Corsica, the Var and the Ardeche have the largest production of sweet chestnuts in France. The chestnuts can be ground into flour and used in the preparation of local specialties. Historically not all regions of France had access to wheat flour so the chestnut was one of the few sources of carbohydrates.
The beignet aux chataignes (chestnut donut) is one of the many hardy desserts from Corsica. The recipe calls for honey, chestnut flour, eggs and milk and they are heavenly. Pietra is the Corsican beer brewed from chestnut flour which is also available throughout Provence. The sweet nutty flavor of the chestnut really comes through once it has been roasted. They are also ground into a creamy paste and served with poultry. They can be used as stuffing.
To find out more and to do a little tasting head to Collobrieres, a village in the Var which is surrounded by 2200 acres of chestnut trees. Chestnuts have been grown there since the 10th century. Each year they hold a massive chestnut festival on the last 2 Sundays of the month. The event draws over 150 exhibitors. www.collobrieres-tourisme.com
Note: Castanéïculture means chestnut farming in French.