The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 14

From Paris to the Loire Valley, and everywhere in between, how to live like a millionaire in Nice on a budget, French island hopping, a fairy tale chateau and Monet's Garden in Giverny. Everything you want to know about France and more.

NOUGAT the sweet taste

NOUGAT the sweet taste of the south Lucy Pitts visits Montélimar. It’s a name that just rolls off the tongue with a rhythm of its own and it happens to be home to a sweet little secret. You’ll find the town about half an hour south of Valence in the Drôme, part of the Rhônes Alpes region, well on the way to the south. The home, if not the birthplace of nougat Nougat has been around for thousands of years but it arrived in Montélimar in the 19th century. With typical French flair, the locals took the original ingredients and created something uniquely French by adding eggs, their famous almonds and local honey. The result is a nougat that bears no resemblance to the mass produced, overly sweet product that many of us have tried over the years. Montélimar nougat is rich in favour and soft. Although of course it’s still sweet, it doesn’t hit you with a three day sugar rush or leave you desperate for water. In fact, I was told, it is the best nougat in the world and even Lady Diana, Princess of Wales partook. The rise to success Until the advent of fast trains and autoroutes, Montélimar was strategically placed on the main route from north to south. Endorsed by the French President of the day, Emile Loubet, from the late 19th century onwards, nougat sales soared. Touting to passing (and often queuing) traffic, meant a captive audience and the industry boomed. All great things come to an end, the nougat industry was hit hard by the arrival of the fast-flowing A7 motorway (“autoroute du soleil”) which skirts the town. However, you can still find the last remaining nougat factories, like Nougat Arnaud Soubeyran, in the outskirts of Montélimar.

Evolve to survive Arnaud Soubeyran are a 3rd generation nougat producer who had the good luck of stumbling upon some original nougat recipes from the 1950s and adapting them. Today they’re a prestigious and bustling establishment. They’re proud of their Mediterranean almonds which have, I’m told, more flavour than Californian almonds. The floral honey and local fruit make for an interesting tour of their factory. They still make their nougat by hand and you can watch the production process before indulging yourself in the dozens of different varieties in their shop or spending time in their restaurant. a journey into history, gastronomy and unspoilt landscape. It’s a much underrated department that doesn’t seem to get the press of its Provencal cousin but it will reward you in spades for the time that you spend there. Mirmande Mirmande is one of those fairy tale villages. In between Montélimar and Valence, it’s both medieval and fortified and winds its way up the hill to the Roman style church of Sainte Foy at the top. It’s one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France as well as one of the Villages Botaniques de la Drôme, so you know you can expect something special. Over the centuries its streets and its people have had to adapt to embrace first the silk industry and then, as that lifestyle gave way, growing fruit in the many orchards that surround it. Famed cubist André Lhote put down roots here and as with all places of incredible beauty, it’s a bit of a honey pot for local creatives and artists. It’s a haven of steep, cobbled streets, leg burning steps and catch your breath views out across the Drôme. It may not take you long to explore but it’s a great stop off place for coffee or lunch if you’ve just headed out of Valence or need to burn off some of nougat from Montémilar. The Drôme is a region that’s full of local flavour and colour and sweet Montémilar and Mirmande are just the starting point of For more information visit: For a nugget of nougat visit: Transport: Valence has a TGV station and it’s possible to get trains from the UK, Paris or elsewhere in Europe. From the there you can take a connecting train to Montelimar.There’s also international car hire right next to Valence station.

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