The gastronomic specialties of Béarn

The gastronomic speci ...

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

Discover the products of the market

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:

The Southwest Farm Duck

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.

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The farmer duck of the southwest is eaten with all the sauces. Photo: © Jérôme Rommé; Adobe Stock

Farm poultry

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!

Béarnaise cow

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.

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Bearn cows are fed with fresh grass from the pastures of this beautiful region. Photo: © Yvann K; Adobe Stock

The black pig of Bigorre

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.

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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

Bearnaise andouille

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.

Basque-Bearn suckling lamb from the Pyrenees

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.

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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 goat of the Pyrenees

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.

We tested for you a visit to the Ferme de la Heche (fr), a traditional goat farm in Asson.

Adour salmon and river fish

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.

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Thesmoked fish from Maison Barthouil; Photo © Maison Barthouil

The bean-corn

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.

Pyrenean sheep cheeses

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.

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Summer production; Photo: © Grande aux fromages - Fromagerie Arribe

Roussanne fishing

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).

Béarn spices

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.

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The good Béarn peppers, spicy but just enough… Photo: © Maison Malnou

Traditional recipes from Béarn

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:

  • Henri IV's famous hen in a pot was born in Béarn!
  • The garbure: Vegetables simmered for a long time that accompany a duck, pork or a chicken in the pot…, here is a very invigorating dish!
  • The wood pigeon with truffles or salmis: This bird has a delicate flavor. Traditionally, it is eaten in salmis, a kind of stew. Fine gourmets will appreciate it more truffled.

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.

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The delicious and famous garbure, a must-try during a stay in Béarn. Photo: © Fanfo ; Adobe Stock

Some sweets from Bearn

Béarn is certainly a country of character, but there is no shortage of sweets. Here are some Béarn delicacies to be enjoyed without moderation:

  • Pastis stuffs: "Pastis" means cake in Gascon, in reference to "pasta", the dough. In this ancestral recipe from Béarn, there is “bourrit” (sourdough in Gascon), flour, eggs, good butter from Béarn cows. Nowadays, it is flavored with vanilla and rum. It is a long cake to prepare because it needs fermentation and slow cooking.
  • The spit cake: Slowly baked over a wood fire, it is a cake with exotic flavors of vanilla and rum, yet so typical of the Pyrenees. Follow us in our meeting with the president of the Brotherhood of the cake to the spit of Arreau (fr).
  • Blueberry tart: A simple tart and tangy berries, but it is a staple of the Pyrenees mountains.
  • The Russian: This cake bears his name to recall the distant lands, the Crimea, where the almonds that compose it came from. It's a gourmet cake, with a praline cream and meringue.
  • Le Chapeau d'Artagnan: In homage to the Musketeers and to D'Artagnan, this dessert consists of a scoop of prune ice cream, placed on a nougatine and topped with a plume of whipped cream, like the hats of the musketeers...
  • Confectionery is also well represented. Maison Francis Miot has been widely rewarded for its sweets. It is a house of delicacies, which dares! We have tasted some rascality for you… to discover in our report on the Francis Miot store in Pau (fr).

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The delicious spit cake, to taste in the markets. Photo: © Lesley Williamson
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The delights of Maison Francis Miot, in Pau. Photo: © Maison Francis Miot

Taste Béarn wines

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!

  • Béarnais cider: It is made from tart and bittersweet apples. The Cidrerie Béarnaise is located in Castéide-Cami. To combine Béarnaise and Basque specialties with a good cider, have a table at Restaurant La Cidrerie Ttipia, in Lescar.
  • To enjoy a good beer, in a friendly atmosphere, we recommend V and B in Orthez. Nearly 1000 beers await you there!
  • In terms of wines, Jurançon is one of the essentials. We take you on a wine tour at the Gan cooperative.
  • There are many other typical wines of Béarn: Madiran, Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh, Saint-Mont… Here is our article on the vineyards of Béarn.

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The vines of Vic-Bilh. Photo © Guide du Béarn

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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