Food and Drink in Vendée and Charente Maritime

Two predominant elements of Vendée and the Charente Maritime are pastures and the coast, both of which are reflected in the local cuisine. 

Rule number one: butter is the starting point for everything – but not just any old butter. Only salted butter made from locally harvested salt will make the grade, and it’s not just the locals who say so – it’s also used by many Michelin-starred restaurants. 

Appellation d'origine contrôlée certification ensures that only the very best meat, seafood and fish are used. Meat dishes are often prepared as a stew to lock in the delicious juices and ensure it is tender, while seafood is so fresh it can be eaten raw. Indeed, St Gilles sardines are the nec plus ultra of the tinned fish world and said to improve with age, just like wine – they even have vintage years! If you prefer your fish to be cooked, then try some cotriade, the local version of Marseille’s bouillabaisse. Potatoes are another local delicacy especially the bonotte variety which grow in the dunes, which gives it an inimitable mildly salty flavour. 

Typically local dishes to try include préfou, a hot bread wrap eaten with an aperitif, and anything made with the local white beans, known as mojettes. 

As you explore the region, you’ll notice stretches of vineyards set between marshes and forests. The wines here span a palette of velvety reds, sweet rosés and crisp whites and are named after the villages they are grown in. Fiefs Vendéens, Mareuil or Pineau des Charentes are all named after their home turf. And what better way to finish a truly local meal than with a dram of cognac prepared on site? It’s delicious on its own but also features on cocktail menus in the region too. 



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