Traditional French cuisine is a rich mosaic of flavours and ingredients that vary greatly from region with each offering its own variations according to local ‘terroir’ – soil characteristics. Adventurous travellers will discover regional variations of both food and drink, as well as a long-lived passion for fresh and local fare. So no matter where you go in France, what is on the table will always satisfy and delight even the most demanding palate.
Brittany – Seafood Delights
Brittany in northwest France, with its beautiful coastline and various ports, is the perfect place to sample fresh seafood, such as Brittany oysters. Don’t be fooled into thinking one oyster tastes the same as all the rest, however. There are thirteen different types of oyster available, some with a rich nutty flavour, others with a subtle woody taste. In addition, you can sample Chouchen, an alcoholic drink made with apple juice and honey, which has a similar flavour to mead. Sample the Andouille de Guéméné, which are deliciously rich sausages made from chitterlings (intestines).
Hearty Food in Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté is located on the border with Switzerland and the region has many fine dishes to offer that are inspired by its proximity with the Alpine country. Saucise de Morteau is a delicious smoked sausage that is cooked for 48 hours in a special type of wood. It is often accompanied by rosti, a wafer potato dish. In Franche-Comté you can also sample Comté cheese, which is made from cow’s milk and has a delightfully strong flavour, due to its long ageing process. You may encounter some Comté that has been aged for two years!
Dine Like a King in Île-de-France
Île-de-France, home to Versailles, Paris and its outlying suburbs, is one of the most popular regions with travellers. Stay at one of the local farmhouses, guesthouses or villas and sample its own unique gastronomic culture first-hand; view properties here. Here you can find the famous Brie de Meaux cheese, as well as Meaux mustard. This region also cultivates sweet fruits, such as Faro apples, Groslay pears, and Montmorency cherries. These are delicious on their own, but they often work their way into refreshing liqueurs. Sample the Noyau de Poissy, made with apricot cores, or wash everything down with Grand Marnier.
Tuck into History in Languedoc-Roussillon
The Languedoc-Roussillon region is on the border with Spain and its history of foreign influences has greatly affected their cuisine. The region has been controlled by Visigoths, then by Arabs, then it was under Catalan control and finally Languedoc-Roussillon passed into French control in the seventeenth century. Here, you can feast on wild boar from Cevennes or eat fresh rabbit and pigeon raised on juniper. You can indulge in goat’s cheese that is fragrant with the grasses of Causses, or eat aligot, a mixture of mashed potato, freshly melted Tomme de Laguiole, and garlic.
Celebrate in Champagne-Ardenne
The Champagne-Ardenne region is more closely associated with the most iconic alcoholic tipple on earth – Champagne, which is only permitted to use the name if it actually originates from this region. As well as the UNESCO listed Romanesque architecture and ancient castles, this region is best known for its excellent restaurants and local pork-butcheries (boucheries) that specialise in hams. Sample the sweet ham of Rheims with combines the shoulder of pig and is richly seasoned with champagne and Ardennes ham nuts. The local delicacy is pigs’ feet, produced in Sainte-Menehould and prepared in butter with chives and garlic. To satisfy a sweet tooth, try the aromatic gingerbread and pink biscuits of the Reims area. As well as champagne, the Champagne-Ardenne area is known for its fine wines, such as Bouzy, Coiffy and the Rose des Riceys. And round off your meal with an artisan cheese, such as creamy cow’s milk Chaource or the Langres, which is aged for five weeks and holds a highly covered ‘controlled designation of origin’ (AOC).