Food & drink
Fish, seafood and rustic pâtés are just some of the gastronomic delights on offer in the Loire Valley
Afertile land of vineyards, fruit orchards and lush pastures at the heart of which runs the mighty Loire, Pays de la Loire boasts gastronomy that is rich in fresh wholesome produce.
Freshwater fish are a regular feature on the menu, and the famous beurre blanc sauce that can be found as an accompaniment to fish in restaurants all over France has its roots in the banks of the Loire.
Seafood is also a highlight of the food on offer here, as the west of the region borders the Atlantic Ocean: mussels are traditionally raised on posts in the Baie de l’Aiguillon; distinctively coloured ‘Vendée Atlantic’ oysters are harvested in the Port du Bec and sardines and anchovies are fished at St-GillesCroix-de-Vie and La Turballe.
The sea is the source of another of the region’s famous specialities: fleur de sel, a fine or sometimes coarse salt that is harvested from the salt marshes of the west coast. It is sometimes mixed with spices and is highly rated by chefs in France and beyond. A lesserknown delicacy is salicorne, a plant that grows in salt marshes, which can be eaten raw, pickled or sautéed.
Pork inspires one of the region’s bestknown specialities: rillettes from Sarthe. This is a type of coarse pâté that is often served on a slice of rustic bread. Another regional favourite are rillauds d’Anjou, pieces of pork belly that are often served with creamy, white beans known as mogettes de Vendée.
The free-range chickens from Challans and Loué are known for their tender and delicious meat, and Vendée is known for its delectable ham.
For those with a sweet tooth, there is plenty of choice including the hard-boiled sweets, berlingots nantais, and quernons d’ardoise, caramelised pralines with almonds and hazelnuts, coated with blue chocolate from Anjou. This part of France is also known for its biscuits including the shortbreads from Retz and Sablé-sur-Sarthe and the famous Petit Beurre LU biscuit from Nantes.