Loire Valley - France

LOIRE VALLEY GASTRONOMY

The Loire Valley, France's Garden, is the region for the gastronomic expert, wine connoisseur and simple food lover, all at once. With over 22 locally produced foods, dishes and wines that are home-grown, we can say that if your interest is food and wine it is the place to be.

You can plan a "gastro-tour" on a map, since each area of the region has its own unique dishes, wines and food. Organically aware visitors can drop into Berry and sample the region's green lentils in many healthy dishes, before taking away their own stock and recipe book for Loire cooking at home. For simpler fare, Chartres offers delicious paté on crunchy baguettes for the perfect picnic during sightseeing.

Two French specialities, goats cheese and wine, are found in abundance in the Loire Valley . Adjust your palette and tuck into a variety of cheeses (five out of eight AOC cheeses in France are found in the Loire): Pouligny Saint-Pierre, Crottin de Chavignol,Selles-sur-Cher, Valencay or Sainte Maure de Touraine and, of course, wash them down with the Loire Valley's own private wine cellar, including such regional favourites as Sancerre, Chinon and Bourgeuil.

Those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed; this is the home of the famous Tarte Tatin . This famous French tart was created in Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loir et Cher region and has since won global acclaim as the ultimate French dessert. Other sugar-based delights include Les Forestines , the first oven-baked sweet in the world, made in Bourges , Cotignac (quince preserve) from Orléans and Pithiviers (almond paste) named after the town in which it was created. Visit the oldest confectioner's shop in Tours , La Livre Tournois-Poirault, and watch a barley sugar making session. The Italians first introduced the delicacy to the region by way of Catherine de Medicis, and she is rumoured to have served it at many banquets at her chateau during that period.

Those wishing to stock up on flavours for use at home can sample Orléans ’ famous vinegar, still made locally by the same family, and Saffron from Gatinais.

Whatever taste the visitor has, it will be catered for in the Loire Valley with its hundreds of restaurants throughout the region, and dishes can be recreated back home after a spot of local “gastro-shopping”!

How to eat well in Paris

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Executive Traveller 2003