The department of Vienne makes its own contribution to the famous gastronomy of Poitou Charente, including succulent grass-fed lamb from around Montmorillon, fresh fish from little rivers such as the Clain and Gartempe and all manner of creamy soft goat’s cheeses such as chabis and chabichou.
As a nation, the French love their snails and the Poitou Charente region is possibly France’s largest producer of the petit gris or lumas cagouille snail raised for the table.
If you’d like to try them, look for local recipes such as cagouille a la Charentais where the snails are cooked in wine with ham, herbs, onion, garlic and tomatoes.
For more conventional meat dishes, choose from delicious Limousine and Parthenaise beef, stews of local pork, or rabbit cooked with prunes and herbs in the regional aperitif of Pineau - made from Charente grape juice and Cognac .If you’d like to try local wines, those from the Loudun area are known as ‘Saumur’ and are very like those from the Loire Valley.
Local markets in Vienne are full of wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables. For some special open-air shopping, spend the morning at Les Herolles on the Indres border. One of the largest markets in France and held on the 29th of each month, Les Herolles has produce galore, including huge blocks of tasty butter made solely with the cream from pasteurised milk, as well as livestock and traditional items for sale.
Clafoutis - a baked dessert made with cherries and a custard-like batter - is a traditional favourite found in many restaurants. Made with other fruit, the same thing is often described as flognarde. If you’re in the area, visit Montmorillon’s famous Almond and Macaroon Museum and shop. Remember, fresh macaroons only last a couple of days so it may be better to take home some Nougatine from Poitiers.