Rick Stein's Secret France

In his new book, Rick travels down through Secret France in search of fab new recipes and produce

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We've added a few dishes from Secret France to our menus - including mussels with poulette sauce

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Learn to cook the dishes

To celebrate the book we've put together a new one day cookery course where you'll discover five of the recipes

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Two day Secret France

Join Head Chef Lecturer Nick and our team in Padstow on a two day discovery of dishes from Secret France

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Book a table to enjoy fresh seafood, simply cooked and try some of Rick's favourite dishes.

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Secret France sees Rick travel from Dieppe in the very north of the country, winding his way down to Cassis in the south – always on the look out for exciting new recipes and produce to cook with (or drink). Rick says: “I owe my love of food and restaurants to early trips to Brittany. A cold clear breeze in April with a smell of seaweed on it, a first plateau de fruits de mer – cockles, clams, mussels and oysters -all somehow repeating that fragrant coldness. The produce was exquisite and the memory stays with me.”  Discover more below about each episode, including where Rick visits and what he eats.

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Order a signed copy of the book, which includes 120 new recipes to recreate for your friends and family at home here. 

Try the dishes in our restaurants

You can look forward to trying some of the dishes from Secret France on our menus this winter – including mussels with poulette sauce (bacon, shallots cider and crème fraîche), braised fillet of brill with ceps and chestnuts, poached lobster risotto and chicken fricasse with morels. Choose a restaurant here.

Learn to cook the recipes

To celebrate Secret France, Head Chef Lecturer Nick at our cookery school in Padstow has put together three fab new foodie experiences for 2020.

One day cookery course – £198 | Two day cookery course  – £360Tasting evening – £35

Secret France episode guide

Rick’s Secret France adventure begins in the very north of the country, straight off the ferry in Dieppe. Across the six-part series he will meander his way down through the highways and bi-ways of Secret France to bring you his traditional blend of authentic recipes and tips galore for your foodie travels. Rick’s first thoughts on French soil take his mind to moules mariniére, herring open sandwiches, grilled sole and whelks with mayonnaise – all fresh seafood, simply cooked.

The first restaurant stop of the trip is Dieppe’s very appropriately named, Le Turbot Restaurant – located on Quai de la Cale. Turbot, probably Rick’s favourite fish, is of course a popular choice on the menu, so Rick tries salt baked turbot with ceps. This is followed by a pastime that Rick enjoys back home in Cornwall, cold water swimming – the channel is on the nippy side in comparison to the Camel Estuary though. After this, he stopped by Cafe de Tribunaux, a relaxed little place made famous by a certain Oscar Wilde – Dieppe being a place that held happy memories of his honeymoon. Back onto the subject of food and Rick heads to Les Voiles D’Or where he meets Michelin stared chef, Tristan Arhan. On the menu is a dish very much to Rick’s liking, simply cooked John Dory with asparagus, mashed potato and a light shellfish sauce – delish!

In his French hideaway kitchen, Rick cooks up his recipe of mussels with poulette sauce – a perfect weeknight supper or weekend lunch to recreate this autumn. The mussels are paired with a sauce of chicken stock, bacon lardons, crème fraiche, a little wine and some parsley. You can also try this dish on the menu at St Petroc’s BistroFalmouth and Marlborough. Next up, Rick is on the move towards Le Crotoy where he finds a fab fresh fish stall selling pollock, moules and weaver fish. This is followed by a spot of foraging with Reneé Michon – they went on a hunt for sea asters, also known as pigs’ ears, sea purslane and marsh samphire. This was a seriously muddy experience, but the worthwhile treasure hunt formulated a simple recipe of new potato and sea aster salad.

After some musings with Francois Bergez about whether French food is in decline, Rick returns to the kitchen to share the recipe for seafood gratin with caramelised apples – a dish he discovered at Le Newhaven restaurant in Dieppe. Much like mussels with poulette sauce, this is sure to be a comforting family favourite throughout autumn and winter. Big chunks of white fish in a smooth white sauce, topped with cheesy panko breadcrumbs with some sticky caramelised apple on the side to contrast.

Rick continues south towards Champagne, stopping en route at the Beaumont-Hamel WW1 Memorial, where he chats to historian Sylvestre Bresson about the Battle of the Somme, noting that there were 600 people in his school photo – but 100 times that died on the first day of the battle. This was followed by a trip to Essoyes, hometown of Aline Charigot, the wife of the famous painter Auguste Renoir – a must visit for any art lovers out there.

For his final recipe demonstration, Rick cooks the typically French rabbit stew with Dijon mustard, stating “It’s one of those dishes that fills me with happy and eager anticipation when I see it on the menu at a restaurant.” Proper, rustic French cookery at its best. The episode draws to a close with some artisan charcuterie at Maury Patrick – home of award-winning andouillette, a coarse-grained sausage made with pork or veal intestines, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings. Rick tries it cooked in a dish with Dijon mustard, crème fraiche and ratafia – not to everyones liking, but Rick is rather fond of andouillette.

Don’t miss next week’s episode when Rick’s Secret France journey continues to Alsace, Jura and Burgundy.

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.

Episode two of Rick Stein’s Secret France begins with him pondering Alsace – is it in France? Is it in Germany? It’s most definitely France, but the area takes inspiration from these two great countries as well as Switzerland too. His first food experience takes him to a cosy little restaurant in Itterswiller, 30 minutes drive south west of Strasbourg, called Winstub Arnold. Here Rick tries a traditional dish from the region, choucroute garnie – cabbage with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes. Rick describes it as the fruits de mer for meat lovers. Following this he meets Christophe Frey a game hunter based in the lush forests of Fréland, who with his wife Amélie runs Art-Boucherie – a celebration of game sausages, pies, terrines and smoked hams. Of course, Rick had to sample some of their creations, tucking into game charcuterie and wild boar stew – totally lovely with a glass of Pinot Nior. A trip to Alsace wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a vineyard. So, Rick stops off at Josmeyer Winery to meet the youngest member of the Meyer family, Celine, to sample their prized bio-dynamically made Pinot Gris, punchy at 14%. Ideal with a dish from their kitchen – duck confit and green lentil salad.

Back in his kitchen hideaway in the Provence countryside Rick shares his recipe for tarte flambé – in his words ‘French pizza of cheese and ham’. Thin, savoury dough topped with crème fraiche, onion, bacon lardons and Emmental. A great dish to share with friends or to enjoy cold for lunch throughout the week. His wine trail then continues to Jura in search of Savagnin wine  and the famous vin jaune and vin de paille, taking in the beautiful Jura mountains en route – some of which date back to the Jurassic period. First up, he heads for lunch at Restaurant La Boissaude which is right on the Swiss border, savouring cote de boeuf with baked potato. What a comforting combination, especially when the beef is cooked over a large open fire. Heaven for Rick. As well as wine, the area is also famous for its Comté cheese. Rick learns all about its history and how it’s made at Marcel Petite with Affineur (like a cheese sommelier) Claude Querry. Like wine and spirits masters, the Marcel Petite cellar masters are subtly leading the affinage of each Comté wheel by searching continuously for its best expression – they use all of their senses to bring about the finest Comté. With cheese on the mind, Rick’s next stop is, wait for it… Restaurant du Fromage. As the names suggests, cheese as at the heart of all the dishes on the menu – Rick somehow manages eight courses, including leg of chicken stuffed with mushrooms and Comté cheese with a morel sauce, potato omelette with St Pointe cheese and smoked ham, raclette and chevre chaud de Jura a la crème.

Following a cheese fest in Jura, Rick demonstrates the recipe for a dessert that he enjoyed at Restaurant La Boissaude, blueberry (or bilberry if you can get them) tart. The tart case is stuffed with fruit and a light egg custard – simply divine with a good dollop of crème fraiche. Back on the road, Rick travels south west to Burgundy in search of more fantastic wine and food – such a lovely part of France to drive through. On his arrival, he pays a visit to Louhans Poultry Market to find out about the Rolls Royce of the chicken world, Poulet de Bresse. Some of the local breeders have been raising this prince among poultry here since Roman times, and it’s the only chicken in the world to be protected, like a famous wine, by an Apellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC)! After hearing so much about this special bird, Rick tires it cooked with spinach and rice at the Aire Poulet de Bresse motorway services.

For the final recipe demonstration of the episode, Rick cooks up chicken legs stuffed with mushrooms and Comté – it’s on page 153 in the Secret France book and it’s bound to be a winner with your family and friends this winter. As Rick states “one of the highlights of his trip”. You can also try it on the menu this winter at Rick Stein, Marlborough – ably cooked by Head Chef Kev and his team. He brings the episode to an end by enjoying the typically French delicacies of snails in garlic butter and oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in a red wine sauce) with Tom Kevill-Davis from The Hungry Cyclist Lodge which is in the heart of the Burgundy Wine region. Watch next week for much more from Burgundy and Auvergne.

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.

Episode three of Rick Stein’s Secret France begins with Rick comparing Burgundy to the Cotswolds – beautiful countryside and wonderful driving roads that are ripe for adventure. Burgundy, one of the most famous wine producing regions in the world, grows two grape varieties, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Rick stops by Château de Vaulx at Saint-Julien-de-Civry where he meets owner, Marty Freriksen and is shown around the vegetable garden and the beautiful château buildings. On the menu is a simple sorrel soup made with potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, vegetable stock and plenty of sorrel to give it a vibrant green colour. Following this, he travels south to explore the traditional weekly cattle market at St Christophe en Brionnais, first recorded in 1488. With meat on the mind, Rick pays a visit to Restaurant du Midi to enjoy the most French of lunches – steak frites. A large thin sirloin, not rump as is commonly used, accompanied by the crispiest thin chips and some soft lettuce. Simple fayre, done well. Back in his Provence kitchen hideaway, Rick shares the recipe for probably his favourite dish of the whole series, duck cottage pie. A wonderfully warming, humble dish that he discovered being cooked for grape pickers in Auxey-Duresses. Rich chunks of confit duck are topped with smooth, creamy mash and a good handful of Comté cheese.

On with the journey in hand, Rick makes the drive southwest to Auvergne to visit Le Bus 26 – a double decker bus that travels around the villages of the Auvergne serving up Michelin star food quality. Rick’s favourite dish from the experience was a langoustine risotto with mountain garlic and a reduced langoustine shell sauce. You can try a version of the risotto made with poached lobster at The Seafood Restaurant and Rick Stein, Barnes. On the move again, and on his arrival to Clermont Ferrand, Rick muses about the city’s Cathedral, Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, which is constructed entirely from black lava rocks. Very gothic. After a quick visit to Harry and Alexandra Lester’s Restaurant, Le Saint Eutrope, Rick demos Harry’s recipe for deep-fried breaded pork chops with braised peas and lardons. Fried parsley and braised peas seem like the perfect accompaniment to go with the breaded chops. Seriously yum.

Back in The Auvergne, Rick tries a generous slice of Agen prune tart at Le Garage Restaurant in Trizac. Classically rustic, the tart is made of just prunes and pastry, served with a good dollop of crème fraiche. Whilst in Trizac, Rick pops into the local butchers’ shop run by Patrick and Sophie Bornes who make a rather special coarse pork meat, prune and chard terrine. The locals recommend it with a cold beer or a glass of wine. Next on the menu back in his kitchen hideaway is the recipe for buckwheat pancakes with mushrooms and eggs. Gloriously French it is too. Hailing from the town of Salers in the Auvergne, these hearty, yeasted pancakes make a cracking brunch/lunch dish.

For the final dish of the episode, Rick is transported back to the 1980/90s by Martine Causse, chef at Les Maison de Concasty. She paired a perfectly cooked loin of lamb with a Charlottine of courgettes, cream and Parmesan. The courgettes are blended with egg yolks and set into a custard before being served on a pasty disc.

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.

Episode four of Rick Stein’s Secret France begins with Rick sharing his love of the Périgord region of the country – its vast forests and foodie highlights, which include black truffles, walnuts and confit duck. This takes him onto visit the Saturday market at Périgueux with local guide Marie Calonne. Here he comes across all manner of the freshest local produce; garlic, muscat grapes, aubergines, plums, gnarly tomatoes, lettuce galore and Reine-Claude greengages.  Following this Rick tests out his fishing skills on the River Dordogne with Xavier Prevost – popular catches in the area include catfish, bream and sunfish. Lunchtime at Guinguette de Creysse, at a small café by the water in the village of Creysse is a celebration of seafood delights with Rick trying freshwater crayfish, fried eels with persillade, grilled catfish on skewers and fried minnows. What a line-up.

For his first recipe demonstration, Rick heads back to his Provence kitchen to share his recipe for pot-roast pork. Perfect for winter, pork loin is studded with plenty of garlic then covered in its skin and roasted in a casserole style dish with some root vegetables. A good honest dish inspired by Périgueux’s enchaud Périgourdin. Following this, Rick watching a hot air balloon flying high above the Dordogne, marvelling at the scenery as he goes. Back on terra firma, he visits the village of Tremolat – the set of 70s French psychological thriller Le Boucher. He stops by La Vieux Logis Hotel to meet Chef Vincent Arnould – this was the hotel that director Claude Chabrol and his wife Stephane Audran stayed whilst filming. On the menu for Rick, a homely garlic soup made with plenty of good chicken stock and ladled over some stale sourdough. Rustic, but ever so comforting. As his journey through the Dordogne continues, Rick visits Moulin de la Veyssiere near Neuvic in Périgord to catch up with Christine Elias, a producer of some very fine walnut oil. It’s a popular ingredient in the region, which Rick enjoys drizzled over a haricot bean and confit pork skin stew – another very French dish.

Fatteh salad with confit duck was next on the menu as Rick, cooked by Lucy Image at her home in Allemans. The combination of French and Middle Eastern flavours reminded him of the sort of thing you’d get in California, where they have no qualms about mixing cuisines. The perfect dish to be enjoyed al fresco with a chilled wine or two. Back in his kitchen, Rick’s cooks braised fillet of brill with ceps and chestnuts. Very much an autumn winter dish making use of fresh ceps (porcini) and chestnuts. Great quality flat fish (brill, plaice or flounder), paired with a chicken stock base sauce that’s packed with umami notes from the mushrooms. Try recreating it at home or enjoy it on the menu at Rick Stein, Barnes this winter.

A change of scenery and food too for Rick, as the Mediterranean beckons south of Roussillon. With its laid-back Catalan influence, he notes that it feels almost like Cornwall – great seafood too, as you can imagine. He admires Dover sole, squid, cuttlefish, gilthead bream, bass and monkfish liver at Port Vendre les Poissonneries de la Cote Catalan before meeting Gabriel Dias ‘the last trawlerman’ to chat all things fishing related – especially his catch. Things like mullet, weaver fish, calamari, mackerel and violets. The episode ends with Rick savouring the grandest of seafood celebrations at Les Poissonerie Cafe, a fruits de mer of raw mussels, clams, cockles, sea urchins  and more. Paired with a Côtes Catalanes wine.

In episode five Rick’s journey along the Med continues, learning how the area is strongly influenced by its Catalan neighbours.

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.

Episode five of Rick Stein’s Secret France begins with Rick arriving in the south of France, looking forward to great seafood and proper aioli wherever he goes. After a quick recap of his journey so far from Dieppe onwards, his first stop is a vineyard called Domaine Pietri-Geraud where he chats to fifth generation producer Laëtitia about her Banyuls – a fortified apéritif or dessert wine made from old vines in the Roussillon area. It goes down a treat with chocolate. He also tries a culinary speciality from the region cargolade (snails grilled in their shells over a wood fire). Following this wonderful experience, Rick travels to the seaside town of Collioure to explore the house where Patrick O’Brien wrote many of his sea novels and visit the historic bar ‘Les Templiers’ – a place famed for its array of artwork by Picascco and Duffy among many others who have drunk in the bar over the years. Some of which paid for their food and drink with their paintings! Rick then cooks up a recipe for beef and pork meatballs in a tomato and pimento sauce that he enjoyed whilst visiting Prades market. It’s a Catalan recipe called boles that is often cooked in a large paella pan. Cinnamon and pimento are added to the meatball mix to provide an extra flavour boost and the tomato sauce includes green olives, haricot beans and bacon. A winner as tapas or serve for dinner with a pilaf rice.

Back in the south, Rick moves onto Etang de L’Ayrolle in Gruissan, a series of lagoons behind the seashore, where he meets father and son fishermen Denis and Benjamin Bes to chat about the local area and try a fab dish of freshly caught bream grilled over vine trimmings with aioli. After stopping by the salt pans at Le Salin de Gruissan, vast pink lakes in the landscape, to discuss sea salt culture and inspired by his visit to Port-Vendres in episode four, the Catalan speciality of prawn croquettas are on the menu for Rick in his kitchen. As you can imagine, good-quality prawns are at the heart of this tapas style recipe – he recommends using small North Atlantic peeled ones. They’re chopped and added to a well-seasoned roux before being coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried. A lovely snack to share with foodie friends over a glass of good wine, we say.

You can’t possibly visit this part of France without enjoying the majestic scenery of the Pyrenean foothills, the beautiful village of Eus and as Rick finds out, the Abbey of Saint Michel de Cuxa – a Benedictine abbey that dates back to 840. Back onto the subject of food, it’s Sunday lunch time for Rick at the homely La Petit Auberge de Marie, which consists of Cochon Grillé (grilled pork chop) followed by a meeting with Jerome Ferrari of Allary Oysters based in Leucate. He tries their speciality Caramoun oyster au natural, one he’s never experienced before, which melt in the mouth with a creamy, sweet, taste of the sea.

Back in his Provence kitchen, Rick then shares the recipe for poached ray wings with a warm tomato vinaigrette. He discovered the recipe at Comptoir à Huîtres back during his time in Dieppe, a very good fish restaurant indeed. This dish was the star on the menu – simply poached and served with a lovely vinaigrette of tomatoes, red onion, capers and parsley. It works perfectly with skate wings too. The episode ends with Rick paying a visit to Restaurant Le Cabaret – very close to the border with Spain it offers rustic seafood dishes in a farmhouse setting. C est parfait.

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.

The final episode of Rick Stein’s Secret France begins on the beach in Chemin de Mouret at Bar Biquet. This is followed by Rick sharing what’s to come during the closing leg of his Secret France adventure – pine trees, cicadas, winding roads, the Mediterranean and plenty of cold rosé await. In search of a speciality of the area and a favourite of his, brandade de Nimes (an emulsion of salt cod, garlic olive oil and cream), Rick heads to the small, quintessentially French town of Uzès where he meets Michelle Heuss at Le Pistou Cooking School. Following this, still in Uzès, Rick enjoys seafood stew and chats to chef Damien at Restaurant Ten – a bistro that celebrates local products with international flavours. For his first recipe demonstration of the episode Rick takes inspiration from his time in Uzès to cook courgette flowers stuffed with brandade de Nimes. The delicate flowers are stuffed with the brandade paste before being dipped into tempura batter and fried – Rick serves his with a tomato dipping sauce flavoured with pimenton.

In Uzes, Rick stops by La Nougatine Patisserie for a sweet treat of tartelette figure (fig and frangipane tart) before travelling down to Marseille to meet Theo in the North African Quarter. They enjoy a lunch of lamb cous cous at Le Palmier Restaurant, after which, Rick moves onto Cassis – a Mediterranean fishing port to the east of Marseille. Here he learns about the area and discovers a recipe for lamb chorba from Djamal Boukhenifra – an Algerian fisherman. The lamb stew is flavoured with ras-el-hanout, harissa and coriander. Rosé wine is on the agenda next for Rick as he meets Romain and Emily Vallon Des Glauges at their vineyard.

Back in his Provence kitchen Rick then cooks the recipe for confit tomato and aubergine tarte tatin – a dish you can enjoy on the winter menu at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. All-butter puff pastry and the confit vegetables come together to make an intensively flavoured tarte tatin – ideal for a vegetarian main course with salad. Confiting is a commonly used method of preserving vegetables in the autumn, often accompanied by things like thyme, olive oil and garlic. Following this, his final restaurant stop of the series is Le Bistrot du Paradou near Arles – where he chats to his friend and bassist in Dire Straits, John Illsley. They enjoy two classics, soup au pistou and roast poulet de Bresse. The soup is an autumnal delight in a bowl – mixed vegetables and beans with basil, garlic and olive oil.

The episode draws to a close with Rick summing up with journey – highlighting the French attention to detail, fab charcuteries and of course wine. Thanks for following Rick Stein’s Secret France. Now, where will he travel to next…

Order your signed copy of Secret France here.

Discover how to cook the dishes at our cookery school here.

Try the dishes on our menus here.