Puy green lentils
Lentils have been grown in Velay for at least 2000 years. The region is protected from wet weather coming in from the Atlantic by the Aubrac mountains, the Margeride and the Cévennes, helping to give the lentils specific characteristics. Since 1996, Puy green lentils have had Protected Designation of Origin status (AOP in French). The protected designation area extends from the Devès plateaux to the Puy basin, with a Foehn wind contributing to their uniqueness.
The famous Puy green lentils
At harvesting, Puy lentils stand out due to their finer skin, sweet kernels and high vitamin content. These characteristics, along with cooking time cut in half, gives them a delicate taste and unique flavour. The rich protein content in green lentils, the starch and iron (more than in spinach!!) make them an all-round food.
Verbena liqueur is one of the star products of Velay, where family producers are still quite common and use recipes handed down from generation to generation.
Liqueur-makers take inspiration from local traditions and use similar processes. They produce both “infusions”, made by macerating verbena leaves in alcohol for several weeks, and verbena “alcoholates”, produced by distilling verbena leaves with alcohol in a copper still. To this are added distillates of aromatic plants and spices, and of course sugar.
Tomme cheese from Velay is an unpasteurised farmhouse cow’s cheese. The volcanic Velay region is characterised by medium-altitude mountain landscapes, soil that is rich in basalt and a specific climate due to the altitude of the plateau. These local conditions provide cows with excellent grass that is particularly rich in magnesium.
The cheeses made from their milk are wonderfully full-bodied and can be kept a long time. The originality of the region’s cheese, made exclusively on farms by hand, lies most of all in the maturing process. It is placed in the cellar on poplar cheese racks, where a cheese mite called an “artison” (“artisou” in the local dialect) can develop. This is what gives the cheese its special taste and unique appearance.
Hippocras, a drink from Le Puy
Hippocras was rediscovered locally in 1989 during the Roi de l’Oiseau Renaissance Festival. Today it is the number one regional aperitif in the Puy basin. Hippocras is made from red or white wine, spices and honey, and is drunk chilled as a pre-dinner drink or a dessert wine.
Vellavia is a real traditional beer. In 1870, the volcanic upper Velay valley was recognised as the ideal spot to grow brewer’s barley. Soon afterwards, malt houses and breweries opened in the region.
The local barley is called “the Ponote”, an exceptional plant, famous for the large size of its seeds, the richness of its kernel and the intense aroma from its hay. Today, farmers still grow the Ponote, sell their own beer and help to perpetuate the local brewing tradition.
Le Puy-en-Velay, a history of plants and herbal teas
Auvergne enjoys exceptional conditions thanks to its geography and climate. This has produced remarkable mountain plants and given rise to an age-old tradition of producing herbal teas in Le Puy-en-Velay. Pagès is the heir to these ancestral skills and is the oldest infusion manufacturer in France.
Today, the products are still made with passion and with the same natural and authentic values.