The South of France has a flavorful and savory trademark cuisine… prepare yourtaste buds!
Auvergne : countryside origins
Nourished by the landof Auvergne, Cantal and Haute-Loire, Auvergne’s rustic cuisine famously includes cabbage which is usually stuffed or served in soup or a stew with pork. In fact, the pig is an important staple in Auvergne’s cuisine, used to make ham, sausage, grilled or breaded pig’s feet and grilled bacon, a dish which is commonly served with green Puy lentils. Also important are the tender meats of Charolais de l’Allier or the Salers cows of Cantal. To add to the indulgence factor, the classic dishes “truffade”(which combines potatoes with tomme fraiche) and aligot (also potato-based, with the addition of melted cheese and garlic) can be commonly found in the region.
In the springtime, fish are a welcome addition to many regional dishes, with local specialties such as wild trout, salmon, char, pike and sander. And among the region’s particular culinary stars? Its cheeses, such as Saint-Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert, Cantal, or Salers, which can be accompanied with local red, white, gris or rosé wines.
Lyon: a true capital of gastronomy
A crossroads of European cultures, Lyon is also often known as the mother of French cuisine. With rich culinary traditions and its current reputation for excellence, thanks in large part to star chef Paul Bocuse, Lyon offers unbeatable options for those looking to dine at a Michelin-starred establishment, or just enjoy a hearty and unpretentious meal.
A traditional Lyonnais meal served in a typical bouchon (a small bistro) is heavily centered on meat, with dishes such as andouille (grilled chitterlings sausage), tripe (pig or cow’s stomach), or boudin noir (blood sausage). On the other hand, Chef Bocuse’s “nouvelle cuisine” presents a lighter option, focusing more on fresh ingredients and using less butter and cream.
Other Lyonnais treats include cheeses (such as Saint-Marcellin and Saint-Félicien, to name a few) and desserts: between sweet fritters dusted with sugar, Belle Hélène pears and profiteroles, how can you possibly go wrong?
Savoie : potatoes and cheeses galore
Savoie’s rolling hills, lakes, and streams are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including cows whose milk produces a variety of excellent cheeses, such as reblochon, beaufort, tomme and vacherin. Fondue is often made with cheeses and served with boiled potatoes, and the classic Savoyard dish tartiflette is made with reblochon,potatoes, onions and lardons.
Also well known as part of Savoie’s robust cuisine are its diot sausages, commonly served in a dish with white or red wine and onion (“diots au vin”). And to satisfy a sweet tooth there are glaçons de Megève, which are pralines dipped in meringue.
Hautes-Alpes : cuisine of the mountains
The cuisine of Haute Provence is a traditional one,with a heavy emphasis on natural, fresh products**. A specialty of the city of Gap is strudels made with potatoes, spinach,herbs and meat, as well as sweet varieties. Among other specialties are tomme**(a hard cheese), pâté, ravioli and pastas made with spinach and local cheeses.
Also not to be missed are the region’s fruits, notably apple varieties (such as Passe Crassane and Golden Delicious) and its apricots. The Haute-Alpes is also known for the liqueurs itproduces, such as génépi (which is similar to absinthe), myrtille (a blueberry flavour) and pear. And last but not least, don’t forget to taste Alphand, a light and refreshing beer made in the region.
Marseille’s world-renowned Bouillabaisse
The dish Bouillabaisse has become inseparable in the minds of many from the city of Marseille andthe rest of the Provence region. Originally developed by local fishermen and then adopted by nobles as Marseille grew wealthier, the dish has since become the region’s most iconic specialty. The fish-based recipe is prepared as a soup, from which the pieces of fish are then removed and served separately.
To discourage poor imitations, a set of standards for authentic Bouillabaisse was established in 1980, specifying an exact recipe, the correct fish to use, and proper serving methods. The first rule? The fish should arrive whole on the plate and then be cut in front of the customer!
Nice : a Meditteranean touch
If you had to pinpoint one indispensable ingredient in Nice's cuisine,it would be bread. A well-known dish is pissaladière, which is pizza-like inshape and texture and topped with anchovies, garlic and onion, as well as painbagnat**, a sandwich made on country bread with the ingredients of a classic Niçoise salad** (vegetables, boiled egg, anchovies and tuna).
And let’s not forget some of the region’s other best-known specialties, including ratatouille (made from various vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant) and socca (a chickpea cake made with olive oil and black pepper.)Also common to many Niçois specialties is the use of fresh herbs: basil, fennel,rosemary and thyme are among the favorites in the region.