Charroux Marlene van der Westhuizen


Marlene van der Westhuizen


Marlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der Westhuizen


Marlene van der Westhuizen, author of the
best selling cook book, ‘Delectable’,
 is a Francophile
and passionate about her adopted country!


What Marlene is offering at beautiful Charroux, set in the rugged Auvergne region deep in the heart of Bourbonais near Vichy, is more than simply a cookery course rather a miniature taste of France in a country devoted to all things culinary. Marlene interprets this message with warmth, charm, humour and tremendous energy. Their culture, their food and their style, demonstrating a way of life that is alive and well in this remote medieval village, officially one of the most beautiful in France. 


CharrouxCharroux, Marlene van der Westhuizen


Cookery classes, for small groups of seven,
form part of this jam packed week. Learn how to
prepare simple classics including local rustic
dishes, all with the contemporary touches that
are typical of Marlene’s style. 


The day begins with a French breakfast; crisp buttery croissants with preserves; ‘la gelee de framboise’ and ‘confiture de fraise’, all homemade, and large cups of café au lait. After Marlene’s demonstrations and talks, preparation starts and is shared by all in this hands on course that encompasses many facets of food, customs and table etiquette. For those that love to cook, Marlene inspires, for those that are learning to cook, this is a delightful way to begin!


Showcook enjoyed Madam Marie Chantal’s warm hospitality in her charming adjoining house, where you will experience one of the highlights of your stay - dining with Madam and enjoying a regional specialty; a rich cassoulet, a regional dish of the south west around Toulouse, using confit de canard, pork, a Toulouse sausage and usually another, and of course beans, haricot tarbais. To finish,  sprinkle with bread crumbs, which forms a melting crust. Marie Chantal is a fountain of knowledge and chatting to her about history and life in France today is insightful.


Cook’s note from Marie Chantal: "For my mother it used to be a torturous procedure , but now with a juice extractor it is simple!"  For the ‘La gelee de framboise’; use the same amount of sugar as the juice, cook until a few drops on a saucer solidify in a few seconds and it is done. However, it does depend on the ripeness and amount of fructose in the fruit. To make the strawberry jam; use 2 kg strawberries remove the hull and slice. Add 1.7 kg granulated sugar and leave overnight. The next morning slowly warm to a light boil, remove scum and continue cooking for 30 - 40 minutes test on a cold saucer. 




Fascinating field trips visiting nearby Vichy, famous for its spas and taking the waters - increasingly fashionable. Excellent shopping, popping into little patisseries and sampling chocolates from the gorgeous little chocolatiers where you will find some of the smoothest and most coddled bon bons. 


You will meet lovely Lynn and Olivier Chaulieu who have created their own oasis of charm,  ‘Aux Jardins des Thévenets’. Here they have renovated an historic home surrounded by aromatic and medicinal plant fields, farmed by Lynne who has an organic agricultural background. 



Marlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der Westhuizen


Absorb the atmosphere of Charroux, which is one of the prettiest heritage villages in France. Lined with stone houses, flowering window boxes and quaint little shops where you can buy everything from piquant mustard to olive soaps and pâtés of the region.  


Marlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der Westhuizen


To market, to market at Bellenaves.


Supermarkets and travelling, well-organised markets live side by side in France, where they are a fundamental part of life in a country that reveres and rhapsodizes about food and whether in the countryside or town, these are an excellent starting point to share some of the local seasonal bounty from surrounding farms and absorb the bustling and vibrant atmosphere.


The trucks roll in and within a short
time they are open for business,
refrigerated counters and all.

When the warm summer days arrive so do exquisite peaches, apricots, deeply scented melons, large plump cherries and berries of all description; strawberries, sweet wild blueberries from the forests, blackberries and tart raspberries.


Marlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der Westhuizen


Marlene van der WesthuizenMarlene van der Westhuizen


Savour fine young green beans with an incomparable taste and texture! Tiny crisp little radishes, which the French so enjoy with a pat of sweet butter and crusty baguettes.

Smooth purple brinjals,
artichokes and an array of colourful leafy greens; some sharp and pungent, others feathery and delicately flavoured. Choose fresh herbs; parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, mint and dill. Mushrooms are always a source of pleasure; wild morels, chanterelles, cépes and the delicate parasol mushroom known as cocherelle.  

Select salmon,
trout, sardines, loup (sea bass), cabillard (cod fish) or merlan (whiting). Fresh fish from Brittany are trucked in overnight - most efficiently.  


All the fun at the fair, a rare glimpse of a French ritual!


L’Escargot des Gourmets, snails are to be found and bought prepared in every shape and form; Mousse d’Escargot and Terrine d’Escargot, to enjoy on the spot or later at home with a glass of chilled white wine. In France, snail hunting is a national sport and wherever there are vines there are snails. Leaves are there to be fed on and in winter snails keep snug under the roots to escape the frost.  



Sit in the square under a vast umbrella and relax over a ‘Salade de Soleil’; tomatoes, green beans, mesclun (a heady mix of salad greens) and olives, or enjoy ‘Jambon d’Auvergne’ or an ‘Omelets de Pommes de Terre’. For a touch of sweetness try a ‘Clafoutis of ripe Cherries or Apricots’, in their cold winters it is unctuous made with prunes.




Winter in the Auvergne is bleak, so it is understandable that cooks don’t count the calories and go for a homely rich cuisine. Salted hams and dried sausages, pâtés with substantial breads, and savoury cakes based on eggs, chopped bacon and Swiss chard. With a plethora of fashionable food, which is far from comforting, it is no surprise that the hearty cuisine from the Auvergne is very successful in sophisticated Paris.



Marlene van der Westhuizen CharrouxMarlene van der Westhuizen Charroux

Olives green and black, there is no limit to the variety of flavourings that can be added to these little gems and then there are the indispensable plump heads of garlic and the delightful shallots, which are the most prestigious member of the onion family; subtle, mild and sweet. 


 In Spring however, when Marlene has her
workshops at Charroux, a very different picture
emerges, rolling green fields, acres of golden
sunflowers and rippling rivers. 


Marlene van der Westhuizen Charroux


Marlene van der Westhuizen Charroux


Markets are where you meet the hardy and down to earth men and women who pick the grapes, smoke the ham and nurture the cheese. People for whom producing food is not merely a job but a passion!

Marlene van der Wethuizen



Among the fragrant cheeses you can buy during your early morning’s stroll are; Savaron, Ralochon Fernier, Tomme de Montagne, St Nectaire a fairly soft cheese and the Bleu d’Auvergne, rather like a Roquefort using cow’s milk instead of sheep’s and the cylindrical blue Fourme d’Ambert.



The making of mustard dates back to the Middle Ages. The Moutarde de Charroux is an ‘artisanale’ mustard, smooth or grained made from the wines of Saint Pourçain, an ancient vineyard, and adds it inimitable flavour to enhance many dishes. Try with chicken or veal and a dash of cream. 

Cook’s note: Add mustard just before serving as cooking can make it bitter. 



Excellent relishes, chutneys and mustards
really add depth of flavour. The French have
an inherent touch with seasoning;
a soupçon of this and a touch of that - Voilà! 





It took over two years for Marlene to
transform and equip the 11th century
home into the cooking school as well
as the holiday home it is today. 



Enter into the spirit of things, Marlene’s enthusiasm is infectious. At the market baskets and bags are filled with all the good things ready to be unpacked and quickly transformed into a leisurely lunch enjoyed in the sunny garden under the trees. 


Marlene’s mantra is keep it
fresh, keep it simple, follow
the seasons and respect the
integrity of ingredients. 



Relax and enjoy pâtés and terrines of the area; de Foie de Volaille (pork, veal and chicken livers), Terrine de Boeuf Paysanne (beef with herbs and ham) and in winter (a game terrine) Terrine de Gibier. Wonderful with a glass of Stellenzicht Shiraz 2006 from the Golden Triangle. 



South Africa’s fine wines are on the move internationally!


Stellenzicht, Cape LegendsStellenzicht, Cape Legends


Today South African wines are to be found in some of the finest restaurants, hotels and guest houses. In France their exclusive range includes the award winning Stellenzicht, Plaisir de Merle, Le Bonheur, Uitkyk brandy and Allesveloren, a very fine port. Stellenzicht is one of the jewels in the crown, from the Golden Triangle, on the slopes of the Helderberg of the magnificent Stellenbosh wine growing area of the Cape.


Stellenzicht Shiraz 2006, wonderful deep ruby colour with full ripe fruity fragrance. A full bodied elegant wine with hints of chocolate and plum that will mature superbly. A perfect wine for the Auvergne area as it is an excellent foil for the bold and piquant flavours of the pâtés, terrines and cassoulets. 


Stellenzicht Sémillon Reserve 2004, intense concentrated with a riper style, a complex deeply flavoured and scented wine that matures with age. 


 For winemaker Guy Webber, balance is
his credo and their Stellenzicht Syrah,
a Rhône style wine from a single vineyard
in the South African Golden Triangle, has
been ranked in the Top 10 in the inaugural
international ‘Syrah du Monde Awards’, 
the only South African wine on the list.


The French have a way with salad, particularly with dainty salad greens and of course enhanced by an excellent extra virgin olive oil, a dash of wine vinegar and whisked together with some of the divine Charroux mustard! 





Crisp sweet radishes, the finest of all are to be found in France. The flavours should be mild to peppery. Delicious with Marlene’s chicken liver pâté studded with red grapes made with lots of butter and "some serious Armagnac," explains Marlene! Enjoy baguettes, freshly baked in the early hours and bought at the Bellenaves market.




Sip a crisp summery wine with fruity
hints over light lunch, Stellenzicht
Sauvignon Blanc 2007, complement
warm days in Charroux.


This ancient town borders on the great plane of Auvergne Limagne and was a strong hold of the Bourbonnais region. It went through deep tragedy and misfortune, but has maintained its impressive stone houses and squares indicating that a population of rich cultivated merchants and intellectuals once lived there.





The village survived The Plague (1347 - 1352)
and the Hundred Year War (ended in 1453).
Two of the huge stone Roman gates still exist,
along with the medieval street names. Today,
you can walk (gingerly!) on the original cobble
stones, a link to the heart breaking past.  




Charroux has retained its fortified town aspect exhibiting its magnificent Saint Jean Baptiste Church, its citadel and many other monuments including remnants of its three hundred wells.



Staying on in the area?


Consider La Grange du Belvedere, owned by David and Colleen Sharpe. France became a passion during their many visits and eventually they sold up ‘boots and all’ in London and decided that, as Charroux was one of the most beautiful villages in France and very well positioned, this is where they chose to open their sensitively restored farm house retaining the ambience and atmosphere of a traditional Bourbonnais home, while providing quality and a delicious sense of comfort. Antique furniture, a fabulous selection of intriguing books, warm in winter and lovely in the summer where you can linger in the terraced garden. 



Charroux is a very convenient stay for
visitors travelling south from the channel ports. 




Restored homes with their slate grey roofs and mellow stone walls are brightened by vividly painted shutters and doors, while colourful geraniums tumble from window boxes and sunny courtyards with tea gardens beckon. 



All the charms of Charroux


 Visit the Savonnerie (soap shop) and sample those soaps made with olive oil. Take time out to drop into the candle and gift shops, after going to the clock museum.  


Madame Bernadette’s Rose Thé is a delightful tea and gift shop. Sip rose petal enriched tea in her pretty garden. On a hot day try ‘Miami Ice’, a subtle mixture of papaya, strawberries and fleur de bleuet or ‘Impérial Jasmine’, a green tea infused with jasmine. Take a gentle stroll through the ‘Cour des Dames’ (Ladies Courtyard), Central square in Charroux.



Dinner - Chez Marlene


Lovely tastes; spicy shoulder of roast lamb with garlic and a creamy aubergine caviar, rich and sumptuous served with poached endives, simmered with bay leaves and crisp French beans followed by raspberry tartlets. 


Stellenzicht, Cape Legends


Versatile endives, sometimes known as chicory, has a slight and pleasant bite and is particularly delectable when served with roasted and braised meats and chicken  or baked with cream and gruyère. 


Stellenzicht, Cape LegendsAllesveloren Port, Cape Legends


Allesverloren Port has a history dating back to between 1696 and 1704, the oldest wine estate in the Swartland for five generations originally courageously farmed by the widow Cloete

Celebrated winemaker Danie Malan winner of the
‘Peter Schultz Award for excellence in Port’ 


Allesverloren 2005 Vintage Port is made in the Portuguese style; creamy, soft with nutty and raisin berry tones and a lingering aftertaste. Rich and dark, complementing the marvellous French cheeses and the ripe summer melons - both classic combinations for this ageless after dinner ritual.


Allesveloren Port, Cape Legends


A visit to a Fromagerie is a must. Fragrant, usually a
 model of cleanliness with quite exceptional cheeses.
Look for regional cheeses that are made from
unpasteurised milk. These have real character, perfect
treat with the dense full flavoured breads; walnut and
olive, often baked in a woodfired oven. 


Marlene van der Westhuizen Charroux


Marlene’s newest book  is out next August,
published by PanMacMillan. 

Be in touch with Marlene van der Westhuizen direct on her
Cell: 082 895 9772 or Email: 



Tel: +27 021 880-1103
Fax: 021-880-1107


P.O. Box 23, Riebeeck West, 7306, South Africa
Tel + 27  022  461-2320 Facsimile+ 27 022 461-2444

 info@allesverloren.co.za    danie@allesverloren.co.za
International Agents


La Grange du Belvedere
9, Boulevard du Nord, 03140 Charroux, France
Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 70 56 8002


Aux Jardins des Thevenets
Chemin des Thevenets, 03110 Espinasse-Vozelle, France 
Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 70 56 5704


Charroux Tourist Information Office
Rue de l’Horloge - 03140 Charroux
Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 70 56 8771


Photography by Franz Lauinger





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  • 7 August, 2009, 17:21

    Marlene, Just navigated your lovely website via “Eat-in”. You have created a wonderfully romantic concept. Good luck with your enterprise and your “Delectable” still provides us with many delicious meals. We hope to pass through Charroux on our next trip to France (Blaye) in Sept.

  • Debbie, Mark, Thomas, Savannah
    20 September, 2009, 4:36

    Salut Marlene! We are travellng through France mid October 2009 on our way to our own piece of French countryside in the Loire valley.
    We plan to visit Charroux.
    We’ll be in the Cape for Christmas as usual.
    Love to D and R.

  • Elaine Cornish
    7 February, 2010, 17:31

    Dear Marlene,
    There are 6 of us who would like to do your cookery course in France. From March 28th to 10th April anytime then.
    Can you send information.
    kind regards,

  • Tricia Kay
    9 February, 2010, 12:16

    Dear Marlene, I’m a South African living in New Zealand and I was wondering if it would be possible to do a three day cookery coursse with you in September. My daughter are visiting Paris and I thought we could train down to Charroux and visit your school. If you think you could accommodate my daughter and me I would be delighted! Please email me and let me know if we could discuss dates cost and any other details you need.
    Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you,

  • 27 February, 2010, 1:45

    I live in Sydney Au.. ex SAfrican.. Marlene could you please send me details of any cooking tour you organise.. who knows when dreams can happen?

  • Dulcie Nel
    30 May, 2010, 18:55

    Marlene could you please send me more details of your cooking course in France, as well as those in South Africa. Date, cost etc.

  • Clinton
    15 June, 2010, 14:24

    Hi Marlene

    As an a avid fan of both your books, I would love some information about your various cooking classes. I am in Johannesburg but love to travel.


  • sonia
    26 July, 2010, 20:18

    Dear Marlene,
    i would so love to attend your classes in France.
    Please fill me in on dates and prices also availability.
    looking forward to hearing from you.
    Kind regards

  • Chania
    29 July, 2010, 11:47

    Marlene’s Cookery courses in France are hugely popular and if you would like to be in touch about her latest courses both in France and in Green Point here are the details.

    The Food Studio.
    021 433 2259

  • jeanne Pienaar
    25 November, 2010, 18:40

    stel belang in jou volgende kurses in Frankryk - was nou by Kiewietskroon

    6 December, 2010, 15:51

    Dear Marlene,

    I would very much like to know about your cookery courses in France. Please will you let me have the dates when the courses start, the duration, the prices and availability for 2011. I would also like to confirm that you offer accommodation with these courses.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,


  • Shan Hulbert
    6 December, 2010, 19:21

    Dear Marlene

    As per Anne’s request. Please let me know when you run your various courses in France.

    I would love to join you!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards
    Shan (082 521 4410) Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

  • jill de klerk
    6 December, 2010, 21:31

    Please let me have details of the cookery course in France.

    Thank you.

  • Karin Theunissen
    7 January, 2011, 7:29

    Hi Marlene,
    Your website is gorgeous!! I am both an amateur chef and photographer who would love to do one of your courses in France!!
    Wine is my other passion, and Guy Webber is a special friend of mine! Also managed the entire Cape Legends Portfolio on the Garden Route for many years, so those wines are close to my heart!
    Please let me know when the courses in France will take place in 2011. Maybe it will be possible for me to attend one??

    Kind regards
    Karin Theunissen

  • Jenny Worner
    22 February, 2011, 16:43

    Dear Marlene,

    2011 is my Jubilee year (50th) and I’m doing those things I’vew always longed to do. A cooking holiday in France is one of them and your sounds wonderful!! Please give me your dates and prices for this year?

    Many thanks

  • Bridget Fourie
    12 August, 2011, 12:49

    Please could you send me your newsletters and info about your cookery courses for 2012

    24 August, 2011, 9:21


  • 31 October, 2011, 19:47

    Please could you send me some info on cookery classes in France. I am going to be there at the beginning of July and am interested in possibly attending classes, many thanks

  • Elnida van Zyl
    26 November, 2011, 17:04


    Please supply info (dates and prices) on cooking courses in Charroux in 2012.

    Thank you


  • Pippa Armstrong
    11 January, 2012, 14:14

    I notice that all trips to Charroux scheduled for 2012 are fully booked at this stage.Do you perhaps ever get last minute cancelllations? I see that you may schedule another trip this year, Do you perhaps have a waiting list? I (& friends)would just LOVE to go and will be so grateful if I can be notified of the next available space……
    Thank you so much,
    Kind regards
    Pippa Armstrong

  • Christel Hinze
    16 July, 2012, 15:07

    As this is my year of turning 60 I would love to treat myself & my 2 daughters to a cookery course of yours in France. Please could you give available dates and cost for after September.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Christel Hinze

  • 19 September, 2012, 20:07

    Hi marlene,
    Ek wil graag inligting he oor jou kookklasse in Frankryk. Sal so Graag wil saamgaan.
    Elsa Bell

  • Dawie Swan
    25 September, 2012, 22:42

    Goeie naand Maarlene,

    Ek sal baie graag meer wil weet oor jou 6 dae kursus in Charroux.

    Wat is die kostes daaraan verbonde, en hoe gereeld is daar so geleentheid?

    Sien uitt om van jou te hoor!


  • esther lategan
    18 December, 2012, 16:38

    Your website is very appetizing. Please let mer know available dates for your cookery courses in 2013.

  • Meryl O'Mahoney
    10 January, 2013, 13:42

    Please could you send details of cookery classes held in Charroux. ie dates and cost

  • Meryl O'Mahoney
    31 January, 2013, 12:13

    Hi Marlene,
    Thank you very much for your reply .
    I am very interested in attending the June 2014 Cook’s Tour . Could you kindly send me details in order to make a reservation .
    Kind regards,
    Meryl O’Mahoney
    Cape Town, SA

  • Frances Nunes
    28 February, 2013, 17:55

    Please let me know availability and cost for your 2013 cookery courses. There would be 2 of us.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks
    {Cape Town]

  • Lyrene
    12 May, 2013, 15:55

    Hi there
    Please will you let me have availability, duration and costs of your cooking classes in France for the rest of 2013. I would love to bring my daughter.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Carla Kriel
    8 December, 2014, 7:42

    Good morning,
    I would like a bit more information on you next cooking course in France please. When is the next available class and pricing please.
    Many thanks

  • Adele Becker-Louw
    5 January, 2015, 9:11

    Good Day,
    Could you please let me have availability and dates of cooking classes for 2015. Do you even offer classes anymore?
    Adele Becker-Louw

  • 28 February, 2015, 18:26

    What are the dates for your 2015 courses? We would be a couple - Bruce & Anne

  • Martinette
    11 May, 2015, 7:56

    Marlene when is the next tours from South Africa to Charroux for cookung classes

  • 15 August, 2015, 6:47

    Hi Marlene,
    We are visiting France in August and would love to add a weeks cookery course to our holiday. There are two couples. Both husbands really enjoy cooking.
    Looking forward to hearing from you
    Liz Wood

  • 15 November, 2015, 17:36


    Wayne Gates suggested I contact you. (best hairstylist ever)
    I am an ex South African now living in Journiac, Dordogne since July. Still have a flat in Sea Point. Moved from CPT about 25 years ago, to Paris for 5 years then 18 in Los Angeles. I am French by birth though.
    I used to teach private cooking lessons in the US and hope to continue here. Do look at my website.
    Would love to get in touch with you. You should come and visit when next in France. My daughter is living in Sea Point at the moment and I will be back to visit in March/April. Seems so far away.
    Wayne said he was sure we would get on great so looking forward to meeting you one day.

  • 16 November, 2015, 15:13

    I offer private cooking lessons from my home in the Dordogne, France. Would love to hear from you.

  • Eloise Human
    21 February, 2016, 22:30

    Marlene, Ek stel belang in die kookklasse van 2016 in Frankryk. Verskaf asb meer inligting aangaande datums, onkoste ens.

  • Margaret Ann
    10 March, 2016, 13:33

    Wat ñ aangename plesier on na jou kook program te kyk.
    Jy is wonderlik. Kom eet asb by my sodra Jy weer in Suid Afrika
    kuier. Wat ñ voorreg sal dit darrem wees.

  • Babs van den Berg
    27 December, 2016, 6:35

    Hi Marlene.
    I would like to know more about your cooking experience in France and if possible would like to attend one of these must do events.
    We will be in france op holiday in the beginning of April 2017 and staying in St Remy for a few days .
    I would like to go to Charroux and see the area and visit your restaurant.
    Could you give me some pointers to get there.

    Trust this request is do-able.


    13 March, 2017, 15:29

    I would like to know about 2017 cooking courses in France/Italy and associated costs.

    13 March, 2017, 15:30

    I would like information on your cooking courses in France or Italy for 2017 and to be advised of associated prices.

  • 9 August, 2017, 10:18

    Hi Chania, could you please let Darlene know that there are two places available on the Charroux Cook’s Tour for 26 Sept - 2 October 2017. She can contact me directly

  • Rika Scheepers
    5 October, 2017, 21:17

    Tye en prys asb



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