Bresse Poultry – the Queen of Poultry, the Poultry of Kings

The story of Bresse Poultry began in Ancient Rome (ca. 400BC) when the Roman invaders had the idea of moving their livestock with them. Currently, our local breeds, such as the Black from Louhans (la Noire de Louhans), the Grey from Bourg-en-Bresse (la Grise de Bourg-en-Bresse), and the White from Bény (la Blanche de Bény), took on the best features of the Roman flocks.

Bresse Poultry, however, was not mentioned in official documents until 1591. According to the registers of Bourg-en-Bresse, the inhabitants of the town offered two dozen “fat poultry” to the Marquis de Treffort who chased away the occupying Savoyard troops. Thus, the precedent was set for Bresse Poultry as a refined gift.

At the end of the sixteenth century, King Henry IV of France stayed in Bresse. During his stay, it is believed that he enjoyed the savour of the poultry so much that he pledged that his people would never be without poule au pot (chicken stew).

In his 1825 book The Physiology of Taste (La physiologie du goût), French gastronome Brillat-Savarin ranked Bresse Poultry first and gave it the name of “the queen of poultry, the poultry of kings”.

A few decades later (and many poultry competitions later), the development of railways allowed Bresse Poultry to be popularized across European capitals.

Coveted by everyone, Bresse Poultry needed to be protected. A geographical area was defined and since then, those who produce Bresse Poultry have been gathering to run the Interprofessional Committee of the Bresse Poultry (CIVB – Comité Interprofessionnel de la Volaille de Bresse).
On August 1st, 1957, the French National Assembly voted to award the registered designation of origin (AOC – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) to Bresse Chicken (and to Bresse Turkey in 1976). It later became the European protected designation of origin (AOP – Appellation d’Origine Protégée).

Come one, come all! Take part in our tradition by savouring a Bresse chicken.