Choosing where to buy a house abroad is a personal decision; one that is influenced by a myriad of factors. For sun seekers the beach and climate may be the main motivation, for skiers the reliability of snow. Anyone with a passion for pasta, a love for lobster and an obsession with oysters, for whom eating is a hobby rather than simply a need to fill a hole, will be guided by their taste buds. And what better place to indulge this calling for quality cuisine than in Europe; home to some of the finest foodie destinations in the world. Let’s take a tour of some of the Continent’s best property spots for gastronomes.
You may not be surprised to hear that Italy and France dominate our foodie list. Let’s start in the country that gave the world pizza and bolognese. In fact it is our first entry from which this delicious sauce originates. Known in Italy as “La Grasse” – “The Fat One” – after its many culinary delights, Bologna is widely considered to be the country’s top food destination – quite some accolade in this food mad land. In the heart of the country, Bologna’s close proximity to a variety of terrains – from plains to mountains – enables local food producers to source a wide range of natural ingredients. Nearby towns and cities include Parma, famed for its eponymous ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
A stroll around the historic streets of the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region will unearth a seemingly endless supply of food stores, street markets and wide selection of eateries, serving up everything from fine dining to basic, yet delicious, pasta dishes.
Home to more Michelin stars – 144 in total – than you could shake a wooden spoon at, it’s simply impossible to leave Paris off a list like this. French food is held in such high esteem that back in 2010 it proudly took its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, celebrating world art forms and traditions. What better place to experience its world-famous vivers than on the romantic streets of the French capital? Whether you’re looking for haute-cuisine, a classic street corner café or a quintessential bistro, the City of Love is awash with quality establishments serving up soupe à l’oignon (onion soup) to Challans duck, served with foie gras poached in rivesaltes and crispy pear.
Spain is popular with overseas property buyers for a number of reasons, not least its fine offering of food. While southern cities like Seville are famous for the less sophisticated (but gorgeous) tapas, in the north, the capital of Catalonia has given us some of the world’s trendiest chefs, including Ferran Adria who pioneered “molecular gastronomy” at his restaurant El Bulli that inspired the likes of Heston Blumenthal. Fashion is big in Barcelona and two new foodie trends are nouveau steakhouses and also healthy, greener, “cleaner” restaurants. Something for everyone then!
Barcelona proves there is more to being a foodie than just the food and drink. What sets it apart from other destinations is its mealtime culture. Dinner isn’t eaten until at least 10pm, and can last for hours as family members of all ages and friends socialise with one another – a welcome change from the rather more rushed affairs elsewhere in Europe.
Paris might be the seat of French government but Lyon has been the gastronomic capital of France for many years now. It’s even received the backing of Michelin-starred chef and television presenter Michel Roux Jr in recent times, who has given his seal of approval to the city’s rustic bouchons – a type of restaurant synonymous with Lyon that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté and roast pork. If you’re looking for some fresh ingredients for your latest culinary creation or you fancy a spot of lunch, head to the Les Halles food market where you will experience a feast for the senses. This is the beating heart of Lyon’s impressive gastronomy scene, where you can join the city’s finest chefs as you stroll around its 50+ food stalls, bars and restaurants.
Italy’s cities have all bases covered: Venice is the home of romance, Milan is the capital of fashion and Rome has history well and truly sorted. When it comes to food, Florence is right up there with the likes of Bologna. Whether its aromatic markets or rustic trattoria, the capital of the Tuscany region isn’t just the birthplace of the Renaissance; it also has a food scene to die for. Whether your stomach is yearning for simple yet delicious street food from the Loggia del Porcellino, or you’re in the mood for a Michelin-star restaurant with sweeping city views, the city won’t disappoint. Florence has something of a head start when it comes to offering delicious food, thanks to its fantastic local produce: world-class olive oil, mellow cheeses and grilled meats.
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