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Gastronomy in the Rhône-Alpes

Submitted by on December 4, 2011 – 12:16 amNo Comment

Special to Road Trips for Foodies
By the French Government Tourist Office

The significance of France’s gastronomic heritage, renowned all over the world and recently recognized by UNESCO as an “intangible” treasure, is achieved wholly through the contribution of regions such as the Rhône-Alpes. This region in particular is enriched by strong culinary traditions and benefits from naturally fertile soil and a nurturing climate.

The Rhône-Alpes boasts some of the most creative chefs in the country, the finest vineyards, the tastiest local produce, and a real commitment to maintaining its culinary heritage, sometimes against all odds.

The region is bursting with creative chefs, some of whom have been awarded one of the ultimate prizes in the gastronomic world: a Michelin star. In fact, the 2011 edition of the guide saw 68 Michelin stars awarded to chefs in the Rhône-Alpes, including seven additions made since 2010.

Michelin stars are not the only proof of excellence, but evidence that the region is brimming with places offering flavorful menus, from simple fermes auberge and cafés, to smart tea rooms and bars.

Lyon’s gastronomic heritage is well known thanks to its host of prestigious chefs, including Paul Bocuse, and the city’s traditional bouchons, which were originally opened as places where workers could buy food and drink as well as straw to rub down or “bouchonner” their horses. These restaurants would open very early in the morning to cater to Lyon’s silk workers and then close for the day at midday. Serving simple dishes using basic ingredients such as lambs’ feet and offal, the bouchons also served local wines (ribbons on the bottle neck denoted whether it was Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône).

The city’s chefs and restaurants source much of their produce from the famous local food market, Les Halles de Lyon, which opened at its current site in the 1970s. Revamped between 2004 and 2006, this ultra-modern “foodie” haven boasts 58 vendors, including butchers, grocers, fishmongers, and wine merchants, as well as cafés and bars.

The region boasts four three-star chefs, confirming the high quality of its gastronomic credentials.

Ø Paul Bocuse is the real star of the “foodie” scene in the Rhône-Alpes, having maintained three Michelin stars for more than 40 years. Based in the Lyon area, the chef’s contribution to national and regional gastronomy is unrivaled. Bocuse was recognized by his peers in 2006, when Lyon’s food market was renamed Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Signature dishes at his famous restaurant Auberge du Pont de Collonges in the Monts d’Or include truffle soup and Bresse chicken cooked in a bladder. New developments in the Bocuse empire include four brasseries in Lyon serving menus for between 20€ and 30€.

Ø Anne-Sophie Pic is the only woman to have three Michelin stars. She comes from a family of chefs and continues to create innovative dishes in her distinctive style based on respect, flavors, and simplicity. The restaurant is based in Valence and operates alongside a five-star hotel.

Ø Georges Blanc demonstrates his three-star skills in Vonnas, a pretty village in the middle of the Bresse (Ain) countryside. Set around the village square are a signature restaurant, bistro, bakery, hotel, and spa.

Ø Michel Troisgros continues a long family tradition in his restaurant, Le Buffet de la Gare, in Roanne (Loire), showcasing his distinctive style that uses local ingredients with Japanese and Italian touches.

Rhône-Alpes also has 18 twp-star and 46 one-star restaurants.

(Photo courtesy of the French Government Tourist Office)

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