Everyone knows the South-West is one of the best regions in France for fine dining. Foie gras, duck breast, vin bourru (unfermented wine), Armagnac, walnuts from Quercy, cep mushrooms, strawberries, melons, greengages – you can find plenty of everything here. We’ve suggested a few unmissable stopovers for your next Locaboat trip.
For a true gourmet, a holiday on a pénichette© in South-Western France needs a bit of careful planning. You can try new delicacies at every point along the way. Right from the start, it’s a feast for the taste buds: Agen, the main Locaboat base in the area, is also famous for its prunes. At the Confiserie Boisson in the Rue de la Grande Horloge (remember the address – not to be missed!), you’ll find prunes in every possible form: filled with cream, covered in chocolate, preserved in Armagnac, prune jam, and even prune sweets. You’ll also be able to visit the famous covered market (except on Mondays), which overflows with sun-drenched fruit, vegetables and local products: wines, foie gras, pies, liqueurs, specialities featuring chestnuts, etc. As you might expect, Agen is also famous for gourmet dining. The restaurant run by Eric Mariottat is housed in a superb 19th century period house and has proudly held its Michelin star for more than 10 years. It serves traditional cuisine which plays with taste and texture.
While you’re cruising on the River Lot, you’ll come across another gourmet stopover, the Table de Sens restaurant in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. This is another restaurant that is proud of its Michelin star and its original and up-to-the-minute culinary creations. The lunchtime menus are an especially good deal, because you can taste a variety of dishes at a really reasonable price. In Condom, on the River Baïse, head for the Table des Cordeliers, which also has a star. Its original menus, such as the ‘Chapelle Menu’ or the ‘Jardin Menu’, give you a chance to try some really fine dishes in the exquisite setting of an 18th century building, next door to a medieval chapel. And while you’re cruising along the River Baïse, close to Nérac, don’t forget that this pretty little riverside village is also famous for its melons and its ‘Soleil’, a cake based on confectioner’s custard and Grand Marnier. The place to buy it is the Chocolaterie Dugoujon, a real local institution. But Nérac is also one of the most important centres for Armagnac production. So take a little detour to visit the Lapeyrade Estate – to be enjoyed in moderation, of course. In Moissac, a town in the Quercy Blanc area, you can try ‘croustade aux pommes’, a cake covered with delicious pastry, or Cabécou goat’s cheese, not to mention walnut liqueur, Chasselas wine and a very special kind of saffron that only grows in this region. From Vianne to Buzet and from Castet en Dorthe to Valence sur la Baïse, you’ll discover a delicious world of food and wine.