Often called the “Garden of France”, the Loire Valley is an enchanted land of vineyards, floral gardens and rolling green hills with a reputation for incredible food. But what is it that makes the gastronomy of this region so celebrated?
Since 2002 the Loire Valley has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list because of its outstanding cultural landscape. From Sully Sur Loire as far as Nantes, Renaissance chateaux and medieval fortresses mark the land. Kings, artists and famous authors have all fallen under the spell of the Loire and taken up residence on its banks in their droves. It’s no wonder such an abundance of wonderful and unique food originates from the region.
The cuisine of the Loire region is an institution in itself; especially that of the Touraine and Berry provinces, celebrated by famous French writer, Rabelais. Highlights include andouillette, the French take on the humble pork sausage – a speciality not to be missed. It’s not to be confused with rillettes, the traditional pulled pork terrines which are another regional favourite. Orleans poultry, with their red bills, white feathers and blue feet are iconic not just of the Loire Valley, but the French flag itself and carnivores will love Loire Valley game, especially when accompanied with intense mushrooms or juicy white Sologne asparagus.
Wine connoisseurs too, will be more than spoilt for choice. The Loire Valley produces more wine than any other French region, so working your way along the Route du Vin (with its 7000 wines) would take months, if not years! Cheese lovers will be in heaven here with a variety of distinctive goats cheeses, from crumbly crottin de Chavignol, ash-coated soft cheese Selles sur Cher, rustic, charcoal-dusted Valancay pyramide and, above all, the nutty, slightly salty Saint Maure – my personal favourite! To finish this feast, those with a sweet tooth can choose between tarte tatin, the famous and ever popular upside-down apple tart – or a slice of Pithiviers – a delicate almond pastry.
And then there’s the chocolate. Ahh… from roasted almond praline, prepared ‘à l’ancienne’, to exceptional hazelnuts in dark chocolate, the quality of the chocolatiers in the region cannot fail to excite luxury chocolate lovers who visit the Loire region.
So take a ride on a distinctive flat bottomed wooden boat, and enjoy a glass of wine with your rillettes or crottin while egrets potter on the banks alongside. Whether you come for the food, wine or beautiful scenery, the Loire is an unforgettable experience!
To bring the taste of France to your own table, try our selection of French regional confiserie specialities.