Factory Tour: Aux Saveurs d’Ardennes

Aux Saveurs d’Ardennes (SA) is a small regional meat producer in the French Ardennes, that offers, not just a retail shop of local produce, but also guided tours of its factory.

If you are a ‘foodie’ – you like your food and you’re interested how it’s made/processed – then this is for you.

At its factory & outlet site in Francheville, SA produces charcuterie (sausages) and its signature product, dried hams. These are Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products… or IGP in French (Indication Géographique Protégée), like Melton Mowbray pies or Gorgonzola cheese.

The meat, all local, comes in from its abbatoir 10 km away and is butchered on site, before being prepared. In the case of the hams, that starts with salting in vats over 15 days before being stored for 4 months in a dry store at +4°C, after which they are heated in a warm room for 2 days before being washed and stored in the ‘refining’ room for 8-9 months. Roughly speaking the whole process takes around 13 months.

Back in 2000 when they started, it was a small cottage industry with three people producing a few hundred hams a year, but our guide, Production Manager, Loic Parentin, says there was a step change in 2007 when a new boss, Didier Villemin, took over. There are now 20 staff and they’ve tripled their revenue in the last year; selling in the shop, selling online and supplying major supermarket chains like Carrefour. They also offer a catering service and room for weddings, themed parties and events.

And there’s plenty of room for expansion. They are now producing over 3,000 hams (plus their other products, eg. pâté, sausages, terrines, puddings, etc) a year, and they have storage rooms for 35,000 hams.

Declaration: I was on a hosted press visit to the region, but hey, I’ll still say what I think!

Factbox

Website:
Aux Saveurs d’Ardennes

Getting there:
Aux Saveurs d’Ardennes, Zac du Grand Ban, 08000 LA FRANCHEVILLE, France.
The factory is on an industrial estate in Francheville, just south west of Charleville-Mézières on France’s northern border.

Tours:
You can book group tours to visit the factory, either directly or through the local tourist office. The tours last about an hour and you’ll need to be kitted out with health & safety gear – a plastic coat, shoe covers, mask, and hair net.

The tour finishes with a small tasting – Chiffonade dry ham from the Ardennes, Dry sausage of pork, duck, wild boar, white pudding with onions – and a local drink such as cider, beer, or apple juice.

Times:
Tours can be booked for Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 12:30 and from 15:00 to 18:00.

Price:
Group rate: € 5.90 excl. VAT or € 6.50 per person.

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