France is a country where recipes are followed for centuries and guarded with passion. Each regional speciality is distinct from the other in its flavours, aromas and traditions. And while we unravel some fun facts, we encourage you to don the chef’s hat and try your hand at some of these delicacies at home. We are sure it will make you reminisce on your past travels to France or entice you into planning your next epicurean escape to France.
From the Alsatian kitchen
Amidst dazzling Christmas markets, fine wines and breath-taking landscapes, it is here that we begin our culinary journey of the finest cuisines in France. Alsace and Lorraine will cast a spell on you as you explore their hidden treasures. Bordered by the Vosges mountain ranges to the south and the Rhine river to the east, this picturesque region boasts of more than 30 Michelin star restaurants.
The Quiche Lorraine – a savoury tart comprising bacon, milk, cream, eggs and nutmeg will tantalize your taste buds right at the beginning of the tour. While the fairy-tale towns of Strasbourg and Colmar and villages of Eguisheim and Riquewihr will enthral you, don’t leave this region without the taste of the flammekueche or the tarte flambée made of lardon, a thick layer of fresh cream and thinly sliced onions. Tempting already? And there’s more from the diverse cuisines in France: Choucroute -French for Sauerkraut and Alsace are inseparable. Sauerkraut which literally translates to sour cabbage; is a dish served with pork or sausage.
The region is also a producer of some of the finest Riesling wines which are added to prepare the Coq au Riesling - an Alsatian variant of the Coq au vin which is a delicacy made from braised chicken. Spätzle- a type of pasta and kougelhof – a traditional crown shaped brioche cake are some other dishes that feature in the Alsatian cuisine. Finally, did you know that Alsace is the largest producer of beer in France? Well, it’s worth hopping into one of the numerous micro-breweries in the region, and finding out for yourself. N’est-ce pas?
Basking in Bourgogne
Next on our journey of cuisines in France is the land of the Chablis and the Pinot Noir, the UNESCO classified climats (plot of land used to grow vines) and Romanesque heritage. Burgundy will check all the boxes off your travel bucket list. Bœuf bourguignon is the signature fare of this region however it was only in the twentieth century that this dish was considered a regional speciality. Beef stewed in red wine often a Burgundy red is a delicacy. Escargots de Bourgogne, œufs en meurette, Gougère- a type of choux pastry from the town of Tonnerre are other specialities that find mention in the top cuisines in France. Coq au vin another stellar main course dish tracing back to times of the Gauls and Julius Cesar, is essentially chicken braised with wine typically a Burgundy wine, along with lardons, mushrooms and garlic. Lastly, the iconic Dijon mustard- the pale yellow and slightly creamy condiment that put Dijon city on the world map is now a universal accompaniment to meats and a critical ingredient of myriad sauces.
A taste of Savoyard gastronomy
Home to the iconic Mont-Blanc, renowned chefs, lofty alpine landscapes, pristine mineral water and more, Auvergne-Rhône-Alps with its quintessential art de vivre français is sure to intrigue you. Amongst all the cuisines in France, the cuisine of Megève is considered as the ambassador of mountain gastronomy. Are you ready for a rendez-vous with age-old traditional Savoyard cuisine? Picture yourself surrounded by snow on a cold winter night. All you need is a fondue Savoyard to warm you up instantly. From Savoie in the heart of the French Alps, fondue Savoyard is made with cheese and white wine. While you enjoy your stay at the fashionable ski resorts, other alpine specialities such as the raclette, tartiflette, gratin de crozets, aligot await discovery. Gratin dauphinois - a vegetarian’s delight, is made of thinly sliced raw potatoes, milk or cream, and sometimes Gruyère cheese from among the 365 types of cheese that are integral to the various cuisines in France is cooked in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic. Finally, do not leave the region without sipping on some Génépie – an herbal alpine aperitif.
Fancy some sunshine on your plate?
Between the mighty Alps and the mesmerising Mediterranean Sea lies the bright and colourful region of Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur. This sun kissed region has plenty to offer its visitors from numerous national parks, lavender fields, world-class fragrances and quaint villages. In the backdrop of some of the most stunning landscapes, we recommend some Provencal specialities to savour. Ratatouille, an emblematic main course dish originating in Nice is a vegetable stew with olive oil, aubergine (eggplant or brinjal in other parts of the world), zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, onion and garlic served with a dash of local green herbs. Ratatouille is not only synonymous with cuisines in France but also with the world of animated cinema.
For sea food lovers, the traditional Bouillabaisse- a fish stew that originated among fishermen in Marseille is made with aromatic Provencal herbs in the broth and bony local fish. Marseille is the best place to relish on this hearty stew where the broth is served first along with bread and rouille, then the fish is served separately. Salade Niçoise, which Gordon Ramsay calls, “the finest summer salad of all” is a no brainer. There are several versions of the salad today however, you will find the most authentic one in Nice. Pissaladiere, olive tapenade, aïoli, socca and tarte tropeziène are few others from the Provencal cuisines in France.
Nothing like Normandy
A treasure trove of elegant seaside resorts, scarred beaches and dramatic cliffs, Normandy is a treat to the senses. One of its most visited sites is the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel where tidal variations unfold to present a fascinating drama before your eyes. One will witness a display of impressionist history through the works of Claude Monet in Giverny and the D-day landing beaches will take you back to World War history. And while you explore these celebrated sites, rest assured that Norman cuisine will not go unnoticed. The birthplace of cider, calvados and camembert, Normandy offers a wide range of culinary specialities from the myriad cuisines in France. Moules à la crème de normande is made of mussels cooked with white wine, Normandy cider, garlic and cream.
One can find top-quality seafood such as scallops and oysters as well. L’omlette de la mere poulard is not any ordinary omelette and its recipe remains a secret. So, why wait? Visit the Mont Saint-Michel to get your hands on this soufflé-like textured omelette. And saving the best for the end, the tarte normande is filled with apples, almonds, sugar and creamy egg custard. The tart is lightly caramelised which makes it all the more tempting and unmissable in the region.
Bon appétit! 😊