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French Regions

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Jump to: Basque country  | Brittany  | Charentes  | Bordeaux  | Corsica
Normandy  | The Niçard Country  | Franche-Comté  | Touraine  | Lorraine
Burgundy  | Champagne  | Périgord  | Alsace  | Provence
Île-de-France  | Languedoc  | Toulouse Country

 

Featured

 

Basque country

Basque country

The Basque country is a region situated between the South West of French and the north west of Spain.  It is split into 7 provinces: 4 in Spain (Alava, Biscaye, Guipuzcoa and Navarra) and 3 in France (Labourd, Soule and Basse-Navarre).

The French Basque Country, known as the "Northern Basque Country", is situated in the extreme South West of the Aquitaine region, and covers more or less the same area as the Pyrénées Atlantiques Department (64).  The Atlantic coast forms the west side of the region, and Spain borders it in the south. Most of the region is situated in the Pyrenees mountain range, which extends across the border with the Spanish Basque Country.

Overall, the Basque Country is a touristic region due to its rich heritage, history and culture.  The natural landscape is characterized by both mountains and coastal areas.  The Basque coast is an important tourist area and includes towns like Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye.  Both French holidaymakers and tourists love the area and its famous beaches and Atlantic ocean waves.

The region is steeped in tradition, with respect to both culture and gastronomy.
Agriculture, farming and fishing are all prevalent in the region, offering an extremely varied cuisine, based on simple products, with a mix of French and Spanish influences.  Local charcuterie is a gastronomic must, especially Bayonne ham, and cheese is also important.  The region specializes in charcuterie and includes such produces as blood sausage, Basque sausage, chorizo and ventrèche.

In Basque cuisine, Spanish influences come through with the use of olive oil, tomatoes, peppers or chilies, giving a typical color to recipes using the description "à la Basquaise" such as chicken or tuna, but also to the distinctively local "piperade", made with scrambled eggs.  The use of spices and chilies is indeed a strong characteristic of Basque gastronomy, and Espelette pepper is a veritable regional culinary symbol.  Basque houses are also frequently decorated with these chilies.  The Basques also enjoy stuffing small, pointed Piquillo peppers (grown in the Spanish Basque country) with salt cod.
The ocean provides the Basque Country with a continual supply of fish (horse mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna) and seafood (spider crab, shrimp, baby calamari, langoustines, etc.). Pork and lamb are often used in local cuisine.

Black Itxassou cherries are also something the Basques are proud of, particularly black cherry jam, traditionally eaten with ewes' milk cheese.

 

 

French Regions

 

Brittany

Brittany

Brittany is a peninsula on the extreme west of France that stretches along the English Channel and the Atlantic coast. With the city of Rennes as its capital, the region is made up of four departments: the Finistère, Morbihan, Côtes d’Armor and Ille-et-Vilaine.

Brittany has a mild climate, with little fluctuation between summer and winter temperatures. Due to its proximity to the ocean, the region is relatively wind-exposed and governed by the sea; yet the passage of the Gulf Stream along the Finistère results in a remarkably clement climate. The area receives less rainfall than the national average, but is nonetheless still damp, and the richness of the soil provides quality produce and abundant vegetation. Fruit and vegetables are plentiful and of excellent quality: samphire (which grows in areas rich in sea salt), camus artichokes, chicory from Kerlouan, white Paimpol AOC beans, Plougastel strawberries, ‘little grey’ melons from Rennes, etc.

Breton heathland is well populated but livestock is not particularly diversified and pig farming is widespread. As for the coast, the Breton waters are famous for the quality, variety and freshness of their fish, shellfish and crustaceans: the Brittany lobster is world-renowned, as are oysters, mussels, clams, crabs, scallops, line-caught sea bass, red mullet, and many others. Breton sailors have also succeeded in introducing delicate touches to the regional gastronomy with ingredients brought back from their distant travels, such as buckwheat and curry.

Breton gastronomy is simple and focuses on the continual rediscovery of local products from land and sea alike. Freshness, quality, diversity and finesse are ideal adjectives for describing Breton cuisine. Seafood platters always feature at the top of restaurant menus, served simply with lemon quarters and mayonnaise. Other regional specialties include bean soup à la Bretonne, cotriade (different varieties of fish cooked in broth with potatoes), lobster à l’armoricaine, or potée Bretonne (a Breton stew of pork and vegetables cooked in broth and served with slices of rye bread.)

Brittany also offers plenty of choice for the sweet tooth, with a wide variety of regional pastries and candies: Far Breton with prunes (a thick flan using prunes soaked in rum), gotchial (a type of brioche), Niniche from Quiberon (caramel or fruit candies) and crêpes dentelles (fine lace crêpes), and many, many more. A distinguishing feature is the use of salted butter, a typically Breton ingredient, used in the famous Kouign Amann, caramel candies and Breton shortbread biscuits.

Brittany is one of the only French regions that does not produce wine. Bretons are not wine enthusiasts, but they have their own traditional alcoholic beverages, such as the celebrated cider, a fermented drink made from Brittany apples.

 

Charentes

Charentes

Situated in the West of France, the Charentes covers two departments of the Poitou-Charentes region: Charente and Charente-Maritime. The Charente, whose capital is Angoulême, is also famous for its town of Cognac. The capital of Charente-Maritime is La Rochelle. The department also comprises four islands, including the île d’Oléron and the île de Ré.

Due to its geographical location, the Charentes enjoys a variety of interesting landscapes. Charente-Maritime has all the advantages of the coastline, with wide beaches and islands, whereas further inland, Charente features high plains, moorland, forests and swamps intertwined with rivers. The climate is oceanic: winters are mild, and summers are hot but not excessively so. Unfortunately this pleasant climate has had little effect on the soil which remains rather infertile; the open field system is the main crop-growing method in the area. However, livestock is fairly well developed and the local farmers owe their fine reputation to their poultry, cattle, sheep and goats. It is the coastline which gives the region it’s renown, with the Marennes-Oléron oysters produced on former salt marshes transformed into oyster farms, the cultured mussels from the beaches, and a host of other shellfish and seafood all adding to the region’s distinctive image. Fishing, despite being a traditional coastal activity, is not as widespread. Though the region offers the produce of both sea and rivers to local fishermen, oyster farming is more popular. Garden snails known as ‘cagouillards’ are also farmed; a truly regional tradition which has led to the inhabitants also being known as ‘cagouillards’.

Charentes dairy production is mainly known for its AOC butter. Most of the cheeses made here are either fresh or curd cheese from goat’s or ewe’s milk. As well as these traditional regional products, a few more uncommon yet nonetheless characteristic items are found locally: angelica, a plant generally candied and used in the preparation of cakes; saffron, produced near Angoulême on the largest saffron farm in Europe; and black truffles, a rare delicacy but a reminder that the Périgord is not far away.

Among the local culinary specialties, it is important to mention buttered cabbage, eel terrine made with local wine, paupiettes of trout with crayfish, oysters in bacon, Chalais veal shank with Pineau des Charentes and the tradionnal Charentais melon with Pineau des Charentes. In terms of sweets and candies, Charentes offers a number of simple specialties, such as “la Galette Charentaise” (soft flat buttery cake, usually decorated with candied angelica), “Millasson” (flan made from corn with prunes and Cognac), “Cornuelles” (small triangular shaped shortbread with a whole in the center sprinkled with anis) and “Merveilles”( small fritters with Cognac).

Although the region is close to Bordeaux with its wealth of vineyards, little wine is produced in the Charentes, and only a few table wines and vins de pays (I G P ) are of note. However, one of the most well known French spirits with a reputation stretching throughout France and across the world is made in this region - Cognac. "Pineau des Charentes" is another well known beverage made from Cognac and fresh white or rosé grape must.

 

Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a French region situated in Aquitaine which corresponds to the Gironde department. It is bordered by the Atlantic ocean, and its capital is the town of Bordeaux, the worldwide wine reference. This region is indeed very well-known for its crus, which are used in many recipes given the "à la bordelaise" title. Bordeaux has the largest vineyard in the world, with 57 different AOC appellations, all found in the Gironde department. The classification system is rather complex, due to the wide variety of wines and their differences in quality.

On top of its renown in the world of wine, the region also has several gastronomic traditions: fish and seafood are an integral part of the regional culinary heritage, in particular oysters and sole from Arcachon, a basin South-West of Bordeaux which is one of the main oyster-farming centers in the country. There are also shad, eel and sardines from the ocean, the Gironde estuary and the various waterways. Cattle and lambs are extensively farmed in the Bordeaux area and produce the renowned meats used in the region's traditional cuisine. Typical dishes are Bordeaux style grilled rib-eye, Bazadais rib of beef with Sauternes, or Pauillac lamb blanquette. In terms of vegetables, there are artichokes from Macau, green garlic (young garlic sprouts which look like baby leeks) or ceps, which can be served alone or as a side.

Bordeaux has a variety of specialty dishes, such as grenier médocain (local chitterling sausage), gratton de Lormont (a type of terrrine), tricandilles (pork tripe with garlic and fresh pepper), Gironde caviar, caudéran snails with cured ham and white wine, and many more.

Bordeaux is one of the few French regions with no specialty cheese. This is simply because for centuries, the small amount of land not used for growing vines was kept for the grazing of animals used to work in the vineyard. There was no free land for dairy cattle or goats to graze to allow cheese production.

However, the region is known for its delicious pastries, such as macaroons from Saint-Émilion, the famous Bordeaux cannelés, fanchonnettes (candies filled with fruit jelly) and niniches (soft chocolate caramels). King's Cake -- a traditional pastry served at Christmas and the Epiphany -- made from candied citron and sugar, is also one of the classic regional desserts.

 

Corsica

Corsica

Corsica is a mountainous French island in the Mediterranean sea, to the far South-East of France, beneath Italy. Its nickname is the "ÎIe de Beauté", thanks to its beautiful landscape made up of mountains, sea and its high levels of sunshine. It is divided into two departments: Haute-Corse, with the capital Bastia, and Corse du Sud with Ajaccio as its capital. Corsica used to belong to Italy, but was given up to the French in 1768. Corsican culture and traditions are well established, and the island's inhabitants are proud of their heritage. Gastronomy is also an integral part of Corsica.

Corsican cuisine is considered to be rustic and generous. It makes the most of the island's natural resources: the sea and rivers, land, forests and mountains, resulting in a rich, varied cuisine. The fertile land lends itself to the cultivation of numerous fruits and vegetables such as eggplants, zucchini, Corsica Clementine’s, cherries, peaches, nectarines and prickly pears. The chestnut, produced in large quantities in the mountainous areas is the star product of the region and is used to produce the famous AOC chestnut flour. In the Corsican scrubland, a variety of berries can be found, such as myrtles or the arbutus berry which are used to make liquor or as a condiment. The forests are home to mushrooms including numerous types of cep (porcini), black trumpet (horn of plenty) and golden chanterelles. Corsican fresh waters provide salmon and trout whilst the sea provides a multitude of fish and shellfish such as scorpion fish, spiny lobster, sea urchins, mullet, red mullet etc. As far as meat is concerned, Corsican pork (“porcu nustrale”) is of note, an official breed which is partly free-range and which is used in the production of a number of traditional charcuterie products. Wild boar is the king of the scrublands whilst kids and milk-fed lambs are also reared.

Due to its history and geographical location, Corsican gastronomy is strongly influenced by the Mediterranean and in particular Italy with fresh pasta, minestrone, risotto and polenta (made on the Island using chestnut flour). Olive oil, produced locally, is also a common ingredient as are herbs which can be from the scrubland (rosemary and thyme) or from the garden (basil and mint). Charcuterie is highly regarded in local culinary tradition and there are numerous local specialties such as: coppa, panzetta, ficatellu (or figatellu), lonzu etc. Corsica is also a large scale producer of different varieties of honey thanks to the diversity of flowers which grow on the scrubland. Corsican honey has both AOC and AOP (a symbol of quality in Europe) status.

Corsica produces excellent cheeses made from goat and/or ewe’s milk which are used in a number of recipes. The most emblematic is Brocciu (or Broccio), a fresh cheese made from milk and whey, but there are plenty of others of note such as Niolu, A Fileta, Brin d’amour or Fium’Orbo.

A variety of traditional dishes will appeal to those with a love of food, such as stuffed eggplant or zucchini, omelet with Brocciu, kid or wild boar ragout, “Fiadone” (lemon and brocciu tart), chestnut flour cake, or “Canistrelli” (traditional dry cookie), “Fritelli” (chestnut flour fritters), candied citrus and “Migliacci” (savory pancake with Brocciu).

Corsica is also known for its wines as its vineyard stretching over 7000 hectares along the coast of the island produces nine AOCs and one “vin de Pays”.

 

Normandy

Normandy

Normandy is in the northwest of France, surrounded by the English Channel and made up of two administrative regions: Basse-Normandie, with Caen as its capital covers the Calvados, Orne, and Manche departments and Haute-Normandie, with Rouen as its capital, covers the Eure and Seine Maritime departments.

Products from both the land and sea are famous in this region. The sea and fresh waterways provide an abundant and varied supply of fish and seafood, and the quality of the soil means a range of fruit and vegetables can be produced here. The region's emblematic fruit is the apple, which is used in all its forms in both desserts and savory dishes. First and foremost, however, it is used to produce a dozen different "grand cru" ciders, and the region is famous for cider production rather than wine production. Fruit brandies are also made here, such as the famous "Calvados" brandy. These alcohols are often used in regional cuisine and pastries. Apples used for cider production are known as "cider apples".

Norman cuisine is synonymous with butter and cream, ingredients which give the region its renown. Both the butter and the cream from Isigny have AOC status. It is the excellent quality of the milk produced by Normandy cows - another regional emblem – that has allowed for a long tradition of excellence in dairy produce and top quality cheeses. Normandy camembert AOC is without doubt the star of the region and internationally renowned as a symbol of French gastronomy. However, Livarot, Pont-l’Évêque and Neufchâtel, all made from AOC cow’s milk are also famous throughout France.

The "Normande" cow is also farmed for its flavorsome meat. Farming is an important activity in the region, and high quality meat and poultry (veal, lamb, pork, guinea fowl, chicken, duck etc.) are produced here. A variety of charcuterie products can be found in Normandy, such as "Andouille de Vire" tripe sausage traditionally made with pork tripe. The English Channel and the rivers provide a great diversity of fish (sole, shad, eel) and seafood (shrimp (prawns), mussels, cockles, whelks).

Amongst the traditional savory recipes are Vallée d’Auge chicken (flambéed with Calvados and cooked in a crème fraîche and cider sauce served with apples that have been flambéed with Calvados), Caen style tripe (beef tripe with aromatic garnish, cider and Calvados, cooked in a dough-sealed pot), mussels à la marinière, with cider and cream, soles meunière (pan fried in nut brown butter) or Matelote normande ( with mussels à la marinière, shrimp (prawn) and fish with butter, cider and onions).

On a sweeter note, a number of recipes are of note including full butter brioche, Caen shortbread (flavored with Pommeau (a mixture of non-fermented apple juice and Calvados) and Calvados), Rouen mirlitons (puff pastry tartlets with vanilla and almond cream) and apple turnovers. The most commonly found dessert recipes have apple as a main ingredient for example the famous apple and Calvados parcels, pancakes filled with apple and Bourdelots or Douillons (apples or pears cooked wrapped in bread or brioche dough).

 

The Niçard Country

The Niçard Country The Niçard Country, or County of Nice, with Nice as its capital, is situated in the PACA region (Provence, Alps, Côtes d’Azur), of south-eastern France. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and set against the backdrop of the Alps, it attracts many tourists; its charm and history is characteristic of Mediterranean cities.

Although influenced by Provence and Italy which both contribute specific flavors, Niçoise cuisine retains its own identity. It combines herbs and spices in a cooking style that is both full of flavor and color, and offers a huge variety of products and authentic recipes. Due to its close proximity to Italy, Niçard Country is inspired by transalpine recipes which include fresh pasta, gnocchi and ravioli.

The most famous recipe in this region is undoubtedly Salade Niçoise, a recipe based on products typical to the region. Although it is served all over France today, it is not always prepared following the original recipe. The main ingredients are olives, anchovies, tomatoes and bell peppers but, over time, certain restaurateurs outside of the region have added other products such as tuna, which is tolerated, or potato, which is categorically unaccepted by the inhabitants of the region.

The Niçard country is ideal for growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. Nice Swiss chard, red garlic, bigarade orange and Menton lemon without forgetting other common Mediterranean vegetables such as eggplant, tomato, bell pepper and zucchini often found together in ratatouille. The olive is also symbolic of this region, in particular the Nice black olive. The cultivation of the olive tree is longstanding in the south of France and is mainly carried out in-land. A wide variety of olive oils are produced such as that of Grasse, which is renowned for its quality.

Moreover, thanks to being on the coast, seafood is deeply embedded in Niçard gastronomy and small fish are the main stars. Anchovies are characteristic of the region and are used in a number of regional recipes such as the famous “pissaladière” (onion tart with anchovies and olives) or “anchoïade” (an anchovy based sauce often eaten with crudités as an aperitif). Another favorite in Nice is a dish called poutine (or young fish) which are generally eaten deep-fried or as a fritter. Sardines, sea bass and red mullet are all part of traditional local gastronomy and are often served “à la Niçoise“(with tomato, garlic and black olives).

In adition to “salade niçoise” and “pissaladière”, a number of other savory specialties also exist such as “socca” (chick pea flour savory pancake), pan-Bagnat (sandwich bread with olive oil filled with “salade niçoise” ingredients) and “barbajouans” (fritters filled with rice, cheese, pumpkin, garlic and onion). On a sweeter note, Menton lemon tart, “fougasse” with orange flower water and “la pompe à l’huile” (a dessert flavored with olive oil and orange flower water) are three of the stars. Crystallized violets from Tourrette and bigarade orange jam are also popular.

The inland Niçard country also has the Bellet vineyard with produces Bellet AOC, in red, rosé and white. A number of Vin de pays (Vin de Pays des Maures, Vin de Pays des Alpes Maritimes) and vins de table also exist.

 

Franche-Comté

Franche-Comté

Franche-Comté is situated on the Swiss border and its capital is Besançon. The region is made up of four departments: Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône, and Belfort.

The region is mountainous and includes part of the Jura mountain range and part of the Vosges mountain range in the North. The region also has 5350 km of waterways. There are 80 lakes and 100 ponds, and more woodland than in any other region of France. This wealth of natural beauty can be admired in exceptional parkland such as the Haut Jura Regional Nature Park at the summit of Mont d’Or, or at the "Hedgehog Falls" (Cascade du Hérisson). As a landlocked region, Franche-Comté has a very continental climate, with frost and snow in the winter, droughts, high temperatures and storms in the summer.

The diversity of the regional landscape results in a wealth of fresh produce. A large amount of pasture is occupied by dairy cattle, particularly the Montbéliarde breed. A wide variety of traditional dairy products is made here – Comté, Morbier or Mont d’Or AOC cheese for example – which the regions inhabitants are particularly proud of. Pork is used to make a vast assortment of charcuterie products, which in Franche-Comté are made using all parts of the pig. Thanks to the meat's high quality, charcuterie from this region is known throughout France. A prime example of a Franche-Comté specialty sausage is smoked sausage from Morteau.

There is a wide variety of animal life in Franche-Comté: poultry and cattle on the plains, and all kinds of game (squab, wild boar, hare, deer, etc.) in the forests. The rivers, lakes and ponds are also teeming with life; fisherman and gourmets alike can enjoy eel, pike perch and pike, trout and freshwater crawfish, as well as the usual snails and frogs found in regions with ponds.

In comparison, there is little market gardening in the Franche-Comté. Fruit and vegetable varieties are limited to a few very specific products such as morels, golden chanterelles, horn of plenty mushrooms and “griottes” cherries. Generally, fruit is used to make spirits. This is due to the nature of the soil, which can be moist due to the proximity to waterways, or poor on high ground. The climate is also extreme from one season to the next; hence the lack of market gardening.

The Franche-Comté region produces a large amount of sweet specialties, from “Pets-de-Nonne” fritters dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon to crispy “Craquelin” pastries, Montbozon cookies flavored with orange flower water or cherry fritters, not forgetting candies such as Besançon dragées or soft caramels.

 

Touraine

Touraine Touraine is an historic French province situated in the Loire valley between the Indre-et-Loire department, part of the Loire-et-Cher department, and part of the Indre. The city of Tours is the regional capital.

The region of Touraine has seen French history unfold within it, with magnificent chateaus such as Chenonceaux or Amboise on the banks of the Loire housing dignitaries and kings from the French court. They were constructed from the end of the Middle Ages until the Renaissance with "Tuffeau" freestone from quarries which are now used as mushroom or wine cellars. Every year, a large number of visitors – passionate about history, beautiful architecture, landscapes and excellent cuisine -- head to Touraine to enjoy this charming region.Thanks to its mild climate and valleys riddled with the Loire and other rivers, Touraine has very fertile soil. The region is full of vegetable gardens, orchards and farms, hence why, since the 15th century, it has been known as the "Garden of France".The Touraine terrain is enormously varied: Varenne Tourangelle, Gâtine Tourangelle, Véron, and Brenne each area has its own culture and traditions. This variety ensures that "gourmets" are spoilt for choice, as the region has always valued the pleasures of dining, despite often being overshadowed by other more well-known French regions.As the nickname "Garden of France" indicates, Touraine produces an abundant variety of fruits and vegetables, thanks to the richness of its land, whose colors and landscape are ever-changing. Pears, apples, strawberries, apricots, peaches, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, peas and fava beans are just a few of the ingredients grown here.

The region also produces a wealth of pork and poultry products -- the Géline de Touraine is a renowned regional breed of chicken. Game meats such as venison and partridge can be found, and the Loire river and its tributaries are full of fish such as pike, eel and pike-perch. Today, regional artisans still use their traditional expertise – with admirable results – in the production of charcuterie like Tours "rillettes", goat cheeses such as AOC Sainte-Maure de Touraine, or sweets like Touraine Nougat.

Of course, we cannot ignore the wines produced in this fertile region. Wines from Touraine are subtle yet fine, light and still, and have great investment potential. Most are white but red and rosé can also be found. The diversity of the soil in Touraine means that a wide variety of wines are available: whites, reds, rosés, dry, semi-sweet, sweet, sparkling, young or with aging potential. There are several AOCs such as Chinon, Bourgueil and Vouvray, as well as Touraine appellation wines followed by the name of a château or a manor in the Loire Valley (Touraine-Mesland,Touraine-Amboise, etc.).

 

Lorraine

Lorraine

Lorraine, whose capital is Metz, is a region in the North-East of France. It is the only French region which borders three countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. It has a varied landscape of forests, fields, lakes, plains, and the Vosges massif mountain range. Beginning at the Franco-German war of 1870 until the Second World War (1939 -1945), Lorraine and Alsace were both torn apart and divided, being annexed several times by Germany, and divided into territories by both France and Germany.

Lorraine has inherited a cultural legacy with strong Germanic influences on its language (Roman dialect, Lorraine Franconian), art, and gastronomy. Lorraine cuisine borrows certain characteristics from that of Germany, particularly in its use of potatoes and pork, savory pies, tarts, and fine charcuteries. The most famous regional culinary symbol is Quiche Lorraine, made from savory short pastry, and an egg, cream, bacon and gruyere filling.

Lorraine is a major producer of what is said to be some of the finest charcuterie in France. Blood sausage from Nancy, chitterling sausage from the Val d’Ajol, Lorraine pâté, and suckling pig in aspic are just some of the traditional types of regional charcuterie. Pork is used in the preparation of regional dishes such as "Tourte Lorraine", pork with plums, and many more. Veal and beef are also used in traditional Lorraine recipes such as Lorraine style "Hochepot" and "Potée Lorraine" (two types of stew), or Nancy style veal chops. Pâté is made from a well known regional specialty, Vosges trout, which can be fished from the region's many natural waterways, as can freshwater crayfish and frogs which are used in typical Lorraine recipes.

The Lorraine cultural heritage also includes a wide variety of sweet recipes. Rum Baba – a specialty from Poland – is the most famous example. Specialties such as tarts, gratins or jams made from the region’s emblematic fruit – Mirabelle plums – are also well known. Both savory and sweet Lorraine recipes frequently use berries and other small fruits such as Nancy apricots, red and white currants, Woippy strawberries, quetsch plums and even blueberries, and they are often served with meats. Delicious sweet confections such as macaroons or Bergamot candies – an iconic Nancy specialty – also come from the Lorraine region.

Two AOC cheeses, Carré de l’Est (a semi soft, unpressed, uncooked cow’s milk cheese) and Munster (a raw or pasteurized semi soft, smooth cow’s milk cheese) are also made here.

 

Burgundy

Burgundy

Burgundy is an historical French region situated between the Parisian basin in the north, the Saône in the east and the massif central in the south. It is made up of 4 departments: Yonne, Côte-d’Or, Nièvre and Saône-et-Loire.

Burgundy used to be a Frankish kingdom and its name comes from the land it was built on - Burgondie - conquered by Clovis 1st, the first French king, in the XVth century. The region was also a powerful duchy in the 14th century.
The dukes of Burgundy, vassals to the King of France, were distinguished gourmets who developed a local gastronomy, today regarded as a stronghold in French cuisine.


Burgundy cuisine has become prestigious as a result, and is much more aristocratic than provincial. It is accompanied by wines which are famous worldwide, such as Chablis, Beaune, Volnay and many more.


The region is known for its vineyards, which were established in the 4th century and attract visitors from all over the world every year.
It is in fact thanks to wine - red, white and rosé - that regional cuisine in Burgundy has its own hearty character. Spices, condiments, onions, garlic and shallots all add extra flavor to colorful, tasty dishes of the region. Dijon mustard – which is these days far from being used only in Burgundy – is the symbolic regional condiment.

As a farming region, Burgundy produces a wide range of quality ingredients: Bresse chicken, Charolais beef and pork, Burgundy truffles, Auxonne onions, Ruffey asparagus, Burgundy blackcurrants, marmotte cherries, and many more. Burgundy blackcurrants, the regional ingredient par excellence, are mainly used to make liqueurs, but can also be used in pastries and sometimes in cuisine.
Game is found in the forests, and fresh water fish are an important feature of local culinary tradition.

As far as specialty dishes go, beef Burgundy, coq au vin, eggs Meurette, Morvan-style "crapiaux" (thick crêpes with pork fatback), Dijonnaise rabbit (with mustard) and Burgundy-style snails (cooked with parsley butter) are some of the great regional classics.
Several sweet specialties come from the region, such as "anis de Flavigny" (aniseed candies), Dijon gingerbread (made with soft wheat/cake flour), "gimblettes" and "nonnettes" (small gingerbread cakes), "cacou" (marmotte cherry clafoutis), Nevers nougatine, "corniottes" (filled warm puff pastries) and many more.

Burgundy is also a cheese-producing region: Burgundy Époisses -- which has an AOC -- is the star cheese of the region. It is said that Napoleon loved this uncooked, unpressed, soft cow's milk cheese, which is flavored with "marc" brandy from Burgundy. "Aisy cendré" is another delicious cheese specialty (uncooked, unpressed, cow's milk cheese), as are Cîteaux (uncooked, pressed, cow's milk cheese), Saint-Florentin (fresh, lightly salted farmer's cheese), and Pourly (a mild goat milk cheese).

 

Champagne

Champagne Champagne is a region to the East of the Ile-de-France. It covers the Aube, Marne, and Haute-Marne departments. Reims -- the "City of Coronations" -- is the capital of the region.

First and foremost, the region is known for its vineyard. The Champagne appellation vineyard covers more than 33 000 hectares in the Aisne and Seine-et-Marne departments.

It is here that the illustrious drink Champagne, or "Champagne wine" is produced, a symbol of festivities and luxury with an international reputation.The renown of Champagne tends to overshadow the region's gastronomy, which nonetheless benefits from the fertile terroir and includes a wide range of regional specialties.
The region's rivers are home to pike, bream, eel, trout, shad, and crayfish, which are used in several traditional dishes and can be braised, poached, fried or cooked in a "matelote" (a type of fish stew), with or without Champagne. Champagne style stuffed pike, fried gudgeon, and Marne style matelote are all popular dishes. Charcuterie is also a not to be missed part of local gastronomy. Troyes chitterling sausages are the star product, and are known all over France. Reims ham, white sausage, Troyes cervelas (cooked sausage), smoked sheep's tongue, and pigs' trotters are also specialty products.

Regional vegetables of note are Champagne asparagus, and Champagne lentils which are a pale pink color. As a general rule, traditional dishes from the region have their roots in "peasant" food: Reims style pâté, Sainte-Menehould pigs' trotters and Champagne style stew are a few perfect examplesCheese is an important element in the Champagne culinary tradition. There are three AOCs: Brie from Meaux (unpressed, uncooked cows' milk cheese which is cast "à la pelle à brie" using a slotted ladle), Chaource (soft cows' milk cheese), and Langres (an unpressed, uncooked cows' milk cheese). Brillat-Savarin and Cendré de Champagne have no AOC but are nonetheless well-known.There are also many sweet regional delights. Traditional "biscuits roses de Reims" (crisp, pink rectangular biscuits), sugar cake, "gâteau mollet" (a soft cake whose shape is similar to a Kouglof except it has no hole in the center), "nonettes de Reims" (small round cakes made from gingerbread) and Reims gingerbread (very famous in the 16th century, before being eclipsed by its Dijon rival).

 

Périgord

Périgord Périgord is situated in the Aquitaine region (South West France), and makes up the most of Dordogne department, with Périgueux as its capital.

The region is full of flavor and color. There are many sites of historical interest and the countryside mixes vast prairies, waterways, old villages and châteaux. Hundreds of tourists flock to this region, one of the most beautiful in France.Regional dishes are authentic and filling, and known as some of the best in the country. It is thanks to the wide variety of resources in the region and the talent of its chefs that it has earned this prestigious reputation. Orchards, market gardens and vineyards are found along the wide valleys of the Dordogne, cattle and sheep graze in the prairies, the forests are full of mushrooms, walnuts and chestnuts, and there is of course poultry and pig farming. In fact, the region supplies almost half of the country's fine produce.The black Périgord truffle, known as the "black diamond", is the number one product of the Périgord region. It is undoubtedly the most flavorsome of the thirty existing varieties of truffle, and is used in dishes both from the Périgord region and the rest of France.The region is renowned for its foie gras and confits, as well as charcuterie such as blood sausage and pâté. Mushrooms are also a highly regarded regional product; ceps (porcinis), chanterelles, morels and many more varieties all grow in the Perigord woodland. These mushrooms are often found in the numerous local goose or duck dishes.

The large number of waterways in the Dordogne makes fishing for fish and crustaceans possible. Trout with ceps (porcinis), eel fricassée and fried gudgeon are all regional specialties.Wine is also produced, predominantly in the Bergerac area, where the climate is mild and temperate – thanks to the influence of the ocean - and the terrain is suitable for vine growing. Bergerac wines are very popular as are those from Monbazillac which are nationally renowned and emblematic of sweet wines. The latter can be served as an aperitif, with foie gras or poultry in a cream sauce, with blue cheeses or dessert, and are also used in local recipes.
The region produces numerous fruit brandies and liqueurs made from plums, grapes, cherries, pears, walnuts, quinces, blackcurrants or hazelnuts.

 

Alsace

Alsace Alsace is a region in North East France, and includes the Bas-Rhin (67) and Haut-Rhin (68) departments. Strasbourg is the regional capital. The region borders Germany and Switzerland.

Alsace has a rich history and an extensive cultural heritage with Germanic, Jewish and even Scandinavian influences. These diverse influences are reflected in the region's culinary traditions, giving Alsace a very distinct gastronomic personality. Germanic influences can be seen in the products used (potatoes, pork, sweet and savory pastry dough, cured meats, etc.) and the names given to many dishes, which are often in German. Soil in the region is particularly rich, and provides an abundance of natural resources. Numerous types of vegetable, fruit and grain are grown, and there is an abundance of wild produce (berries, forest mushrooms, etc.) As a result, the region has been an important center for gastronomy for several centuries.The regional dish "par excellence" is choucroute, a simple yet rich recipe based on cabbage, potato, charcuterie and white wine. The name "choucroute" is used for this traditional dish and is composed of the French word for cabbage - "chou" and the German word for cabbage fermented in brine "Sauerkraut". The cabbage is firstly grated finely, salted, and pressed with aromatics and occasionally Kirsch. It is then sealed in a container for around a month in order to ferment.

Charcuterie, as a general rule, features strongly in the gastronomy of Alsace (sausages, blood sausage, ham, etc.). The "Knack" sausage from Strasbourg is an essential ingredient in classic choucroute. Flammeküche, or "flame cake", is also famous in the Alsace region, just as are spatzles, which are thin strips of dough poached in boiling water. Spatzle dough is made from flour, egg and salt and is much softer and breaks more easily than pasta dough.The goose is the region's gastronomic symbol. Foie gras from Alsace is a key regional product, made using traditional force feeding methods. Freshwater fish feature widely in traditional regional cuisine and are used in a variety of dishes: pike perch in Pinot noir wine, Trout "au bleu", pike perch quenelles, etc.

Alsace is also well known for its vineyards. Prestigious AOC wines are produced here. Most also carry the name of the single grape variety used to make them (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, etc). Brandies from Alsace are also highly regarded. These fine brandies, based on fruit, flowers or wild berries, are a not to be missed regional treat, particularly Kirsch, Marc de gewürztraminer, and brandies made from raspberries or plums.The region also has its own specialty pastries. One of the most traditional is Kouglof (brioche with golden raisins (sultanas) and sliced almonds), Streusel (brioche covered in a crumbly mixture flavored with cinnamon) not to be confused with Strudel (very thin pastry that is stuffed with apples and dried fruit before being rolled), and finally, Black Forest gateau (chocolate cake with Chantilly cream and cherries in syrup).

 

Provence

Provence

Provence is a region in the South East of France situated in the Mediterranean basin. The region includes the Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Vaucluse and Alpes de Haute-Provence departments.

Provence, with its arid, rocky and beautifully colorful landscapes, is a French national treasure and a source of inspiration for artists. One of whom is the French impressionist Paul Cézanne (XIXth century). Cézanne is known above all for his works depicting the Sainte-Victoire mountain, a massif in the Bouches du Rhône area.

Being a Mediterranean region, Provence has great weather, and offers a wealth of colorful and flavorsome produce. The Niçois region is situated next to Provence, and as a result the two regions both use many similar ingredients in their recipes: garlic, peppers, tomatoes and fish. Their cuisine is distinctly alike, but as Provence is larger, there is a wider range of products to be found.

Provence is known predominantly for its lavender which is used both in recipes, and is the base for tasty honey. Cuisine in the region is characterized by a subtle balance of aromatics and fine herbs (garlic, chives, thyme, rosemary, summer savory), and by a host of condiments such as renowned olive oil from Aix-en-Provence, "mélets" anchovy paste from Martigues, and tapenade.

Provençal specialties must include the famous "bouillabaisse" fish stew from Marseille, a simple, family dish for which the city is renowned. The dish was originally made by fishermen, and has now become a key recipe on restaurant menus in Marseille. The ingredients used are often debated, but the inhabitants of Marseille hold a golden rule: real bouillabaisse must include at least four different types of fish (rainbow wrasse, scorpion fish, weever, John Dory…).

 

Île-de-France

Île-de-France

Despite the relatively small space it occupies, the Île-de-France region is the heart of the French territory; the region houses 8 departments and the country's capital, Paris.

Although the region has become more and more urbanised; over recent decades it still contains green spaces, with four regional nature parks (Oise, Vexin, Gâtinais and Chevreuse valley). A temperate climate and fertile soil favors the; traditional market garden production, cattle farming, succulent game that hides in the woodlands of Rambouillet and Vexin, and the abundance of tasty fish from the waters of the Seine and Marne rivers. A large quantity of produce is sourced locally. However, faced with the gradual diminishment of farmland, and increased ease of produce transportation, the Île-de-France region has opened up its market to all French territories and to other countries. The Rungis market is the emblem of this wealth of produce. It opened in 1969 to the south of Paris and is the biggest fresh produce market in the world.

The array of products and local professional savoir-faire has led to the creation of "grande cuisine" in restaurants, thus attracting food enthusiasts from around the world and inspiring Parisian professionals to create refined restaurant dishes. This creative flair is the principal feature of the Parisian gastronomical scene. Paris has long been a beacon of culinary expertise, a ‘gastronomic capital of the world’.

The same is true in the world of pâtisserie: Parisian pâtisserie, just like Parisian cuisine, is both chic and professional. Pâtisserie in Paris is festive, innovative, and cutting edge. The knowledge and craftsmanship of Parisian pastry chefs resulted in the creation of several recipes which have become timeless classics: cakes such as the Opéra, freshly baked pastries or the internationally renowned Parisian macaroons that attract gastronomes all over the world, searching for a bite of these tiny treats. Antonin Carême was the first pastry chef to bring pâtisserie to the fore in the XIXth century. He created the famous "croquembouche", still used today as a celebration dessert. Parisian pâtisserie uses plenty of butter and cream flavored in a wide variety of ways.

Cheeses from the l’Île-de-France include Brie, and other cheeses which are enriched with cream. They are mild, soft and fine, flavorsome but subtle.

The region does however lack large-scale wine production, although every year, the vines of the Butte Montmartre produce a few bottles of wine known more for its scarcity than its quality. Because of this lack of local production, residents choose wine from other French regions. The region produces a few other alcoholic drinks, such as Grand Marnier, which is famous worldwide.

 

Languedoc

Languedoc

Languedoc is situated in the South of France and the capital is Montpellier. The landscape is composed of plains - particularly in the Minervois - and mountain ranges such as the Pyrénées or the Cévennes.

This is a vast region with products from the land, sea, and also riverways. Garlic, onions and olives are widely cultivated and very present in local recipes, as in all Mediterranean regions. Olives, as well as being frequently used in cuisine, also provide quality olive oils such as the AOC olive oil "l’huile d’olive de Nîmes".

There is a wealth of culinary delights to be found in the Languedoc, particularly regional charcuterie, pastries and one-pot dishes. Each département has its own traditional recipe: in Carcassonne it's cassoulet, in Nîmes it's salt cod brandade (purée), oreillettes (rum and citrus fritters) in Montpellier and the coupetade (a cake) in Lozère.

Salt cod brandade represents the heart of the Languedoc. The salt cod is soaked and then prepared with olive oil and milk, to which potatoes and garlic can be added. The variety of sea and fresh water fish available has led to the creation of other tasty recipes such as bourride sétoise (a monkfish stew), Languedoc boullinade or bouillabaisse (a fish stew similar to bouillabaisse from Marseille) or other kinds of soup.

Meat from this region is well known for its quality, notably the semi-wild Camargue cattle raised on the marshlands. The meat is prepared “en gardiane” - it is marinated for 24 hours in red wine with vegetables and seasoning and served with rice from the Camargue.

Its latitude and sunny climate make the Languedoc a region highly adapted to wine production. Several AOC grands crus, from Muscats (Frontignan, Lunel), to reds and rosés (Minervois,Corbières, Fitou) and sparkling wines (Blanquette de Limoux).

 

Toulouse Country

Toulouse Country

Toulouse country is situated in the Midi-Pyrenee region, in the south of France. It includes the town of Toulouse and the surrounding areas.

Characterized by arid and rocky landscapes as well as fertile plains along the Garonne river, this region takes advantage of a temperate climate and a great deal of sunshine typical of Southern regions. Producing a rich soil and diversity of products, resulting in a cuisine that is varied and audacious with numerous regional dishes.

Above all, Toulouse country is famous for the "Cassoulet de Toulouse", a delicious Occitan dish, composed of local products, such as white kidney beans, mutton, lamb, Toulouse sausage, pork rind and goose or duck confit. Cassoulet is also a specialty from Carcassonne and Castelnaudary, two towns situated in the Languedoc-Roussilon region. However, the recipe is slightly different: leg of mutton and partridge are added in the "Cassoulet de Carcassonne", while there is only pork and sometimes goose confit to the “Cassoulet de Castelnaudary”. Although there are some differences between the three cassoulet recipes, pork rind and sausage are necessary, white kidney beans are recommended, and cooking in a "cassole" (a traditional earthenware pot which gives its name to "cassoulet") is essential.

Toulouse is also very famous for its violet culture, the emblem of the town. The flowers are used to produce chocolate praline candies, crystallized violet, honey, shaped fruit jellies and syrups to name a few.

The cuisine of the Toulouse region often includes charcuterie and fatty breeds of duck and geese.

   
 
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