French Food Trails: An Overview

Why French Food Trails

Every foodie knows that France is gastronomic heaven! Indeed, every single region offers something profoundly unique {and profoundly awesome} in food, drink, and scenery.

Crafting food trails and wine tours through Europe is my greatest passion, and I would happily send everyone I know to France to enjoy her bounty. If you are my client, you probably already know this :). This post is meant to provide a very basic overview of what I consider to be key foodie regions in France. In almost all cases, I would break this up into a few trips for you. To properly follow this trail in one trip would require at least a month.

A well-cultivated journey begins in Reims for a saber lesson and a (lot of) sip(s) of Champagne (you know, to prepare your palate). Two days here are heaven and bubbly. This will be as light as you feel for a long time.

Begin your time in Burgundy in Dijon. You feel like you are home. Feast on coq au vin and boeuf  bourguignonne. Drink a whole lot of Clos de Vougeot…then sniff and sip your way through the Cote d’or with an expert wine guide leading the way. Visit the caves of Beaune. This is a city that has gotten wine tasting right. They actually set up wine crawls for you in one location! Bliss.

It only gets better as you voyage south to Lyon—whether you arrive by train, car, or river cruise—the birthplace of French cuisine. Lunch is reasonably priced and excellent at bouchons like Daniel et Denise, which is good because no trip to Lyon is complete without dinner at Paul Bocuse. Expect this meal to cost as much or more than your hotel for the evening and to enjoy it more.

You’ll be ready for lighter fare and bountiful seafood in the South. Drink bandol and shop in the markets of Provence after resting up and sipping absurd amounts of rosè in the sun-kissed Riviera. Hear me when I tell you this: There is NO experience so fulfilling to the senses as stirring heaping spoons of garlicky rouille and forkfuls of fresh fish into a bowl of bouillabaisse, the sun and salt tickling your face, the lavender air calming your worries, the laughter of your lover and playing children dancing in your ears.

Let’s take a break and just swim in that space for a moment.

Okay. Au revoir, Provence. This is about to get serious, ’cause we’re going to the country! High-end wine geeks won’t visit France and miss Bordeaux and a side trip to the Dordogne for some foie gras. Talk about Localvore!!!! Join a goose farmer at her home for the lunch of a lifetime, then spend a couple of days on an insane taste tour of Haut-Médoc and sample wines you just can’t get your paws on in the States. Just be sure to get a pro with supplier contacts on the ground in Bordeaux–otherwise, enjoy the view from the vineyard gate.

After a fruity, buttery, white wine filled sojourn through the Loire Valley {feel free to sleep in a castle}, we’re finally ready for la belle Paris! I love saving Paris for last, because the food and wine of the capital city articulate the point of view of each region in a way that is so much better appreciated after exploring the countryside.

Here we experience the masterful culmination of a beautiful foodie adventure where we can walk, explore, and take in the charms of bistros and bouchons, street market samples and picnics by the Seine.

Foodies like us could spend years exploring the markets and dining halls of France, sampling her cheeses and sipping her wines and listening to the songs of her street corners, snowy mountains, and salty seas. Don’t let the diversity of options ( that I didn’t even mention here) intimidate you into not going. France isn’t huge. You can handle this! Just be sure and consult a travel professional who is an actual expert and can assemble your tours and transport. Oh, yeah, and pack your eating pants.


Ciao Chow!