We love to celebrate at Classic Journeys. And since we’re foodies, we just have to share some good news from Provence: our long-time guide and her husband have won two gold medals for their olive oil at the prestigious Paris International Agricultural Show. And this is no flash in the pan, as they previously won two silver medals. So we see a trend developing here. (Silver…gold …what’s next, is there something better than gold?)
Isabella & Jean’s Journey
Isabelle was born and raised in Avignon. Jean Roch is a product of Provence as well, but got his start as a chef in Paris. So it’s no surprise that their love of all things Provencal would eventually lead them to restore an old olive mill, and carefully blend their historic setting with the best modern and ancient techniques for creating their award-winning oil. Isabelle and Jean Roch’s award-winning olive oil is produced at Moulin Barbentane. The mill is a historic structure, complete with its own windmill for power.
As Isabelle says, “So many people only know France by Paris. But this is not Paris and we have our own culture in Provence that I love to share with our guests!” She goes on to rave about the olives from Provence, “Olive oil has become even more highly respected among Provencal people than wine. So producing olive oil makes me even more proud of Provence.”
At Classic Journeys, we see this as the perfect marriage of our extended family of expert local guides and the region that they proudly call home. Isabelle has been an award-winning guide for years and takes that passion into every trip she guides for us, and every guest she introduces to her beloved region. And she stays close to the land and its people by helping Jean Roch at the olive mill whenever she’s not guiding.
Provence’s Award-Winning Olive Oils
Jean Roch was convinced that he could take what he learned as a chef and share those flavors through their oils. They have a small number of trees now and select the best olives from their neighbors’ production, allowing them to hand-pick only the best olives from a number of regional olive growers. The results have been impressive, earning silver medals at Paris and Marseille for their “fruity green” pressings, and the same fruity greens later earning gold in Paris. Isabelle explains that they make four types of oil, starting with two fruity greens that are pressed immediately after picking them early in the harvest season. These have Provencal flavors like artichoke and tomato. They also press an ancient style that is made from more mature darker olives that are picked late in the season in December. The oldest villagers around them love this oil Isabelle says, because, “…they tell us it reminds them of when they were children.” And they round out their production with an oil blended with lemons found only in Corsica.
An olive oil tasting is just one memorable experience with Classic Journeys in Provence that includes visiting an abbey set in fields of lavender, viewing stunning remains of Roman architecture, following in Van Gogh and Cezanne’s footsteps, shopping colorful markets in charming villages, and savoring private wine tastings and an ‘only with Classic Journeys’ cooking instruction with a Michelin-starred chef. As Isabelle says, “For the perfect combination of beauty, food and the people, it’s hard to find anything better than Provence!” Who are we to disagree?