If you are anything like me, your travel itinerary is full of food places to try. After all, food is the heart of any culture, and trying different cuisines during your travels is a great way to experience a destination.
Not only is tasting new foods an adventure for your tastebuds, but it’s also a great way to learn about the history of the place. Besides, sampling local delicacies and street food is probably the best way to know the lives and stories of the local people. This is how I travel the world— expanding my palate one city at a time.
It’s not any different for the country termed the Gastronomic Capital of the World.
France is renowned for its exquisite cuisine, from the delicious Parisian pastries to the simply scrumptious seafood in Marseille. The country offers a veritable feast that is sure to satisfy any foodie.
If that piques your interest, why not embark on a culinary journey with me to explore the best culinary destinations in France has to offer? Here are the top cities you have to add to your travel itinerary.
Parisian Cuisine is a Must-Have on Your Travels
Traveling to France and not having the city of lights on your travel itinerary is impossible. After all, from breathtaking architecture to world-renowned art galleries and museums, Paris has everything.
It’s why numerous tourists flock to the location every year to sip champagne by the Seine, see the magnificent exhibits at the Louvre, and explore the winding streets of Montmartre. There is everything for everyone, from the glorious cultural wonders such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral to the spectacular shopping districts in Champs-Élysées.
When it comes to foodies like you and me, Paris has some of the best food in the world to offer. Parisian cuisine is celebrated across the globe for its rich taste and luxurious ingredients. It’s characterized by its buttery flavors and scrumptious pastries that you absolutely have to sample.
The city is known for its excellent bakeries. That’s why it’s impossible to come to Paris and not indulge in a baguette, a croissant, or a pain au chocolat from a local bakery. I think it is truly a life-changing experience!
Though Paris is a paradise for those who love its patisseries, I recommend spending some time in a cozy bistro to have your fill of some classic French dishes as well. My personal favorite is the delectable boeuf bourguignon. It is a hearty stew with perfectly melded flavors of beef, bacon, mushroom, and wine that I simply can’t get enough of.
Coq au vin, escargot, and croque monsieur are some great rich dishes brimming with flavor that you absolutely have to sample at a local bistro. Afterward, if you still want to try something, go for le goûter, or the French equivalent of afternoon tea. It’s an experience you will never forget.
Lyonnaise Cuisine Provides Top French Culinary Experience
When it comes to the list of famous culinary destinations France, it is impossible to forget Lyon. Located in the Rhone-Alpes region of France, the city is widely known as the gastronomic capital of the country. So, it’s impossible to leave this one out of your travel bucket list.
Touted as the culinary capital of France, Lyon is every foodie’s dream come true. The city will always be associated with the widely celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, who opened numerous restaurants here.
When it comes to Lyonnaise cuisine, you can expect rich and hearty flavors inspired by the region’s deep culture and traditions. There are also a variety of food places that offer different gastronomical experiences, from Michelin-starred restaurants to the traditional classic bouchon.
The city is home to the classic French dish ‘coq au vin‘ that you have to try. This hearty dish is brimming with rich flavors, with every bite tasting heavenly. The classic stew is traditionally cooked with chicken braised in red wine and is served with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and a loaf of good crusty bread. It’s absolutely delicious, and the meat is unbelievably tender.
When in Lyon, don’t forget to order its own signature salad called the salade lyonnaise. It is a delightful blend of poached eggs, croutons, and lardons that will keep you coming back for more.
Another iconic Lyonnaise dish you have to sample is ‘quenelles’. It is one of Lyon’s most famous delicacies, which makes it a vital part of the city’s culinary list. It’s an elongated dumpling made from creamed fish or meat and is served with Nantua sauce (made from crayfish) with white rice. Its spongey texture and delicate flavors make it a crucial part of the Lyonnaise gastronomy culture.
Try The Delightful Marseille Cuisine
Finally, the last entry on my list of best food cities in France in Marseille. Located on the Mediterranean coast, the city is home to a rich history and culture. Though many flock toward its more alluring neighbors like Nice and Cannes, Marseille’s long beach coastline, lots of sunshine, and amazing climate ensure it sees numerous tourists every year. More than that, the gorgeous architecture, bustling markets, and awe-inspiring ancient Roman ruins make the city a place truly like no other.
The port city of Marseille is justifiably a melting pot of varying cultures. Not only is it cosmopolitan like other cities, but it is also significantly impacted by African culture due to it being one of the closest major ports.
However, this great influence is especially evident in the food of Marseille. As a matter of fact, the city is renowned for its North African cuisine due to the large community of immigrants living there. I recommend trying the Tunisian soup leblebi, tagines, or merguez, a spicy Moroccan stew.
That being said, you will also find typically Marseille food in the city. Its rich culinary heritage blends classic French cuisine with Mediterranean flavors to create a unique and delectable cuisine. There is a lot to try, from traditional pastries to mouth-watering seafood.
However, the most uniquely Marseille dish, in my opinion, is the bouillabaisse, which also happens to be one of the most popular foods as well. It is a hearty fish stew made with the freshest ingredients and strong spices to really make you feel all the Mediterranean flavors. It’s served with garlic bread and a dollop of spicy rouille sauce.
Generally, it is made with various kinds of fish because it was traditionally cooked from whatever the fisherman had left over. That being said, there are various kinds of bouillabaisse, and you’ll find that many people are at odds on how it is actually supposed to be made.
Bouillabaisse has an incredible blend of a variety of fresh fishes, shellfish, delicious vegetables, and incredibly aromatic herbs. Most commonly fresh cod, halibut, haddock, red mullet, or sea bass is used for its fish variety. Sometimes you can find crab, mussels, and squid in the stew. The broth has incredibly distinctive flavors, which include saffron, fennel, and orange zest.
Another favorite of the locals is socca, which is a thin and crispy flatbread made from chickpea flour. It is usually eaten warm and served as an appetizer with cheese and olives. I recommend you have a glass of rose to make it even more delectable.
Finally, no trip to Marseille can be completed without trying the tapenade. This is a traditional food that mixes the unique flavors of capers, olives, anchovies, and garlic. It is usually eaten as a dipping with bread, crackers, or vegetables.
Do you wish to learn more about other great food cities of France? Or do you want to learn more about different great cuisines in Europe? Then why not follow me on my journey across the globe to try all the best foods out there?
My name is Irina Bukatik and I am a food lover, travel enthusiast, and blog writer who combines both to produce unique content. I have a dream of traveling the world and learning about cultures through food. I am passionate about uncovering different tastes and the stories behind them during my globe-trotting adventures.
If this is something that interests you, consider coming along with me as I go on more food-traveling adventures, but you can join me right from the comfort of your home.