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Villages to visit within 30 minutes of the school


Hiking while speaking French, at Roanne

In addition to learning the French language, our goal at school is to help you discover the French way of life and to immerse you in it. Visiting and discovering the countryside and villages of a region is a good way to put into practice what you have learned in class and to meet people.

Want to explore more of the region? Here are the must-see villages within a 30-minute drive of the school!

Ambierle : 17km from the Ecole des Trois Ponts, the village of Ambierle is famous for its Benedictine Abbey which dates from the Middle Ages. The Prioral church of Ambierle is worth a visit with its magnificent stained glass windows in perfect condition and its architecture from different periods.

The village of Ambierle, from the top of its 400m of altitude, is labeled “Villages Caractères en Loire” and is recognized for its vineyards and its Michelin starred restaurant : Le Prieuré. Many events are organized in the village, summer markets (July-August), a comic book festival (September) and also the Printemps du Vin (May) which brings together independent winegrowers from the Roannais.

For history buffs, the Alice Taverne museum offers a journey into the past and illustrates life in the countryside, the daily life of our ancestors.

Charlieu : 22km from the school, located in the Sornin valley, Charlieu is a city not to be missed! Its medieval center, its craftsmen’s stores and “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, its andouille (typical food of Charlieu), its abbey and its half-timbered buildings make it a tourist attraction in the region.

The Abbey of Charlieu, which gave its name to the village and which was founded in 832, is famous for its architecture: its sculpted tympanums, its typical yellow stones, and its ruins which are vestiges of a past time.

In terms of culture, Charlieu has two museums in its center: the silk museum where you can admire perfectly preserved fabric looms and the hospital museum and its remarkable apothecary. Both are now housed in the former Hôtel Dieu of the city.

Saint-Jean Saint-Maurice : Labeled ” Village of character in Roannais “, Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice overhangs the Loire and offers remarkable viewpoints. The village, a major tourist site, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. At the bend of its streets, you can discover its sundial of the XVIth century, its oldest house with lily flower, its medieval physiognomy and its keep which dominates the Loire.

Several craftsmen are installed in the village and receive you in their workshop-boutique: potter, sculpture, weaving, painting, jewelry… La Cure, a center for arts and crafts nestled in the center of the village, serves as an information center and a store selling local products.

Villerest : Villerest, 10km from the school, is known in the Roannais region for its dam and its lake, very popular in the summer for those who are looking for a bit of coolness and are thirsty for swimming. It is also a medieval village with its town, its ramparts, its old half-timbered houses and its 13th century chapel classified as a historical monument. The Museum of Time and Fire presents the history of the production of fire but also various collections of objects and lighters and collections on the theme of clock-making.

In terms of activities, many hikes are possible around the village and the lake, not to mention all the aquatic activities in the summer (canoeing, fishing, pedal boats, swimming…).

Le Crozet: This medieval village was classified as a “Village de Caractère en Loire” and “Village du Verre” in 2011. You can admire houses from the XIIIth, XVth and XVIth centuries which testify of a rich past. A village that plunges its visitors into the past and offers a moment out of time. Indeed, the place has managed to preserve its soul and escape the tumult of modern life.

The museum of Arts and Popular Traditions, installed in a 16th century building, is the only house in the village open to the public.

Le Crozet is undoubtedly a small town that has a lot to offer to its visitors! Fortification, timber-framed house, vestiges and a 12 meters high dungeon which allows to observe the neighboring villages and the countryside of Roanne.

Saint-Haon-le-Châtel : Perched on a rocky outcrop, this village can be discovered like an open-air museum from which walkers can enjoy a view of the Madelaine mountains. Ramparts, towers, half-timbered houses, manor houses… So many buildings with different architectures that tell the story of the village.

At the bend in the streets, visitors can discover local craftsmen (jewelry, puppets, sculpture) and enjoy a café terrace with original decoration to rest.

The Rhône-Alpes region and the Roanne coast have a lot to offer you! Whether it is during your weekend, if you stay at least two weeks at the Ecole des Trois Ponts, or during the Wednesday excursions, don’t hesitate to go to one of these emblematic villages of the area. You won’t be disappointed!

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The Roannais, a starred territory

The Roannais, a starred territory


The Ecole des Trois Ponts has been established in the Roanne area for more than 30 years! In addition to learning the language, the school’s aim is to help students discover the French way of life, the know-how and villages of Roanne, not forgetting French gastronomy.

On this last point, the region is not to be outdone! Indeed, we are lucky enough to welcome several restaurants referenced by the Michelin Guide but especially starred ones!

The Restaurant Trois Gros*** is no longer a restaurant to be introduced, its influence is now worldwide. Historically based in Roanne, in front of the train station, the restaurant has moved to Ouches in the countryside only a few kilometers from the school. Several menus are to be discovered, evolving with the seasons. During your stay at the school, don’t hesitate to experience a 3 star meal.

In the heart of Ambierle, a village of character and winegrowers, Le Prieuré* and its star are located in front of the 15th century Benedictine priory, offering a view of the glazed tiles of the Abbey. If you pass by this restaurant, take advantage of this gourmet break to visit the beautiful village of Ambierle.

In March 2023, two new restaurants in Roanne received a star : the Château D’Origny* in Ouches and the Restaurant de la Loire* in Pouilly sous Charlieu. These two restaurants are accessible by taxi from the school. Little nuggets to discover during your stay!

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French cooking

French cooking

Hiking while speaking French, at Roanne

If you hear someone say, “beef bourguignon, ratatouille, macarons, chocolate mousse, crème brûlée”, then there is a strong likelihood that you exclaimed “ah!” and, without doubt, you started to salivate!

French cuisine remains famous for its delicious traditional dishes, but equally for its capacity for innovation. Proof of that fact comes from the international event Goût de France (Taste of France) which took place last March, which assembled more than 1000 chefs from 5 continents to celebrate French gastronomy.

But how do you cook really well? What are the tips for buying good meat? How do you prepare fish? How do you make a good vinaigrette to accompany a fresh green salad? How do you successfully make a beurre blanc sauce to seduce the gourmet tastes of your dining companions? How do you make a beautiful plate presentation? Because if your dishes are well-presented, you have already won the hearts of your dinner guests.

If you ask yourself all these questions, then we have the perfect response for you, right here, in our cooking school in France.

In Riorges, not far from Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, you will find the Ecole des Trois Ponts, which offers YOU the opportunity to take french and cooking courses in the company of a real French chef! A chef who has a long culinary history behind him (, a chef who will stand at your side throughout your stay, a Chef who will patiently respond to your questions, a Chef who will explain, advise, demonstrate, adjust. Thanks to our well-chosen recipes (the difficulty level progresses throughout the week), you will work at preparing starters, as well as meats, fish, vegetables, desserts and, of course, the sauces that accompany them. The cooking classes last about two hours in a relaxed, but committed, environment (the Chef has a good sense of humor!), and where the concepts of pleasure, of sharing and eating well are essential.

Do not hesitate to look at our next French Cooking dates.

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French Pastries, the best way to start a day or end a meal

French Pastries, the best way to start a day or end a meal

French Pastries, the best way to start a day or end a meal

Desserts could be divided in two categories: regular pastries that would just give anyone a sweet note to finish a meal. Then there are French pastries. Those are not your regular donuts or cheesecakes. This is also not your regular French courses in France that will let master the pastry vocabulary.

Before you even taste them, you can listen to their names that will sound almost like sweet poetry to your ears.

Just to name a few, the “Baba au Rhum”, with its liquor soaked “savarin”, perfected by Nicolas Stohrer in 1735, or the famous “Tarte Tatin”, this upside down pie rich with sugar and butter that makes it melt in your mouth, delicious when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… “à la mode”! Again another French expression.

Some of the most famous pastries also include “L’éclair”, which literally means Lightning, got its name in the 19th century because this custard oblong shaped was supposed to be eaten very quickly… in the short time of a lightning.

But when talking about pastries, one name comes to anyone’s mind more than any other pastry’s name: the “Croissant”.

The Croissant finds its origin in central Europe and is a part of those pastries called “Viennoiserie” (coming from Vienna in Austria). The legend says that the Croissant represents a moon crescent, after the defeat of the Ottoman’s army at the gate of Vienna.

It finally made its way in France, and became a staple of french pastries in the 20th century.

Last but not least, as when learning French this is one whose name has been debated for years, “Le pain au chocolat”, also know in some region as “Chocolatine”. If this difference in names for the same pastry may sound futile, it actually divided France between the Chocolatine team and the Pain au chocolat fans… And we have a special offer for you : 15 % off for our next Pastry Course.

Check it here for more information

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Gastronomy in the Loire, France

Gastronomy in the Loire, France

Hiking while speaking French, at Roanne

After a first contact with the Ecole des Trois Ponts in 2011, I decided to return in order to discover a little more about this little piece of terroir called the Roannais, nestled   between the Charolais, the Auvergne volcanoes and the Lyonnaise region. 

Passionate about French gastronomy, the authenticity of the terroir was especially striking to me.  The Roannais is blessed with a varied and dynamic gastronomic heritage.  There I discovered numerous products of quality, reflecting the savoir-faire and generosity of its inhabitants. Roanne is clearely a perfect place to establish a cooking school, in France.

3 days of gourmet discoveries in the Roannais

 Gourmands and curiosity seekers, follow my steps…

Day 1

Morning:  Les Halles indoor market

In the heart of Roanne, this indoor market, awash in colors, features fish, cheese and a diverse selection of pastry stalls. What especially pleased me was being in such close proximity to the producers and artisans who were present on site.  Lots of convivial spirit and a lovely general ambiance!

Tasting note: Without hesitation, I opt for the Fourme de Montbrison, classified AOC, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée… What a delight!

Afternoon:   Visit to a wine cellar

After a tour of the cellar and the tasting of several wines with the option to spit – gladly – I took a walk through the vines at the time of year when they are brimming with magnificent buds.  Thank you to Pascal for his enthusiasm.  On the Côte Roannaise, about 30 winemakers produce wines that are light-bodied, with very fruity aromas, displaying a good degree of freshness and supple qualities.  The wine is made from the Gamay grape variety, and has been designated as AOC Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1994.

  Day 2

Morning: Shopping in Roanne

For a long time I had heard talk of the famous praluline, a type of brioche with praline bits of almonds coated in sugar.  So I set off in search of them on the pedestrian streets in Roanne.  And voilà, I found myself in front of the famous boutique of the pastry maker who created this unique and enduring recipe: Pralus.  The aromas that wafted out from within the shop were an invitation and a precursor of the pleasurable tastes to come…..

Afternoon:  Cooking class at Ecole des Trois Ponts

I was welcomed with open arms by Valerie and her team, always so nice and dynamic.  We prepared a starter and a main dish:  walnut & crispy pear salad / filet of halibut with lemon sauce and baby vegetables.

 Day 3


Relaxing morning at the Espace Paradis du Bien-être spa in Villerest with relaxation baths accompanied by a “sweet and salty” skin treatment.


A gastronomic lunch at the flagship restaurant of Chef Troisgros, a veritable ambassador of Roanne and its surrounding towns and villages.  I learned that Maison Troisgros will move to new quarters in early 2017.  Located a few kilometers from Roanne in the community of Ouches, the new restaurant/hotel will be situated in the center of a 17 hectare park.  The third generation in a line of chefs, Michel Troisgros prepares creative and surprising cuisine and invites us to discover his blend of audacious flavors. For me it was a combination of exceptional tastes for the palate coupled with attentive service, creating a truly memorable moment.

Video about the new Troisgros location:

Day 4


A former railway tunnel reconverted into a cheese aging facility:  I was not dressed warmly enough!  The visit concluded with a tasting, of course!

Afternoon:  Cooking class at Ecole des Trois Ponts

Today, the chef invited us to prepare the famous traditional recipe blanquette de veau. For dessert, we were given the challenge to make a chocolate orange tart, with a pâte sablée (shortcrust) base.

An idea for 2023!

The Ecole des Trois Ponts shares the riches of the Roannais terroir by offering gourmet excursions linked with French language courses, respecting its primary mission – teaching French language and sharing the French culture.  These excursions allow for interactions with local producers and the discovery of gastronomic regional specialties with plenty of convivial tastings.

Voilà, without a doubt, it’s a week to plan for!

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French and bread, a love story

French and bread, a love story

French and bread, a love story

If the history of bread doesn’t start with France, no one can deny the special link between this country and the magical mix of wheat, water, leaven and salt.

Buying a baguette in a french bakery, waiting in line, mixed with the French population, until the seller serves you, is a part of the French “journey”.

The way French people apprehend bread is deeply sensual and intellectual at the same time. It is almost artistic and being a baker is almost seen as a form of luxury craftsmanship.

It is almost impossible to talk about French bread without cheese. A nice piece of bread, like a rustic baguette, with a nice slice of camembert cheese is a perfect combination, that only needs to be amplified by a nice glass of red. In this association, breads plays the role of the foundation on which relies the flavors.

But selecting the correct bread for the best occasion is not something that needs to be over complicated.

There is, of course, the baguette. The history of this type of bread is not clear. One theory says that the long shape of the bread is due to ease the transportation by Napoleon’s soldier during their campaign throughout Europe. Another explanation can be found in the importation to Paris in the 19th century of Austrian baking techniques, that included this specific shape.

Since then, the baguette has turned into a symbol of France, just like the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower.

But it would be a mistake to ignore the other kinds of bread that France can produce.

The “bâtard” or the “campagnard”, or just a “boule”, and why not the “miche”. Those are some classic ones, but in the last few decades, bakeries have seen a explosion of types of bread. Some of them exist mostly for marketing reasons due to a trend for healthier or more original bread. Multigrain breads or breads mixed with curcuma or acai berries, just to give a few examples, are now flourishing in the glasses of many bakeries.

France still has a lot to give when it comes to bread.

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French Cooking Courses

French Cooking Courses

Hiking while speaking French, at Roanne

Looking for the best French language Holidays ? Spice it up with some cooking

You finally made up you mind. After postponing this little dream of yours for so long, it is finally time to fulfill it. The best holidays ever are what you have been looking for an eternity.

What really makes great holidays ?

But what are the best holidays ever ? A cruise on the Mediterranean Sea, going from Athens in Greece to Bari in Italy, and from Monaco near the French Riviera to Barcelona in Spain ? Or maybe just resting on the white sand of the most beautiful beach of the Pacific Ocean in Bora Bora ? It could be something else. Not just to rest.

You need to make your brain work, and come back from your holidays changed in an unexpected way, improving your skills in several fields.

Making your dream of speaking French become a reality

Your dream is to speak French, or at the very least improving it enough to have a decent conversation. Your next holidays will not follow the regular path and you will end up in a French course in France. The need for a total immersion in France is the best way for you to finally get to that breaking point by gaining enough self confidence.

Cooking courses in French

Away from Paris, in the heart of France, near Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, in an environment that is fully focused on one simple goal: building up your French language skills by putting you in a situation where you have no other choice than speaking French in France.

Still, French language holidays are not enough to make it exciting enough to invest in a trip. How to make it “the very best” and get the most out of your time in a Cooking School In France?

Just by simply adding another feature like French cooking lessons. Is there a better way to use what you just learned in the classroom ?

By putting together what France has best to offer, its language and its cuisine, you will live an extraordinary experience, that will fill up your brain with French words and recipes, and your stomach with great food.

If you want to know more about L’École des Trois Ponts and how you can immerse in the French language, here is your first step for French Cooking Courses.

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Roanne, the heart of the art of French cuisine

Roanne, the heart of the art of French cuisine

Roanne, the heart of the art of French cuisine

Our school is located in Roanne, and for a very simple reason: our region can be considered (at least by us) as the living heart of French cuisine.

Not far away from Lyon, our area is the home of some of the greatest cooks and restaurants in the world, holding with pride their 3 stars in the famous “Guide Michelin”.

Not only that, we also harbor some very exceptional individuals called “Meilleurs ouvriers de France” (France best workers) that is a title that very few people hold that is given to those that have shown outstanding skills in their field of expertise of craftsmanship and, in our case, gastronomy.

Among them, we must mention Hervé Mons, certainly France’s best cheese expert. He is the son of Hubert Mons who started selling cheese on open markets in 1964, coming from Auvergne, a region renowned for cheese. We, at our cooking school, savor Mons cheeses as often as possible.

Since then, the small family business as spread all over the world, in 20 countries, from Dubai to Norway, and from the U.S. to Australia.

Roanne is also the home of our local wine, the “Côte Roannaise”, that has a “AOC” label (AOC stands for “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée”), that guarantees its protected designation of origin. Probably dating back to the roman invasion of Gaul, the vineyard has first been mentioned in a 970 ancient text, showing the old winery tradition of the region.

A little up North of Roanne, the small town of Charlieu is the home of a delicacy called “Andouille de Charlieu”. This oval shaped “sausage” is a mix of pork meat, intestine, heart, red wine and spices. Most of the time, to enjoy the andouille, it is prepared, cooked in a oven, bathing in white wine and served with potatoes.

If Roanne is rooted into tradition, the last trend of food are also available. François Pralus, a master chocolatier, is certainly the symbol of modernity and inventivity. His masterpiece is the Praluline, an exclusive chocolate and pralin brioche.

You now have an entire new set of reasons to come and see us at “Ecole des Trois Ponts”.

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Let’s speak French cheese language

Let’s speak French cheese language

Ecole des 3 Ponts : Cooking School in France

How many kind of cheeses are there in France? This is the kind of information you only get in a French course in France! Because speaking French is not complete if you can’t know and pronounce correctly the name of most French cheeses.

Some say France has almost one cheese to eat for each day of the year. De Gaulle claimed that a country with 256 kinds of cheeses can’t be governed : he probably thought he was a Chef managing a Cooking School in France.

So is it closer to 365 or 256 different kinds of cheeses?

Neither of the two answers are correct. According to the way you make distinctions between cheeses (Yes, even this may be difficult), there is between 1000 to 1,600 different cheeses in France alone.

Camembert: To pronounce Ka-man-ber (still that last letter you don’t pronounce in French). The King of French cheeses. This dairy delicacy sits above all others, known worldwide, its shape and name is a synonymous not only to what anyone imagines a French cheese must be, but, moreover, what French excellency in food stands for. No “plateau de fromages” (cheese platter) is complete without him. You can end a meal with him, or camembert, with some baguette can be an entire meal on its own. Bring one for your next French language course in France, it’s an all time winner.

Gruyère français: To pronounce Gru-yiar. This hard cheese must not be confused with its Swiss homonym. The difference between the two is quite simple: the French one has holes in it. Our tip when eating it: dip it in some Dijon mustard, a must! A prince on our platter.

Comté: The pronunciation of this one is pretty easy. Another aristocrat is the nobility of cheese, and this time not a King but a Count, as “Comté” in French also means “County”. We recommend buying it around the time of Christmas as your “Fromager” might have a special one, aged for 24 months or more. Small crystals of salt start to appear and increases the pleasure you get once you bite in it, and makes it extremely addictive.

Vacherin Mont-d’Or: To pronounce Vash-rin (with this typical french nasal sound) Mondor. This very soft cheese is a special treat for any cheese lover. Playing the part of the Duke, he loves to get a special treatment. Cover its sides with aluminum foil and open its top to reveal its creaminess, and add some white wine, like a Chablis and add some garlic. Then put it in the oven until it melts totally, then you can eat it by dipping some bread… or just with a spoon.

Roquefort: To pronounce Rock-for. The blues spots and veins inside this cheese are worldwide famous. The mushroom that creates this cheese is so linked to it that the scientific name of it is Penicillium Roqueforti. When a cheese gives its name to a mushroom, you know this one is important. Roquefort was one of Charlemagne’s favorite dish, thus he can be crowned the Emperor of all cheeses.

Bon Appétit!

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France: more than one reason to smile when you say “Cheese”!

France: more than one reason to smile when you say “Cheese”!

Ecole des 3 Ponts : Cooking School in France

We already mentioned cheese in one of our previous article.

But do you really think that one article is enough to talk about the French passion for this dairy delicacy? Certainly not!

A French class in France is not complete without a lesson about cheese, in a real Cooking School In France, and a French cooking lesson is simple an insult to the concept of “cuisine” if cheese is not a part of it.

And, of course, a blog about cooking in France is not conceivable if we don’t write about cheese more than once.

For any American born human being, the idea of cheese is often pretty narrow. Most of the time, this idea is limited to a yellow square, and an orange slice in a cheeseburger.

In France, it is quite the opposite. Changing your view about what cheese is all about is not that difficult: you just need to step in a “fromagerie”, a cheese store. 

This holy temple, dedicated to cheese in all its shapes and tastes, is pure heaven to any cheese lover.

The very first thing that will strike you the second you put your foot inside is the intense smell. More than an odor, it is a strong perfume, that wakes up any sleeping taste buds.

For the past ten years, cheese stores have redesigned their interior to make it look like a boutique. You literally pace in the middle of cheese.

Once you’re in, ask for some advice from the “fromager”, the cheese monger. Your French lessons in France will be very useful at this moment. Most of the time, they will not speak a word of English or just with a very limited vocabulary.

Even if the communication might be difficult, don’t worry: the passion for cheese will be an excellent common ground to start a fruitful dialogue around camembert, vacherin, emmental, bleu d’auvergne, etc.

The time spent learning French in France will find its perfect reason at this moment, and your palate will be graceful to you for many years to come.

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