It’s a first for France: the Hauts-de-France region of northern France has received the “European Region of Gastronomy” label for 2023. The distinction will enable the region to promote its culinary heritage and develop tourism.
For the first time ever, France will be the home of the European Capital of Gastronomy. After Spain and Norway, the country will take over the title thanks to the products and know-how of the Hauts-de-France region.
The label – awarded by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT), a non-profit organization comprising a network of over 60 experts from every continent – offers an excellent opportunity to develop food tourism in the region. And let’s not forget the publicity the label will bring to chefs in the region and to their work on northern French products, whose diversity isn’t necessarily well-known to a broader public.
Jesper Christensen, jury member and strategic-development for food destinations expert, highlighted “Hauts-de-France’s restaurants’ commitment to working with local producers and products.”
It was in fact thanks to just that attention to terroir (unique local products and traditions) that Hauts-de-France finally won the label for France in this, its 14th edition. During his visit to the region in October 2020, Jesper Christensen, jury member and strategic-development for food destinations expert, highlighted “Hauts-de-France’s restaurants’ commitment to working with local producers and products.”
A Lush and Diverse Territory
The region owes many of those assets to its enviable geographical location, which is perfect for satisfying the most demanding palates. Thanks to its border with Belgium, local cuisine has been powerfully influenced by Flanders. In its northernmost area, the region’s lands dissolve into the North Sea and the English Channel, which introduces lots of seafood – like the local specialties mussels and herring – into Hauts-de-France cuisine. And finally, inland fields and orchards are synonymous with both plant-based cooking and livestock farming, which enables the region to have the largest number of types of cheese of any region in France, including the renowned Maroilles, as well as a cuisine that doesn’t skimp on butter. And in the beverage department, let’s not forget a love of everything bubbly, which can be found in dozens of micro-breweries, as well as in champagne production. Hauts-de-France cuisine is often bitter-sweet, based on local products like herring, which is often smoked; endives, which people enjoy braising, and of course, beer, which is used both to cook the iconic “carbonade flamande” and to accompany good meals.