There is perhaps no cultural pillar more important to the French than their cuisine. It’s so highly regarded that in 2010, UNESCO named “French Cuisine” a “World Intangible Heritage.” Not any particular dish, just the entire breed of cooking. It was only a matter of time until there was a museum dedicated to it.
The Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie opened in France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon in October and is already on its way to becoming a must-see destination. There’s one aspect of this museum that sets it apart from most others: You’re supposed to devour the exhibitions.
The museum is situated in the Grand Hôtel-Dieu, a hospital building that dates back 800 years. Inside the museum, visitors can peruse exhibits about the history of French cooking, learn about the chefs who made the cuisine famous (like Paul Bocuse and Mère Brazier) and delve into their recipes to discover just what made them special.
But the museum’s most mouth-watering feature is perhaps the fact that you’ll leave satisfied. Visitors can take part in a tasting experience where they watch chefs prepare and explain their meals in an open kitchen. The menu will seldom be repeated, as the museum will invite chefs from around the world to undertake a residency and prepare a variety of dishes for visitors.
The museum is dedicated to promoting good nutrition, not just tasty cooking. There are also special children’s areas, where the youngest visitors can learn about the process that takes fresh food from a seed to their plate.
Full priced admission is about $13 (€12). It’s about $25 if you wish to take part in the tasting experience.
The museum is open 362 days a year, only excluding Christmas, New Year’s Day and May 1 (France’s Labor Day). Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays.