When it comes to fine dining, France takes the cake hands down. Our French amies and amistake their cheese, wheat, and wine more seriously than anyone else in the world. They’ve blessed the world with coq au vin, consommé, crème brûlée, and any other number of other gifts, which sound like music and taste utterly divine.

Like their Spanish neighbors, the French also like to stick to the produce of their region. Although cheese is the bread and butter of the north, south, east, or west of France, the meals themselves are vastly different from city to city.

Here are the top culinary destinations in France and their best offerings.

Paris

Paris is so much more than the fashion capital of the world. It’s got a personality that’s so layered it deserves its own blog. The city has a rich café culture that you don’t want to miss while you’re there. 

On the contrary, you’ll have a mighty hard time trying to avoid a French bistro. They’re everywhere and serving mean steaks and hearty onion soups to Parisians and tourists. You also don’t want to miss out on the city’s bakeries, which feature the best bread and pastries, or the tearooms for a round of high tea with your equally highbrow companions.

Curbside at a Café and Brasserie in Paris with Red Awnings and Outdoor Seating

Marseille

The younger generation of chefs in France’s port city has been keeping themselves busy by reimagining traditional dishes of the area with locally-grown produce. However, despite the growth of fusion and contemporary cuisine, Marseille has maintained the integrity of its traditional foods.

For instance, the city’s people still prefer the older dishes at festivals. On Christmas, they treat themselves to navettes, which are boat-shaped pastries treated in orange-flower water for a citrusy essence.

On the savory end, the city is believed to be the birthplace of bouillabaisse, a fish soup made from all kinds of seafood. The medley was originally invented by vendors who would cook the remaining seafood, so it wouldn’t go to waste.

Lyon

If Paris is the fashion capital, then Lyon is “The Gastronomic Capital of the World”. The city has over 4,300 restaurants and is famous for the world-famous coq au vin and salade lyonnaise, a local salad made from croutons, poached egg, and mustard.

If you want to take a culinary trip to the wild side, try the city’s snail dish, which is prepared and served with garlic butter and eaten with parsley sauce. Take it from us: this escargot will definitely widen your horizons and make you want to try more niche cuisines.

A Woman Sitting at a Table with an Empty Plate and an Uneaten Dish of Snails Serve with Parsley Sauce and Butter Cubes

Lille

You probably haven’t heard of Lille, or you’ve heard of and gone to the Lille, in which case you can’t stop talking about it. Without putting too fine a point on it, Lille is an underrated part of France. However, those who’ve been to it know it for the fusion food it does so well.

Anyone who’s tried making cross-cultural dishes knows how hard it can be to get them right. Not Lille. This city has turned it into an art form. If you ever find yourself there, be sure to try Le Welsh, aka Beer and Cheddar Welsh. As you might have guessed, this dish is a reimagination of the Welsh Rarebit.

While the original is composed of toast and melted cheese, its French remake is a lot more in every sense. It’s more orange, thanks to the cheddar, toastier thanks to good old French bread, and just more in terms of ingredients. It’s saucy and heavy and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is known for its luxurious Christmas markets among the residents on both sides of the Franco-Germanic border. The city’s culture and cuisine are inspired by both sides, and the end-products are eccentric, to say the least. 

Let’s start with kougelhopf. The only thing that looks more attractive than this Alsatian brioche is its mold, and trust us, you’ll have no trouble finding both because Strasbourg is practically teeming with them. Try this breakfast bun with your coffee and get your daily dose of dried fruit.

Like its neighbor, Strasbourg can also plate up a decent spätzle, which still manages to be an acquired taste despite being pasta. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until mealtime, snack on the tarte flambée, a pizza-esque dish composed of flatbread, bacon, and onion.

A Tray Dish Holding a Flat Bread Prepared Like a Pizza

Nice

The food of Nice often takes a backseat to its perpetually sunny climate, endless beaches, and beautiful wisteria. This is all the more reason not to miss out on the foods that this culinary destination does so well.

While there, don’t forget to grab a bowl of saladeNiçoise, a salad made of anchovies, potatoes, and green beans; an odd combination if there ever was one, but packed with the best flavors of the ocean and earth.

Nice can also serve up a killer pissaladière, equal parts tart, and pizza, usually featuring onions, anchovies, and locally-grown olives. Those of you with a gluten allergy or sensitivity can feast on socca, a flatbread made of chickpeas, prepared in a pan and sprinkled with a good amount of black pepper.

Expand Your Culinary Horizons with Irina Bukatik

Irina Bukatik is a travel and food blogger who loves exploring exotic culinary treasures in famous countries and famous treasures in exotic countries. Follow her blog to stay posted on the top culinary destination France and other parts of Europe and beyond.

Get in touch with Bukatik to share your own adventures, stories, and discoveries.

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