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Get ready for beginners’ French
Get ready for beginners’ French

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3 French regional food cultures

Beyond Paris, many French people place a great deal of importance on food – much like the British often resort to talking about the weather, French people will chat about what they had for dinner the night before, or what they’re thinking of cooking that evening. And although the pace of modern life has certainly affected how people eat, preparing food and taking time to enjoy it remains important.

Because the geography of France is so varied – from the coast of Brittany in the West to the mountains of the Vosges, the Jura and the Alps in the East – most regions boast an impressively diverse menu. From bouillabaisse (a fish soup from Provence) to choucroute (a dish of sauerkraut, sausages and pork, popular in Alsace), there are dozens of dishes and drinks to try when visiting a new region. Some regional specialities, such as foie gras or champagne, have become internationally famous.

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Figure 5 French foods

Activity 2 French dishes

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Many French dishes are popular all over the world. Here are some well-known regional specialities, with only the first word given. See if you can match them up.

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Have you ever tried any of them? Here’s some information on which part of France each dish comes from:

  • Moules marinières: from the coast of Northern France, near Calais and Dunkerque.

  • Quiche Lorraine: from the North East, near Metz and Nancy.

  • Bœuf bourguignon: from the Burgundy region, near Dijon.

  • Crêpes Suzette: from Brittany, near Brest, Lorient and Rennes.

  • Ratatouille niçoise: from the South coast, near Nice.

  • Fondue savoyarde: from the Savoie region in the Alps, near Annecy and Chambéry.

  • Gratin dauphinois: from the South East, near Grenoble.

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Figure 6 Map of France

How much do you know about the regions and towns of France? When you take a beginners’ French course, you will learn more about the geography of the country, and the many vibrant regions and towns it contains. And this extends beyond just France. Look at Figure 8 to see how varied French landscapes can be.

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Figure 7 Clockwise from top left: Brittany, the French Alps, fields in Central France, the tropical forest of Martinique

Some of these photos may have surprised you – particularly the French Caribbean island of Martinique. The next activities will show you how far from Europe some French territories are.