South West France: taste the terroir
Gastronomy in the South West is particularly well known for its foie gras, cassoulet, poule au pot and meat confit. Here, get a real taste of the land, its flavours, quality products and authentic age-old recipes.
From the Perigord to the Gers, and the Landes to the Tarn, South Western cuisine is composed of preserves and jarred dishes, stuffed preparations and confits. Cassoulet, for one, simmers for many hours so that the white beans soak in the flavours of the goose confit, Toulouse sausage and pork knuckle. When in Toulouse, you must try cassoulet at the Colombier, near Place du Capitol. In Pau in Béarn, do as native Henri IV would have and feast on a poule au pot, a type of pot-au-feu famous for having been the King's favourite.
In poultry paradise
Pan-fried foie gras, duck breast and goose rillettes are sure to be listed on the region's restaurant menus. Take time also to explore the picturesque foie gras markets, held all winter, where you'll find chapon (or cockerel), duck, goose, and the famous South Western duck foie gras, a gem of French gastronomy. You could even learn a few tricks by taking a cooking class at the Quai des Saveurs in Bordeaux.
Black truffle and caviar
The black truffle reigns from Sarlat in Perigord to Lalbenque in Quercy, so when in the area, why not partake in a truffle hunting adventure with a dog or a pig? Or learn how to prepare the traditional truffle omelette with chef Pierre Corre at Auberge de la Truffe in Sorges. Aquitaine caviar is another exceptional product, bred in reputable sturgeon farms and found on the menus of fine South Western restaurants.
Sweet South West
The Bordeaux cannelé is the ineluctable South West dessert, flavoured with aged rum and Bourbon vanilla, and baked in the grooved copper moulds from which it gets its name. As for local fruit, try the sweet Agen prune, the dried fruit from the ancient Ente plum tree.