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These Are The Top 5 Destinations In France If You Love Food And Culture

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France is the number one country in the world for tourism, and between the unforgettable gastronomic experiences and the millennia-old heritage, with some cities being nothing short of architectural marvels, it's not hard to see why over 100 million tourists would want to visit each year.

Panoramic View Of The Port Of Marseille, France, Southern Europe

This is a big country, however, roughly the size of Texas, and not one region of France, or how they call it themselves, département, is like the other: for instance, while parts of the north could belong in the wider Celtic or Germanic worlds, much of the south is distinctly Southern European in character.

If it's your first time over, and you're keen on sampling a variety of typically French flavors while also soaking up some culture, these are the top 5 French destinations this year:


Saint Malo, A Walled City In Brittany, France

Brittany is France's northwesternmost peninsula, famous for its rugged nature, wild Atlantic beaches, and Celtic roots.

It is a primarily rural province, with a castle-dotted countryside and countless picturesque villages bretonnes that have yet to learn the dark side of tourism.

As for delicacies, the cuisine bretonne is best represented by its seafood-based dishes, most notably Coquille Saint-Jacques (great scallop), usually served with light pasta or even risotto, hard-hitting cheeses, such as monk-made Saint-Paulin, and fresh, buttery crepes.

Crepes Bretons Served In A Cafe In Brittany, France, Europe

On the culture front, Brittany's top attraction is Saint-Malo, a port city surrounded by walls, with a preserved medieval core, though charming Rennes, with its half-timbered houses and traditional Breton restaurants, and the cobbled, fairytale town of Vannes should not be skipped.


Panoramic Aerial View Of Strasbourg, France, Europe

Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace and a historically-charged city that sits right on the border between France and Germany—albeit indisputably French, it could easily belong in the latter, with its colorful half-timbered houses with motifs and German-influenced cuisine.

No food tour around Strasbourg is complete without trying Tarte flambée (or how it is alternatively called in German, FlammeKueche), a thin-dough pizza topped with creme fraiche and bacon, the sausage-heavy Choucroute Garnie, or the cheese-filled bretzels (yes, with a B).

Tarte Flambee, A Traditional Alsatian Dish Served In Strasbourg, France, Europe

In terms of sightseeing, Strasbourg is dominated by the towering Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the largest Gothic churches in Europe, and once the tallest building in the world, and visitors should definitely make sure they pay the cafe-lined, canal district of Petite-France a visit.


Fourviere Tower Pictured In Lyon, France, Western Europe

Straddling the banks of Saône River, Lyon dates back at least 2,067 years, having been founded first as a Roman colony before proceeding to become a major French city—it's currently the third largest conurbation in the country—and a cultural hub of the first order.

The unofficial French Capital of Gastronomy, it is the proud home of andouillette, a coarsely-cut tripe sausage served with salad and fries, coq au vin, the classic stew made from chicken slowly braised in red wine, and on the sweet side, the marzipan-chocolate fusion known as coussin.

Mini French Quiche Topped With Andouillette, France, Europe

If you're a culture buff, other than exploring the subworld of Lyonnaise brasseries, you'll be thrilled to learn this is a UNESCO World Heritage city traversed by hilly medieval streets and littered with ancient Roman monuments and stunning Gothic churches.


Arc de Triomphe in paris aerial view

The capital and most cosmopolitan city in France, Paris is as famous for its wide, leafy boulevards, lined by stately Haussmann-commissioned buildings, as it is for the delectable cuisine, representative not only of the city, but the entire country:

It is your best bet at savoring different regional cuisines of France in a single destination, as well as culinary efforts commonly attributed to Paris itself, from steak tartare to the world-famous French onion soup (and of course, croissants and every other fresh boulangerie pastry you can possibly name).

Woman Eating Croissant By The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

It may have got some flak from tourists for supposedly being too dirty – ahem, this is a major global metropolis, so would you expect? – or being in a constant state of repair – did you know the Olympics are coming up? – but there's no way you're coming to France and not seeing the twinkling Eiffel.


Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica Atop A Mount Overlooking Marseille, Southern France, Mediterranean Coast Of Europe

Not charming Lyon, and certainly not Paris, the most obvious pick: the best French destination for eating local and experiencing French culture – or one side of it – this year is the lively, chaotic port city of Marseille, on the country's Mediterranean coast.

It is where you will find the iconic bouillabaisse fish soup, anchoïade straight from the market, bottarga, a variation of caviar served as an aperitif in upscale restaurants, and of course, the South's pride and joy, the boat-shaped biscuits called navettes.

Fish Soup Served In A Harborside Restaurant In Marseille, Southern France, Southern Europe

As a sightseeing spot, Marseille will almost certainly not disappoint, either: between its harborside fortifications and the distinctly-Arabic feel, it exists in a world of its own, in striking contrast with the Northern European charm of Paris.

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