It is impossible to visit France and not be enchanted by its wonderful cuisine. For the French, food is a way of life; meals are far more than just a time to eat, but a time to gather, exchange views and enjoy the pleasure of well prepared food together. |
For this reason a meal in France cannot be rushed. Expect a leisurely aperitif – perhaps accompanied by a taste bud-tantalising amuse bouche – to lead into an excellent three- or four-course meal complete with wine and cheese.
Visitors enjoying a French barge cruise will find that the pace of a meal mirrors the gentle flow of the water below them, and the wine at their table. Food is part of the culture in France, and eating it is a leisurely exploration of the land itself.
The Taste of Burgundy
In order to really say that you have ‘explored’ the beautiful region of Burgundy on your French barge cruise, you must spend as much time sampling its glorious, rich dishes and elegant fine wines as wandering its streets and fields. Burgundy is a region in which both food and wine, sourced from the same rich terrior, are an integral part of the area itself.
Think of stews bursting with the flavour of meat reared in its fields; wine grown in its many unending vineyard; mustard ground from seeds ripened in the sun; and snails fed on its famous vines. These are the ingredients which make up the heart of Burgundy cuisine.
Dishes to Discover
While visitors to France often look forward to excellent ‘French’ food, it’s worth bearing in mind before you set off on you French barge cruise to Burgundy that each region has its own unique cuisine, fed by local flavours and ingredients. In Burgundy’s case, however, these ingredients have become so world-renowned that the local dishes of the region have become a part of what we now consider quintessentially French cuisine.
Dishes like Boeuf Bouguignon – in which the famously mellow local red wine is combined with the region’s Charolais cattle to create a warming mellow stew bursting with flavour – have become a popular staple in many French brasseries. Other dishes, like escargots à la Bourguignonne, were not just created in the region, but depend on its local black snails raised and fed on local grape leaves.
You may well have seen on menus the AOC Poulet de Bresse, referring to chickens raised in and around Bresse in Burgundy. The free-range chickens are fed on rich, creamy milk and wheat which flavours the meat, making it the perfect ingredient for any chicken dish. Combine this chicken with the famous local Dijon mustard and some excellent local Chablis and you would have a feast fit for a king (or a guest travelling on a French barge cruise).
Of course, you can’t visit Burgundy without trying its most famous export. From the world-famous Chablis to the wonderful range of mellow reds and fruity whites, the wine of Burgundy is revered around the globe. For the locals of the region, the wonderful wine is simply a seamless accompaniment to their flavoursome cuisine. For visitors pairing the wines made from grapes grown in the vineyards with food produced from the same landscape, Burgundy’s gastronomy can be a wonderful culinary adventure.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury French barge cruise itineraries, and barge cruises to other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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