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Your Gourmet Guide to French Regional Specialties

Partake in a culinary journey throughout the regions of France, where each region boasts distinctive flavors and gastronomic delicacies. With 13 administrative regions nestled within metropolitan France, this country is your playground for epicurean delights.

We’re taking you from the snow-capped Alps to the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean, displaying each corner of France that offers a tantalizing array of specialty dishes and foods to ignite your senses. Join us as we explore these French regional specialties, inviting you on this luxurious gastronomic adventure.


Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Many know this region in eastern France for its stunning Alpine landscapes, including the majestic Mont Blanc, and for its ski resorts. However, there are many fine wines and culinary delights such as the city of Lyon’s gastronomic scene for you to explore as well.

Indulge in an unforgettable week experiencing the best of Lyon’s unique gastronomy: Luxury Gourmet Week in Lyon

Fondue Savoyarde, French Alps
Credit: Yann Allegre

Regional Specialty: Fondue Savoyarde 

The locals serve this decadent melted cheese dish with bread and cured meats. It is perfect for an après-ski in mountain dining experience in this region. 

Fondue has both Swiss and French backgrounds, dating back to the 17th century. It uses a mixture of cheeses from both countries. Today, a typical recipe requires equal parts of Comté and Beaufort, two of France’s top mountain cheeses, along with an equal portion of Swiss Gruyère.

Ready to hit the slopes? Check out: Ski Vacation in Chamonix


Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

This region in eastern France boasts picturesque vineyards and charming medieval towns. It’s famous for its prestigious Burgundy wines, exquisite cuisine, and scenic countryside. Check out: Wine Tours in Lyon, Dijon & Champagne

Coq au vin, Burgundy

Regional Specialty: Coq au Vin

This classic French dish embodies the rich flavors of Burgundian cuisine. Coq au vin contains chicken braised in red wine, lardons, and mushrooms. The key ingredient is local Burgundy red wine that chefs use to marinate and cook the chicken and to create the flavorful sauce that completes this artisanal dish. 


Brittany

Located in northwest France, Brittany is famed for its rugged coast, ancient Celtic heritage, and delicious seafood. Picturesque villages, historic sites, and vibrant cultural festivals draw visitors to the region.

Regional Specialty: Breton Crêpes

You cannot visit France without having tasted an artisanal classic, crêpes. This specialty, which originated in 13th-century Brittany, is described as thin pancakes, which can be sweet or savory. Crêpes, not to be confused with galettes, are typically made with wheat flour. Top your crêpes with sweet flavors such as Nutella, caramel, fruits, or the French favorite, crème de marron. While galettes, made with buckwheat flour, are typically accompanied by more savory flavors such as ham, cheese, and eggs.

Hungry for more? Check out: Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes


Centre-Val de Loire

Locals and visitors alike celebrate this region in central France for its majestic châteaux, picturesque countryside, and the iconic Loire Valley, often referred to as the “Garden of France.” It’s a paradise for wine enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Tart Tatin, Loire Valley

Specialty Dish: Tarte Tatin

Those who have a sweet tooth will want to indulge in this classic French dessert created back in the 1880s by the Tatin sisters. Described as an upside-down caramelized apple tart, this delectable dessert embodies the elegance and refinement of the Loire Valley. It includes all the elements in a perfect treat with a crunchy base, a fruity interior (typically apples, and some sweet caramel glaze. 

Entice your taste buds and discover the true flavor of the Loire Valley: Flavors of the Loire Valley


Corsica

Known for its pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and vibrant Mediterranean culture, Corsica offers opportunities for luxury seaside retreats, outdoor adventures, and indulgent cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local specialties.

Corsica, Fiadone

Specialty Foods: Fiadone & Brocciu cheese

Fiadone, a traditional Corsican cheesecake made with brocciu cheese, showcases the island’s unique culinary heritage and local ingredients. Eggs, lemon zest and sugar are also included in this dish. This regional delight is creamy on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

Brocciu is prepared with goat’s or sheep’s milk and is described as soft, creamy, and sometimes foamy. Nineteenth-century Emile Bergerat French poet once said, “Those who haven’t tasted it don’t know the island”. This cheese has its seasons for the best time to taste it, which is in the winter between December and April. 

Check out: Luxury Stay in Southern Corsica


Grand Est

Rich history, diverse landscapes, and charming towns characterize this region in northeastern France. Grand Est is home to picturesque vineyards, scenic countryside, and the historic city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Alsace, Choucroute Garnie

Specialty Dish: Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute Garnie, French for dressed sauerkraut, is a hearty dish symbolizing the France-German culinary influences of this region. The name also hints at its lavishness. This dish consists of sauerkraut expertly cooked with the subtle essence of Alsatian wine, enriched with decadent goose fat, and infused with aromatic juniper. Delight in a lavish array of charcuterie, featuring succulent slabs of pork and a variety of exquisite sausages, all served atop a bed of tender potatoes, ensuring a truly unforgettable culinary experience of this region.

Discover: Gourmet Delights in the Heart of Alsace


Hauts-de-France

Located in northern France, this region is famous for its iconic landmarks such as the white cliffs of the Opal Coast and the historic city of Lille. It offers a blend of cultural heritage, culinary delights, and opportunities for luxury shopping and leisure.

Carbonnade Flamande, Northern France, hauts-de-France

Specialty Dish: Carbonnade Flamande 

Also known as Flemish beef stew, it represents the comforting and robust flavors of northern French cuisine. Carbonnade flamande champions hearty beef cooked with beer and caramelized onions. The sumptuous, glossy gravy and melt-in-your-mouth beef offer a comforting embrace, making it an ideal dish to savor during the chillier months.

Most “Estaminet” restaurants, a traditional type of eatery found in this region of northern France, have this specialty on the menu. They serve hearty, traditional French cuisine with an emphasis on using local ingredients and having an old-world ambiance.


Normandy

We love Normandy for its picturesque coastline, historic sites, and rich culinary traditions. Here you can explore charming seaside towns, sample gourmet cheeses, and ciders, and discover the region’s pivotal role in world history.

Moules Marinères, Mussels, Moules Frites, Normandy

Specialty Dish: Moules Marinières 

An ideal choice for seafood lovers and an essential culinary experience if you wish to immerse yourself in traditional French cuisine. This beloved classical dish involves fresh mussels cooked within a savory broth of white wine, garlic, and herbs. It brings together this coastal region’s delicate flavors of seafood and dairy products. The origin of the Moules Marinières recipe stems from an efficient approach to preparing mussels, highlighting the innate flavors of the seafood to shine through.

Ready to embark on a culinary journey? A Road Trip Through Normandy for Foodies


Nouvelle Aquitaine

Situated in southwestern France, this region is famed for its diverse landscapes, from the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast to the lush vineyards of Bordeaux. It offers opportunities for luxury wine tours, gourmet dining experiences, and outdoor adventures in the Pyrenees mountains.

Foie Gras, Nouvelle Aquitaine, Bordeaux,

Specialty Food: Foie Gras

Not only is this region famed for wine and amazing landscapes, but also its world-renowned cuisine. There are a few specialties from this region to include the most famous foie gras. This culinary specialty is a popular holiday delicacy in France renowned for its exquisite flavor and velvety texture. Foie gras comes from the specially fattened liver of ducks or geese. According to French law, “foie gras is part of the cultural and gastronomic heritage protected in France.” 

Unique Experience: Gourmet Walking Tour of Bordeaux

You can have the opportunity to embark on a gourmet journey through Bordeaux with our private walking tour. Led by a knowledgeable foodie guide, you can explore the city’s culinary treasures, from artisanal coffee and chocolate to local pastries and iconic specialties. Indulge in 10 tastings, including cheese and wine at the historic Covered Market, culminating in a delightful meal at a renowned bistronomic restaurant, accompanied by Bordeaux’s finest wines:


Occitanie

Occitanie known for its Mediterranean climate, picturesque countryside, and historic cities such as Toulouse and Montpellier is a paradise for wine enthusiasts, offering access to renowned vineyards in regions like Languedoc and Roussillon.

Cassoulet, Occitanie, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Cassoulet

Cassoulet is named for the dish it is traditionally baked in – a cassole. This hearty stew contains white beans, duck, sausage, and pork, representing the rustic and flavorsome cuisine of the Languedoc region. The cassoulet from Toulouse uses duck confit and French garlic sauces, a delicacy of that area. 


Pays de la Loire

Positioned in western France, this region is renowned for its fairy-tale châteaux, scenic rivers, and charming towns. It’s an ideal destination for luxury river cruises, cultural excursions, and gourmet dining experiences along the Loire River.

French Regional Specialties, Rillettes de Porc
Courtesy of Sarthe Tourism

Specialty Food: Rillettes de Porc

This dish showcases the region’s dedication to artisanal craftsmanship and gastronomic tradition. Pork rillettes, a beloved French lunch or snack, pairs beautifully with crusty bread and creamy French butter, garnished with tender pork and served alongside cornichons. Additionally, rillettes consist of slow-cooked pork or poultry in its own fat, resulting in a flavorful and indulgent dish, much like duck confit, but it is served shredded.


Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur

Situated in southeastern France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is famed for its stunning Mediterranean coastline, picturesque villages, and vibrant cultural scene. It offers opportunities for luxury villa rentals, wine tasting in Provence, and indulgent seaside escapes on the French Riviera.

Bouillabaisse, Provence, South of France, Gourmet Guide, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse stands as a quintessential culinary treasure traditionally from the Mediterranean region of Provence. Originating in Marseille, where it holds a very symbolic status, this dish comprises a rich fish soup served with garlic-infused bread croutons slathered with rouille, accompanied by fish pieces and potatoes.

Contemporary Provençal bouillabaisse showcases locally sourced rockfish simmered in a flavorful court-bouillon made with water or white wine, infused with garlic, olive oil, and sometimes saffron. The preparation of today’s bouillabaisse soup follows a specific charter, which mandates that they must cut the fish in front of you. At the Miramar, one of the founding members of the charter, bouillabaisse must be crafted with at least six varieties of rockfish. 


Ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure through France? Speak with our experts today to dive deeper into these regional specialties!

Your Guide to French Cheeses

Taking the cake for most Michelin stars awarded by country, France is a land of gastronomy. From artisan pastries to world-class wine, no visitor to France will return home hungry or thirsty. And when it comes to French cheeses, this country’s traditions run deep. Although the term “French cheese” may seem homogenous, any French person will tell you otherwise. Each region of France is known for its special types of cheeses. From regional specialities to how they’re made, we’re explaining all about French cheeses for our foodie travelers.


Your Guide to French Cheeses

French Cheese Consumption

Americans may typically think of cheese as a snack or part of a meal. For the French, it’s also served as part of a meal but is also often served at the end of the meal. In 2020, the average French person consumed 27.4 kilograms, or more than 60 pounds, according to Statista. That same year, Americans only consumed approximately 40 pounds per person. The bottom line: the French take cheese very seriously. It also plays a major part in the economy: the French spent more than 8.5 billion euros on cheese in 2021, per Statista.

Types of French Cheese

french goat's milk cheeses in bordeaux, chabichou

There are three main types of French cheeses depending on the milk with which it’s made: vâche (cow), brebis (sheep) and chèvre (goat). There are also multiple families of cheeses related to how they’re made. According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, there are soft-rind cheeses, blue cheeses, pressed cheeses and beyond.

French Cheeses by Region

Just as each part of the world has its local specialities, each region of France has its cheeses. Raclette, reblochon and comté are several types of cheese hailing from the region of Rhône-Alpes. In Burgundy, you’ll discover their Brillat-Savarin, which was named after Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. According to the Cheeses of France, this 18th century foodie said, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” 

And in Alsace-Lorraine, you can taste some of its Muenster cheese. The popular Camembert cheese finds its roots in Normandy. And although many know of brie cheese, there isn’t just one type: Brie de Meaux originates from the eastern Paris basin and Brie de Melun from the department of Seine-et-Marne.

Reading French Cheese Labels

As you’re browsing the cheese aisles, you might stumble across some very important letters: AOP or AOC. Recognized across Europe, AOP stands for Appellation d’Origine Protégée, or Protected Designation of Origin in English. In layman’s terms, this means that if the cheese is labeled as AOP that it is a verified local product made in that area of France. If it’s labeled AOC, that means it has been verified by French authorities; if it’s labeled AOP, it has been checked by French and European authorities, per AOP’s website.

Tasting French Cheeses for Yourself

roquefort cheese

Perhaps all this information has you craving apéro with the best French cheeses. Or maybe you’re itching to learn more about the rich heritage of French cheeses. At French Side Travel, we help foodies plan the perfect vacation to France. If you’re looking to taste exquisite French cheeses and understand more about these regional specialities, we have a wide range of experiences and tours suited for you.

Alsace Wine Route Tour

The region of Alsace isn’t just known for its pretzels and Christmas markets; it also has an exquisite wine heritage. You’ll spend the day with our guide driving around this gorgeous region and discover the village of Colmar, Alsace’s wine capital. Later, you’ll explore the medieval village of Eguisheim. Your tour will also include a private visit of an Alsatian wine cellar. You’ll savor local wines and cheese as you admire this lovely region.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Workshop in Bordeaux

Ossau-Iraty or Chabichou du Poitou? Roquefort or Rocamadour? Deciphering different French cheeses can be complicated, so let our experts guide you. We’ll set up a private wine and cheese pairing workshop with an oenology expert. Even better, you’ll discover these French classes in the beautiful city of Bordeaux with its rich ties to the wine industry.

cheese wine pairing

Wine and Cheese Pairing in Lyon

You may know Paris as the capital of France, but Lyon is the country’s gastronomic capital. So come hungry! Local cheesemaker Antoine and wine merchant Quentin will take you on a delicious journey in this private workshop. Not only will you taste delightful French cheeses and wines, but you’ll also learn about the region’s history and culture.

Wine and Cheese Apéro Along the Rhône

Take our word for it: wine and cheese taste better on a boat. You’ll enjoy an apéro on a boat with tastes of wines from Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, and Hermitage domains. You’ll also enjoy some goat cheese and local pâté caillette as you cruise down the Rhône River.

Where to Stay in France

Les Haras
Stay in a piece of history with a visit to four-star hotel Les Haras in Strasbourg. The building dates back to the 1700s when it was known as the Strasbourg National Studs. Architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku played off the property’s history with horses as they transformed it into a hotel. Stay in one of Les Haras’ 115 rooms and suites with their modern style and wooden touches. Book a table at the Brasserie and nosh on regional specialities. With each room reservation, an hour of spa access is included per night booked. 

Les Sources de Caudalie
Tucked south of Bordeaux, les Sources de Caudalie is a five-star palace hotel located in the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyards. Escape from the city center with a stay in one of these 61 rooms and suites in Martillac. You can’t miss a visit to its Vinothérapie Spa where you can enjoy a Crushed Cabernet scrub. Not only will you drink well, but you’ll also dine well at its Michelin-starred restaurant La Grand’Vigne.

InterContinental Lyon
After a full day of exploring France’s gastronomy capital, rest your head at the InterContinental in Lyon. This five-star hotel boasts regal decor in an 18th century building. Whether you fancy a drink at its bar Le Dôme or a three-course menu at its restaurant Epona, you will not be disappointed. 


Once you discover the world of French cheeses, you won’t look back. Be inspired by some of our top gastronomic tours: Exclusive Private Culinary Tour of Paris and Luxury Gourmet & Cultural Trip From Lyon to Beautiful Provence. We’re ready to help you plan a trip suited for foodies.

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