Every foodie must make a gastronomic pilgrimage across France at least once in their lifetime. With by far the most celebrated chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s no wonder France is the only country in the world whose national cuisine has been crowned an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO (a cultural practice worth preserving). While all visitors will feast on croissants, baguettes and cheese, a true food connoisseur will delve into French gastronomy like a local, sampling the specialities each region prides itself on. Here are some authentic French dishes all food lovers must try.
Where to go: L’Ange Saint Laurent - 2 Rue des Bouchers, 14400 Bayeux, Normandy
The best place to try this classic scallop dish is in Normandy, where local fishermen catch over half the coquilles consumed in France. This speciality can be cooked in various ways, with the scallops traditionally poached in white wine and served atop of a mushroom purée in a shell. Those looking for more of a kick may want to try Saint-Jacques flambées au Calvados – scallops cooked in Normandy’s famous apple brandy. Mmmmmm!
Where to go: L’Ambassade d’Auvergne - 22 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare, 75003 Paris
This gooey, warming delight is the ultimate comfort food, and one that's best enjoyed in a chalet with a blazing fire. The mixture of mashed potatoes blended with butter, cream, crushed garlic and melted cheese creates the most indulgent fondue. This rural speciality originates from Aubrac, a small village in the southern Massif Central.
Quenelles de brochet
Where to go: La Mère Brazier - 12 Rue Royale, 69001 Lyon
This hearty dish is a speciality in Lyon, the gastronomic heart of France known for its rich, warming meals. It consists of creamed pike wrapped in oval-like parcels made of eggs, butter and flour, topped with creamy Nantua sauce. Totally worth spending the next three months on the treadmill.
Where to go: Émile - 13 Place St-Georges, 31000 Toulouse
This rich yet simple dish is mostly made up of meat and beans, and is named after the deep, round pot the ingredients are cooked in. The popular speciality from the south of France contains pork sausages, goose, duck or mutton, depending on the town you're in.
Where to go: David Capy - 7 Rue Michel Montagine, 33000 Bordeaux
This little fluted patisserie from Bordeaux masters a delicate balance between flavors and textures. It has a crunchy, caramelised crust that gives way to a doughy vanilla and custard centre. There's a touch of rum included too, because, well, why not?
Mont Blanc pastry
Where to go: Chez Angelina - 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
This tartlet crust comes filled with chestnut spread is certainly one of France's most decadent desserts. Not least because it's topped with meringue covered in chestnut cream vermicelli and whipped cream. Named after the Alps’ Mont Blanc, the pastry’s signature look is designed to evoke the mountain’s famous white peaks.
Where to go: À la Marquise - 35 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
Made out of deep-fried dough that's been twisted into ribbon-like shapes and sprinkled with powdered sugar, this calorific treat from Lyon is traditionally eaten around Shrove Tuesday. They're so good, however, you'll wish you could eat them every Tuesday.