There is a definite touch of France in the South Pacific, from the shopping a la francaise in Tahiti to the atmosphere of amour in Bora Bora. A collection of islands scattered in Pacific waters are official Overseas Territories of France – don't be surprised when you hear locals chatting in French over a croissant as the balmy breeze swirls through coconut-laden palms. Traditional cuisine is still embedded heavily in island culture, but a strong blend of Gallic and Pacific shines through when it comes to wining and dining.
It comes as no surprise that French Polynesia has a strong French influence – it's even in the name! Often referred to as Tahiti (the main island), French Polynesia is best known as a honeymoon hotspot adorned with overwater bungalows. When they claimed the archipelago in the 1800s, the French introduced their exotic flavours to the traditional, tropical cuisine. Sit down for a tama'ara'a (Tahitian feast) or light meal of poisson cru – lime-marinated raw fish and salad served in coconut cream. Other identifiably French dishes include carpaccio and duck with orange sauce, with most meals still focussing on local staples like taro, breadfruit and sweet potato.
Melanesian heritage mixes with refined French gastronomy in New Caledonia, continuing to please even the most seasoned foodies. Capital Noumea on the main island of Grand Terre is arguably the best place in the South Pacific to savour a taste of France. Quality restaurants abound on the picturesque peninsula city, with French and Asian flavours dominating the menus. Traditional Melanesian cuisine is more prominent in the brousse (the bush - everything external to greater Noumea), where you can enjoy lobster cooked in customary ground ovens, as well as snails and pigeon for the more adventurous palate.