Best Culinary Hubs in France
France is not one big crÃªpe, 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 CÃ´te 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-Ã©clat.
Colmar, Alsace – Photo credit
The current Dordogne dÃ©partement of Aquitaine has serious gourmet chops. Claims to fame in the PÃ©rigord include truffles, Bergerac and Monbazillac wines and the unctuous, fatty foie of fowl.
Where to stay: Chateau Le Mas De Montet Riberac
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
The home of vin jaune is still a largely agricultural area. Yes, indeed, butchers, bakers and artisanal cheese-makers still make Jura tick. BesanÃ§on, the superb capital of Franche-ComtÃ©, may not be in the department but it serves as a good gateway.
Where to stay: Citea Besancon
Old, mythical Provence, now part of Provence-Alpes-CÃ´te 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
With a touch of Gascony and a touch of Basque, the traditional Pyrenees province of BÃ©arn is sublime. Shame the home of BÃ©arnaise sauce seldom makes the tourist itinerary.
Where to stay: Best Western Hotel La Palmeraie Pau
The list of Breton culinary gifts is innumerable. A land of cider, beer, oysters, mussels, crÃªpes and so much more, Bretagne (Brittany) is a cultural dynamo.
Where to stay: Domaine Des Glenans Residence Fouesnant
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
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
The Midi-PyrÃ©nÃ©es 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
The RhÃ´ne has a terroir that results in hall of fame wines, from ChÃ¢teauneuf-du-Pape to Vacqueyras. Wine this good calls for quality grub, which the RhÃ´ne river valley has in spades.
Where to stay: Hotel Angleterre Grenoble