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10 cities known for their gourmet specialties

"How can you govern a country where there are 246 varieties of cheese?" said De Gaulle. Gastronomy is an integral part of the discovery of the cities of France and their regions. French cuisine is rich, varied and renowned throughout the world. Many cities in the country have developed their own culinary specialties, so much so that they are sometimes true emblems of the city. From north to south and from west to east, here are 10 French cities known for their specialties to put on your plate. This will give you great ideas for trips to discover the heritage, take advantage of the cultural offer and of course, make some gastronomic stops to savor the products that make the pride of the locals.

1- Dijon and its mustard

In the 18th century, a Dijon family, the Naigeons, reintroduced the ancestral methods of making Dijon mustard, by making it not with vinegar but with green grape juice, the verjuice. A typical Dijon condiment, mustard was already very popular at the time of the Dukes of Burgundy. It is still appreciated today, where it accompanies many dishes and is essential to certain recipes. Today, when visiting Dijon to take advantage of the city's beautiful heritage and its attractiveness, don't miss a day trip to Beaune to visit the Fallot mustard factory, one of the last great family mustard factories in Burgundy. Workshops are offered to make your own mustard, and you will see that the product can be used in many different ways

2- Le Mans and its rillettes

Known all over the world for the famous 24 hours of Le Mans, the city of Sarthe is nevertheless a charming city to visit, especially the Plantagenet City, a medieval part rich in monuments and timber-framed facades. Although there is a small war between Le Mans and its neighbor Tours as to the origin of rillettes, the city of the Pays de la Loire region offers them everywhere, to be savored on a good slice of bread and with pickles. Le Mans is also rich in several meat-based specialties, such as the marmite sarthoise, a recipe based on rabbit, chicken, mushrooms, carrots and cabbage, accompanied by a local dry white wine.

3- Bayonne and its ham

Bayonne, capital of the French Basque Country, is known for its famous red and white festivals! The city is also a gastronomic land of choice where you can taste a delicious Basque cake and especially a ham renowned throughout the world! Bayonne ham has a controlled geographical indication and is only produced in the Adour basin, i.e. the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and its bordering cantons. In Bayonne, local ham can be enjoyed in restaurant dishes, on pintxos as an aperitif and a museum is also dedicated to it: the Musée du Jambon de Bayonne of the Maison Aubard.

4- Ambert and its fourme cheese

Ambert is a charming sub-prefecture of the Puy-de-Dôme, historically renowned for its paper mills. It was an important center for the diffusion of ideas at the time of the Reformation. Today, it owes its fame to its succulent specialty: the fourme d'Ambert. This blue-veined cheese, protected by the AOP label, is said to be one of the oldest in France. Caesar, before going to Gergovie, would even have stopped in Ambert to taste it! Fourme d'Ambert is an Auvergne cheese that can be enjoyed at the end of a meal as well as in quiche, salad or melted on a good slice of toasted bread. The ideal is also to accompany it with a glass of red wine

5- Aix-en-Provence and its calissons

For history lovers, you should know that the calisson of Aix dates back to the 15th century at the time of King René. It is said that the confectioner of the latter had developed this recipe to impress Queen Jeanne on her wedding day. She named them "di calin soun" which means "they are cuddly" in Provencal language. The calisson is a confection made of fruit paste, candied melon and almonds crushed together and covered with a glaze. During a walk in the heart of the old town, after having strolled on the Cours Mirabeau or on the beautiful Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, it is impossible not to stop in a store to taste the calisson ofAix-en-Provence, registered in the city's living heritage

6- Espelette and its pepper

Although it originally comes from the West Indies, this red pepper has been cultivated by the inhabitants of the Basque Country town since the 17th century. Today, it can be found everywhere in the city: hanging from the facades and balconies of houses after being dried at the end of the summer, in dishes served in restaurants as well as in gourmet stores. After being used for its medicinal virtues and then to preserve meat and ham, it is now a key element of Basque cuisine. The European Union has even granted it an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée). A tip: don't miss a stroll through the pretty typical streets ofEspelette during the weekend of October when the inevitable Chilli Festival is held

7- Saint-Émilion and its wine

How not to be immediately charmed by this splendid Gironde town? Founded on a monastery of the 7th century, Saint-Émilion is now classified as a UNESCO world heritage site for its many historical monuments and its world-renowned vineyard. The medieval city offers a real journey through time and a multitude of stores offer to leave with some bottles of great wines in the basket. You can also discover the different stages of the production of its AOC red wine in the numerous castles in the area. Budding gardeners will even leave with a small vine branch to cultivate!

4- Neufchâtel-en-Bray and its cheese

France is a country known for the great variety of its cheeses. Among them is Neufchâtel, a raw cow's milk cheese that belongs to the family of soft cheeses with a bloomy rind. Traditionally presented in the shape of a heart, it can also be found in round or square shapes. It takes its name from the fact that it is made around Neufchâtel-en-Bray, in the Bray region of Normandy. The city is now a new town, since it was destroyed in large part by the Wars of Religion and by the Second World War. Holder of an AOC since 1969, Neufchâtel cheese can be tasted with a good bread and accompanied by a glass of cider, old port wine or Bordeaux wine. It can also be cooked and eaten on toast.

2- Montélimar and its nougat

Between Valence and Avignon, Montélimar opens the doors of Provence. If its gentle way of life and the richness of its architectural heritage seduce visitors, it is its specialty that attracts them the most: the famous nougat! Since the second half of the 17th century, Montélimar has become the temple of this delicacy thanks to the cultivation of almond trees on its territory. One succumbs to this sweetness in one of the many factories of the city. And to discover its manufacturing secrets, go to the Palace of Sweets, Nougat and Memories. The place also houses several museums and play areas that will delight children.

10- Reims and its pink cookies

Reims is nicknamed the "city of kings" because it is here, in the cathedral, that the kings of France were crowned from the 11th century. But Reims is also the "city of bubbles", well known for its champagne in which we dip a succulent boudoir: the pink cookie of Reims. Created in the 17th century, it is now exclusively produced by the Fossier house. It is possible to visit the cookie factory to learn more about the conception of this essential delicacy. Accompanied by wine or in charlotte, the pink cookie is a pleasure that we do not refuse!

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