Raclettes, fondues, simmering dishes and jaw-dropping desserts—let’s tour the winter table with to discover 10 mouthwatering French specialties typical of the mountains.
Today, we tempt you with ten emblematic French specialties to share with friends and family while warming up during the winter evenings and/or for an après-ski or to spend a pleasant moment among family and friends.
1. Cheese fondue
What if we start with a little fondue? This convivial winter dish par excellence is even better shared around the burner after a good day on the slopes, some playful tobogganing or cross-country skiing. Savoyard, Swiss or Franche-Comté fondue—side with the one that suits you and above all the right company to share a comforting moment around this dish that makes winter all the more bearable.
2. French onion soup
Onion soup—that humble dish that spread a half-century ago through the U.S. with a rising interest in French cuisine—was actually an invention of the Romans! This broth of distant origins has been popular since the dawn of time, both in antiquity with the Romans and much later in the royal court of Louis XV, as well as in the 19th century among the poorest households right up to today in the trendiest Parisian bistros. In some regions of France, a tradition linked to this dish still lingers. During the night, guests wake the newlyweds to share onion soup with them, restorative after the long, tiring festivities.
3. Raclette cheese
Throughout much of western Europe, as soon as the first cold weather arrives and those lucky enough to have a stove or a fireplace light it, the same idea comes to mind: the next raclette gathering! This vicious circle sets in toward the start of the winter season: they organize one raclette party with friends, but the next day, there are still some cold cuts left over, so they buy some more cheese to finish the cold cuts and organize another raclette party…but the next day there is some cheese leftover. The cycle continues as such until the weakest one gives up the umpteenth time.
4. Spit cake
This beautiful, delicious dessert that recalls the shape of a fir tree and is shared at big celebrations such as weddings or baptisms. A specialty from the Hautes-Pyrénées and Aveyron, spit cake owes its conical shape to its preparation and baking technique. Traditionally, it’s cooked on a spit or wood fire near a fireplace.
5. Mont d’Or
Consumed hot or cold, with a spoon, with fondue, au gratin or on bread, Mont d’Or, produced in the heart of the Jura Mountains and in its characteristic round spruce box, is a seasonal cheese available from mid-September to mid-May.
You mean you’ve never heard of crozets? That small Savoyard pasta usually enjoyed au gratin with Beaufort cheese? This particularly rich dish, to be enjoyed as you wish, will surely get you back on your feet after an intense day in the mountains.
7. Morteau sausage and lentils
In Franche-Comté, to warm up during the long winter evenings, you can enjoy a good Morteau sausage accompanied with lentil beans. It’s said that this typical dish of our region finds its origins in the 16th century, in the town of Morteau, which gave birth to this famous sausage that bears the same name. Farmers there would smoke and store their sausages in a kind of wood-lined chimney, giving way to Morteau sausage, smoked according to this “tuyé” technique.
This popular stew, simmered for hours to warm the whole house and steep it in aroma, is also part of winter folklore. The pot-au-feu is an emblematic French recipe composed of broth, meat and vegetables—a cornerstone of French cuisine.
There’s no denying that most winter and mountain dishes of the French countryside are of Savoyard origin and consist of potatoes, cheese and lardons. The same goes for the Reblochon tartiflette, essential for honoring a ski season or giving meaning to a dreary, cold Sunday.
10. Galette des rois (king’s cake)
Vegetarians, vegans and still others who are watching their figure or simply don’t like cheese will surely not have been satisfied with the offerings thus far. That’s why we decided to conclude with a specialty that everyone can come to terms with… or almost! So, which side do you take for the Epiphany? Coque or frangipane? Who cares? The important thing is to find the lucky bean and start over.