Europe

Best Culinary Hubs in France

France is not one big crêpe, lobe of foie gras, baguette, croissant or dollop of mayonnaise. Moreover, even that foremost Bible of Gallic cookery, the Larousse Gastronomique, has some holes in it. It pays dividends – huge, delicious dividends – to get out of Paris, Lyon and the Côte d’Azur to mine culinary gold in some of the more diminutive, venerable parts of France. With that, check out ten choice culinary hubs, from traditional provinces to contemporary regions of gastro-éclat.

Colmar, Alsace – Photo credit

Périgord

The current Dordogne département of Aquitaine has serious gourmet chops. Claims to fame in the Périgord include truffles, Bergerac and Monbazillac wines and the unctuous, fatty foie of fowl.

Where to stay: Chateau Le Mas De Montet Riberac

Perigueux City Guide

Corsica

Corsica is another country, in habits and mores, from France and a petri dish of singular food and wine sensibility. The island has many inherent iterations of such and ingredients and techniques tend to fall in line with geography. Game, chestnuts, profuse vineyards and, in the hills, goats and sheep. Herd mentality? You bet.

Where to stay: Sofitel Porticcio Thalassa Hotel

Corsica City Guide

Jura

The home of vin jaune is still a largely agricultural area. Yes, indeed, butchers, bakers and artisanal cheese-makers still make Jura tick. Besançon, the superb capital of Franche-Comté, may not be in the department but it serves as a good gateway.

Where to stay: Citea Besancon

Besançon City Guide

Provence

Old, mythical Provence, now part of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, feels like a throwback, especially in limestone cliff communes like Moustiers and medieval towns like Vaison-la-Romaine. With Aix as a base, it is facile to get out and forage for some of the most transcendent, rustic fare in France.

Where to stay: Royal Mirabeau Hotel Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence City Guide

Béarn

With a touch of Gascony and a touch of Basque, the traditional Pyrenees province of Béarn is sublime. Shame the home of Béarnaise sauce seldom makes the tourist itinerary.

Where to stay: Best Western Hotel La Palmeraie Pau

Pau City Guide

Bretagne

The list of Breton culinary gifts is innumerable. A land of cider, beer, oysters, mussels, crêpes and so much more, Bretagne (Brittany) is a cultural dynamo.

Where to stay: Domaine Des Glenans Residence Fouesnant

Rennes City Guide

Alsace

Classic, legacy viticulture is seldom without a parallel food scene. The one in Alsace is rich and diverse. With Germany next door, the influence behind delicious vital staples like baeckeoffe, choucroute, flammekueche and fleischnacka is manifest.

Where to stay: Mercure Unterlinden Hotel Colmar

Strasbourg City Guide

Val de Loire

The UNESCO World Heritage Loire Valley is the de facto “Garden of France”. Any questions?

Where to stay: Relais Du Silence Domaine De Beauvois Luynes

Tours City Guide

Gers

The Midi-Pyrénées gem of Gers produces Armagnac, which is enough in of itself. If you need more, however, the pretty department also cultivates grapes, mushrooms and foie gras.

Where to stay: Les Chenes Verts De Gascogne Guesthouse Bezolles

Rhône

The Rhône has a terroir that results in hall of fame wines, from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Vacqueyras. Wine this good calls for quality grub, which the Rhône river valley has in spades.

Where to stay: Hotel Angleterre Grenoble

Grenoble City Guide