In 2021, Rouen was the first and only French city to receive the prestigious distinction of “Creative City” from UNESCO in the field of gastronomy, and in 2023 it will continue to hold this national distinction.
To include an area in the “Creative Cities” network, UNESCO uses a set of criteria reflecting excellence in a particular discipline. In Rouen, it’s the entire creative ecosystem that is concerned, encompassing the food chain and the people involved, from seed to plate.
The criteria taken into account encompass gastronomy in the broadest sense, from training in the culinary professions to the quality of local produce and the women and men who embody local culinary talent.
Airs de Paris spent a day in Rouen meeting the key players in this creative ecosystem.
A collective application
Rouen City Council is a dynamic and innovative team! Sileymane Sow, Deputy Mayor in charge of Trade, the Economy and Attractiveness, and International Relations, gave a presentation on this UNESCO award.
In fact, in the midst of the health crisis that has particularly affected the catering sector, the city of Rouen has decided to recognise its culinary expertise.
In its application for the Réseau label, Rouen was able to defend a set of values relating to trades, training and food health, going well beyond simply promoting the city’s 250 restaurants. Six thematic areas enabled Rouen to win this original distinction.
For several years now, Rouen has been developing a culture of healthy eating, with a focus on sustainability. This approach takes the form of encouraging initiatives that promote high-quality nutritional products, taking care to check the type of agriculture from which they come.
By way of illustration, the “Mon restau responsable” initiative promotes the good food prepared by the municipal central kitchen in schools and crèches, where meals are prepared daily using fresh, seasonal produce. 81% of the food served in Rouen’s schools is local, including 27% organic and 39% from sustainable agriculture. This approach enables us to offer children a meal of high nutritional quality, while optimising the skills of the local authority’s staff.
The award was enthusiastically embraced by local artisans and chefs, including those from the Club des Toques rouennaises.
Far from restricting this art to good food, Rouen exploits it in the full sense of the term, i.e. the reasoned knowledge of what relates to the human being as he eats himself.
Ideally located in the heart of the old town, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, ODAS is the brainchild of Olivier Da Silva and Suzanne Waymel. The cuisine is seasonal and well-balanced, with hints of citrus fruit here and there to add pep and liveliness.
A mystery menu gives pride of place to plants and fish. You can even watch the kitchen at work from the dining room, always a delightful sight.
A socially responsible gastronomy
In the Rouen metropolitan area, gastronomy is also being used to promote social integration in priority neighbourhoods, with two initiatives linked to the ecological transition: the organic urban market garden set up at the future “Ferme des Hauts” site, and the inclusive restaurant “Léo à table”, set up in 2017 to welcome jobseekers and train them in catering skills.
The Le XXI restaurant is another example of an inclusive venture based on living together. An adapted company, it employs and trains people with disabilities.
The Fauchon school is moving in…
In Rouen, training is no exception, as the Institut National de la Boulangerie-Pâtisserie (INBP), France’s leading bakery and patisserie organisation, can testify.
At the end of 2021, Fauchon welcomed its first class of fifteen students to the “Bachelor in Gastronomy Management” programme, before opening its only establishment in France at the start of the 2024 academic year in buildings that are currently being renovated.
By 2030, the Fauchon school expects to be able to take on 400 students each academic year. The Lycée des métiers de l’hôtellerie-restauration, which has trained generations of Normans from the CAP to the BTS, also offers local training.
An international perspective
In order to comply with the United Nations’ programme of sustainable development objectives (Agenda 2030), Rouen must prove itself by 2026.
Rouen has signed up to a four-year programme at both national and international level, strengthening cooperation between members of the network of cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor in their sustainable development.
Ningbo and Rouen established twinning relations in 1990. Over the past 30 years, the two cities have developed fruitful cooperation in the fields of trade, ports, culture, education, healthcare and sports.
In particular, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the friendship between the two cities, the “Sino-French Friendship Garden” project has been launched, with a French garden in Ningbo and a Chinese garden in Rouen.
Mr Liu Jie, Director of Foreign Affairs for the Municipality of Ningbo, came with a delegation. He presented the diversity of gastronomy in the Ningbo region.
The UNESCO Creative Cities network
Launched in 2004 to promote cooperation between places that recognise creativity in urban development, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network comprises seven categories, including crafts and folk art, design, cinema, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music.
The aim of the Creative Cities network is for members to share their experiences, so that mutual learning can take place and benefit cities around the world.
Two chefs from the UNESCO Creative Cities network: Bjarte Finne, executive chef at Fløyen in Bergen, and Pasquele Làera, Michelin-starred chef at Borgo Sant’Anna in Alba, shared their experiences.
Walking tour: Rouen gourmande
We also enjoyed a gourmet stroll. Every month, the Rouen Tourist Office offers Rouen gourmande, a tasty walk combining gastronomy and heritage.
The epicurean or gourmet visitor can then wander around the city discovering its gastronomic delights and culinary emblems, with tastings on street corners or discovering places such as the new Halles Agrivin designed by the Biltoki company or the Marché d’Intérêt National.
An Armada terroir
Reflecting the region, this distinction enables tourism professionals in the Rouen metropolitan area to offer a range of products via their tourist office.
The Armada is a gathering of large international sailing ships. The city of Rouen showcased its assets on the quayside, where we were able to sample local products and try out experiments involving the 5 senses.
We were able to taste a unique product: sparkling apple juice. It’s simply delicious.
Airs de Paris in Kiosk
Numbers 07 2023
Numbers 05 2023
In the World