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LOIRE VALLEY CUISINE

Grapes and wine glasses in front of wine barrel © Shutterstock

Loire Valley food: fantastic French cuisine to try across the Loire

What is the Loire Valley famous for?

The Loire’s riches are not just in its many incredible chateaux and wonderful beaches but in the feasts that you’ll find on your plate here. Take a road trip through Pays de la Loire and the Loire Valley and you’ll take your tastebuds on a journey too. There are many special Loire cuisines and dishes to experience throughout the region.

Whilst stunning scenery, spectacular chateaux and family-friendly cycle routes might be some of the things you know the Loire for, its cuisine is a worthy reason to travel here too. Read on for some of the Loire’s most delectable delicacies and scrumptious specialities from famous Loire food to wine!

The best foods across the Loire

LA PERLE DES DIEUX SARDINES

The La Perle des Dieux cannery transforms a simple foodstuff into a premier product. Whilst the beautiful artwork upon the tin adds to the charm, it's the delicacy inside that truly delivers: gourmet sardines that improve with time and keep for up to a decade. So you can pack your car full of your new favourite food from the Loire and treat yourself to a tin for years after your trip!

Sardines from St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie © A. Lamoureux

Sardines from St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie © A. Lamoureux

Another sardine stop in the Loire region is Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie even has its own "Brotherhood of the Sardine", a community devoted to the promotion of the seaside resort and the celebration of treasures from the sea, especially the sardine.

THE FAMOUS BONNOTTE POTATOES OF NOIRMOUTIER

Bonnotte is a variety of potato grown exclusively, and in small quantities, on the island of Noirmoutier. They are extremely fragile and can only be planted and harvested by hand.

First grown in the 1930s, its distinctive fresh, chestnutty taste is unusual yet unique - making the Bonnotte potato a big hit with foodies. It's the island's global ambassador! Thanks to its rarity and fame, the Bonnotte commands a high price and is known as the world's most expensive potato.

THE BEST OYSTERS IN FRANCE?

Some may say the Vendée Atlantique oyster is the best oyster to be had in France! The Vendée Atlantique oyster is grown and matured in the plankton-rich water between the bays of Bourgneuf and L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, in the south of the Vendée. Many flock to such delicacies for their firm, crisp flesh and all agree they are irresistible.

Oysters from the Vendée-Atlantique © DR

Oysters from the Vendée-Atlantique © DR

You can also travel along the Vendée Atlantique oyster route to learn more about how oysters are grown, their life cycle and the oyster farmers' traditional way of life on the coast.

PRÉFOU

With Préfou, from Fontaines in the south Vendée, it's all about one star ingredient: garlic. Cooked in the front of the oven, this flat baguette filled with salted butter and thin slices of garlic is perfect as an appetizer or with a leg of lamb. In Roquefort, it can also be served with goat's cheese and confit tomato.

GUÉRANDE SALT

The "white gold" of Guérande was awarded the EU's Protected Geographical Indication PGI label in 2012. Salt-marsh farmers collect two kinds of salt. The first is "gros sel" or cooking salt, which is naturally grey and gathered from the clay bottom of the marshes.

Guérande salt being farmed © A. Lamoureux

Guérande salt being farmed © A. Lamoureux

Then there is the rarer "fleur de sel" which is immaculately white and harvested from the surface. With its strong flavour, fleur de sel is beloved by top chefs and you'll even find it in the local salted caramels. The salt marshes of Guérande also make a great day out!

Famous French desserts: Loire Valley desserts

GÂCHE VENDÉENNE

This dessert has been awarded the "Protected Geographical Indication" PGI label. It contains more butter and crème fraîche than its sister, the brioche vendéenne, and has a much less airy texture.

Gache Vendéenne © DR

Gache Vendéenne © DR

It can be flavoured with orange blossom, cognac, rum or vanilla and is often served with fresh cream.

CHOLET HANDKERCHIEF

Although the textile industry has played an important role in Cholet's economy for generations, it was the famous red and white handkerchief that turned the town into France's "handkerchief capital".

Cholet handkerchief chocolates © Jean-Sebastian Evrard

Cholet handkerchief chocolates © Jean-Sebastian Evrard

Originally produced in a range of colours, in the early 19th century it became - and remained - red and white, thanks to a song by Théodore Botrel, "Le mouchoir rouge de Cholet" (The red handkerchief of Cholet).

Chocolate versions of the handkerchief can be bought around Cholet, filled with orange marzipan and a melting praline of almonds and hazelnuts, skillfully coated in red chocolate.

PÂTÉ AUX PRUNES

A traditional Anjou pastry, the "pâté aux prunes" is a turnover or pie filled with plums. This cake traces its origins back to the rustic pies made in the countryside of Anjou - a major plum-growing region. It was baked on farms after bread, while the oven was still hot. You'll find these on sale throughout the Anjou area and especially in the historic city of Angers.

BAULOIS FONDANT CAKE

Fondant Baulois is baked using local ingredients following a recipe that's been handed down for over 35 years: and it's still a well-kept secret. The thin, light meringue crust, even fondant texture and chocolatey taste with a hint of salted caramel butter make this tempting cake hard to resist!

Fondant Baulois cake © DR

Fondant Baulois cake © DR

The famous Loire Valley wines

Discover the region's array of vineyards producing a wide range of wines including Fiefs Vendéens, Muscadet and vins d'Anjou. Loire wines are light, fruity and elegant. 

Muscadet, grown in the vineyards of Nantes, received its AOC status all the way back in 1937. This dry white wine with floral and fruity aromas pairs perfectly with seafood and its long-standing renown means you really should try a glass (or two).

Loire Valley wines © J. Ph Berlose Cemjika

Loire Valley wines © J. Ph Berlose Cemjika

The vineyards of Anjou and Saumur have a range of grape varieties that produce some of France's most acclaimed wines: Savennières, Coteaux du Layon, Chaume, Saumur blanc, and several sparkling wines too! You’ll be spoilt for choice!

The Loire isn’t the only region full of dishes to discover – all across France there are regional specialities to explore. A road trip through France tasting the food of the Loire and the food of Normandy and Brittany certainly sounds like a good holiday to us!

If you can’t wait to travel again and get exploring, then know that you can holiday with confidence with Brittany Ferries. Our 2021 selection of ferry-inclusive holidays come with free Covid-19 cover and free amendments too.

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