The venture began purely as a language school, teaching French to all levels, with six in each class. People began asking about cooking lessons, so now the two have been successfully combined, and the brand new Provençal-style kitchen is just as popular as the language classes.

There are three cooking courses on offer — country cooking. pastry and baking and family cooking, with a specialist chef to teach you.

Just 20 guests are taken at any one time, and accommodation and meals are provided at the chateau. Lunch is a buffet but dinner is taken at the table, where you speak French with the household, teachers and other guests. There is an English-speaking table for novices.

Guests are immersed in French for 14 hours a day in a friendly atmosphere, but there is time to visit attractions of the region and try your new skills on locals.

To really get into the French feel, most people combine the two courses. Learn the intricacies of the language in the morning lessons, and spend afternoons in the kitchen.

Non-studying partners and children are welcome at Chateau De Matel, and they can amuse themselves at the pool, tennis courts and equestrian centre. Or they can go for a bike ride through the countryside or stay close and enjoy the property's large parkland, taking walks along the canal.


85km north-west of Lyon.


Qantas has an exclusive special for Getaway viewers to Paris. Return economy airfares are $1399 from the east coast, Adelaide or Perth. This offer ends on Monday, August 6, 2001 for travel from October 1 to November 15, 2001 and from January 14 to February 28, 2002.
École des Trois Ponts has a one-week language and cooking course starting at around $2000 per person twin share, including all meals and accommodation. They run from May to October.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Maison de la France
(French Government Tourist Office)
Ph: (02) 9231 5244
Fax: (02) 9221 8682
Ecole des Trois Ponts
Chateau de Matel, 42300 Roanne France
Ph: 0011 334 7771 5300
Fax: 0011 334 7770 8001
Qantas: 13 13 13
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit

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