Gascony has some of the most delicious gastronomic traditions in France. Our cruises introduce you to the region’s food and wine in the most wonderful way.
Gascony’s Gourmet Food and Drink Scene
Gascony, in the southwestern part of France, is renowned for its rich history and stunning landscapes that look like they’ve come straight from the brush of a French Impressionist. But there’s something else for which it’s famous, and this is definitely one of the reasons why it’s become such a sought after destination on our barge holidays – the amazing regional food and drink.
Our cruises through Gascony introduce you to this wonderful area on the hotel barge ‘Rosa’, a beautiful old Dutch clipper that caters to just eight passengers. As we cruise along the Canal de Garonne on our seven-day itinerary, there’ll be abundant opportunities to sample the superb local produce and dishes unique to the region.
Here are a few regional delicacies to whet your appetite…
Confit de Canard
An iconic delicacy, confit de canard is a rich dish made from salt-cured duck legs cooked in their own fat. Traditionally, it was was designed as a filling and sustainable dish for the winter months (it can be preserved up to six months once cured and cooked) and is often served with baked new potatoes and green vegetables, or used in a cassoulet.
While it might be the subject of some debate, there’s no doubt this is one of the most sought after gastronomic pleasures of the area. The rich, silky smooth duck liver pâté can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated in mousses, terrines and soups. It’s quite often served up simply sliced and quickly seared in a pan.
Readily available on most menus around Gascony, cassoulet is a thick, heavy stew made from beans, sausages and the classic confit de canard. It’s hearty, flavoursome and usually served up with huge chunks of crusty fresh bread.
Gascony’s most famous cheese is the blue-marbled sheep’s milk cheese, Roquefort, which is still produced in the limestone caves of Combalou. Aged for a minimum of three months, the nutty, buttery flavour of Roquefort goes wonderfully with fruit (figs and prunes particularly) and, mais oui, wine.
Wines and Other Tipples
The wines of Gascony have a reputation as being among the best in the country, and any wine aficionado will have plenty to make them happy here.
The dry, fruity wines of the Côtes de Gasgogne are outstanding, and you’ll also be able to sample some lovely Sauvignon Blancs. For lovers of red, the local barrel-aged Madiran is known for its deep brown colour and lingering flavour.
As well as the classic reds and whites of the region, there are two other tipples you should not miss the opportunity to try. Armagnac is readily available throughout the area and this drink made from fortified wine is a popular local beverage. There are quite a few variations on the theme since it’s produced in numerous regional distilleries, so it’s a lot of fun working out your favourite!
The sweet aperitif Floc is somewhat of an acquired taste, but those who love it, really love it. It’s made from Armagnac and fortified grape juice then aged for at least 10 months. In order for it to gain its Floc de Gasgogne name, both elements must be produced from the same vineyard.
If you’re ready to head to Gascony to experience the fabulous food, wine and landscape of this beautiful region, there’s no better way to do it than by joining a European Waterways barge cruise. You’ll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy one of the most memorable holidays of your life.
View the full itinerary here.