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Scenic Sapphire in Avignon, France. Photo: Supplied
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Outstanding museums, oodles of history, urban style and fashion chic: there are plenty of reasons why France is a must visit destination, but surely its dining experiences top the list. This is the country that gave us Michelin stars, the white chef's hat and haute cuisine. Yet France also has an incredible range of earthy ingredients and homey regional food, and plenty of traditional eateries in which to enjoy them. French food seldom disappoints. That's certainly true in destinations visited with Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, which are some of the best for regional dining and wine in France.

With the launch of Scenic Culinaire on its South of France and Bordeaux cruises, Scenic now offers a food experience on board, too. On a Shop with the Chef excursion, guests visit a local market to gather fresh ingredients, then learn to cook regional dishes in ship-board classes taught by culinary experts. Inspired by Scenic Culinaire and this month's Tour de France, we take you on a Tour de Cuisine that highlights France's top food towns and regions visited by Scenic, and just a few of their must sample dishes. We hope it whets your appetite for a visit to the world's most renowned food destination. Bon appetit!

THE DESTINATION: LYON

WHY HERE

Lyon is considered France's gastronomic capital, renowned for Michelin-star restaurants but, equally, its neighbourhood eateries or bouchons which serve dishes such as dumplings, roast pork and sausages. As you take a Scenic cruise you'll want to admire patisserie windows, and perhaps nip inside for Lyon cushions, made from marzipan and chocolate, and coloured green. The surrounding Beaujolais wine region, which you can visit on a Scenic Freechoice tour, is especially known for the Gamay grape variety, which produces a light, fruity red wine.

IF YOU ONLY TRY ONE DISH

Coq au vin is one of France's legendary dishes and originated in Lyon centuries ago. The vin (wine) referred to must be a red from the surrounding Burgundy region. The chicken is braised in the wine (and sometimes a dash of brandy) along with mushrooms, onions, garlic and aromatic herbs.

SCENIC SAYS

Visit the exclusive Paul Bocuse culinary school to learn the fine art of French cooking and sample some of the wares, included as an experience on Scenic's Spectacular South of France itinerary.

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Scenic's cruises in Provence and Burgundy sail the Rhone and the Saone. Among them is a 13-day South of France itinerary between Chalon-sur-Saone and Tarascon, and a 14-day Spectacular South of France journey between Paris and Nice.

THE DESTINATION: RHONE-ALPES

WHY HERE

This region of eastern France, named for its chief river and nearby Alps, has cuisine as varied as its landscapes and is especially noted for Cotes du Rhone wines, which you can sample with Scenic at Chateauneufdu-Pape. Lovely river port Tain l'Hermitage, included in the Scenic South of France itinerary, is the hometown of upmarket Valrhona chocolate, founded there in 1922, as you'll discover on a Scenic tour and tasting. Other regional must-tries include candied chestnuts, walnut tart and olives.

IF YOU ONLY TRY ONE DISH

Tartiflette, a type of gratin, is a typical hearty alpine dish, perfect if the weather is cold. It's made with potatoes, cubes of lardon (a type of fatty bacon), onions and the ripe, soft-rind reblochon cheese of the region. The alternative croziflette uses pasta instead of potatoes. SCENIC SAYSGet inspired by the amazing regional produce in the local markets, then join your on-board culinary team for a cooking lesson in Scenic Culinaire, using regional recipes.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Scenic has several river cruises along the Rhone and its tributary, the Saone, including the 16-day South of France Indulgence with a Paris extension. One of the unforgettable Scenic experiences is an after-hours visit to the Popes' Palace in Avignon for an exclusive gala dinner and classical concert.

THE DESTINATION: BORDEAUX

Quai des Chartrons Market, Bordeaux, Paris ScenicFranceWrap

Photo: supplied

WHY HERE

The gracious city of Bordeaux in southwest France sits amid the world's most famous wine regions, including Me´doc and Saint-Emilion, both visited on included Scenic shore excursions. On some cruises, you can enjoy a Scenic Sundowner surrounded by the vines of Chateau de la Rivie`re. Satisfying food from the Bordeaux countryside is rich, fatty and rustic, with an emphasis on pigeon, duck, boar, mushrooms and foie gras. You'll see these products in the market on Scenic's Shop with a Chef option, which is followed by an on-board cooking lesson.

IF YOU ONLY TRY ONE DISH

Entrecote a la bordelaise, or steak Bordeaux style, is a lip-smacking rib steak slow simmered in a rich gravy made with butter, herbs, shallots, bone marrow and of course a good red Bordeaux wine. Don't confuse it with entrecote bordelaise, a much less exciting peppered steak sprinkled with raw onion.

SCENIC SAYS

Explore Chateau Franc Mayne wine estate and taste the quality Grand Cru wine produced there on a Scenic Free choice option on its Breathtaking Bordeaux itinerary.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

A 12-day Breathtaking Bordeaux journey begins in Paris and sails the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and Gironde Estuary in the Bordeaux region. Among Scenic Enrich tours is a visit to enchanting Chateau Agassac, one of the Medoc's oldest winemakers, for an exclusive evening classic concert.

THE DESTINATION: GASCONY

WHY HERE

The southwest corner of France, bordering the Pyrenees and Spanish border, is celebrated for its country comfort food, often cooked in duck or goose fat and featuring mushrooms, mild chillies, garlic, game birds and hearty cassoulet stews. Gascony is also the home of Armagnac, France's oldest brandy, but famous for its wines. Scenic excursions might explore this impressive heritage on visits to leading red-wine producer Chateau Gruaud-Larose, or Chateau Guiraud for prestigious Sauternes dessert wines. An onboard wine-and-chocolate pairing event is a wonderful indulgence.

IF YOU ONLY TRY ONE DISH

The best-known regional pastry is canele´, eaten for breakfasts, snacks or as a dessert. The small, fluted cake is flavoured with vanilla and dark rum and has a soft custard centre hidden inside a caramelised outer crust. Usually sold in batches of six, they're most delectable if eaten warm.

SCENIC SAYS

Visit the local truffle farm in Cadillac to see how truffles are grown and to sample this delicious regional delicacy, often used in egg dishes or poultry stuffing.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Scenic's 12-day Breathtaking Bordeaux includes a Paris extension. Enjoy a guided tour of 16thcentury Libourne or explore Chateau Franc Mayne and taste its Grand Cru Class wine, or visit Bergerac and enjoy a foie gras tasting at a local farm.

THE DESTINATION: NORMANDY

WHY HERE

Abandon your diet if you're travelling in this northern region, renowned for its lavish use of salted butter, cream, milk and soft cheeses, most famously the white-rind Camembert. Normandy apples are also famous, made into tarts, cider and Calvados brandy. Apples are sure to star in the desserts featured by a local patissier one evening on board Scenic cruises. A Scenic excursion visits lovely Chateau de Chantilly where whipped cream (or Chantilly cream) is said to have been invented in the mid-17th century.

IF YOU ONLY TRY ONE DISH

Moules a la creme normande is true comfort food featuring fresh mussels cooked in white wine, local cider, cream and garlic – a great combination of Normandy's field and ocean produce. Eat it with crusty baguette to soak up the juices.

SCENIC SAYS

At the end of your cruise, experience the food of Paris and shop with a chef in the city's food markets, enjoying some tastings of local produce.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Scenic's river cruises on the Seine River sail through Normandy. Among them is an 11-day Highlights of Normandy & Gems of the Seine itinerary, round-trip from Paris. Manoir d'Apreval estate exclusively welcomes Scenic guests for a cocktail event showcasing their apple spirits from the picturesque Calvados region.

DINING TIPS

● Scenic's shipboard Table la Rive and Table d'Or are exclusive dining options for its Diamond Deck guests. The intimate dining experiences for a maximum of 10 passengers per night feature a six-course degustation menu with sommelier matched wines.

● Scenic Sundowners provide opportunities to enjoy canape´s and a favourite drink in many beautiful locations across France, such as the terrace of Tourn on Castle overlooking the Rhoˆne River, or amid the vineyards of SaintE´milion at Chateau Siaurac near Bordeaux.

● Scenic Culinaire is available on the waterways of Bordeaux as well as the Rhone and Saone Rivers. Exclusive onboard cooking lessons feature regional recipes and ingredients bought from local markets.

● Tipping is included on Scenic cruises, but when off the ship 10 per cent suffices in cafe´s and restaurants. Many French just round up the bill or leave the loose change after a coffee or snack.

For more information, contact your local travel agent or call 1300 318 067 or see www.scenic.com.au

This content is produced in association with Scenic.

from traveller.com.au