Green fields stretching as far as the eye can see. A glass of golden, gleaming chardonnay. Days spent languishing in the sun as it draws playful shadows across the façade of the Chateau de Chantilly.
You've got to admit it sounds a bit more picturesque than the high school science lab you remember.
But this October, expats from across the globe will be flocking to France for a unique vacation aimed at giving guests more than a tan and a new selfie collection.
“There are a lot of people quite interested in science, but who don't really have time for it,” says Sergey Kuznetsov, who, along with his partner Katya, founded the Science & Vacation programme.
But rather than dissecting frogs and memorizing the periodic table of elements, guests who sign up for the event will spend their days eating their way through Gallic gastronomy while learning about the future of food.
“It's a programme for adults who are interested in science – not on a professional level, but who are curious. People who have many fields of interests,” Sergey explains.
The Russian couple is based in Paris, and Sergey says the idea was inspired by their own love of science as well as requests they heard from other expats.
“There are a lot of successful expats who have good jobs, have families, have great lives,” he says. “But a lot of people still want to learn something new and interesting. So we thought, why not a short science course?”
Photo: Shutterstock/Grantibo (licensed by Science&Vacation)
And if you're wondering why on earth you would spend your hard-earned vacation days learning – well, you don't have to choose. The vacation part of the programme's name is just as important as the science part.
“Guests will have free time to go hiking, go the spa, relax in the sun, visit art museums… whatever they like,” Sergey says. “We chose Chantilly because it's a brilliant place for vacation. It's easy to get to and has plenty of restaurants as well.”
Chantilly – “famous for its crème” - is just about a half-hour drive from Paris, he adds.
“It's one of the most interesting cuisines in the world,” Sergey exclaims.
Guelia Pevzner, journalist, scientist, restaurant critic, will be leading the programme.
“Madame Pevzner is an expert in regional French cuisine and a specialist in food science,” Sergey says. “With such expertise, she's truly the best person for the job.”
Photo: Shutterstock/Kiev Victor (licensed by Science&Vacation)
Pevzner will give lectures about the history and future of good, organic food, GMOs, and much more – but she will also accompany guests to some of the region's very best restaurants.
“We'll discuss the science of food – questions like, can we feed the entire human race with organic food? Will we eat insects in the future? Will fish vanish from our dinner tables within 50 years? And of course enjoy the regional food.”
And if Michelin-star cuisine in the French countryside just doesn't do it for you, there's always the next programme later in October – focused on the science of the sense of smell. That course will be held in the lavender fields of Luberon, Provence – naturally.
“In that programme we will talk about scents and perfume, right there in the homeland of so many interesting perfumes,” Sergey says.
He emphasizes the fact that guests don't need to have any previous scientific knowledge – they just have to be curious, open-minded, and ready to meet other expats from around the world in a relaxed and enlightening environment.
“The main thing we expect from participants is curiosity,” he says. “Our goal is to get people involved, sharing their experiences with others. It's an incredible opportunity, scientifically and socially.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Science & Vacation.