The Vendée department on France’s western seaboard is enjoying a burgeoning reputation as a must-visit region for those keen to discover a hitherto hidden side of French gastronomic culture. Now with four Michelin-starred restaurants and an abundance of splendid produce on the menu, it’s the perfect place to take a gourmet trail.
Yet while it’s currently best known for the spectacular seafood landed in Atlantic ports and Noirmoutier’s new potatoes, savvy gourmands should also head inland to the lush greenery of the Bas Bocage in the Vendée Valley – here, you will experience the French countryside at its tastiest, a proud rural enclave rich in farming heritage and dotted with passionate producers.
Not to be missed is the iconic mogette, a large white bean usually served on garlic-rubbed toast, slathered in butter and eaten with a nice thick slice of Vendée ham (there’s a fair in the mogette’s honour on October 16 in Les Brouzils).
Among top producers to visit is La Ferme des Coûts, a carnivore’s paradise selling ‘Label Rouge’ stews, terrines and hams made from its Charolais cattle and deer herds. And for fine dining, Thierry Drapeau is your man – he uses local ingredients to inventive effect in the idyllic, two-starred Logis de la Chabotterie.
For further details and to book tours, visit www.vendee-tourisme.co.uk
From France Today magazine