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Discover the Rhône in Five Recipes


Home to stunning works of art, spellbinding architecture and significant cultural remnants, the reasons one might visit France are truly endless. Yet, what calls us back again and again to this fascinating country is its sensational cuisine. Paired with a renowned viticulture which produces some of the world's most beloved wines, French gastronomy is truly in a league of its own. From the smoked meats and hefty cheeses in the north to the delicate world-class cuisine of the south, seemingly every part of the country has grown a delectable unique culinary culture. And of France's most magical, is the legendary cuisine you'll discover throughout the small Provençal towns and sun-soaked cities along the Rhône.
 
With beautiful wine regions flanking the winding course of the river and timeless communes preserving fiercely-guarded recipes, this region in the South of France offers a foodie route that will warm both your heart and belly. Few places in the world can boast so much heritage and forward-thinking culinary ambition in such abundance as this beautiful stretch of France. 
 
Thinking of exploring the Rhône for yourself? Get a taste of the region with these five delicious recipes and get inspired for your next great culinary adventure. 

Coq au Vin

Rustic cooking at its very finest, for centuries the French have enjoyed coq au vin – a now globally recognised dish. While its origins are more or less unknown, legend has it that it can be traced back to Julius Caesar and the Roman rule of what is today France. Then known as Gaul, it is said that Romans living in the region discovered that when rooster or other ‘tough’ birds were braised in wine for a long time it made the meat more tender and delicious.
 
More recently, coq au vin has become one of the most popular French dishes outside of the country, largely thanks to the hugely influential cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Since its publication in 1961, the dish became a staple in homes in the UK, with many folks attempting to recreate the sophistication of their neighbours beyond the Channel.
 
Best enjoyed with a glass of red wine, coq au vin is perhaps most synonymous with the Burgundy or Beaujolais regions – using the famous vintages these vine-rich stretches produce. While wines from Burgundy are typically associated with a traditional coq au vin recipe, we'll be following a recipe using a red from the Beaujolais region of Provence due to its proximity to the Rhône. 

Here’s our recipe for chicken coq au vin.
 
Serves: 4. Prep time: 30 min. Cook time: 1 hour. Total time: 1.5 hour.

Ingredients

6 chicken thighs
25g butter
150g shallots, peeled
5 garlic cloves, crushed
150g streaky bacon, roughly chopped
350g button mushrooms
500ml Beaujolais red wine
500ml chicken stock
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh thyme
Handful chopped flatleaf parsley
Pinch salt and black pepper

Instructions

Step One: Heat a thick casserole dish on the stove, add (all but a knob) butter and shallots. Brown off and stir in the garlic before adding the bacon and thyme and cook for three minutes.

Step Two: Add the mushrooms and turn up the heat before adding the wine, stock and vinegar. Add the chicken pieces, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer until the chicken is cooked and tender.

Step Three: Remove the chicken and cook the sauce for a few minutes to thicken the mixture before adding the parsley, the remaining butter, and the chicken again. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving with crusty bread.

Salade Lyonnaise

In 1935, famed food critic Curnonsky heralded Lyon as the ‘world capital of gastronomy’ in recognition of the delightful fare on offer throughout the city. At the very heart of Lyonnaise cooking are two basic principles, simplicity, and quality. These distinguishing principles largely derive from the mid-19th century, when many middle-class women of the city left their homes and worked as chefs – using their regional roots to inspire new culinary traditions. This period oversaw a huge selection of new dishes emerge from the bouchons – traditional Lyonnaise restaurants found throughout the city. 
 
One of the simplest yet most delectable dishes to emerge from the city is salade Lyonnaise. A hearty yet stylish collection of greens topped with crisp bacon, fluffy egg and piquant vinaigrette, this classic French salad still delights travellers along the Rhône to this day. It makes a wonderful lunch or sophisticated starter for a dinner party.
 
Here’s our favourite salade Lyonnaise recipe.

Serves: 4. Prep time: 15 mins. Cook time: 35 mins. Total time: 50 mins.

Ingredients

For the salad

2 tbsp olive oil
400g lardons
350g crust-free white bread, cubed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small head frisée lettuce
2 shallots, peeled and ringed 
 
For the dressing

2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp olive oil
For the eggs
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 fresh eggs 

Instructions

Step One: Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan before adding bacon and garlic for about 15 minutes, until bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and add the bread – tossing the latter in the bacon fat until crisp and brown, then remove.  

Step Two: Whilst the bread is frying, make the dressing by whisking the shallot, vinegar, and mustard with a little splash of water. Gradually add the oil whilst whisking to create a thick dressing.  

Step Three: Prepare and wash the frisée lettuce before plating with the ringed shallots.

Step Four: Poach the eggs using your preferred method, whilst tossing the croutons, lardons, and two-thirds of the dressing. Layer the croutons and lardons on the salad, and then one poached per plate. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the dish, before seasoning with salt and pepper.

Soupe a L'oignon

A wonderfully hearty dish, there are few more welcome sights on a winter’s eve than a bowl of steaming, thick onion broth topped with a large cheese-covered crouton. Known as French onion soup to most of the English-speaking world, this classic French soup is another dish which shares a history with the Romans and the rustic peasantry who emerged after. Although variations of this quintessential comfort food had been eaten by the France's poorer classes for centuries, the version you're likely familiar with – made with beef broth and caramelised onions – originated in the 18th century. Like coq au vin, soupe a l’oignon made its way across the channel and into the kitchens of the UK during the French food revolution of the 1960s.
 
While you’ll rarely find two identical bowls of French onion soup, we’ve pulled together a Soupe a L'oignon recipe reminiscent of the kind you’ll enjoy among the towns along the Rhône. 
 
Serves: 4. Prep time: 30 min. Cook time: 30 min. Total time: 1 hour.

Ingredients

5 onions, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
20g butter
2 large glasses Beaujolais red
750g beef stock
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 thick slices white bread
300g grated gruyère
2 shots brandy
Handful chopped flatleaf parsley
Pinch salt and black pepper


Instructions

Step One: Sauté the onions and garlic in butter until brown and then stir in the wine, stock, vinegar and brandy. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins.    

Step Two: Toast the bread and sprinkle the gruyère on top before melting under the grill.

Step Three: Pour the soup evenly between four bowls, and top each with two slices of bread. Sprinkle the parsley on top. 


Matefaim aux Pommes

Another dish with Lyonnaise roots, matefaim aux pommes toes the line between cake and crêpe. Filled with tart apples, this traditional French dessert offers a truly delectable treat for those with a refined sweet tooth. Look forward to finding these treats throughout the South of France and served at important banquets and dinners. And while it may be commonplace to serve matefaim aux pommes at a formal celebration, given that it consists of mostly pantry staples (and pear alcohol, if you have it handy), you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to treat the family to this classic Rhône dessert
 
Here’s a wonderfully traditional matefaim aux pommes.
 
Serves: 8. Prep time: 30 min. Cook time: 1.5 min. Total time: 2 hours.

Ingredients

200g flour
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
250ml milk
4 apples
50ml oil
Pinch of salt 

Instructions

Step One: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half of the sugar and the salt. Add the flour and half the oil, whisking all the time. Add the milk and stir until smooth (you can also add pear alcohol at this time, if you’re feeling brave).

Step Two: Set aside the mixture for two hours. In the meantime — peel, core and grate the apple. When the pastry mixture has set, add the remaining sugar and stir.

Step Three: In a large frying pan, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, pour everything in and fry for 30 minutes. Flip the mixture every five minutes to ensure an even cook. When completely set, but still spongy, serve with a dollop of double cream.

Rouzole

One of the lesser-known staples of Rhône cuisine, rouzole is a meaty, savoury pancake traditionally served on top of soups, casseroles and sometimes on its own. Soaking up the delicious taste of the dishes they top, and getting the maximum out of every ingredient, rouzole is a wonderfully hearty slice of rustic cooking, and a great example of traditional French cuisine. 
 
It’s quite unlikely that you’ll find rouzole on the menu at your local French restaurant but be sure to keep an eye out for it as you cruise through the South of France or try preparing it yourself with this recipe.
 
Serves: 4. Prep time: 30 mins to 1 hour. Cook time: 1.5 hour. Total time: 2 to 2.5 hours.

Ingredients

8 slices white bread
1 cup milk
115g lean bacon, cut into ¾ inches
345g diced ham
3 eggs
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 tbsp chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 tbsp butter 

Instructions

Step One: Preheat oven to 100°C/90°C fan/gas 3 and spray a baking tray with cooking spray.

Step Two: Mix the meats on a dinner plate and place in the freezer for 20 minutes until half frozen.  

Step Three: Whilst the meat is freezing, mix the bread and milk in a medium-sized bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add to a large bowl with the beaten eggs. Add herbs, salt, and pepper.   

Step Four: Remove the meat from the freezer and pulse in a food processor until chopped into small pieces. Add the meat to the remaining ingredients and stir everything together.

Step Five: After everything is mixed, melt ¼ of the butter in a non-stick skillet over a medium-low heat. Scoop out ¾ cup of well-mixed batter and pour into the skillet, spread even and cook for five minutes until bottom is browned. Flip the batter and repeat. Repeat this process until all the batter is used. 

Uncover the tastes of France with Emerald Cruises 

There's perhaps no better way to experience the many wonders of France than on an inspiring river cruise through its lush countryside, historic cities and quaint riverside towns. Your Emerald Cruises Star-Ship, Emerald Liberté, will introduce you to the hidden gems, cultural wonders and timeless recipes throughout the Rhône region.

Receive your complimentary brochure and start looking forward to immersive excursions, a wealth of inclusions and delicious on board meals made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Bon voyage!