The département of Lot-et-Garonne is in the Aquitaine region of south west France. It was created in 1790 from parts of the historic provinces of Guyenne and Gascony.
Lying in a plain in the centre of the Aquitaine Basin, Lot-et-Garonne has an area of 2,069 sq miles (5,358 sq km), the equivalent of Hertfordshire and Essex combined, with a population of 298,600, one tenth that of the two English counties.
It is crossed southeast–northwest by the Garonne River, which flows through Agen, its capital, and is joined by the River Lot before flowing through Tonneins and Marmande and on to Bordeaux. The climate is largely maritime, with temperate winters and hot summers.
Agriculture not only prospers here. Its produce is famous throughout France: cereals are grown, cattle are raised, and dairy farming is practised.
Fruit growing is a speciality, and the département is noted for its plums, the famous Agen pruneaux, strawberries, and succulent melons.
The vineyards produce good wines in the Duras and Buzet areas, and the region – the first in Europe to grow tobacco on a commercial scale – is now one of the last tobacco-growing centres in France.
Heavy industry has been little developed, thus preserving the region and making it particularly sought after for service activities, research, training and university studies.
Agen, Marmande, Nérac, and Villeneuve-sur-Lot, all towns with medieval buildings, give their names to the four arrondissements (wards).
The gourmet bounty from these parts is truly world class: ducks, geese, game, Landes chickens, foie gras, goose fat – from here come some confit, cassoulet and rillettes - Agen prunes, Bayonne ham, walnuts, truffles, then those ripe Buzet and Duras wines and a tot of Armagnac to wash it all down.
Local menus often start with foie gras followed by the delicious magret de canard. Duck is one of the mainstays of Lot-et-Garonne cuisine, with stuffed duck or goose neck, breast and thigh all served in rich wine sauces. Excellent value and generous portions. Leafy restaurant terraces offer great views over the surrounding countryside.