Lalbenque lies south of the Lot, the Regional Natural Park of Causses of Quercy.
The presence of many dolmens (single chamber tombs dating from as early as 4000 BC), ancient Roman routes and intriguing gariottes (ancient shepherd huts made from dry stone) give a hint to the long history of this area and town.
This town, is officially recognised as a Site Remarquable du Goût, a distinction awarded to places of outstanding food heritage. This is because Lalbenque is now synonymous with the highly sort after Quercy BlackTruffles, which are produced in the chalky soil that lies under the dwarf oaks of the regions Causses de Quercy.
The truffle markets which are held on Tuesdays from December to March are attended by people from all over France and beyond. Restaurants sending buyers to discreetly purchase the very best on offer.
Most things associated with the growing of this ‘black gold’ remain a mystery including exactly how they form in the ground (making predicting a harvest very difficult) and also just where they may be found. In the department of the Lot, truffle cultivation is traditionally associated with family farming. It is rarely talked about: the local saying is that “the more you talk about truffles, the fewer you will find”.
To be a successful truffle hunter an enduring passion for truffle hunting is required as you typically have to wait for around 15 years to discover if a young truffle oak will produce! Truffle hunters use trained dogs and pigs to locate the crop and the hunters will know which particular weather conditions are likely to promote their growth.
If you have not tasted truffle then it is probably going to taste like nothing you have tasted before. Many consider it an acquired taste but the originality of flavour, their bizarre nature and scarcity ensure that they remain a luxury product with a price that often reaches €1000 per kilo.
Whilst visiting the town maybe take a look at the 15th century Church of Saint-Hilaire which boasts a magnificent gilded alter-piece.
The town offers all the usual facilities, places to eat, shops, banks and bakers.
Lalbenque market (Lot) – Tuesday afternoons from early December to early March
Contact: Lalbenque Tourist Office – Tel. +33 (0)5 65 31 50 08
Les journées truffes – Lalbenque (Lot) – An introduction to truffle cultivation, arranged by Lalbenque Tourist Office
Tel. +33 (0)5 65 31 50 08