Please sign in to post.

Food tour of French countryside (not Paris)

I believe my earlier posting may have been sent too soon. Looking for recommendations of restaurants specializing in local cuisines and specialties in Burgundy, Beaujolais and Provence. Probably will be driving. Small towns are fine, larger cities if there is a not-to-be-missed restaurant there. Feel free to tell me we're wrong to select any or all of those 3 provinces, and we should be visiting others. Keep in mind that our time is limited: 10 days to 2 weeks max. I speak French passably (although that will be tested in the smaller towns), my husband will be smiling and waiting for me to translate. We were saddened to read the recent New York Times article that seemed to say that French cuisine has fallen victim to the pull of modernity, and diners are likely to find their food has been frozen, freeze-dried, and (horrors!) prepared off-site, sometimes as far away as Thailand. We nearly cancelled our plans to travel to France when we read this, but still would like to forge ahead. Any recommendations?

Posted by
2251 posts

While I can't give you suggestions for the specific areas you list, it seems that a stop in Lyon could be in order, there are certainly many unique regional restaurants there. We will be there in September, I'm hoping for a wonderful Quenelle in one of the Buchons.
Also, I have to say that way too much has been made of this survey which Mark Bittman refers to, it ostensibly portends the end of great French food-nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion. For so-called foodies like you and me, this issue naturally becomes a small concern, since what we are doing tends to weed out a lot of these sorts of eateries. The new home cooking logo and "rules" are a French tourism publicity stunt. By taking an honest look at a given restaurant, bistro, cafe, etc (I'll leave brasserie's out for now...) and using many different sources of information to decide if one wants to dine at a given spot, we can gain lots of assurance that it will be a unique experience using the freshest of (site prepared) ingredients. To actually consider canceling a trip based on one inflammatory article or "survey" is over the top. Go to France and eat good food.

Posted by
4 posts

Dave,
Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement. We had pretty much decided to ignore the negative comments in the NY Times article, and plan the trip we'd been dreaming about . We will definitely look into Lyon, as it would fit nicely with the itinerary that is taking shape. We just heard about my brother and sis -in-law's trip to northern Italy (Verona, Florence, Venice and the lake area up north). We're thinking of doing Beaujolais, Provence, and then over to Tuscany. We hope to be able to post some good info when all is done.
Miriam

Posted by
8499 posts

I would stick with the Michelin red guide book, or on line at viamichelin, to find regional restaurants that do most of their own cooking. Get to know the symbols in order to distinguish between a good restaurant in a pinch and a very good one. There you'll find chef-owners who take pride in their product.

Posted by
4 posts

Bets,
Thanks for your suggestion. We have the red Michelin guide, and will definitely use it.

Posted by
2353 posts

The other thing I thought of just as a reminder is to get recommendations for Sunday's. Sunday's in France are commonly set aside for family time and many restaurants are closed. Not sure how widely it is still practiced - I am thinking still pretty common in the countryside & smaller towns.

Not just France though - we were in Ulm, Germany last year on a Sunday and there was not one restaurant in town open - zip, zero, nada! The only exception was the train station! It was a rather cold & rainy day - we braved the weather long enough to see the Dom, walk to the train station and have a hamburger, stop at the store there and buy some snacks, beers & wine then back to the hotel to hunker down for the rest of the day! It was actually a welcome day of rest during a 6 week trip.

Posted by
8293 posts

Contrary to Christi's perception of restaurants on Sundays, it has been my experience that large family gatherings at midday on a Sunday are quite common in restaurants. We have often seen four generations being seated for Sunday lunch as we toured France. And by the way, the children behaved very well as did the dogs!

Posted by
2353 posts

I guess Norma it just depends on where you are. I was mainly speaking of the ones you will find in the countryside - or small village. Some might be open for brunch or lunch hours 12:00 - 14:00 but not for dinner. A few that come to mind are Cléménce Estaminet, Auberge des Trois Marchands & Lancelot. Our first time we were unaware of this and drove a while before finding one open.

Posted by
16883 posts

The Michelin Red Book will keep you on track. I also usually appreciate (recent) reviews from NYT's Mark Bittman and from The Guardian. It's no guarantee, but when the menu is hand-written on a blackboard, I usually believe that it is seasonal and fresh. While it would be easier for a braised coq au vin, a duck confit, or a dessert not to be made in-house, a grilled meat or fish at least must be cooked on the spot.

Posted by
8499 posts

I'm glad Christi clarified that she meant dinner on Sunday, not lunch. You could starve on Sunday night in some places after feasting at noon--but you'll have your Michelin with the closing days and weeks listed.