Béarn is a greedy and generous country. To find out more about Béarn's culinary specialties, we take you on a gastronomic getaway in Béarn.
Agricultural and fertile region of excellence, you will discover good local products, traditional recipes and famous dishes of French gastronomy. From the Pyrenean valleys and mountain pastures to the Navarrenx, where the Gaves flow, we will cross the lands of sheep and cow breeding, and taste delicious cheeses, meats, but also river fish. We will pass through the Vic-Bilh and the surroundings of Pau, through the vineyards of Jurançon and Madiran. Without forgetting the Pays de Nay at the gates of Bigorre, with its famous black pigs and spit cakes...
Opening photo: © Yvann K - Adobe
The market is the heart of a city or a village, a place to meet and share! You will find good local products, expert advice from producers and gourmet recipes. To find the one that's right for you, see our section on Béarn markets. Here is an overview of local productions:
We say duck, you think "foie gras". But in duck, almost everything is eaten: The liver, the gizzards, the other offal, such as the "gratons" (the skin, the fat and pieces of meat which are scraped to make a pâté), the thighs and the candied sleeves, fillet, duck breast, and even the carcass which gives an exceptional fatty broth! Here is our list of foie gras producers. They will surely convince you to taste their other products.
Even though the duck is a star, it is not just fatty poultry in the region. Chicken, capon, fowl, guinea fowl, quail,… garnish the Béarnaise dishes. But you will also find more unusual birds. Wood pigeon hunting is a centuries-old tradition in Béarn! Truffled or in salmis, it's a real treat!
The "Béarnaise" breed is a blond cow, from the Pyrenees mountains. It lends itself well to mixed breeding, for milk and meat. It is a rustic breed, slow growing, which gives a lot of character to its meat.
The “Porc noir de Bigorre” is a purebred Gascon pig. He is originally from the Pyrenees and previously lived in the wild at the foot of the mountains. Passionate peasants raise it with respect for traditions and as close as possible to its natural living conditions. It is an exceptional meat!
La Ferme Sahouret is a traditional farm. This family of producers organizes tours and presents its farm chickens, fatty ducks, lambs from the Pyrenees, Bearn meats, Gascon pigs, goats and goats from the Pyrenees. They are very involved in the preservation of the old and typical breeds of Béarn.
Think of preserves to bring back good products to cook (or not) with a long expiration date. Open up a bit of Béarn for your meal, all year round! Photo: © Ferme Sahouret
Pork bellies blanched, desiccated, then matured for 12 long weeks, before being cooked in broth, to the delight of your taste buds... To taste andouille Béarnaise, go to the Michel Loge butcher's shop in Bidos.
The Pyrenean valleys allow pasture in meadows and summer transhumance in the “estives”, the Pyrenean lawns. It is an ideal environment for raising Basque-Bearn lambs. Transhumance is a tradition that continues, a real way of life for these shepherds, who welcome you to their farms or their summer huts.
For more information, tours or tastings, contact the Regional Association of Sheep Breeders Meat and Milk of Aquitaine, in Oloron-Sainte-Marie.
The suckling lamb is also raised in exceptional conditions, which makes its meat tasty and tender. Photo: © Regional Association of Sheep Breeders Meat and Milk of Aquitaine
The Pyrenean goat is an ancient breed that almost disappeared. Thirty years ago, breeders fought to relocate these goats, particularly adapted to the mountains, with rich milk which gives these kids a tasty taste.
It is a wild salmon, which is fished in the Adour and in the gaves of Pau and Oloron. It is a rare product that deserves special care. To meet one of the last traditional smokers and learn about smoking techniques, go to Léren, to Maison Barthouil and its discovery area "la Maison du salmon".
In the gaves, you will find trout, salmon, carp, pike, perch… for leisure and pleasure of fishing, but also on the plate.
These are white beans of the Tarbais type, which are planted with corn. Thus the long and sturdy corn stalk serves as a support for the delicate row bean. It benefits from recognition as a “Protected Geographical Indication” and from the “Label Rouge”. It is characterized by a very thin skin, a chewy flesh that is not mealy. It can be enjoyed as a garbure, in cassoulet or with lamb.
Each valley and Pyrenean mountain has its own cheese specialties. Some are called "estive", when they come directly from summer pastures. The Ossau Iraty is the star. Recognized as "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" and "Appellation d'Origine Protégée", it is a blend of milk from sheep from the Iraty Valley in Béarn and Ossau in the Basque Country. To get to know them better, we reveal our advice and visits to the essential Béarn cheeses.
Roussanne fishing deserves our attention. It is an ancient variety of fishing, which is grown in the heart of the Jurancon vineyards since the 16th century. You will find some in the Orchards of the Pays de Monein (fr).
We don't really expect it, but Béarn is a producer of spices. A Béarnais pepper is cultivated there, in the surroundings of Pau : the Piment de Monein. The Domaine les Casterasses (fr) offers tours. You can also taste it at La Maison Malnou in Poey-de-Lescar. To vary the pleasures, there is also a saffron farm, Rouge Safran, in Lucq-de-Béarn. Salt extraction is an ancestral tradition of Béarn. The Salt Museum, in Salies-en-Béarn, will tell you this thousand-year-old story...
It's not a spice, but we still wanted you to discover this original production from Béarn. Spirulina is an algae with multiple virtues. It is sprinkled on your dishes and it is said to be miraculous! You can discover and taste it at the Ferme de Jouanbayle (fr), near Orthez.
All these good products would be nothing without good recipes… They are part of the regional cultural heritage and are passed down from generation to generation. Whether you are a good cook or leave it to the professionals, here are the traditional Bearn dishes to taste absolutely:
Preserves will allow you to take home a bit of Béarn and to please your loved ones! Consult our section on Béarn canneries.
If you don't feel like you have started designing these typical dishes, come and taste them in one of the Béarn restaurants.
Béarn is certainly a country of character, but there is no shortage of sweets. Here are some Béarn delicacies to be enjoyed without moderation:
To embellish all these good products of the Béarn region, you need a drink to match… Aperitifs, wines, beers or ciders, Béarn has many advantages, to be consumed in moderation of course!
Here is this discovery of Béarn specialties which ends here, but which will continue on site with a tasting... We hope to have made you hungry and want to taste the Béarn gastronomy, during a gourmet getaway.
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