They've been on the menu for thousands of years!

The history of the snail

Eating snails is not a recent trend. In fact, the Romans and Gauls used to eat them grilled or fried, in preparation for periods of famine. What more proof of their nutritional goodness do you need?

So it was the Romans who invented heliciculture in around 50 BC. These very first snail farms were large enclosures surrounded by ditches filled with ash or sawdust that prevented their occupants from escaping. Because although they are famous for being slow, snails do, believe it or not, make their merry way with determination and have even mastered the art of escape! Installations like these existed in France until the early 20th century.

Did you know?

One snail can hide another

The Burgundy snail is also called the "Roman snail" or "Vineyard snail" (a good reference to Burgundy), and the scientific name is Helix Pomatia. It is the most popular snail (mostly imported as French breeders prefer the Cornu Aspersum) It is a highly protected species in France, and it is forbidden to collect them during the reproduction period.


A product that was made famous after a political meal

1814: Napoleon was defeated by Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Louis XVIII then became King of France and the Emperor decided to come and visit this new king, who did not give him a warm welcome. To avoid any political conflict, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, who had helped Louis XVIII take over the throne, intervened and invited the Emperor to a dinner.

Talleyrand called upon his chef to find an original dish to impress the Emperor. The chef came up with the idea of preparing snails stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley. When the Emperor was presented with this dish, he was surprised but enjoyed these tasty "escargots à la bourguignonne". The incident with the King was forgotten and this recipe became popular all over the world!

Natalia Lisovskaya
How should they be eaten?

Preparing and tasting them

For this dish, you'll need to make a "beurre d’escargots" (butter, garlic, parsley), then put this, along with the snails, into the empty snail shell and then bake them in the oven. Serve as soon as the butter is bubbling hot!

Then you'll need snail tongs to hold the shell, and a snail fork to remove them from the shell to eat.

And because a delicious speciality of Burgundy wouldn't be complete without wine, this dish can be paired with a glass of white wine, such as Chablis for example!

Alain DOIRE / Bourgogne-Franche-Comte Tourisme
Where to eat them

Our recommendation

Early evening, head to Beaune to Hélice – L’Escargotier Beaunois to taste this dish with a glass of wine.

If you would prefer to be comfortably seated in a restaurant, you won't have any difficulty finding a restaurant with snails on the menu, as well as other regional specialities.

En résumé