Part of Lot et Garonne was formed by areas of the old French province of Gascony, famed for its rich food and the home of foie gras and golden Armagnac brandy.
Matured in oak casks, Armagnac is said to be the oldest spirit in France going back to the twelfth century - long before its rival Cognac.
Look for foie gras museums like the one in Penne d’Agenais and vineyards producing the White Armagnac from Lot-et-Garonne’s chalky soil offer tastings.
Floc de Gascogne, a fortified wine made with Armagnac, makes a delicious chilled aperitif. Try one before indulging in some of the best regional cuisine - duck or goose in rich wine sauce, ham from Tonneins, chicken from neighbouring Landes and fish from the region’s rivers - including lamprey and eels. Ripe Duras and Buzet wines make the ideal accompaniment.
The region is a major fruit producing area, often referred to as the largest orchard in France. The most celebrated fruits of Lot et Garonne are the wonderful Agen plums. They can be dried without fermenting to give quality prunes (‘pruneaux’), which appear in many guises in local cuisine, from stuffed with ‘foie gras’ (goose pate) and served with beef, to chocolate-coated ‘petits fours’. Follow the ‘Prune Route’, marked by purple road signs, around the plum orchards of eastern Lot-et-Garonne. (Note ‘prune’ means plum in French - the word for prune is pruneaux). Look for roadside stands along the River Lot west of Villeneuve which offer prunes, plump and moist with a slightly nutty taste, dusted with sugar, stuffed with almond paste or soaked in Armagnac to taste and buy.
The Garonne Valley is also known for its fragrant sweet gariguette strawberries, tasty melons, asparagus and legendary tomatoes from the market gardens around Marmande. A tomato festival is held in Marmande each year in July and there is even a statue to the fabulous fruit in rue Toupinerie in the town!