There is nowhere better in the world to be wined and dined than in France. While it’s true that the country in general boasts high-quality fare, the southwest corner of France offers particular delights.
The varied topography of the region – mountains, rivers, and valleys – forms a complex variety of micro-climates perfectly calibrated to produce exquisitely diverse flavors. Furthermore, the Basques of the region distill unique digestive liqueurs flavored with a unique blend of herbs and spices. Not to be confused with Bordeaux wines, these wines are nevertheless of excellent quality and are unique due to having been prepared based on local traditions handed down for generations.
Before visiting the region, we recommend perusing this online French wine guide for more specifics regarding the best local vintages.
The cuisines of southwestern France can be broken down into four categories: Gascon, Pyrenean, Basque, and Catalan.
- Gascon chefs stick to age-old traditions and are well-known for delicious poultry-based dishes, such as magrets and foire gras. According to one expert, Gascon food reflects the life in this region: simple and easy.
- In addition to producing many of the other delights known to French cuisine, Pyrenean cooks are also famous for their cakes and sweets, such as haricot tarbais and bigourdettes. An especial favorite in the region, the Croustade aux Pommes – a baked puff pastry filled with apples that have first been flambeed in armagnac – comes highly recommended.
- One of the spiciest in France, Basque cuisine makes liberal use of piments d’Espelette (dried red peppers). Because of the region’s location, seafood also holds an important place on the menu.
- In addition to providing a wide variety of dishes marrying various meats, pastas, and fresh vegetables, Catalonian cuisine is also known for its inclusion of a wide range of wild mushrooms.
As you plan your next France vacation, consider a visit to the southwest, where the comforts of cup and board are both distinctive and delightful.
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