French food to try in Paris: What to eat and where to find it

By Maike Woutersen

France, and Paris in particular, is a food lovers paradise. With so much to try and eat, you’re spoilt for choice. To help you on your french culinary adventure here’s the very best food to try in Paris, as well as where you can find it.

Now, Paris is renowned for many things, it’s associated with being the romantic capital of love and passion, as well as the worldwide center for fashion and designer brands. It has a beautiful cityscape of history that dates back thousands of years in grand architectural structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame (currently being reconstructed), and the Arc du Triumph.

It is, of course, the capital of France and for this very reason, it is more popularly associated with being the capital of a country that considers food a national past-time and passion.

Some of the best chefs worldwide, known for fine-dine cooking, with Michelin-star quality, congress in this magical, classy city to delight millions with their expert culinary techniques.

French Food

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Here we have put together a list of the all-time best French foods and where to find them down the bustling, trendy ‘rues’ of Paris.

Go ahead and indulge in your heart’s galore with some of the best food in the world.

Croissants and other famous pastries

Croissants

Croissants are a light, buttery, soft and flaky pastry, classically wrapped and designed in a round horseshoe-shaped crescent. These delicious pastries are a national emblem to France.

They are served up for breakfast in the many patisserie’s open from the very early hours. Making sure that extra batches are made for the hungry commuters on the way to work, traditionally taken with an extra-strong, short double espresso.

You can find amazing croissants just about anywhere in Paris, though.

Treat yourself one morning and try one of the prestigious ‘La Patisserie boutiques by Cyril Lignac‘. He’s designed the perfect croissant, melting inside with a light, crispy exterior that will leave you hungry for more!

He uses the very best butter from Charents-Poitou and the lightest of artisanal flours from Minoterie Viron, coupled with precision in time and adjusted heat, it’s a scientific masterpiece.

Macaroons

Macaroons

We can’t get enough of Macaroons these days! They have set a culinary trend fast spreading through Europe.

Eat them for breakfast, dessert, enjoy them for a light snack with tea or coffee. At Christmas, they make for the perfect complementary sweet thanks to their bright, shimmery colors.

They are a delightful artistic display for your dinner table and taste even better!

Traditionally, they are sweet cookies made from ground almonds, sometimes coconuts, and other nuts. They are sweetened with sugar or condensed milk and food coloring makes them all the more visually appealing.

They have a fun design, looking like mini, colored sandwiches: a soft, gooey inside with a delicate solid top and bottom made from rice paper.

The best place to find your macaroons is to go to one of the many chocolatiers, or a chain of boutiques called ‘Ladurée’ specializing in these wonderful sweet snacks. They also deliver to your hotel room so get ordering!

‘Croque-Monsieur’ – A ham and cheese toasted sandwich with a twist!

Croque-Monsieur. French Ham and Cheese Toast

The French seem to do everything with style… even your classic ham and cheese toasted sandwich.

We love this dish because we can remake it at home for a great lunchtime snack, or for breakfast as a toastie.

First layer your sandwich with fresh slices of cooked ham and a cheese of your choice. Add butter to the sides of the bread, including the outside. Then sprinkle grated cheese over the finished sandwich to give your proud ‘Croque-Monsieur’, a cheese-flavored top. Stick it under the grill and let the cheese melt with the ham inside and form a crisp top.

This amazingly simple, but tasty lunchtime snack is best enjoyed at Les Deux Magots 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006, because they’re served as traditionally as they can come.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

The French are famous for their quiches. An egg-based savory tart that is almost like a sweet, creamy omelet encased in a flat, crisp pastry.

There is a multitude of quiche recipes from vegetarian, to fish, however the most famous has to be Quiche Lorraine. An excellent lunchtime choice to be enjoyed in one of the many cafes, or Brasseries in town.

It’s simply made with finely chopped ham or bacon, whisked into the eggs and cream, to fluff out into an amazing salty, sweet snack on a hard crusty pie base.

Although this dish typically originates from the northeast region of Lorraine, on the border with Belgium, you can of course find a spectacular spot to enjoy it in Paris, for example, ‘The Smith’s Bakery’ at 12, Rue de Buci, 75006.

Soup a L’Oignon Gratinee (Onion soup)

Soup a L’Oignon Gratinee. French Onion Soup

This is a traditional French starter and is a perfect comfort food.

You must indulge yourself in a smooth, caramelized onion and stringy, melted cheese soup cooked slowly in, either beef or chicken stock. The addition of fine herbs enhances the taste and a splash of white wine is optional.

This starter celebrates a soft blend of sweetened, strong onion mixed with the creamy, vibrant cheese, set to send your tastebuds wild.

For a soup, it is quite dense and filling. Best enjoyed with a slice of fresh crusty baguette bread to soak your bowl up with.

Duck a l’orange

Food to try in Paris - Duck a l’orange

A classic French second-course dish with an exquisite design of sheer grandeur is a whole crispy cooked duck with a distinct aromatic orange flavor.

It dates back centuries and was typically eaten by the upper class, however today it is enjoyed by everyone.

Tuck into this age-old succulent duck recipe, that should be layered in a crackling, caramelized skin steaming as it is placed down in front of you, so you can wallow in its aroma of bitter, sweet oranges resting underneath.

This dish is best served with a dish of grilled vegetables and potatoes for extra comfort.

Down Rue Henry Monnier at no. 19 is Le Petite Canard, ‘The little Duck’, where you can enjoy this traditional French dish in a comfortable, warm environment.

‘Huîtres’ – Oysters

Food to try in Paris - Huîtres. Oysters

If you’re going to fit in like a true Parisian then you have to love oysters as much as they do.

They are the number one producer, as well as consumer, of oysters worldwide, producing around 150,000 tonnes of them a year.

A delicate dish, oysters are served without garnish or rinsing. This helps preserve the fresh, salty sea taste as they’re served over ice with lemon.

The technique of eating them is a skill worth learning. Cup your hand round the shell, pry the meat with a mini fork and gently tip down your throat.

You can generally find oysters year-round, but they’re actually seasonal to winter and spring. They’re traditionally eaten as a starter on Christmas Eve and at family gatherings.

If you want the calmness associated with little fishing villages, whilst eating your platter of delightful oysters, then Huegette, Bistro del Mer has a more relaxed atmosphere, found in the quieter district of Saint-Germaine.

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‘Moules Mariniere’ – Mussels in a Mariniere sauce

Moules Mariniere. Mussels

‘Moules Mariniere’ is a must in Paris.

Sit down at a bustling restaurant terrace in Paris and order up a bowl of mussels… Shells open and soaking up the white wine cream sauce with garlic and parsley. A divine, yet simple fish dish, it’s casually refined like all French fine dining dishes, and served classically with chips.

You won’t need any extra seasoning, garnishes, or anything else… Maybe, just a baguette to soak up some of the rich flavors from the sauce.

There are again plenty of places to eat mussels in Paris, but a restaurant with a long-standing history and original recipe may just be the ticket. Take a walk down to Boulevard de Port Royal to find L’Acadamie de la Biere, a highly reputable spot renowned for ‘Moules Mariniere avec frites’ with a beer-flavored twist.

Escargots

Escargots. Famous French Snails

Another exquisitely fine, yet unusual culinary French dish is known as the rather famous ‘escargots’- snails as a delicate ‘entree’ (starter).

The French, once again, somehow turning something completely unimaginable into a complete masterpiece for your tastebuds to enjoy.

Each venue has its own unique cooking method for different seasons and with a variety of different herbs that they prefer. However, the most popular way is to keep it simple by cooking it in butter and garlic and letting it simmer in white wine with thyme and parsley.

So, go on.. we dare you to try this unexpectedly tasty dish.

At 38 Rue Montorgueil, 75001 in Paris, you can find the perfect spot to enjoy this dish. In a plush, typically Parisian interior, which is named after the starter itself, L’Escargot Montorgueil.

Steak Tartare

Food to try in Paris - Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is another ever so delicate French dish made up of beef tenderloin served cold and uncooked.

Although it may sound like a strange idea to eat raw steak, it is very popular and relies on the right seasoning and fine shredding of mincemeat.

This dish is often seasoned with onions, capers, peppers, and fine herbs and held together with a raw egg served lightly on a bed of lettuce.

In some places, like Les Fines Gueules at 43 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, you will be
served the very finest steak tartare topped with a raw yellow egg yolk dripping over the top.

Don’t be afraid to try this dish, it’s a delightfully light and tasty way of trying steak at its raw best.

Steak and chips

‘L’Entrecote Avec Frites. Steak with Chips

‘L’Entrecote Avec Frites’ is a pure and simple dish, requiring only the answer of “how do you prefer your steak?”.

Do you prefer it rare, well done, or safe in the middle with medium-done.

If you’re tentative to try some of the more exotic options discussed already, then opt for the safest and tastiest of options on the
menu.

Your steak doesn’t need any garnishes or fancy sauce. It is complete with a side dish of fried, crispy chips to balance out the rich taste of your fine, juicy cut of meat.

In Paris, it’s hard not to find somewhere around every corner that serves up an excellent steak and fries. However, if you really want a specialist then try Relais de l’Entrecôte, which is located at 20 rue Saint-Benoît in Saint-Germain, Paris.

Don’t expect to get a menu, the waiter will simply ask how you like your steak and serve you a portion of chips and salad with it.

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‘Un Plateau du Fromage’ – Cheese Platter

Un Plateau du Fromage. Cheese Platter

The French love their cheeses and they are experts at their production. Popular cheeses made in France include Camembert, Brie, Roquefort and Emmental. You’ll usually be served a selection of different savory cheeses, along with a sweet dessert for your final course.

Generally, expect anywhere from four to seven cheeses, all with varied tastes and textures, as is a tradition in France.

The customary choice of cheese will include a soft cheese, such as brie or camembert, which will be balanced out with hard, sweet cheeses, like a Comté or Gruyère. An extra strong-tasting blue cheese, like Roquefort, can overpower your senses so you may need to tone it down with a light goat’s cheese (Fromage de chèvre) and some are flavored with dried fruit for a delicious cheesy moment.

A great place to try these cheeses, and where cheese is produced, is one of the many, Fromagerie Laurent Dubois shops. Upon entering you’ll be greeted by a specialist consultant to help you find your favorite by tasting a delicious selection of the best cheeses in Paris.

Mousse au chocolat

Mousse au chocolat

To end things off with the best food to try in Paris, we need to take a look at one of the most well-known desserts in the world.

A wonderfully light, yet rich chocolate mousse is a classic French dessert that originates all the way back to the 18th century.

It’s a perfect way to finish your full-flavored three-course meal with a characteristic light, bubbly texture that foams in your mouth and explodes into a mouthful of dark chocolate.

The mousse is prepared with a special method of mixing eggs, sugar, and butter with dark chocolate to enhance the flavor.

There are many creative twists to this desert to balance out the chocolate, like vanilla or mint-flavored versions. You may also find that your mousse is served with extra chunks of chocolate, throwing you off guard with different textures.

Chocolate Chapon, 69, at Rue du Bac, is one such place. A delightful, small chocolatier with a wide selection of different flavored mousses of the smoothest texture.

If that doesn’t get the tastebuds salivating, then we don’t know what will. 😉

Have you had any of these foods to try in Paris? And were you in Paris when you tried them?

Let us know down below.

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