The Armagnac is the name of a brandy but also a region of Les Landes that you will enjoy discovering. Located not far from the Gers, Les Landes shares the love of foie-gras and brandy. Armagnac is a beautiful region located in the east of the departement of Les Landes ; it is hilly, very forestry and contrasts with the rest of the territory, which is rather flat and covered in pine trees.
The Armagnac is a brandy, a distilled alcohol, made from dry white wine. Its production and its exportation have made the nearby town of Mont de Marsan famous, since the Middle Ages.
Armagnac has been famous since the Middle Ages
The Armagnac is not an alcohol that we sip during a meal or in large quantity during the aperitif, no, no (for this you have the Floc d’Armagnac)… With an average of 40% alc./vol, the Armagnac is observed, warmed up in the palm of your hand (without making it turn, unlike wine). Like this, the aromas are trapped in the taper at the top of a balloon glass, and they open up in your nose rousing all your senses before you even dip your lips in it… Les Landes produces the appellation “Bas Armagnac”.
Armagnac, like many of other strong alcohol, was not originally, a drink. It was apothecaries, sought-after for its invigorating virtues said to sooth headaches (when applied directly, not after drinking it !…).
A glass of Armagnac, small and tapered at the top
During the 19th century, the production and trade of this brandy was in full boom, and benefied from a more refined distillation process (a continuous distillation for the Armagnac, which starts at the « Flamme de l’Armagnac » in November) which charmed the connoisseurs. Aged in oak barrels (the oak barrels bring its characteristic taste and colour to the Armagnac, via the tannins), it is always a new barrel at the beginning of the ageing, then the Armagnac is transferred used barrels, which guaranty its full-rounded flavour and smoothness. In the 1930s the appellations controlees (French designation system) were formed which define the zones and methods of production.
Armagnac, the brandy, get its name from the ancient province of Gascony Armagnac ; and in Les Landes, approximately 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of vines are dedicated to its production (the majority being in the Gers region).
How to taste this so precious and delicious product of Les Landes ? It is consumed as an undiluted digestive liqueur. It is in this characteristic short stem and easy to hold balloon glass, that all its aromas unfurl. Bas-Armagnac has the reputation to be fruity and it is perfectly suited for cooking, for example to flavour a croustade, a confit de pruneau and also a foie gras ! Yum… (Go light on it though !)
So you decided to discover the Armagnac, through its region of production in les Landes.
It is located in the territory that we have defined : Mont de Marsan and Armagnac (click here to discover this territory)
They are approximately twenty producers on this territory who cultivate the vines and transform the grapes in Armagnac. A visit to a winery is an unforgettable experience, as much as for its cultural and gastronomy interests than for its history. Armagnac is a product which is enriched by time and a long stay in a winery. However it stops ageing once it is bottled. If you are an enthusiast, you can have the opportunity to taste a rare and prestigious vintage !
Start in Roquefort, this is nothing to do with the cheese, here it is rather the geology which plays a part in the name of this village (built on a ROCK). In this 10th century medieval bastide, visit the Sainte-Marie Church, the Saint-Joseph Chapel. Walk along the fortifications of the former city, and go up to the arenas.
Note : Roquefort is located on the way to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, on the Vézelay way.
The market takes place on Saturday morning in Roquefort.
And the Armagnac ? To taste some in Roquefort, visit La Maison Darroze !
We carry on our small tour in Saint-Justin. It is another bastide which dates from the end of the 13th century. Covered in flowers, the village also has vestiges of fortifications, ramparts and lovely timbered houses. Have a walk to see the Saint André Church and the octagonal Tour des Templiers, the other tower of the Léon Dufour Manor, and wander down the cobblestone slope, which is rather rare in Les Landes.
Note : Not far from the town is the beautiful Fondat Castle, which can be visited from April to October.
The Tourist Office offers a lovely walk, which can be discovered by clicking here.
And the Armagnac ? Visit the Chai de Lamoulette, with prior booking only. There is also the Chai de Soube and its Paysan Museum (Folk Museum) !
Are you looking for accommodation in Saint-Justin ? Go to the recently renovated 4 star hotel Le Cadet de Gascogne ; it has everything to make you enjoy your stay in he region. It also has a very good restaurant ! Click here for further information.
We carry on our regional discovery by going by La bastide d’Armagnac. Created in the 13th century, this bastide has concentrated on green tourism. Have a walk in the lovely Place Royale (it is rumoured that it inspired the creation of the Place des Vosges in Paris). Carry on towards the Notre-Dame Church then the surprising Chapelle des Cyclistes and its exquisite gate, in the Géou district.
And Armagnac ? Do not miss the ecomuseum of the Armagnac, learn about its history, its method of production, the tools used and a beautiful bottles exhibition.
Go to see the Domaine Paguy and its vineyard where Armagnac is the star, but also the Floc, a speciality made of grape juice and Armagnac, it is good and perfect for an aperitif.
Visit the Domaine de Labouc and its 17 hectares (42 acres) of vines.
And for accommodation ? Go to La Villa des Remparts, with its terrace, its parking and its swimming pool (seasonal), it is a great location for holidays ! I’ve heard that the breakfast is delicious too…
Located few kilometres from the town, the Domaine de Paguy is an enchanting domain, dating from the 15th century. You will be warmly welcomed and, culinary speaking, well looked after at Paulette’s !
And for eating ? Au Bastignac offers lovely dishes in a modern and friendly environment.
We wish you a pleasant stay in Les Landes d’Armagnac ! Do not forget to check our agenda for the full list of events and activities in the region. Follow us on our facebook page to see beautiful photos and get great tips...