The Ile de France (or “Island of France”) is one of the twenty-six regions of France and encompasses Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Saint-Denis, Marne-la-Vallée and Disneyland. Most of the Paris metropolitan region is situated in this district and 11.7 million residents live in this populous area. To put things into perspective, there are more inhabitants in this location Paris region than there are in all of Austria, Belgium, Greece, Portugal or Sweden! The only European regions that house more people are England/UK, Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria.
The Ile de France is world renowned for having some of the best food in the world. To partake in local cuisine, visitors should order bouchées à la reine, navarin of lamb, potage St. Germain, beef mironton, tête de veau vinaigrette, pot-au-feu, fricassee of rabbit, or French onion soup. Paris is also famous for its locally grown mushrooms, asparagus and beans, as well as fruits like Groslay pears, Faro apples, and Montmorency cherries. Cheese is a popular food produced locally, with the most popular varieties consisting of brie de Coulommiers, brie de Meaux, brie de Melun and brie de Montereau. To go with that cheese, red wines from Argenteuil and Butte Montmartre should be sampled. People with a sweet tooth can try: the Paris-Brest, the Saint Honoré, Parisian king cake, chouquettes, Nanterre brioche, Parisian brioche, the Bourdaloue tart, the Moka, puits d’amour, the Opera, mille feuilles, the savarin, and Parisian flan. Guests staying in Paris Hotels often eat like kings!
Once a weary traveler settles into a Paris hotel, the hunger pangs set in. There are many wonderful places to eat in the Ile de France. Fodor’s travel magazine recommends trying Moulin de Ponceau. Set next to the River Eure and a cathedral, this converted 16th-century water mill offers everything from rabbit and trout to scallops and foei gras. At Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, guests can eat squid bonbons, crispy green vegetables, poached Landes chicken in Albufera sauce and chocolate-covered raspberries in this intimate Hyde Park restaurant. Bistros with regional dishes include Les Caves Solignac, Chez Maître Paul, Au Trou Gascon and La Truffière. In France, world-famous celebrity chefs serve up dishes at Mon Vieil Ami (Antoine Westermann), Les Bouquinistes (Guy Savoy) and La Table de Joel Robuchon (Joel Rabuchon).
A first trip to Ile de France can be overwhelming since there is so much to do in Paris alone! Many first-timers choose to hop aboard a Paris bus tour that will take them to places like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the Notre Dame de Paris. People who have been to this region before may pass on staying at one of the standard hotels in Paris and may instead choose to stay in a flat or country cottage for a more intimate, cozy feel. They can tour country wineries and cheese-makers, while visiting far-flung castles, homesteads and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Visiting French cafes, museums, pubs, theatrical productions and galleries are highly recommended, since French culture has contributed so much to American culture.
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