13 Best French Food Trips

13 best French food trips


For a visit to the French capital of chocolate

The tranquil city of Bayonne embodies the gastronomic energy of the Basque region, historically famed for its artisanal hams, and as the French capital of chocolate. The legendary Chocolat Cazenave serves up intense bubble-topped ‘sparkling’ hot chocolates in porcelain cups. Chocolaterie Xokola Etxetera specialises in chocolate spreads infused with spicy Espelette pepper, and L’Atelier du Chocolat Bayonne has its iconic Bayonne chocolate shard bouquets. Eat pintxos including jamon croquettes, truffled croque monsieur and Pyrenees milk-fed lamb kebabs at Les Basses Pyrénées bar. Then, for dinner, head to La Brasserie Basa for fish dishes with daily catch from the local village of Saint-Jean-De-Luz, and sweet creations such as buckwheat almond praline choux to finish.

Bayonne, France - Pont Marengo bridge over Le Nive river with the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie de Bayonne, in background. View from Quai des Corsaires.


For a foodie ski trip

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Looking for the best French ski trip? Set in the French Alps, Flaine is the ideal base for a weekend spent skiing and indulging in vin chaud and crepes. Make Terminal Neige Totem your base, with its views out on the slopes and outdoor hot tub. The buffet food they offer is much more than your average spread, think plates of charcuterie and cheese, pan-fried seabass as well as fondue. Don’t miss out on the dessert bar – a place to indulge in Nutella mug cakes, made-to-order waffles and homemade bluberry marshmallows. If you need a break from all the skiing, head to one of the street food stalls in Flaine Forum and warm yourself up with hot crepes.

Read our full guide to Flaine, here.

crepe and dubuffet sculpture in Flaine


For chocolat-style villages

Slow travel doesn’t get more quintessentially French than puttering down a dirt track fringed with fields of apricots and vines in a Citroën 2CV, the roof down, a Panama-wearing guide at the wheel. I had followed my nose to the Gard, in the Occitane region, on the western edge of Provence, but now that I was here my nose was twitching with sensory overload.

Pungent truffles and gummy bears? Just two of the more unusual ingredients on the menu in Uzès, one of those achingly pretty French towns whose Chocolat-style looks make it seem like a Hollywood film set. Indeed, its plane-tree-pricked Place aux Herbes once starred in the Gérard Depardieu movie Cyrano de Bergerac.

In this authentically French town you’ll find pungent truffles, picholine olives and liquorice. Be sure to visit on a Wednesday or Saturday when you’ll find a food market in full swing. And don’t miss a visit to Boulangerie Fougasse d’Uzès where you can by fougasse filled with anchovies and olives.

Read our full guide to Uzes, here.

Uzes, Provence, France


For a foodie French seaside trip

If you’re looking for a French spring getaway, head to Biarritz – a glitzy seaside resort which is the perfect place for cheese lovers. Start off with a visit to Crampotte 30, an old fisherman’s hut turned restaurant serving a selection of pintxos. Head to halles-biarritz for a selection of regional produce including dry-cured bayonne ham. Don’t leave before visiting Patisserie Miremont, a confectionary shop that dates back to the 19th century. Order the speciality which is a chocolate mousse cake called Le Beret Basque.

Read our full guide to Biarritz, here

Biarritz confectionary shop

Europcamp Domaine de Massereau

For a foodie family camping trip

Eurocamping is an affordable way to have a family holiday, but Domaine de Massereau promises so much more than just a campsite. The on-site vineyard produces 30,000 bottles a year, and you can sample of few of them on the free one hour-tour and tasting each evening. If you find one you like, stock up as they’re rarely exported. If you want to eat on-site, you can order pizzas fresh from the wood-fired oven or seafood platters piled high with crabs, razor clams and langoustines. Should you wish to explore the local area, head into Sommières – a beautiful French town with shuttered buildings and market squares.

Read our full guide to Eurocamp Domaine de Massereau, here.

Glass of rose wine at Eurocamp

South Pigalle, Paris

For Parisian patisserie

The once overlooked SoPi neighbourhood is now a must-visit for its artisan patisseries, hip bistros and stellar cheese shops. If you’re travelling to Paris for the patisserie alone, check out Sébastien Gaudard’s Rue des Martyrs boutique. Whether you want a choux bun, or a jar of crème de marrons (chestnut cream), you’ll feel like a child in a sweet shop. They look almost too good to eat, but don’t let that stop you. After all those cakes, a coffee might be in order, so stop off at KB Café Shop. After spending time in Sydney, the French owner wanted to bring some Australian influence back to France. It’s got a relaxed vibe and the beans are roasted on site so they’re as fresh as can be.

Read more about our stops on the foodie tour of South Pigalle, Paris, here

French pâtisserie from South Pigalle, Paris


For luxury relaxation

Hilltop village Crillon Le Brave is a vision of Provençal style; a clutch of honey-hued, pastel-shuttered houses surrounded by slopes carpeted with olive groves and vineyards. The top of the village is now the effortlessly elegant five-star Hotel Crillon Le Brave. The highlight has to be the 180-degree views of unspoilt rolling countryside, vineyards, olive groves and Mount Ventoux. Made of nine houses linked together by the village streets, the 34 rooms are stylishly decorated in soothing neutral tones with Diptyque products in every bathroom

Spend your time playing boules in the terraced garden, relaxing by the pool the or having a massage in the tiny spa set in atmospheric ancient vaulted stables. Should you be able to tear yourself away from the hotel, borrow e-bikes to explore through fields and tiny villages, hike up Mount Ventoux itself, head to a wine-tasting at nearby Cheateau Pesquie (and enjoy picnic in the pretty garden) or visit the idyllic village of L’Isle Sur-La-Sorgue on market day for antiques, bountiful fresh produce and lavender souvenirs to take home. The pretty walled city of Avignon is also a short drive away for soaking up some history. After a day of exploring, return to the hotel for dinner on the terrace at La Table du Ventoux. Admire the panoramic views whilst dining on seasonal French cuisine – expect local asparagus in spring and strawberries in summer.

Doubles from £408, check availability at booking.com or mrandmrssmith.com

Hotel Crillon Le Brave


For local produce

Calvados, cream, butter, cheese, apples, cider: like many places in France, Normandy is not easy on the arteries. It is, however, a superb place to sample AOC-status booze and food made by small, unfussy family producers, many of whom have been perfecting their produce since William the Conqueror started peppering the landscape with castles. Just a short hop across the Channel, it’s recently been made more accessible thanks to new self-guided tours designed by accommodation outfit Sawdays. These link up its most special places to stay with local distilleries, cider houses, orchards, farmers’ markets and artisan food stores.

Read more about local food producers in Normandy here



For the home of crêpes

You’re never more than a frisbee’s throw from a crêperie in Brittany. The northwest corner of France is famous for its pancakes – sweet, wafer-thin crêpes smeared with salted caramel or buckwheat galettes stuffed with artisan sausage. It’s also a popular bucket-and-spade destination. But there’s more to Brittany than beaches and pancakes. Its larder is bulging with cider, oysters and onions; that French stereotype, the beret-clad man on a bike with a string of onions round his neck, was an ‘onion Johnny,’ hopping from Brittany to Britain to sell sweet, pink onions from Roscoff. Butter is also big in Brittany – rich, creamy and seasoned with fleur de sel from the Guérande.

Read more about the food of Brittany, France, here

brittany 2

The Dordogne

For rural idyll

There’s a reason why the Dordogne river has long been a magnet for those of us in search of classic beauty: it undulates through some of the loveliest parts of France, curling round towns and villages of gasp-inducing gorgeousness and, despite the odd sighting of jet-skis, gives the impression that nothing much ever changes. Chateau de la Treyne, clinging to the steep banks of the river, intensifies this impression, with its baronial, wood-panelled rooms, vast open fireplaces and sense of serenity. Our elegant room looks out onto the river, its misty morning majesty quite the way to start a day. As is a breakfast of tiny, freshly made omelettes, cured ham, just-baked baguette and pastries, homemade jams and butter so luscious you could eat it by the spoonful.

It’s hard to tear ourselves away from this historic luxury, but we do manage a wander to nearby Souillac (not for food, but for the slightly creepy Automaton museum; unmissable if you love the bizarre). And Sarlat, whose Saturday market is almost impossibly over-subscribed at the height of the summer season. As with many tourist destinations, the restaurants haven’t the greatest reputation, so we content ourselves with buying fat, vac-packed sausages and figs from the covered market in the Église Sainte Marie. For a blissful bout of people-watching at the heart of the market square, we park ourselves at hilarious Jimmy’s Bar, a rockabilly French fantasy of a US diner, to eat oysters from one of the nearby market stalls and quantities of chilled Bergerac rosé.

Read more about edible delights of the Dordogne here


Les Sources de Caudalie

For French country chic

Twenty minutes’ drive from Bordeaux, Les Sources de Caudalie is the epitome of French country chic. There’s a stone manor house at its heart, a small lake, and a hard-working kitchen garden, plus a hamlet-like extension of new suites. Great food and wine are the focus at this gastronomic getaway, but even the finest dining (the hotel’s main restaurant, La Grand’Vigne, holds two Michelin stars) is done without fuss.

The three restaurants at Les Sources have most tastes covered. Celebrate a special occasion with dinner in La Grand’Vigne and enjoy a meal where even the table salts stick in the memory (one of ours, blended with Bordeaux pimento, was the colour of roast peppers). The cheeseboard comes with fresh cottage cheese, from a local dairy, served with a dot of cherry jam.

Read about the rest of our visit to Les Sources de Caudalie, France, here

Les Sources de Caudalie

Bordeaux in winter

For a winter getaway

This city’s robust signature dishes, rib-sticking entrecôte cooked in red wine, butter, shallots, herbs and bone marrow sauce, confit duck and lamprey, come into their own in winter, and it’s an excellent place to shop for foodie stocking fillers.

At L’Olivier you can order casual dishes such as crisp pizzas with Parma ham, purple artichokes and rocket leaves, or whole grilled sole with herb dressing, but the main attraction is Restaurant Joël Robuchon, which sees the stellar chef at full creative sparkle; a jewel-like starter of king crab, with lobster jelly and caviar.

Read more about our winter trip to Bordeaux here



For seaside fun

Sète’s sandy beaches are thronged with visitors during summer, but the peninsula has bigger fish to fry than tourism – it’s the largest fishing port on the French Mediterranean coast, and behind it is the oyster-filled Thau lagoon. It’s picturesque, too – from the hillside ‘Little Naples’ district to its boat-lined canals, the 19th-century facades are an attractive reminder of the town’s prosperous wine-trading heritage.

Local recipes – such as octopus-stuffed tielle pie – have stood the test of time, many brought by the Italian immigrants that settled here in the last century. The best seafood restaurants are along Quai Maximin Lucciardi near the harbour, where you’re likely to spot fishermen unloading still-writhing stock.

Read more about the sandy beach town of Sète here


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