You might think, with the world renown of French food, that there would be a museum to celebrate it, but up to now, it turns out, there have only been niche museums, celebrating mustard, art made of sugar and chocolate and a museum of wild mushrooms.
Now, after years of preparation, and still ahead of nearly every other European country, France is launching a national food museum at the first of what will eventually be four major sites, with the opening set for Saturday in, not surprisingly, Lyon. The Cité internationale de la gastronomie is located in Lyon's historic Hotel-Dieu, and will focus on the city's food and foodie culture.
Future sights, with dates not yet set, will be Dijon (which already has the mustard museum), Tours, and Rungis. Rungis is just south of Paris and is home to the city's wholesale food markets, the modern-day equivalent of Les Halles.
The museum project developed after UNESCO places French cuisine on its list of 'intangible cultural treasures' in 2010, the first time a country's food was placed on the UNESCO world heritage list. Organizers expect the museum to welcome 300,000 visitors a year. In a tip to current thinking, there's a section on wellbeing through food which emphasizes healthy eating as well as an interactive exhibit area for children.
Foodie extra: Travelaway.me has a wonderful list of twenty unusual food museums in Europe that's worth a look! Some are fairly obvious, such as spice or chocolate museums, but there's also a museum of 'bread culture' and museums of asparagus, butter and more.