What you need to know about France’s new museum of food

What you need to know about France's new museum of food
The museum is housed in the city's historic Hotel-Dieu. Photo: AFP
France is generally pretty content to think of itself as the world centre of food - and UNESCO agrees - but now it has opened a new museum to share its gastronomic secrets.

Opening to the public on Saturday the Cité internationale de la gastronomie is the first of its kind in France. Here is what you need to know about it.

1.  It's in Lyon.

The eastern French city is generally regarded as the foodie centre of France, so it has been given the honour of hosting the first museum. Although it will be followed by sites in Dijon, Tours and Rungis – just outside Paris and the home of France's biggest food market. The Lyon site will very much be paying homage to the city's foodie tradition, which include the famous bouchon restaurants and the Lyonnaise pink pralines.

2. It's thanks to UNESCO

The network of gastronomy hangouts was dreamed up after UNESCO placed French cuisine on its list of 'intangible cultural treasures'. France was the first country to have its traditional cuisine honoured in this way when it was added to the UNESCO world heritage list back in 2010.

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Mayor of Lyon Gerard Collomb speaking at the launch of the project back in 2013. Photo: AFP

3. It has the theme of health

Traditional French cuisine, with its heavy use of meat, butter and cream, has never been exactly renowned for its healthiness (although it doesn't seem to do the French much harm, as they have consistently long life expectancies).

But a major theme of the Lyon museum is creating good health through eating. This doesn't mean there is no cheese (obviously) but its stated goal is for 'the visitor to come out with the feeling that eating well offers all the keys to ageing well'.

4. It's expected to be very popular

Organisers are predicting 300,000 visitors a year to the museum which is housed in a historic former hospital in the centre of the city. It's divided into a number of sections which include a history of Lyonnaise cooking, a section on wellbeing through food, a kids section with interactive exhibits and a chef's table.


5. Yes, of course you get tasters

There's no point just looking at food, right? The visit ends with a 'chef's table' on the top floor, which will feature a team of chefs doing live preparation of seasonal products, which you then get to sample.

The practical details – It's situated on 4 Grand Cloître du Grand Hôtel-Dieu, 69002 Lyon and is open every day from 10am to 7pm apart form December 25, January 1 and May 1. Tickets are €12 for adults, €8 for children and €3 for the unemployed and those on social benefits. Find out more details on the website.

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