Picture the south-western corner of France as you descend towards Spain: the vineyards of Bourdeaux, the clear waters of the Bay of Biscay and the terracotta bricks of Toulouse. The area’s awash with spectacular woodland and clusters of perfectly preserved villages.

With all these areas of wild splendour on the doorstep, it’s little wonder that this majesty has translated to the food. Indulge at the region’s finest restaurants – chances are that the ingredients were gathered only a stone’s throw away.

Mariottat Restaurant Fond Nocturne

Dine in the Mariottat mansion – you’ll be surrounded by opulant furniture and exquisite floral arrangement.

Foodie matches made in heaven at Mariottat Restaurant

Nestled on the Garonne river, Agen is halfway between the vineyards of Bordeaux and the pink city of Toulouse. The medieval town centre is worth nosing around as it’s blissfully off the tourist radar, but the real star of the show is Mariottat Restaurant thanks to head chef Eric Mariottat.

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One of many exquisite dishes at Mariottat restaurant.

This Michelin-starred establishment is full of contrasts – an undeniably modern menu is served up inside a grand mansion. The décor reflects the house’s long history and is full of opulent touches like antique furniture, exquisite floral arrangements and fine crystal glasses. But they don’t steal focus from the leading lady: the food. Black pig trotter stuffed with lobster, slow-cooked hare saddle and young grain pigeon with pomegranate treacle provide zesty pairings. If you want an evening to remember, Mariottat is the place to go.

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Work up an appetite walking around Albi before you head over to Alchimy restaurant.

Alchimy serves up culinary sorcery

We’re all looking for that magic touch when we dine out. And while Alchimydoesn’t turn lead into gold (or water into wine), it does create sumptuous dishes from simple seasonal ingredients – and we think that’s even better.

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Taste seasonal delights at Alchimy.

Here, everything relies on the changing seasons. Menus transform to make the most of fresh local produce, while each day has a special lunchtime plat du jour prepared by the chef. For dinner, choose from brasserie-style classics, like light cod risotto with creamed celery, beef tartare with thick-cut Parmesan, or squid with piquant pepper. These inventive combinations mark Alchimy as a dining hotspot.

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Become part of the family at Michel Sarran restaurant in Toulouse. Photo courtesy of Jean-Jacques Gelbart.

Double the stars at Michel Sarran Restaurant

Michel Sarrans family-run Toulouse restaurant aims to dismantle your idea of fine dining. To eat here is to be part of the family for the night – and we promise it’ll be the best family dinner you’ve ever had.

The Sarran chefs consider themselves purveyors of pleasure. It’s their job to make your taste buds sing. So pull up a chair in their sleek, low-key dining rooms and dig in. Treat yourself to the tasting menu if you’re looking to splurge. There’s duck foie gras and tartine with oysters, followed by red mullet with ginger and smoked vine shoots. For dessert? Distinguished cheeses and roasted apples. It’s all met with recommended wines, to enrich and enhance the taste of each course. Let the staff look after you and enjoy the charm of one of the best restaurants in Toulouse.

Choice Hotels in South Western France