The undisputed capital for fine black truffles is nestled in the Dordogne region of France, in an area known as the Périgord. Here, producers have thrived for hundreds of years, and the ultra-fragrant black diamond is inextricably woven into the fabric of local culture and daily life. Some of the country’s most-respected artisans are based in the Périgord, and each year numerous colorful festivals in the region bring to full life– both past and present– of the treasured plant.
Your private truffle-centric tour of France should certainly include some time experiencing the markets, festivals and finest restaurants of the Périgord. Of course, if you want to experience the joys and challenges of truffle-hunting yourself, accompanied by an expert-artisan and a trusty truffle pig or dog, that’s certainly a possibility.
Annual Truffle Festivals in the Périgord
Every year in the late winter, several colourful festivals centred around le diamant noir bring communities out of wintery hibernation for several days of gourmet tastings, elaborate processions and rituals.
Fete de la Truffe, Sarlat
The Sarlat Truffle Festival is undoubtedly the most famous among these. Black truffles of Périgord are the star of the show at this cheerful event held over a weekend in January (in 2019, the festival runs from Friday 18th January through Sunday the 20th).
Participate in workshops and cooking classes to learn more about how to spot, taste and prepare delicious dishes using black truffle and its oils, or witness as truffle hunters embark on a spirited chasse in the surrounding woods. A lively truffle market takes over the town for the occasion, allowing you to bring back home authentic products and to mingle with local artisans.
Finally, the Sarlat festival has also given rise to one of the region’s most-anticipated culinary events: a competition sponsored by the Foie Gras and Truffle Culinary Academy. Each year, chefs compete for the Jean Rougié trophy, awarded by a panel of Michelin-starred chefs and lauded culinary critics. The event also includes demonstrations from acclaimed chefs– and tastings, of course.
The Sorges Truffle Festival
The town of Sorges and surrounds is another essential destination for the discerning truffle fan. Home to a dedicated “Ecomuseum” focused on the history and present day of the black truffle, Sorges is known as a, if not the, capital of the prized mushroom in the region. The surrounding area is also prized by truffle hunters, and a hike on the many beautiful wooded trails in the area is a wonderful way to learn about the practice while you take in fresh air and natural wonders.
Held every year on the last Sunday in January, the Sorges Truffle Festival offers gourmets another fantastic opportunity to enjoy black truffle specialities and festivities. Cooking demonstrations, a wonderful market and pairings with wine and foie gras are among the delights at this much-anticipated event.
Markets to Explore
In addition to the ones mentioned above, your private tour of the Périgord might include a whirl through other superb truffle markets that thrive in the late winter, in towns such as Gramat and Sarrazac. Your bespoke adventure will be marked by mouth-watering tastings and private meetings with local artisans, if you so choose.
Superb Tables to Try
As you might expect, there are some superb gastronomic tables in the Périgord centred around the black truffles. Why not include an unforgettable dinner at restaurants such as Le Vieux Logis, a Michelin-starred restaurant situated in a historic Chateau? Here, try tasting menus where each dish is laced with black truffle, from scallops delicately flavoured with black diamond to more traditional duck with truffle and even impossibly gourmet ice cream?
Another wonderful table to consider for your private adventure in Périgord is the Auberge de la Truffe, a hotel and restaurant in Sorges acclaimed for its truffle-centric cuisine. Soup with grated truffle, scrambled eggs delicately perfumed with shavings of black diamond, excellent foie gras and desserts featuring truffle are all on the menu here. You might even opt to stay at the Auberge for some added authenticity and local colour.
In Provence, including the area known as the Luberon, truffle season extends from late November through late March– meaning you have a large window of opportunity to experience its traditional festivals, markets and acclaimed restaurants. And if you visit around the winter holidays, you can even merge your interest in truffle hunting or tastings with a whirl through the region’s lovely French Christmas markets. There are so many opportunities for luxurious and culturally authentic Provencal experiences, so don’t hesitate to let us know what interests you most.
Authentic Truffle Festivals in Provence
Provence hosts one of the most fascinating and ritualistic events of the year, at the Truffle Mass in Richerenches. Set in the Vaucluse department, which is responsible for 80% of France’s black truffle production, Richerenches hosts this remarkable procession on the third Sunday in January, presided over by the Brotherhood (Confrérie) of the Knights of the Black Diamond.
In a ritual that has been carried out for 50 years, members of the order– donning distinctive black robes, hats and yellow ribbons– bless the black truffle as large crowds observe from the streets of the village, marking the occasion of St. Anthony’s feast. Following the procession, enjoy tastings, cooking demonstrations and other festivities.
If you can’t come in January, try November. It’s then, around the mid-month, that the opening of the fantastic Richerenches Truffle market opens, at an event known as the “Ban des Truffes”. The Confrérie presides over the opening ceremonies, and you can enjoy tastings, observe truffle dogs at work, participate in workshops or stroll around the bustling seasonal market packed with truffle-related specialities.
Truffle Mass in the Drome des Collines
A bit less famous than its counterpart in Richerenches, but also fascinating, the truffle mass in the Drome des Collines is another elaborate ritual and truffle festival worth attending in Provence. The local confrérie here opens with a memorable robed ceremony each year, and visitors can take part in an authentic and fascinating programme that includes accompanying truffle hunters, tastings, visits with cultivators and more.
The Carpentras Market: an Essential Destination
Of course, no truffle-centric private tour of Provence would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Carpentras market, which includes a large section dedicated to black truffles and associated products. Held from late November through March, this market is a gold mine for anyone hoping to get their hands on choice products. Here, you can purchase– with cash only– some of the globe’s finest and most expensive specimens, interacting directly with top cultivators and producers. These are measured out on old-fashioned scales, adding to the charm. There’s also a dizzying selection of products to peruse and take home, from oils to patés and sweet delights laced with truffle.
Superb Tables in Provence
Some of the most excellent local restaurants in the Vaucluse and around Provence focus on truffles. These include O’Rabasse in Richerenches, a new and innovative restaurant coveted for its gastronomic delights centred around truffle, lavender and olives; and Chez Bruno, a superb address where both black and white Italian Alba truffles feature on the creative and seasonal menu. The tasting menu at Bruno is particularly lauded by gourmets for its surprising yet delicate flavours.
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While Périgord and Provence offer the majority of truffle-related delights, your private tour can extend to other regions, too.
In Burgundy and Champagne, for example, the “truffe d’automne” (autumn truffle) is a rarer specimen that is cultivated and used by a few dedicated gourmet producers and chefs. A private wine tour of Burgundy or a luxurious discovery of the best cellars and sparkling wines of Champagne can easily be extended to include autumn truffle tastings and workshops with artisans. These more confidential discoveries will certainly allow you to add another gourmet feather to your cap.
Regions such as the Languedoc are also well-known for excellent truffle products, markets and festivals. Like their counterparts in Périgord and Provence, truffle producers in this lesser-known region of France celebrate black truffle harvests from December through February.
Even a luxury getaway to Paris can include tastings and meals at Michelin-starred restaurants reputed for their use of black, white or grey truffle. La Maison de la Truffe is an essential stopover when in the French capital, offering a dizzying array of excellent products and allowing visitors to learn more about the art of cultivating (and cooking with) truffles.
Book a Private Truffle Tour of France
Have we managed to rouse your curious taste buds? If so, get in touch with us right away. We’ll start crafting an entirely bespoke private tour of France that includes truffle tastings and tours around some of the iconic places mentioned here. If you’re ready to tick a box on your gourmet bucket list and meld luxury with cultural discovery, our unique and luxury-filled tours will initiate you to all the magic of the black diamond.
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