The recent release of the foodie blockbuster, The Hundred-Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren has uncovered the gastronomic delights of The Tarn region of south west France. Known for its rich cassoulet, foie gras, Lautrec pink garlic and premiere Gaillac wines, cinemagoers are being transported to this rural food heaven where the action revolves around a fictional Michelin-starred French chateau restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). In reality the belle époque Chateau de la Durantie is being renovated into a country club and spa with its own restaurant, bar and wine label – and will form the centrepiece of ‘La Durantie’ development of 57 vernacular holiday homes on the estate.
Ten years ago ‘culinary tourism’ was viewed as a form of niche tourism, but today tourists and holiday home owners are increasingly attracted to a region by its local produce, restaurants and culinary delights. Erik Wolf, President and CEO of The World Food Travel Association, says; “within the last decade the definition of culinary tourism has evolved to includethose people who travel almost exclusively to search for and enjoy prepared foods and drink.”
In France, food is a religion and in every village and town around La Durantie, there are authentic country restaurants and lively town bistros serving delicious seasonal food all year-round. For more sophisticated dining, the nearest Michelin star restaurant is 15 minutes away with another in nearby world heritage site Albi. However, owners and guests won’t need to leave the chateau’s grounds to find the very best of local fare. La Durantie’s Bistrot and Bar will be located within the chateau and will feature a large outdoor terrace overlooking the pool and gardens.
The menu will use fresh produce grown from La Durantie’s very own vegetable garden and will feature traditional dishes with a modern twist, but always seasonal whether a wild boar casserole or cepe (mushroom) omelette; currently in season as depicted in the film. For dessert you cannot beat a homemade tarte tatin with beautifully caramelised apples – all will be accompanied by Durantie’s pick of the finest local Gaillac and renowned French wines.
The luxury development of La Durantie overlooks undulating vineyards, and has recently launched its own wine label.There are several different cepages that are unique to the ancient wine region of Gaillac and La Durantie has selected a white Mauzac Sauvignon blend and red Cabernet Duras, allowing owners of the local French vernacular homes to make the idyllic notion of drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home a reality.
Owners will receive an allocation of Durantie wines and Francophile foodies are in for a treat. There are 37 markets in total in The Tarn region for owners to discover including: Castelnau- de-Montmiral (Tue), Cordes (Sat), Gaillac (Tue, Fri, Sat), Albi (Tue, Sat) and Castres (Sat).