France is one of those destinations where the visitor’s list of things to eat is often just as long as the list of things to see. French cuisine is known worldwide; in fact, most modern Western cooking has France to thank for cooking techniques as well as many of its recipes. If you’re looking to get your eat on while visiting, this is a list of must-try famous foods of France. Put your eating pants on!
And if you need some guidance, check out these France food tours!
All French cheeses rightly deserve recognition, but it is this creamy, pungent little star that really puts it on the map. It’s a versatile cheese, served in both sweet and savory dishes, in a sandwich (often with walnuts), baked in its balsa container and used as a dip for bread, or just on its own on a plate after dinner. Like voting, eating brie should happen early and often while in France.
Savory buckwheat crepes have fillings ranging from ham and cheese to asparagus and everything between; sweet crepes are similarly versatile, with fillings as simple as butter and sugar and as complex as fruit compotes and homemade whipped cream. Have one while sitting down in a creperie, or grab one on the street from the many stalls and outdoor crepe makers. It’s the perfect treat!
Yep, those are snails. But they’re snails broiled in a garlicky butter and parsley combination, and you get special utensils that help you extract the meat. If you’re staunchly against trying these – which would be a shame – at least have someone at your table order them, so you can dunk bread in the yummy butter concoction.
Duck is a hugely popular dish in France, and is generally served two ways: Confit, which is pieces of duck cooked in its own fat (as shown above); and magret, which is the breast served in slices and usually accompanied by a fruit-based sauce. Either way, it’s a rich, satisfying dish that is quintessentially French.
So much controversy, so many opinions – but it’s still the reigning champion of French foods, and probably always will be. Foie gras entier is served grilled, pan-friend or sautéed; bloc de foie gras is served cold, in slices as shown above,and it’s spreadable on toast points with a condiment like onion confit. This is not to be confused with pâtés, such as pâté de campagne, which is a forcemeat concoction spiked with garlic, herbs and spices.
If you pay more than a euro for a baguette, you’re doing it wrong. Probably the most famous bread in the world, the humble baguette is made to strict, nationally regulated standards, although quality will differ wildly from bakery to bakery – from virtually tasteless sticks to perfectly balanced crispy outside/soft inside magic wands of goodness. I defy you to walk down a French street with a baguette under your arm and not feel impossibly French.
With over 4,500 miles of coastline, you can be darn sure that France has some oysters. From Brittany to the Côte D’Azur, oysters are served as snacks, as first courses, and is a main feature of Christmas holiday meals. Along the coast, weekly markets and outdoor festivals have oyster stalls that shuck ‘em while you wait, and can be as cheap as 50 cents per. They’re served by the half-dozen or dozen with lemon and an optional vinaigrette, and go down well with chilled white wine.
This southern French dish is a hearty winter stew of duck, pork sausage, and white beans. In places like Toulouse or Carcassonne, don’t be surprised if you see the names of the farms on the menus – and that’s for all ingredients, including the beans. Local variations include substituting partridge for duck, and different kinds of sausages based on the cook’s preferences and available resources. A must-miss, however, is the tinned version you’ll find in supermarkets – unless you get a high-end brand like Comtesse du Barry, it’s nothing more than franks and beans!