Feature: Top gastronomic destinations in Western Europe

Monday, 6 June 2013 2:02 PM

When it comes to fine dining, many people look no further than the refined and sophisticated cities of Western Europe. Combining ancient architecture, world-class museums and some of the most luxurious restaurants in the world, you really can’t go wrong when choosing a city break here. And while Rome and Paris are considered food meccas of the world, other cities are now gaining the reputation they undoubtedly deserve. Sit back and enjoy our whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights of Western Europe’s culinary scene – the first instalment of a series of guides to gastronomic greats around the globe!


Surrounded by some of the major agricultural regions in France, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Lyon makes a perfect luxurious holiday whatever the time of year. The Musee des Beaux-Arts showcases sculptures and paintings from masters like Picasso and Monet, while the grand Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere crowns the hillside with its intricate mosaics and perfect example of 19th century architecture. The cable car ride up and panoramic views are spectacular. But first and foremost, this south-eastern city is known for its gastronomic delights. Said to have the highest ratio of restaurants to people in the country, this is where super-chef Paul Bocuse plies his trade.

Chef Bocuse has owned three-Michelin starred restaurants for over 40 years. The regal feel of L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges is set in a beautifully decorated red and green mansion. Set menus starting at around £200 include scallop of foie gras with a verjus sauce, followed by bresse chicken cooked in a bladder a la mere fillioux. Other non-Bocuse options are the Auberge de L’lle and La Mere Brazier.


When thinking of Italian culture, the central region of Tuscany best sums it up: beautiful landscapes, a rich artistic legacy, and sumptuous rustic food. The renaissance city of Florence houses some of the best museums in the country - such as the Galleria degli Uffizi with its collection of renaissance art -most picturesque cathedrals, and most scenic streets and landmarks. The famous Piazza della Signoria square has a free open air sculpture exhibit, and the 11th century Baptistery is a stunning green and white marble building with bronze doors. But while the city has cultural attractions which will blow your mind away, it is the food which many people relish. The area around the city is the birthplace of Chianti, which beautifully compliments the varied, rustic, and tasty dishes the city is famous for.

Head to the Taverna del Bronzino with its vaulted ceilings and tree-lined patio, and sample the delights of a creamy asparagus risotto or smoked goose breast. Another good option is the elegant Relais le Jardin or La Giostra which gives a flute glass of spumante upon entering. The latter has an excellent wine list, and serves a mouth-watering array of risottos, seafood, and steaks. For an atmospheric stay, the former monastery-come-romantic Villa San Michele is set atop hillside greenery with tranquil rooms and views. There are two restaurants onsite, and a cooking school for mastering that delicious Tuscan cuisine.


With its splendid northern location and architectural heritage of unrivalled quality, the Portuguese UNESCO listed town is a cultural and culinary delight. The granite houses and streets are perfect for a stroll, while the city’s trams take you back to a more laid-back time. The 12th century Romanesque Cathedral is beautiful, as is the Tower of Clerics – a 75 metre building which symbolises the grand city. Take a boat tour along the Douro River under six bridges, and then cross over to Vila Nova de Gaia where port was first created. More than 50 wineries offer cellar tours and tastings. Sandeman is a good option.

The city’s inhabitants love their food, and a range of eateries and fine restaurants line the historic streets. Tripe is a speciality, seafood is abundant, and the northern bread Boa with its corn and rye mixture goes brilliantly with fried sardines or cod dishes. The Francesinha combines numerous meats into a sandwich which is covered with melted cheese and a secret sauce gravy. But for fine dining, Churrascao do Mar serves seafood dishes in an elegant mansion setting, while the contemporary Les Terrasses offers divine shellfish and swordfish meals. The Pestana Porto is a boutique hotel in the heart of the World Heritage Site, and contained in a collection of buildings dating from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.

Western Europe has so many delights it is impossible to sum up the best culinary feats in one go, so check in with us next week as we carry with our guide to fine dining locations of the world.

Find luxury during a long weekend

Feature: Top chic weekend breaks - away from it all

It will be a miracle if anyone manages to get any work done next April. Well, except for wedding planners, florists and travel agents, that is. An extra bank holiday and a royal wedding - what better excuse to enjoy a long weekend in luxury?!

Top 10 gourmet cities

Top 10 gourmet cities

Gourmet travel has now become a whole class of its own, from cooking holidays, to wine tours and culinary trips. Here we discover the top 10 gourmet cities in the world, taking you on a mouth watering trip through the greats - Tokyo, New York and Paris and some of the lesser known – Kyoto, San Sebastian and Bruges.

One of Europe's fine salads

Feature: Western European gastronomic delights

With a reputation for producing world class food, Western Europe is the place to be for dining in style. From the sophisticated eateries of France to the open air cafes of Germany, there is a vast range of restaurants to suit all palates.

One of Hanoi's Old Quarter streets

Feature: The fleeting charms of Vietnam’s Hanoi

Vietnam’s capital is a scenic melting pot of East-meets-West and old-meets-new. This is a place where ancient, 150-year-old architecture stands side by side with millions of motorbikes. But for the high-end traveller it also offers Parisian charm..

Luxury wine tours around the world

Feature: Luxury wine tours around the world

Wine – the drink of the ancients. One of the oldest alcoholic beverages on earth, and possibly the most refined drink in the world. For thousands of years the drink has been perfected and crafted, and in the eyes of many is the epitome of luxury. There has never been more choice when it comes to gourmet tours of the world’s most premier wine regions.

Learn to cook Asia food in Asia

Feature: Flavours of the world - Top learn-to-cook holidays

Tired of serving your family the same dishes over and over? Or perhaps your family is tired of your signature dish. Well, to help find new inspiration, we have sampled our top learn-to-cook holidays around the globe.

wilderness castle escapes for a unique stay

Feature: Luxury castle escapes around the world

Once the domain of nobility, the numerous castles built throughout Europe and the Middle East from the middle ages are iconic structures straight out of history books and fairy tales. These imposing stone structures now make atmospheric hotels

Romantic honeymoons across the world

Feature: Top honeymoon destinations

So, you have sorted out the wedding and you are now planning the ultimate honeymoon. This probably means that, by now, you have realised that this is not an easy task. This is where we at aspireholidays.co.uk can help out.


Sign up to aspireholidays.co.uk's ASPIRE.

Subject to terms of use and privacy policy

Best honeymoon hotels: Little Good Harbour, Barbados

Best honeymoon hotels: Little Good Harbour, Barbados

The small boutique hotel of Little Good Harbour sits in a quiet fishing village in southwest corner of Barbados and exudes quaint Caribbean charm. A cluster of Bajan beach-style whitewashed cottages, traditional fishing boats, and light breezy terraces add to the picture of this delightful family run hotel.

Quirky luxury hotels - Kelebek Special Cave Hotel

Quirky luxury hotels - Kelebek Special Cave Hotel

Set in the area of Cappadocia in central Turkey, lies a vast area crisscrossed with lunar-like landscapes of deep valleys, undulating peaks and dramatic rock formations. If there ever was a perfect spot for a cave hotel, then this would be it.