Good news for lovers of good food: France has as many succulent specialties as there are regions, departments, and even municipalities. A gastronomic weekend will take you to the four corners of France. One thing is certain, by following this guide, you will not be left hungry! Take the train to discover the best gastronomic cities in France.
Lyon has the enviable title of French gastronomic capital (even though it is fiercely contested by many other cities in France). Embark for the Gare de Lyon-Part-Dieu or the Gare de Lyon-Perrache and set off to discover a real culinary heritage. Lovers of delicately cooked meats and offal, this city is made for you! Of course, your gastronomic visit is accompanied by a visit to the heart of the old town, in search of the best Lyon cork. It’s hard to award a gold medal, but we can at least share with you our favorite: Le Garet, an authentic cork with rich and generous cuisine
Le Garet, 7 rue Garet, 69001 Lyon
A festive and warm regional capital, Lille gathers its visitors around excellent tables for discovery in the rules of the art of specialties. Fricadelles and small rates, Flemish carbonade and maroilles, potjevleesch (or “meat in a small pot”) and chicory au gratin… So many authentic and generous dishes to face the invigorating climate of the North. Good, hot, tasty, and above all, prepared with love! An example? The Pancook, for its impeccable welsh and delicious carbonade. Want to discover the specialties of the northern capital? Come easily by TGV from Paris to Lille in just 1 hour, or from Lyon to Lille in almost 3 hours.
Le Pancook, 125 rue Colbert, 59000 Lille
Could we have omitted the famous cassoulet from Toulouse, among the best in France? In Toulouse, where fresh produce markets flourish every day of the week in the streets or covered market halls, you can also feast on excellent produce matured under the Haute-Garonne sun. And also sausages and duck confit, the latter being for some a meal in its own right! As a digestif and to freshen up your breath, pick a little violet from its old-fashioned round tin … So, where do you eat this cassoulet? At La Cave au Cassoulet, that goes without saying.
La Cave au Cassoulet, 54 rue Peyrolières, 31000 Toulouse
In terms of gastronomy, it is impossible not to mention the Alsatian capital with its traditional sauerkraut, frog legs, cold meats, foie gras, baeckeoffe … Strasbourg is also this magical city which, at Christmas time, is transformed into a real cake house, as in Hansel and Gretel’s tale: cinnamon cookies and shortbread are the delights of those who come to spend the weekend there. And the rest of the year too, if your stomach calls! Where? Au Pont Saint-Martin, a typical establishment of Petite France, whose half-timbered buildings overlook the river
The Pont Saint-Martin, 15 rue des Moulins, 67000 Strasbourg
Lovers of fresh fish, seafood, and crustaceans, the Atlantic coast remains one of the high places of the maritime region. As for delicacies, we are also served in Brest: kouign-amann, Breton pancakes, salted butter caramel … You are free to sit down to a table in front of a glass of cider and a buckwheat pancake or to stroll along the ports to observe the auction sales. In the restaurants, you can also enjoy a unique land-sea cuisine that thrills all the senses, like the Caudalie
Les Caudalies, 1 rue Malakoff, 29200 Brest – +33 2 98 44 95 22
Sardines and bouillabaisse, small shellfish and crustaceans, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables, the cuisine of Marseille are like the city of Marseille: warm, sunny, loud. These are the creamy aioli that you would devour with a teaspoon, these Provençal fougasses, and pissaladières that you pocket for an excursion in the creeks or in the dear hills of Pagnol. Something to hum all day long with a nice pointed accent, as it is at Ida’s, near the Place Jean Jaurès.
Chez Ida, 7 rue Ferdinand Rey, 13006 Marseille
A rival to Toulouse, Bordeaux offers cuisine that is both maritime and terrestrial, where Bordeaux-style fish rub shoulders with wine-merchant entrecote. As for wine, you are bound to be spoiled for choice: it goes wonderfully with local cuisine in all its variations, from lemony between-two-sea to heady Pessac-Léognan. If you are a seafood lover, you will be seduced by the fresh arrivals from the Atlantic with fine and pearly flesh, Arcachon oysters, and whelks. The best place to savor them without limits? Le Merci !, a designer address with a large glass roof over the Garonne, where fish is cooked to perfection and seafood is unlimited
Le Merci !, 10 rue Louis Blériot, 33130 Bègles
Of course, our classification of emblematic cities of French gastronomy would be incomplete without mentioning the Franche-Comté region. The smoked cold meats from Haut-Doubs, the Morteau and Montbéliard sausages, the Haut-Saônoise cancoillotte, and its “potatoes” simply cooked in a field dress, the pink-fleshed trout, chanterelles, and morels. We also do not forget the household cakes and the sugar pie, the cherries from Fougerolles, the blueberries … and a collection of cheeses to take home without shame. In Besançon, capital of the Doubs, we stroll to find the ideal specialty restaurant: namely, for us, the Café Café, which offers fresh and local cuisine, neat, in a deliberately a little retro setting, like at Grandma’s!
The Café Café, 5 bis rue Luc Breton, 25000 Besançon
Le Puy-en-Velay (lovers)
A small town with character in Auvergne, Le Puy-en-Velay can be visited for more than one good reason: its feast of the King of the Bird in September (a Renaissance festival that takes you back to the past), its medieval heritage in the cathedral district, its natural environment… but also its high concentration of high-quality restaurants. Proud of its gastronomic heritage, the Marian city unrolls an appetizing list of specialties: black lamb from Velay, fine fat from Mézenc, trout from Vourzac, green lentils from Puy, Saint-Nectaire, dry sausages from Auvergne … Despite the departure of one of its most famous chefs, François Gagnaire, for the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the beautiful addresses follow one another. One of our favorites is undoubtedly Le 14, the second address of the talented Tournayre couple and an excellent little establishment in the old town, with impeccable value for money. The journey time from Paris to Le Puy-en-Velay is approximately 4 hours 30 minutes. Take the TGV to St-Étienne Châteaucreux, then the TER which takes you directly to Le Puy-en-Velay station
14.12 rue Chênebouterie, 43000 Le Puy-en-Velay
Basque cuisine, we love it with passion or not at all! Generous and blessed with great character, it derives as much from its maritime heritage as from its mountainous land, with a good dose of the sun above. Spice lovers in Bayonne, the Espelette pepper specialties (piperade and axon) can only seduce you. While sea lovers feast on toro and marmitako (traditional fisherman’s stews). There is also Bayonne ham with salt from Salies-de-Béarn, and the essential Basque cake, sprinkled with local cider which would far surpass the Breton and Norman versions according to local consumers. We’ll let you be the judge by visiting Petit Bayonne, undoubtedly one of the gastronomic best restaurants in town.
Le Petit Bayonne, 23 rue des Cordelier, 64100 Bayonne