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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > July 2017 > France


Bière artisanale (craft beer) is still a small scene in this wine-centric country – but it’s proving a worthy match for France’s rich cuisine

Notwithstanding its reputation for all things wine, France is a country with a proud history of la bonne bière – good beer. At the end of the 19th century, there were more than 2,800 breweries here. By the end of the 1970s, that number had plunged into the double digits, victim of two world wars and mass industrialisation. A strong beer tradition held in the northeast, near the Belgian border, but elsewhere, and for obvious reasons, the tipple of choice was wine.

But the craft beer movement has started to make itself felt: small and slow, but insistent and growing. There are now around 1,000 microbrasseries in France, and the rate of growth keeps quickening as the French start to discover that if they want a drink with character, wine is not the only choice.

Really, craft beer is made for the French – a people who support 400-odd different varieties of cheese, who invented matching food with drink, take two-hour lunches, and where regional provenance and artisanal production are already like a religion.

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July 2017 issue of Lonely Planet.