Bon appetit! Travel to Cergy-Pontoise and Paris, France, with CA’s French Cuisine and Culture Exchange

Note: The 2012 application deadline has been extended to August 31.

Cooking lessons from a renowned French chef. Visits to a farm and a cheese festival. Trips to a traditional French market. Plenty of French cuisine and wines, all in and around Columbia’s sister city of Cergy-Pontoise, France, just half an hour from the grand city of Paris.

All of that, and much more is on the itinerary this fall for Columbia Association’s (CA) French Cuisine and Culture Exchange, which will take place from Oct. 12 through Oct. 21 and will send up to 10 participants to Cergy-Pontoise, where they will stay with host families.

The application is due soon — Aug. 31 — and is available at The price for the program is $550 for CA residents and $650 for non-residents. Payment must accompany the application and can be paid by check, money order or credit card. The airfare, which will be approximately $1,200, will be due by Oct. 1. The application and more information are available at this link.

Knowledge of French is useful, but not necessary. French participants will come to Columbia in 2013, and it is expected that those who go to France in October will host and accompany the French visitors from Cergy-Pontoise when they arrive next year.

The tentative itinerary for this October includes two cooking classes in Saint Ouen l’Aumone with a renowned chef; a tour of the farm of Chateau de Villarceaux; experiencing a cheese festival; shopping for seasonal produce at a traditional French market; savoring traditional French cuisine and wines during specially arranged meals at local restaurants and in host families’ homes. The trip culminates in a dinner prepared by participants. There also will be visits to sites in Paris as well as in the Cergy region; plus “Lunch with Van Gogh” at Auvers-sur-Oise.

Participants who wish to travel to France on their own ahead of time, or stay afterwards, should discuss their plans with Laura Smit, CA’s program manager for International Exchange and Multicultural Programs. For more information, contact Smit at 410-715-3162 or via email at


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