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Supplier: M14480

This company is listed Top Retreat in the National Geographic book, “The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life” written by the prestigious American travel writer Pam Grout. Our stylish, 300-year-old 8-bedroomed stone house with pool and tennis court is situated in beautiful countryside with magnificent views of the Pyrenees, in the heart of Cathar country. Our reputation for exclusive residential holidays with excellent cuisine appeals to the discerning traveller.

Our French Gastro Academy, offers a variety of cookery vacations from 3 days to 7 days with hands-on tuition from award-winning top French chefs.It is the only vacation school in the South West France region of its kind and calibre. Beginners or experienced cooks welcomed, as individuals or in groups - all you need is a passion for food. Our 5-day Creative Writing courses are open to individuals or groups, as is the 4-day Dean Friedman summer songwriting course. Both options are residential and all-inclusive.

Other arts and leisure courses include singing, books and drama, creative arts and digital movie-making. We also offer a private catered and facilitated venue for golf and corporate breaks. These options may be booked by groups only (minimum 6 people) and dates may be selected by the client group in consultation with M14480. Arts courses from £750 ($1,100)pp. Golf £850 ($1,240)pp. Gastro Academy: 3 days from £495 ($679) to 7 days from £1400 ($2,040) pp. Our vacations are all-inclusive of everything other than flights.
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Questions and Answers
M14480 offers great vacations at a stylish, 300-year-old 8-bedroomed stone house in the heart of Cathar country.

1. How long has the business been operating and how did it start?

M14480 was conceived with the aid of a few bottles of excellent local French wine during an alfresco dinner by the pool on a hot summer’s night in 2005 – the perfect recipe for inspirational thinking! Moira Martingale and a group of very talented friends had what might be called “an inadvertant brainstorming session” and came up with the notion of using Moira’s beautiful 8-bedroomed property near Carcassonne for upmarket residential learning holidays.

2. What is your company's mission?

We aim to be the ultimate provider of chic learning and leisure holidays for groups of between 6 and 16 people – some of our breaks can only be booked as a group (e.g. Golf and Gourmet, some arts courses) and others are open to individuals (eg Cookery, Creative Writing, Songwriting and Creative Media).

3. What does your company specialize in?

All-inclusive residential courses to join as an individual: Gastro Academy options ranging from 3 to 7 days, Creative Writing with poet, writer and teacher Sarah Hymas, Creative Media (includes movie-making with Peter Ralley, songwriting with New York singer-songwriter Dean Friedman. All-inclusive residential for group bookings only (venue, accommodation, meals, all facilitated back-up, tutor where requested): golf and gourmet, tennis, creative arts, books and drama, group celebrations, weddings.

4. Who is the founder or owner of the company and briefly describe his/her past activities?

M14480 owner Moira Martingale is the author of two internationally-published books, a journalist, feature-writer and former columnist for national and regional newspapers and magazines in the UK. She has a novel nearing completion, a PhD in English Literature and a teaching qualification. She is a member of the Society of Authors and collaborates at the M14480 Carcassonne with theatre director Christopher Masters to jointly present the group Books and Drama courses.

5. What is your most popular travel package and why?

The Gastro Academy cookery courses run by our French (but English-speaking) Chefs who both have award-winning, immaculate pedigrees fill up fairly quickly. For this reason, during 2012 extra dates have been added, including an Advanced Gourmet Explorer course. Why is it popular? Well, for starters, you can’t beat learning how to cook French haut-cuisine recipes than from two of the best chefs in France, can you? Also proving very popular is Dean Friedman’s Summer Songwriting Workshop – the hit singer of the 1970s and 1980s is enjoying a renaissance on both sides of the Atlantic, touring Europe and the UK every year. 2012 will be Dean’s third year presenting this unique and wonderful course.

6. What is the best compliment you received from a client?

“If you’ve ever been to a house party, this one will top the lot... M14480 is an exceedingly well-run company...the attention to detail is simply superb.” - Hilary Scott.

Reviews and Comments
No. Rating By / Subject

 1  Hilary Scott / Gastro Academy - Cuisine in Brief
“We chopped, braised, stirred, blended and peeled but, most of all, learned loads in a few days. If you’ve ever been to a house party, this one will top the lot. The M14480 is an exceedingly well-run company - the attention to detail is simply superb”. - Reading Evening Post

 2  Carolyn O\'Donnell / Gastro Academy - Cuisine in Brief
“Under the tutelage of a master de l\'art culinaire, we were given a small tome containing 12 recipes such as scallops with orange butter … Crikey, I thought, how are we going to make all this? The surprise was not only that we did, but it was so much fun\". - Daily Mail

 3  Keith Kellett / Gastro Academy - Cuisine in Brief
“Three cookery sessions, three meals - each one tastier than its predecessor: duck breasts with apples, delicate madeleines, crème brulée (who’d have thought he’d use a blowtorch on it?) - that crème brulée was to kill for“. - Global Foodie

 4  Trish Tricker (returning client) / Gastro Academy - Cuisine in Brief
“We all enjoyed it tremendously, and have been trying out a few of the dishes. I loved the kitchen … I can\'t recommend it all highly enough - looking forward to the next time”.

 5  Tina Walsh / Creative Writing Course
“A wonderful way to get the creative juices flowing … Reading as well as writing, talking, thinking and offering feedback — our focus will be to limber up, stretch ourselves and write with renewed vigor and joy\", says the website. And that’s more or less what happened. - The Spectator

 6  Rick Beech / Creative Writing Course
The M14480 Experience is a truly magnificent one, an idyllic retreat in southern France, and the perfect setting for all manner of creative workshops. As one attending the Creative Writing Course, I found myself in the perfect environment to explore my imagination, with an artfully-selected tutor of the highest standard, exceptional cuisine, and in Moira Martingale the consummate hostess; FHE think of absolutely everything for your comfort and enjoyment. Highly recommended.

Rick Beech, budding writer ... view more and professional origamist

 7  Ali Johnson / Tailor-made short-break vacation
Although it already seems like a lifetime ago unfortunately, I just wanted to send a personal massive thank you to you all for your spectacular hospitality when the 18 of us descended upon you for Ali Robinson’s 40th birthday celebrations! I’m sure it was no easy task managing us all and you all worked so incredibly hard.

It was one of my most favourite/memorable experiences ever, of which you all played a part. Hope you have recovered! I would so recommend your house/hospitality to anyone. ... view more Thanks again and good luck to you all for the future.

Ali Johnson

 8  Pam Grout / Books and Drama course
Five sumptious days drinking red wine, eating food from local farmers\' markets and studying a list of books that only an eccentric British literature major and an actor could come up with... the weather is near-perfect... the fields of sunflowers remind you of a one-eared artist we won\'t bother to name... and for those who want to write their own books rather than read them, creative writing.

Pam Grout, The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life, (National Geographic Society Books)

 9  Louise Rodden / Digital movie-making
Debbie\'s meals were staggeringly delicious and easily as good as a celebrated haute cuisine chef. She even managed to coax my son into trying new foods. And the whole ritual of the evenings - Carl giving a little talk about the aperitif - Debbie introducing each dish - proved a wonderful denouement to our busy days.

Louise Rodden, The Times

 10  Solange Hando / Creative Art course
What a treat it was to open the shutters in the morning and let in the sunshine, gaze at the open countryside - here the church - steeple, there a turret capped with red tiles... and the Montagne Noire rising in the distance... the Pyrenees, appeared, reaching for the sky above the hills of Malepere. In no time at all, creativity took over and lunch had to be delayed - I was so engrossed, I dipped the brush in my coffee... We relaxed, had fun, gained confidence in our creativity.

Solange Hando, France ... view more Magazine (Congratulations on your excellence award, and brilliant programme for the new year.)

 11  Stephen Hamilton / Creative Writing Course
The course was great... great hol, great place, great company, great service.

Stephen Hamilton

 12  David Crawford / Digital movie-making
I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the UK and nowhere has the food been better than that served at the M14480.

David Crawford

 13  Philip Dewhurst / Creative Art course
Verdict: Fantastic, friendly, excellent quality food, wine, service and amenities/comfort.

Philip Dewhurst

 14  Tim Walter / Golf and Gourmet break
We had a superb break and cannot thank you and your team enough for looking after us so well... All your choices of golf courses and restaurants worked really well... we have very happy memories of \'The Carcassonne Trip\' which will remain with us for years to come.

Tim Walter

 15  Ann McGrath / Creative Writing Course
I had never been on a writing course before and did not know what to expect. I was a little anxious... but it was a brilliant few days. I was met at the airport and immediately put at ease. The house was comfortable, the food and wine excellent; the company entertaining and pleasant and I left feeling happier about my writing and feeling generally cosseted and cared for. I would recommend it absolutely without reservation.
Ann McGrath

 16  Peter Wells / Books and Drama course
You could feel the sense of bonding and we made friends with each other in a way I had experienced on no other holiday. It was a marvellous experience. We became a team, helping each other through the various sessions.

Peter Wells

 17  Louise Rodden / Digital movie-making
An amazing transformation happened to our teens on the digital moviemaking course. A camcorder enabled them to engage with France, where ordinary sightseeing might have left them indifferent to their surroundings. The course stimulated them beyond measure – they were nearly in tears at having to leave.

Louise Rodden

 18  Maria McGeoghan / Creative Writing Course
Beautiful countryside, lovely people, amazing food and, above all, a really gifted tutor, all combine to release that inner author. I flew home imagining how long the queue would be at my first Waterstone’s signing.

Maria McGeoghan, Manchester Evening News