Remembering our workshop days in Dordogne

It has taken me a while to share some images from our food styling and photography workshop in Dordogne, but I am finally here with a little bit of visual storytelling.

In September, Nadia, Steph and I returned to Beynac where we hosted a 4-day workshop at the beautiful La Manoir de la Malartrie. Eight women from all over the world joined us and we spent 5 days exploring local food, culture and landscape.

We visited local markets, spent our days styling and photographing food, eating poppy and daffodil ice cream, a riverside picnic, a Moroccan feast and more.

Here is a little recap of the places we visited and food we ate.

St Cyprien farmers’ market

Once again, Steph welcomed us into her maisonette at the footsteps of the Beynac castle. Waking up to the views and the quietness every morning was truly a gift.

I started my days with sheep’s milk yogurt and mara des bois. Breathing the cold, country air.

There are no cities in Dordogne. Medieval villages and architecture. It’s a bit like fairyland, really.

We were eager to start our trip with a visit to the St Cyprien market to procure all of our ingredients for the workshop.

Potimarron, apples, pears, figs (so many figs!), wild strawberries, currants… the bounty of early autumn.

les jardins des marqueyssac

The evening before our students arrived, Steph, Nadia and I prepared welcome gift bags for our guests with the generous gifts that many friends had sent.

Thank you Gleena for the beautiful ceramics, Pip Studio for the tableware, linens, bags and more, ONA for the camera bag inserts that have become a staple now, St. Helena Olive Oil Co. for the most delicate olive oils and vinegars, The Apron Society, Saw a Fine Seam, Debbie’s Porch, and Dark Plum for all the aprons we wore non-stop and Jenny Vorwaller for the delicate paintings.

Thank you all.

We met our students early Monday morning and from the beginning the chemistry flowed. Erin, Kathleen, Tracey, Jen, Leen, Emanuela, Juliana and Cecilie. They were open and a pleasure to work with – we played and laughed a lot too.

On our first day, we dove into the technical aspect of photography. Unfortunately, we were faced with very unpredictable weather, which really made us work harder to “find the light” and make it work for us. The forecast was ominous – rain, dark skies and cold. But despite these conditions, we really used it to our advantage and work really hard to get our shots.

That first afternoon, we took a break and headed to the Jardins des Marqueyssac where just like last year, I was to have coquelicot ice cream. I waited one long year for it and as expected, it did not disappoint. Even in the cold rain.

Picnic at walnut grove

The Dordogne region is known for their walnut trees. Everywhere you turn, you will find a perfectly-lined walnut grove.

We spent an afternoon at an organic walnut grove where while our students practiced their styling and photography, Nadia created a beautiful picnic spread for us to enjoy. Fig, olive and mache tartines, heirloom tomato and cheese baguettes, green bean and pesto salad, mini apple tarts, macerated strawberries, and much more. It was beautiful.

Sarlat market

We also visited the Sarlat farmer’s market on a Wednesday.

Rain and cold… But I have to say I loved the light. It really brought out the depth and colors of the place.

We found great produce once again and spent that rainy afternoon at La Malartrie working hard and experimenting with light. Some wanted dark scenes, others light. We practiced and it was great to watch everyone excited to hone their craft.

While we worked on lighting, Nadia styled another beautiful food scene in the grange and everyone enjoyed photographing it.

We were exhausted, but eagerly awaiting the Moroccan dinner that our hostess Ouafa was preparing for us. A feast for the palate and the eyes. One of the best flans I have ever had and I have had many in my lifetime.


Picnic by Dordogne river

On our last day, we visited the Beynac castle and walked the old streets. Stephanie greeted us by the river with yet another beautiful picnic. The sun finally came out and we bathed in it.

Château de Villars

We said our goodbyes that afternoon and even though we were sad to part ways, I knew we would see these women again.

On the other hand, I was excited for that evening as we had made reservations at an all gluten-free inn in Villars.

Château de Villars is run by Bill and Kevin. Exquisite taste, pristine location and delicious gluten-free food. I couldn’t get enough of the sheep, the chickens, the quince tree and their grounds. Green and lush.

We enjoyed dinner with all their other guests at the Château. Stuffed tomatoes, salmon with asparagus and pesto and my favorite, pineapple parfait with crunchy sablé and granita. I could have that dessert every single day of my life – and it’s gluten-free. Sadly, after an early morning walk and yet another delicious breakfast, we had to leave for Paris. But I must return to Villars. Thank you Bill and Kevin for your hospitality.

Thank you to our sponsors for your generosity.

And to our students… thank you for your openness and hard work.

On another note, I would like to announce the winner of the Whole Foods photo contest. Dorian O’Connell will get a full package to my food styling and photography workshop at The Makerie in April. Congratulations Dorian.

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60 Responses to “Remembering our workshop days in Dordogne”

  1. Melissa says:

    Absolutely breathtaking photos Aran. The light and colours are stunning. I would love to visit this part of France. Looks so magical!

  2. Absolutely beautiful; hope to attend one of your workshops soon! Happy Holidays!

  3. Tracey says:

    It was a trip of a lifetime Aran, I thank you so much for all of your hard work putting this together. You deserve your successes and I look forward to the day we meet again! xo Tracey

  4. My favorite shot is that vivid blue door! Now I’m itching to go on a vacation….

  5. Such beautiful beautiful photos!! Wishing I was there with you guys… We went to Dordogne (and Beynac) a few years ago and fell completely in love with the area, the food and the pretty landscape.

  6. Elisa says:

    What a beauty! I love these photos. They look like your camera has had as much fun as you did! I hope one day I will be able to partecipate!
    And the coquelicot ice cream sounds just amazing… Next summer, when the poppiere will be abundant again, I’ll try it!

  7. jandi says:

    Breathtaking is the word that came to mind immediately- i could look at these photos the whole day if i didn’t have 2 little girls vying for my attention

  8. Emanuela says:

    Thankyou Aran, i m so pleased being part of the group. Your post is magic!!! As you know my english is so and soo and is always difficult to explain what i want.

    THANKYOU to all. Emanuela

  9. LakeishaJWatts says:

    It is very romantic like the fairy tales . i feel envy of you. Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to take a peek, love your blog and style. I would like to introduce you some wedding dresses, you can click

  10. Attending this workshop was a dream, Aran! Thank you for generously sharing your talents, behind the camera and in the kitchen. Your photographs bring back so many happy memories of our time in the Dordogne.

  11. Wow! All photographs almost took my breath away. As I was diving more and more into the post, I was feeling almost as being there! Or at least wishing to have been there!

  12. I was losing myself in your pictures and words! Oh, what I would give to be able to attend one of your workshops. Someday. You are fantastic and I love to come here and soak in the richness of the places you go and the food you make (and style). Thanks for sharing.
    If you don’t mind…what kind of camera do you use? I’m in the market for one and don’t know where to start. Thanks!

  13. Walter says:

    We were visiting in the Dordogne some years ago at an old mill, which had been turned into an intimate guesthouse by Jacques and Ginette Kiefer: Le Moulin de Leymonie du Maupas. Your wonderfully enchanting and true to life photographs brought back so many happy memories. Thank you. Your blogsite has been a real find and a source of inspiration. Such lovely gifts you have. Take care.
    Walter & Colleen

  14. Your photographs vividly evoked a visit to the Dordogne – Moulin de Leymonie du Maupas – some years ago. So evocative, so true to life. How wonderfully gifted you are.
    Walter & Colleen

  15. Your photography is so beautiful. I can’t even handle it. I want to be all of those places and eat all of those things. Truly inspiring.

  16. Christina says:

    Stunning! Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. Wow. Absolutely beautiful. It does indeed look like a fairy tale.

  18. Zoe says:

    Hi Aran,

    I’ve been following your work for a while now and for some reason this post really highlighted your talent in my mind. Your photos and styling have reached such heights – something I dream of achieving one day! Well done on such incredible success with your work and I will continue to watch and be inspired with each new post. Thanks!

  19. Shelby says:

    Aran, what a beautiful, inspiring and truly gracious post… This food workshop looked absolutely incredible! Your photos and recollections are so touching, thank you for sharing what I’m sure was an unforgettable experience with your passionate readers! Congratulations!

  20. Gaia says:

    Thank you for this paradise.

  21. Ana says:

    Ze erreportai polita, Aran. Lekua eta argazkiak, zoragarriak. Hurrengoa, hemen inguruan egiteko prest? ;-) Ongi izan.

  22. Lorenda Beumont says:

    What exquisitely beautiful photographs, in such beautiful surroundings. I am going on a cycling holiday to SW France (based in Plaisance) in May next year (with a group of other keen cyclists) . I am thinking of extending my holiday and doing a pastry course whilst there, perhaps in Toulouse, or wherever I can at that time.

    Your photographs and just the thought of all that French food has inspired me even more.

    I just love your site and wish I could spend more time on it.
    Kind wishes

    • Aran says:

      What an beautiful tour that will be, especially in May! You will find poppy fields I am sure. My brother is an avid cyclist as well and I believe he has extensively riden that area. You will also be close to the French Basque Country so if you can make it to St Jean de Luz and Espelette, you will not regret it :) Thank you!

  23. Chechu says:

    Me encantan las fotos, tienes un admirable sentido de la estética!!!

  24. Hola Aran,
    Argazkiak oso politak, inguruak eta herriak ikusgarriak, eta janak itxura onekoak, gozo-gozoak egongo ziren, fijo!!! eta zer esan taldeagatik, enbidia emoteko modukoa.
    Ondo segi.


  25. Iratxe says:

    Aran, ¡qué hermoso reportaje, pasar por tu blog es una verdadera delicia, tus textos, tus recetas y tus fotos fantásticas, consigues transportarnos a cada rincón, creas una atmósfera única!. ¡Eskerrik asko!. Muxuak.

  26. Katy says:

    Thank you Aran for your gorgeous photographs ! I am a painter as well as a beginning food photographer,and any one of your photographs could be turned into a painting ! I wish I had been there with you !! Will you be giving another workshop in this same area ?

  27. Danielle Esparza says:

    Beautiful photos – it looks like you all had a lovely trip. Hopefully I’ll be able to join you there at your next workshop.

  28. What a perfect combination .. a workshop with one of the best food photographer in one of the most beautiful regions of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Who could ask for more? How I wanted to attend, but thank you for sharing this story with us and, oh… those pictures! Amazing, as usual.. it makes me feel like I was there too!
    I can’t wait to have your book in my hands, I just ordered it a few days ago on amazon and am eagerly waiting for him to make his way all across the Atlantic and get here in my beautiful city of Rome. You’re a great source of inspiration Aran!

  29. Talia says:

    All of these photos made me feel so happy. You are truly a gifted photographer.

  30. Aran, I hope one day I can take a photography and styling class with you in the Dordogne! I’ve been wanting to visit the area and its markets – Sarlat, Beynac, Perigord, and other small towns along the way…Sigh…When’s the next session?

  31. Katy says:

    I love the beautiful way you place your photos close together,and in groups of 4 or more. How do you do this ? Do you use a special software ?

  32. Consol says:

    I am from Spain and I am so tankful with you because I knew Dordongna last year by your web.
    The first village i visited it was Beynac. This is one of the most beautiful places I haver ever been.
    Thank you very much

  33. Oh Aran, our Whistler workshop was divine but this looks absolutely dreamy! I just had a mini vacation thru your lovely imagery. Thank you for the escape! Do you do workshops here yearly? Just thinkin’…..!

  34. Agnieszka says:

    beautiful pictures !!! ♥♥♥ I have a question. What type of camera do you use?

  35. carole kettmann says:

    I got your book 2 days ago and I just love it!
    Are you planning any workshops for summer or around easter in Europe?
    Thank you for the fantastic kitchen & camera inspiration;)

  36. carole kettmann says:


    Are you planning any workshops for summer or around easter in Europe?
    Thank you for the fantastic kitchen & camera inspiration;)

  37. Audrey says:

    This looks like such a beautiful part of the world! And the food looks amazing as always.

  38. Iris Ztarr says:

    Such stunningly beautiful photography in magical place, the light was wonderful, thank you

  39. […] featured pin above via cannelle et vanille […]

  40. I am absolutely in love with your blog. Thanks for sharing with us. I posted a charmed place to stay at Dordogne area, very closed to Brantome. Check “my place” if you have two minutes.
    congrats!! great cannellevanille !!

  41. […] organic, locally-grown strawberries. Teeny tiny strawberries that reminded me of the mara des bois we had in […]

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