The culinary heritage of the French mountains
Warm and hearty mountain cuisine
From the Alps to the Pyrenees, and the Jura to the Auvergne, soups, cheeses and charcuterie take pride of place, with dishes such as raclettes and fondues making the perfect party dish or supper with friends!
In the Pyrenees, a traditional meal always starts with garbure. When you return from a hike in the Aspe valley, make sure you try the garbure aux haricots, a soup made with haricot beans at Chez Michel, in Bedous, then head to Oloron-Saint-Marie for the world garbure championships, which take place every September.
Pasta, cheeses and potatoes
Forever associated with the perfect potato and bacon gratin, a tasty Reblochon has also given rise to the tartiflette, which is best accompanied by a red Mondeuse wine from the Savoie. Replace potatoes with crozets, a square-shaped Savoie pasta, to make a typical gratin de crozets, which you can enjoy at the Le Petit Prince restaurant at the foot of the ski slopes in Valmorel. Perhaps you prefer a fondue? In which case, you’ll need to choose your preferred cheese, either from the Savoie (Beaufort, Emmental or Comté) or the Auvergne (Cantal or Saint-Nectaire). In the Auvergne, the marriage of a fresh Cantal tomme and potatoes has given rise to truffade auvergnate. From all accounts, the one served at the La Bergerie restaurant, at the foot of the ski slopes in Super Besse, is truly delicious! Make sure you also try aligot on the Aubrac plateau – this simple dish of mashed potatoes is topped with fresh Tome de Laguiole cheese.
Mountain meats and charcuterie
Whether they’re produced in the Savoie, Auvergne or in the Pyrenees, local charcuterie, sausages and hams benefit fully from the pure mountain air! During a stay in Aix-les-Bains, on the banks of the Lac du Bourget, make sure you try Diots, small Savoie sausages traditionally served with polenta or potatoes.At the foot of the Auvergne’s volcanoes, le petit salé (salted pork) with green Le Puy lentils always meets with unanimous approval! Further south, it’s impossible to pass up on a dish of Pyrenean lamb, which was awarded the IGP label (Indication Géographique Protégée) in early 2013. Head for the heights to enjoy this mountain delicacy at the restaurant on top of the Pic du Midi, at an altitude of 2,877m, while admiring the incredible view encompassing the entire Pyrenean mountain range.
Fish from our rivers, lakes and mountain streams
What would you say to a dish of pike quenelles with a crayfish emulsion? To accompany this local speciality, the culinary symbol of the largest lakes in the Alps (Geneva, Annecy and Le Bourget), chef Jean-Pierre Jacob from the restaurant Le Bateau Ivre, in Le Bourget-du-Lac, recommends a Roussette de Marestel, a wine produced in the heart of the "Savoie, Lac du Bourget" region, which has been awarded the "Vignobles & Découvertes" label. Char, perch and féra, a type of salmon typical to Lake Geneva, are other impressive catches from the incredibly pure waters of our mountain lakes.In the mountain streams of the Pyrenees, known locally as gaves, the star of the show is undoubtedly the trout. Get up close to this emblematic species at the "La Truite des Pyrénées" fish farm near Argelès-Gazost, which also offers on-site fishing opportunities for visitors.
Fruits and sweet delicacies
From the Alps to the Pyrenees, bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) appears on the dessert menu of almost every restaurant. If you’re taking a break from the ski slopes, enjoy it with a vin chaud, a mulled wine flavoured with spices and citrus fruits! You’ll also succumb to the temptations offered by the Savoie’s biscuits, which are light in texture and will melt in your mouth! In the Hautes-Pyrénées, make sure you head for the Tuesday morning market in Argelès-Gazost, where you’ll see gâteau à la broche, a local cake baked on a skewer, being made. Here, Bernard Laqueyrie will be delighted to offer you a taste!
Where to taste our mountain specialities
- Les Fruitières Chabert: a master cheese-maker since 1936, this family-run business continues to perpetuate the cheese-making tradition of the Savoie. In the villages of the Savoie and Haute-Savoie, the company’s shops offer a huge choice of regional cheeses (Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, Raclette, Emmental etc), alongside other local specialities.
- Les Saveurs d'Hadrien in Aix-les-Bains: this delicatessen specialising in charcuterie products has hams and sausages galore hanging from its ceiling, and sells timeless and traditional specialities including diots, cheeses and absinthe. In short, a culinary snapshot of the Savoie’s regional products.