Destinations

New Caledonia: the petite français paradise

For a tropical dose of French culture much closer to home, Australian holiday-makers ought to consider a trip to New Caledonia.

Be warned though: they do things a little differently across the ditch.

French is the official language in New Caledonia, while cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, and the French Pacific Franc lines the pockets of New Caledonian locals.

As an Edenic oasis, New Caledonia is easily one of the most beautiful of the Pacific Islands. As a food-destination, its one of Travel Weekly’s hidden gems – the country has flown under the radar, but boasts some of the most creative and inspired cooking in the Southern Hemisphere.

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The two nations might be on opposite sides of the world, but whether it’s in Paris or Noumea, visitors can expect to find a sophisticated culture of French-speaking locals serving inspired food, wine and champagne at over 200 restaurants and cafes.

New Caledonia is home to a delicious fine-dining scene that blends the best of its home and heritage – Pacific Island hospitality and French culinary tradition– coming to form in establishments like L’Amirauté.

Conveniently located in one of Noumea’s heritage-listed sites at the centre of the city, L’Amirauté is one of the country’s latest in a pocket of fine-dining restaurants, and comes complete with an art-deco bar.

There are also some fantastic wine and cheese bars like Le Chai de L’Hippodrome, Noumea – a delicatessen come wine-bar that stocks great drops, and its own selection of bric-a-brac and accessories.

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Outside of Noumean night-time feasts, visitors to New Caledonia will find boulangeries, patisseries and local supermarche on most blocks in the suburbs, stocking freshly baked bread, fragrant croissants and other French delicacies. These are perfect pit stops for lunch and afternoon tea.

Under the shade of native Noumean melaleuca, tourists can sit to a lunch of charcuterie and Reblochon while watching locals play games of petanque, or be welcomed into a New Caledonian home with a meal of table d’hotes, which includes a feast of venison, wild pig, coconut crab and fish.

New Caledonia marries experiences like these with their own affinity for Pacific Island hospitality, tradition and cultural diversity. Combined with the nation’s renowned natural beauty, New Caledonia becomes the go-to holiday destination for the tropical, cheese-loving foodie archetype.

Be sure to encourage travellers to take the leap and feel the pulse of New Cal.

For more information on what New Caledonia has to offer in 2019, click here.

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