There are many reasons to visit France, one of the most popular being food!
Gastro-tourism is booming, enabling travellers to experience the culture and people through traditional food and drinks.
More than a-third of the money spent by tourists today goes on food. It’s becoming an essential component in choosing a destination and travellers don’t just want great food – but a unique and memorable culinary experience.
Gastro-tourism activities include:
- Cooking with home cooks and regional chefs
- Foraging parties that end in cooking and eating
- Harvests and festivals
- Farm-to-table experiences
- Chef tables at restaurants
- Introductions to new foods and kitchen cultures
- Tours of food producers and processors
There are many organisations that can help you eat and drink your way through the different regions of France, whether it’s on a guided tour or on your own.
The food of France is considered one of the most refined in the world. Many classic French dishes have stood the test of time, served in restaurants and eaten by locals, such as bifteck frites (steak and fries), coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops), moules mariniere (mussels cooked in wine), soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup), magret de canard (duck), cassoulet (duck and beans stew) and bouillabaisse (seafood stew).
In the North East, some of the regional specialties are:
- Coq au vin (a casserole of chicken cooked in red wine)
- Flammekueche (pizza with crème fraiche, onions and bacon from Alsace)
- Raclette (melted cheese, eaten with cornichons or potatoes)
- Choucroute garnie (the Alsatian version of sauerkraut with sausages)
- Baeckeoffe (a richly flavoured meaty casserole)
- Quiche Lorraine (a bacon and egg pie, originally from Germany)
- Boeuf bourguinon (beef in Burgundy)
- Escargots (snails cooked in butter, garlic and parsley)
- Gougères (cheese puffs)
Then, there is the bread! French bread and pastries are renowned throughout the world, and a Parisian’s day is not complete without stopping at the boulangerie for fresh supplies.
If you have a savoury palate, try a baguette with cheese or pate; otherwise there are eclairs, palmiers (puff pastries) or Madeleines (cakey cookies served with tea). And, if you can’t decide, opt for a croissant, a breakfast staple that can be enjoyed with jam or dunked in coffee.
France is also known for its decadent desserts. In fact, many of the sweet treats we enjoy today were the work of chef, Marie-Antoine Carême, “the chef of kings and king of chefs”, who created nougat, meringue and mille-feuille. He also set forth the four grandes sauces of French cooking: béchamel, espagnole, velouté, and allemande.
Other traditional sweets are chocolate mousse, crème brûlėe, crêpes, soufflé, crème caramel, and tarte tartin.
Wine is of course an important part of French culture and cuisine.
France is one of the largest wine producers in the world and each style is specific to the region where its grapes are grown.
These areas now give their names to varieties recognised worldwide, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah and, of course, Champagne!
Wherever your food and wine travels take you, France is a rewarding adventure.