France 3-Day Itinerary: Foodie Tour
Hello, and welcome to the France 3-Day Itinerary: Foodie Tour! Or as it is otherwise known, “the only France vacation itinerary you’ll ever need.” You may notice that this itinerary does not include Paris; don’t worry, that’s on purpose. It’s because this presupposes that you’re going to be in Paris for a while, you’d like to travel around France for a couple days, and you need the perfect excuse.
First, let me reveal the three magical foodie towns on your itinerary: Lyon, Nice, and Cancale. The unique thing about this itinerary is that you can do all three cities as a whirlwind foodie tour, or choose any combination of one or more for a full immersion into yumminess. It’s your choice – and France isn’t going anywhere, so you can always come back for seconds! It should be noted that to do all three in one go, though, you’d need a car, and to learn why, check out this map:
That’s the route from Cancale (A) to Lyon (B) to Nice (C). See where Paris is, all the way up there? To get from Cancale to anywhere, even if it’s southeast, you have to go back into Paris to get there. So what I’d do, if I didn’t want to do a road trip, is go to Cancale for an overnight trip, then come back to Paris for a night or two, and then head down to Lyon and Nice. And if you wanted to do that at the end of your trip, you can fly out of Nice back to the States direct (into New York’s JFK).
Speaking of logistics, no matter what, you’re going to want to stay overnight in each town (due to food coma). So with that in mind, use these handy widgets to book a good-priced hotel in Cancale, Lyon, and Nice:
Hotels in Cancale
Hotels in Lyon
Hotels in Nice
And now, ladies and gents, let’s get to the FOOD.
Foodie Itinerary: Cancale
Brittany oysters are world-famous, and Cancale is arguably the capital of Oysterstan. Does it seem a little extreme to travel to a not-so-convenient place just to have oysters? Nay. And once you go there, and you eat those oysters while looking out over the bay from which they came, you will know bliss.
Almost anyplace along Quai Gambetta and Quai Admis is fine, but I’m partial to Chez Victor, right at the end of Quai Admis where the pier and lighthouse are. Get the oysters, get the bulots, get a whole raw bar multi-tier plate of goodness, and some white wine to wash it all down. Rinse and repeat during your entire stay.
To get even more psyched for visiting Brittany, check out these links:
Foodie Itinerary: Lyon
Lyon is a big, big foodie destination, specifically the bouchons that specialise in the meat-based Lyonnais cuisine. I’d get there for dinner, and then have a lunch as well – choosing one meal for the down-home traditional fare, and another for more innovation and new takes on the old style.
I don’t have a favorite place in Lyon to tell you about; like so many precious things in life, the bouchons you choose will be a personal choice. You can go on Chowhound message boards or get advice from friends and fellow foodies who’ve been there, but in the end, your best bet is to walk around the old town and see which place calls to your heart (and tummy).
Lyon is a wonderful destination outside of the bouchons, too:
Foodie Itinerary: Nice
Nice is the perfect city for fresh produce – five minutes in the markets in Vieux Nice makes this obvious – and the crowning jewel of veggie awesomeness is the pissaladière. It’s a kind of bready pizza topped with caramelized onions, garlic, olives and anchovy paste (making it salty but not fishy). You can find it in the markets during the day, or served as an appetizer at dinner time.
But that’s not all. There’s also socca, a chickpea crepe best eaten hot off the griddle. And salade niçoise. And moules-frites. And Italian-influenced Mediterranean cuisine that will knock your socks off.
Not to confuse you, but I recommend two non-related places that are both called La Merenda. One is on Rue Raoul Bosio, just off the market. They have no phone, so you’ll need to stop by to make a reservation (which is practically mandatory because it’s so small). The other one is on Rue Francois Gallo, just off Place Rossetti (and down the street from Fenocchio Glacier, which has the best ice cream ever). This is a more casual place that allows you to graze on smaller treats like charcuterie and cheese and the aforementioned pissaladière.
Here’s more info on Nice: