France cooking is distinguished for its numerous styles, regional differences, as well as a refinement and sophistication. What we generally regard as the "French cuisine" is a classic (haute) cuisine, served at the most prestigious restaurants. This cooking is mostly influenced by the regional refined cuisines of Lyon and northern France, but French people do not eat or prepare this cuisine in their everyday life, as they are more inclined to their regional cooking.
Traditionally, France cooking is regionally separate and each regional cuisine has its own distinctive features. The Eastern France cooking uses lard, sausages, beer and sauerkraut, and shows German cuisine influences. The Northern France cooking is distinguished for using potatoes, pork, endives and beer, and shows Flemish cuisine influences. The cuisine from northwest France uses butter, cream (crème franche) and apples. The cuisine from southeast France uses olive oil, herbs and tomatoes, and shows Italian cuisine influences. The Southwest France cooking uses duck fat, foie gras, porcini mushrooms and gizzards.
Additionally to these five general areas, there are many local cuisines. The Loire Valley, also known as the "Garden of France", is a lush region, spreading along the banks of the Loire, Cher and Indre rivers. Once known as the Valley of Kings, the Loire Valley has the world's finest ancient chateaux nestling along the rivers' banks. The Loire Valley cooking is known for its delicate dishes of freshwater fish and Loire Valley white wines.
The Roussillon cooking, popular in the South of France, is based on local ingredients, such as figs, plums, peaches, cherries, asparagus, aubergines, tomatoes and a rich variety of herbs. Many dishes are prepared with olive oil and freshly chopped garlic. Most original dishes use fish and oysters, lamb and veal. Truffles and cheeses are also popular.
Bordeaux is one of seven kea French wine regions and a vicinity of the gourmet southwestern France cooking. Bordeaux culinary vacations usually include learning and tasting the gourmet French cuisine, as well as experiencing the most prestigious white and red wines. Some of Bordeaux wines are the most expensive in the world.
France cooking in restaurants also shows differences. The cuisine bourgeoisie comprises all classic French dishes, which are not (or no longer) specifically regional and which have been adapted over the years to suit the taste of the upper classes. This type of cooking contains rich, cream-based sauces and complex cooking techniques. The haute cuisine is at the top of this category and represents a highly complex and a refined approach to the food preparation and kitchen management.
The cuisine du terroir is another type of restaurant cooking in France, which covers regional specialties, focusing on fresh local ingredients and a peasant tradition. Shorter cooking times, much lighter sauces and dressings, smaller portions presented in a refined, decorative manner, and numerous inventive approaches to traditional cooking characterize the cuisine nouvelle, a relatively new cooking type in France.