Top 10 French Culinary Delights

Gabriel Gaté provides a few of his culinary favourites for you to taste on your next trip to France.

The richness of French gastronomy is second to none, thanks to France's mild temperate climate and fertile soil. Each region boasts wonderful specialities and outstanding dishes along with great wines and cheeses. Oui, oui! France is simply unique.

1. Seafood Platter

The seafood platter is one dish I truly enjoy.

Served cold over ice, you'll find it in every seafood restaurant along the coast, as well as brasseries in Paris.

Customise your platter from the menu's choice of freshly opened oysters, scampi, prawns, crabs, sea snails, lobsters, mussels and more, served with rye bread, French butter, mayonnaise and a special shallot and red wine vinegar dressing.

A glass of champagne completes the pleasure.


2. Cheese

The French love their cheese.

In better French restaurants, an elaborate platter with sometimes more than twenty different, perfectly matured cheeses is presented.

Cheese here is traditionally served with bread and is heaven with a glass of red Bordeaux or Burgundy.


3. Charcuterie

On a visit to a beautiful French village, the charcuterie shop is my favourite take-away store, offering unique, regional, home-made small goods like terrines, pâtés, myriad of ham and salami, and prepared salads.


4. French wines

French wines are excellent value by the glass in family restaurants and wine bars. You can also stop at a wine shop for a fine selection at good prices.

French labels can be confusing, so if you want a chardonnay, buy a white burgundy; for a Sauvignon Blanc, choose a wine from the Loire Valley; Alsace is the region that makes superb Riesling; for a Shiraz, look to the Côte du Rhône region; for a Cabernet Sauvignon, try a Bordeaux; and Burgundy makes for great Pinot Noir.


5. Bakery

Do take the time to discover the sublime taste of a freshly baked croissant or baguette with French butter.


6. French desserts

French desserts are always magical.

French chefs make great use of fresh fruits, but it's hard to beat a dessert with liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Green Chartreuse.


7. Seasonal produce

Some foods are seasonal, and in Autumn I never go past a regional speciality of game food, like hare or pheasant served with wild mushrooms, and preferably crèpes.


8. Cakes

The French art of making cakes never ceases to evolve.

Try a classic like a mille-feuille, an éclair or a stunning modern creation with exotic flavours at a pâtisserie.


9. French sauces

Done of the highlights of a gourmet French dish is the sauce.

With a fish dish, try the delicious beurre blanc sauce made with shallots, white wine, vinegar and butter, or a hollandaise sauce.

With meat, try a béarnaise sauce, pepper sauce or red wine sauce.


10. Regional delicacies

Among the regional delicacies, try the cassoulet of the south-west region, a dish of baked beans with duck and selected pork cuts. In Marseille and Provence the bouillabaisse is a must, and in the Alps, enjoy a glorious cheese fondue.

In Alsace, you have to try a choûcroute, in Lorraine, a quiche, and in Burgundy, a coq au vin.

The list is endless and it’s best for you to discover for yourself.