The Pyrénée region of France is truly quite beautiful and incorporates magnificent towns such as Biarritz with its superb architecture including the sumptuous Hotel du Palais which was the summer mansion of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie de Montijo. This mountain range in the south west of France bordering Spain, stretches from the Atlantic Ocean right down to the Mediterranean Sea to the town of Perpignan which is steeped in Roman history.
This lovely vast mountain region of France is superb to visit all year round. The spring is gorgeous with all the seasonal flowers bursting into life and the summer is a great time to explore the towns and villages that are found here. In the winter the skiing is superb and there are over 50 resorts found along the mountain range.
The different departments of the Pyrénées each have their own specialities which are truly gastronomic delights and I love to visit the area around Biarritz for this reason. I particularly love La Villa Eugenie where you eat splendidly in some of the most beautiful surroundings imaginable. The seafood dishes that are served here are truly out of this world.
But there are towns and mountain villages in the French Pyrénées which are just begging to be explored. The regions of Auvergne and Languedoc-Roussillon are gorgeous but I particularly love Albi which lies in the Tarn Valley. The extraordinary French painter, Toulouse-Lautrec was born here and you can find lots of his works of art on display in the museum. A little way down the road is the gorgeous town of Cordes which is walled medieval town with superb Gothic architecture.
Cahors which is famous for it’s wines, is another wonderful town which sits peacefully on the river Lot and there is a fantastic weekly market held here. The landscapes are lush with forests of oak and walnut trees set against dramatic limestone cliffs which make a breathtaking vista at any time of the year.
Deep in the region of Gascony, the town of Auch is in the heart of the Armagnac region and if you ever get the opportunity of exploring the surrounding countryside with its traditional villages which have not changed for decades, you are in for a very special treat.
Farming in these regions is very important and the produce is out of this world which is why the traditional cuisines of the areas are so good. Walnut oil, truffles, wild mushrooms and chestnuts grow prolifically here and form the basis for many of the recipes. I particularly love the goose and duck as well as the foie gras that has made the regions so famous all over France.
In the Haute Pyrénées there are many freshwater lakes and streams so fish dishes are truly delicious but the region also boasts some of the best cured meats, hams and sausages in the whole of the country. Then of course there are the cheeses and I love the goats cheese they produce in the region. The food is out of the world but then so are the wines but the alcohol I love the most is a drink they call Floc, which is a brandy-based wine and I adore this served as an aperitif before a truly spectacular meal.