Haute-Marne’s rivers provide excellent fresh fish like trout for the table. Pike stew may not appeal but crayfish in wine sauce is an unusual ‘must try’ menu option. That this rare freshwater crustacean features in the gastronomy of Haute-Marne is testament to the purity of the region’s rivers.
To know more, visit the pilot crayfish breeding farm at Thonnance-les-Joinville which runs a project to re-introduce these freshwater members of the lobster family to other parts of Europe. (Daily guided tours April - Sept, tel: (00 33) 3 25 94 13 76).
Forests are a source of game and ‘grey diamond’ truffles from the limestone soil. Jugged hare, woodcock, grouse and estuffade (stew) of partridge are all part of the regional cuisine. Snails served hot as a starter are as popular here as in neighbouring Burgundy.
To accompany your meal chose from Coiffy or Monsaugeon wines, Champagne from the Rizaucourt-Argentolles vineyards and Bassigny’s plum and pear brandies and liquors. Look for Rubis de Groseilles - a Haute-Marne aperitif made from redcurrants. Even real ale drinkers are catered for with La Choue beer. The Brasserie de Vauclair brewery welcomes visitors for tours and tasting by appointment, tel: (00 33) 3 25 01 00 40. There are sales on-site and the cellar bar is open weekend evenings from May to Sept.
Makers of Langres’ famous cheese also invite visitors to their premises. This orange-coloured cow’s milk cheese is only one of 34 in France with AOC status and can be found in any grocery shop in Haute-Marne. For dessert, try almond flavoured meringues or truffle ice cream.