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Traditional flavours of the Loire Valley

Saffron, Sel de Guérande, Orléans vinegar... top condiments in the Loire Valley


Saffron has been farmed in the Loire Valley for a long time, although it disappeared from the 1940s to the 1990s. The spice comes from a purple flower: crocus sativus. It is harvested by hand in autumn by removing the pistils of the flowers, which are then dried. 150,000 flowers are needed to produce just 1kg of saffron! 

To find out more about growing saffron and to get hold of some, come and meet the producers in the Loire Valley. Les Safraniers du Gâtinais in Corbeilles, les Nuits Safranées in Daumeray, or Cynfael in St-Sauveur-de-Landemont, are all ready to welcome you with pleasure. End your visit with a tour of the Musée du Safran (the Saffron Museum) in Boynes.

Alongside this “red gold”, there is also the “white gold” of the Loire Valley: Sel de Guérande. It is extracted directly from the salt marshes of Guérande using an ancestral technique involving a clever maze-like system, which retains the salty water when the tide goes out. The Fleur de sel is also harvested to bring out the flavours of dishes with its light flavour of iodine and violets. You can discover it at the Maison des Paludiers or at Terre de Sel.

Orléans vinegar is just as well-known, even if it was discovered by accident! Orléans owes its famous vinegar to the wines which, transported by boat along the Loire, arrived sour and tasting like vinegar. While there were around 300 producers of this vinegar during the 18th century, there is now only one remaining: la maison Martin-Pouret, which also produces artinsanal Orléans mustard
 

Pommes Tapées, Poires Tapées, Fouaces Angevines and Praslines de Montargis 


As the name suggests, “pommes et poires tapées” (beaten apples and pears) are flattened with a mallet after being dried in a tuffeau stone oven. They can be conserved in this form for many months! They can be eaten as they are or rehydrated in wine or syrup. 

Come and observe this ancestral technique, recently modernised, at the Troglo des pommes tapées in Turquant, where you can visit the museum and enjoy a tasting session in the troglodyte dwellings.

This ancient method can also be discovered at Poires Tapées à l’Ancienne in Rivarennes, capital of the Poire Tapée.

There are other traditional flavours to discover in the Loire Valley, such as the Fouace Angevine, a little bread roll cooked in the oven and stuffed with mushrooms, butter, white beans or pate, and which can be enjoyed in trogolodyte restaurants.
 
Those with a sweet tooth won’t want to miss out on the Praslines de Montargis, delicious grilled almonds coated in caramel. To buy some, visit the Mazet Praslines shop in Montargis.