You've cycled all morning, visited museums and fortresses all afternoon, you've slept well and woken up hungry. What's for breakfast? Breakfast in a French hotel will seldom be a big deal. Normally it will consist of the basics, namely coffee or tea, bread and a croissant with butter, jam and fruit juice.
If you are lucky it might also include cornflakes, boiled eggs and fruit, all for for around €12. If you go to the local bar you should be able to get the basics as described above for €6 and still have €6 left in your pocket. However, your hotel's breakfast may include unlimited Kugelhopf in which case you may want to stay in.
Now that the most important meal of the day is out of the way, let's consider the rest:
French meals are generally similar to other Western European meals. There is the occasional slightly bizarre dish such as snails, frogs' legs and tripe sausages. Despite this the country has a reputation for producing sophisticated, world class cuisine. Quality can range up to the very best but it is by no means impossible to find a bad meal, even today.
It can sometimes be difficult to find vegetables on the menu of a French restaurant, but this can be resolved by choosing a salad or asking the waiter for extra vegetables; just don't be surprised if you get an odd look.
The majority of French menus will use the best of local produce and should include a range of:
In the Alsace region you will also find Alsace food such as:
Baeckoeffe is a sort of onion, potato, herb and multi-meat, slow-cooked stew.
Tarte flambée or flammekueche is a wafer thin bread base with crème fraiche, onions and bacon pieces, though other flavours are available.
Choucroute is a version of pickled chopped cabbage, normally with some of the cheaper cuts of a pig (trotters etc). These cuts are termed “garni”.
Fleischnacka is made of minced beef rolled into a ball with pieces of pasta sheet, then cooked in a sauce (sometimes tomato).
- Fried carp is popular.
- Kugelhopf is a sort of brioche with almonds and dried fruits.
Note that on a bike holiday you need nutrition but Alsace food naturally fills a large plate. The menu of the day, normally chalked on a board outside a restaurant or bar, will be great value. This will be available Monday to Friday 12:00 to 14:00 and you may be able to get three courses with a local wine for €12. Vegetarian dishes are available but often unimaginative (think omelette, mushroom pizza).
In Alsace restaurants the menus will often be in German as well as French. Some English information will be around in the better restaurants or in the faster food outlets. Many guide books will have a food/translation section or you could get the book below, which is pretty good.
Francehas benefited by the import of other national cuisines so you will find Italian, North African and Chinese restaurants in larger towns. It is a generalisation but the first two are more likely to be of high quality.