17 yummy foods to try in Paris – The Paris food guide!
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One can not simply travel to Paris without feasting … everything is about food in Paris. How could you resist the smell of fresh-baked baguette or croissants that are waving through Paris’ streets in the morning.. or how to ignore the fine chocolates and Macarons that are displayed in every 2nd storefront? How could you not have a quick Crêpe beurre sucre (butter and sugar) on your way to the Metro? .. Just just don’t have to search long to find really good things to eat in Paris.
Paris has a strong (STRONG!) passion for food and not to indulge yourself in it would be such a shame. Forget your diet when walking through Paris’s street and especially when sitting down in a restaurant. Don’t order the salad (except if it’s topped with Camembert!) and don’t skip the dessert…. enjoy!
The Paris food guide: What to eat in Paris?
Content of this post
No Paris visit is complete without tasting delicious French cuisine .. I mean, France is basically the source of anything delicious and the main reference to most chefs – if not all.
But apart from the elaborated high French cuisine, there are plenty of other things you clearly need to try when visiting Paris for the first time. Or any other time. Read ahead and know what needs to be on your list when you’ll eat your way through Paris! Try the best food in Paris!
Kat Bird from Wandering Bird
One of the things I love most about road tripping around France is the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of delicious French food. However, there’s one thing which is absolutely and completely French- the humble (yet totally delicious) croissant. I bet many people who have never been to France still had a croissant. But a French croissant is on a whole new level- especially in Paris where competition for the ‘best croissant’ is strongly contested every year. In 2018, the prize went to La Maison d’Isabelle 47ter Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France.
A croissant beurre is made by creating layers of pastry and butter. Seriously, you don’t want to know how many calories are in one of these. (So worth it). You can eat them plain or with butter, jam or even ham & cheese. You can buy croissants EVERYWHERE in France and are probably the first item that comes to everyone’s mind when wondering what to eat in France.
The pastry should be flaky and melt in your mouth. When you are in Paris, it’s the perfect occasion to take a pastry class to learn how to bake a perfect croissant. Click here for more information!
I prefer croissants warm, fresh from the oven. If possible, buy them from a Boulangerie where they make them fresh each day, instead of a depot where they are delivered from elsewhere. Just don’t buy them in pre-wrapped sachets from the supermarket – you’re better than that.
≡ Pain au Chocolat
Kate Storm from Our Escape Clause
Snacking on a warm, flaky pain au chocolat for breakfast while in Paris feels a bit like being a child who is getting away with something. These delicious pastries seem more like a dessert than anything, and yet, they’re socially acceptable to eat for breakfast or a snack – and anyone with a sweet tooth will call that a win. Pain au chocolat is as simple as it is delightful: pain au chocolat, or literally “chocolate bread” in French, is a flaky, rectangular pastry stuffed with chocolate – usually, two lines of it running parallel through the bread. Commonly eaten at breakfast with a coffee or as a snack throughout the day, pain au chocolat is best consumed when fresh and warm – so if you’re looking for the perfect treat to pick up on an early morning walk through the city or when hunting down the best photo spots in Paris, this is the one for you. Pain au chocolat is exceptionally easy to find in Paris: if you’d like to try some, simply head directly to the nearest cafe or bakery, and they’ll no doubt be there.
Chrysoula from Historic European Castles
Macarons are the picture-perfect French patisserie that is served as a bite-size snack with a hot drink or as a beautiful petit-four after a meal. They are a must-eat in Paris. These sweet little treats are part cookie/part meringue, made with egg whites, icing sugar and almond flour, that are sandwiched together with cream, jam or ganache-type filling. It sounds complicated, but with the right technique, it’s fairly easy to bake a macaron. If you’re keen to learn from a professional chef how to bake macarons, click here for more information!
You can pretty much choose any flavor under the sun but light fruity or floral flavors are a popular choice. Macarons usually come in an array of pastel colors, with some even having hand-painted designs on making them even more exquisite! France, and Paris especially, has some fantastic patisseries and cafes that serve up these delicious delicacies. Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées is perhaps the most famous, with a spell-binding selection of maracons on offer. Pierre Hermé is another favorite for these silky sweets and you can order them online for when you’re having withdrawal symptoms from not eating them back home! It’s a little known fact that macarons were actually created and introduced to France by Italian chef Catherine De Medici during the Renaissance period, but as France make them so well I’m happy to give them credit for the best macarons in the world! Macarons are an absolute must-try on any trip to Paris so make sure you make time for a macaron pit-stop on your itinerary!
Sophie from Everything Brussels
Having lived in Paris for a while, I’ve had quite some time to try some of the best French specialties. Of all the food I’ve had, there’s only one I really miss and that’s the French crepes. In Paris, you can find them basically anywhere, both in nice restaurants like Breizh and in cheap snack bars. It’s one of the most popular and famous food in Paris. You usually have the option between a sweet version with chocolate and a savory one with toppings like ham, cheese, mushrooms, fresh greens, honey, walnuts… The latter is actually known as a galette to distinguish them from the dessert crepes. I tend to always order the same, being a standard galette with ham, an egg, and cheese. It’s so delicious! The best spot to get them in Paris is a small food stall simply called ‘Creperie’ in Rue Joseph de Maistre, not too far from Montmartre. Generally, prices vary widely but expect to pay 3 to 7 EUR for a takeaway crepe.
Rai from a Rai of Light
When in Paris, indulging in pastries and cakes is the norm. Not just any pastries, however. Think of a sweet baguette made with chow dough, filled with cream and topped with chocolate icing and dipped in glaze. Quite the mouthful and a must-try.
Originating in France during the 19th century, these little delights are a treat to the eye and the taste buds. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of eclairs in general, but there’s just something about the ones in Paris. They come in lots of exotic flavors, all topped with colorful icing and garnished with lovely ornamentation as works of art. L’éclair de Génie is a good option to find these tasty treats to enjoy them at one of these best views in Paris. Be sure to try the salted caramel and the passion fruit chestnut purée flavors.
Top Tip: take a pastry class in Paris and learn how to bake éclairs! This tour has a 5-star review, click to know more!
Sarah Verron-Bassetti from French Food with Love
A cannelé is a small pastry from Bordeaux, France and was invented in the 18th century in a convent. Nuns would collect flour from the ships and used it to make their treats. Cannelés are made of flour, eggs, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and, best of all, rum! As Bordeaux was an important city for international trade in the early modern period, vanilla and rum also passed through the city’s ports. Cannelés come in two sizes, both small and large, so they can be eaten as a little sweet treat or as a dessert. Cannelés have a golden caramelized thick crust with a soft, custardy, and spongy center. While traditional preparations have them flavored with rum and vanilla, you can find modern cannelés in a variety of flavors like pistachio, lavender, chocolate, orange, etc. Though from Bordeaux, you can now find cannelés in most French bakeries and some restaurants. If you’re interested in learning how to make some at home, try my authentic cannelés recipe.
≡ Paris Brest
Laurent from Les rhums de l’homme à la poussette
A Paris-Brest is a traditional French pastry made of choux and a praline flavored cream. It was created in 1910 by Louis Durand to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicycle race. Maybe you know but Brest is one of the furthest western cities in France, at the western extreme of Brittany.
Originally and traditionally, this pastry is round like the wheel of a bicycle. It became a French classic that can be found in any bakery in Paris alongside éclair and religieuse, both also made of choux.
The choux is really only there to hold the cream which is the interesting point of the pastry, and you have to like praline and rich cream! It is sweet, it is rich, it is fat, it is tasty, it is decadent… What’s not to like? So next time you are in Paris, gazing at all the marvelous and succulent pastries on display at the bakery, overwhelmed by the choice, you’ll know what to pick.
≡ Plateau Royal
Mario from Rest & Recuperation
Paris is one of the gourmet capitals of the world, the perfect destination for food-lovers. You could spend there a few years, eating every day in a different restaurant, and still find something new and delicious at the end of your stay. A dish I highly suggest to try in France in general and in Paris, in particular, is the Plateau Royal, in French normally called the Plateau de fruits de mer. It is made of a big plate covered in ice, with a variety of shellfish on its top. Despite shellfish could also be cooked, for example, the shrimps, they are all served cold. On the side, you can find some delicious sauces to accompany the food. You can try it “Au pied de cochon” (literally the pig’s foot), a big and busy restaurant in Les Halles. It is open 24/24 and they say that the opening time is due to the loss of the keys. robe-trotting.com Probably there are no good blacksmiths in the neighborhood, but sure enough, they know how to prepare delicious shellfish!
≡ L’escalope de Saumon à l’Oseille (salmon escalope with sorrel)
Trish from Keeping it Curious
There is something romantic about the seemingly simple look of French food. This dish, originally created by La Maison Troisgros, may look rather plain at first glance. This salmon is served with fresh sorrel, vermouth, Sancerre, fish stock, double cream, lemon, and pepper. Easy, right? But once you bite into this perfect salmon, the taste is anything but simple. It’s rich with flavor and depth. The salmon just melts in your mouth and the sorrel creates a perfect harmony. I was left feeling incredibly satisfied with my dish and I don’t even like fish! You don’t need any sides to go with this dish – just the bread that accompanies your meal to sop up whatever sauce may be left once you’re done eating. If you cannot make it out to La Maison Troisgros to have the original recipe, there are plenty of alternatives in Paris! Typically, it can be found in bistros in Paris such as Le Royal Cambronne or Le Malakoff.
≡ Coq au vin
Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic
One of the famous French dishes of French cuisine, coq au vin is a traditional dish of chicken cooked in red wine. A dish from Burgundy, it was originally a rooster, which is why it’s called coq, not poulet. It was used as an economical dish using all of the poultry, including the feet, kidney and head, slow braising the tough meat in local red wine until tender. Although coq au vin has such a long history it dates back to Julius Caesar, North Americans did not discover this French delicacy until Julia Child introduced it on her television show in the 1960s. Her recipe had similar flavors to the original recipe, but she altered the ingredients so that Americans could replicate it. It’s possible to find coq au vin in some brasseries but it’s more commonly eaten at home in France. The most famous recipe uses Burgundy wine, but other red wines are also great like a pinot noir. If red wine isn’t to your taste, some regions do make it with a white wine such as the coq au Riesling from the Alsace region. And there is also a coq au Champagne, it really is a versatile recipe. If you want to try traditional food in Paris, coq au vin is what you need to look for.
Julie Nyland from Dive in
French Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable dish usually dubbed as ratatouille niçoise that originated in Nice. If you want to try typical french food, Ratatouille needs to be on your list. The dish is made of cooked eggplant with spice, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers. The dish can be found throughout Provence but could also be found in other countries that could have a different name. The word “ratatouille” means motley stew and the word “rata” was used in the military canteen. It is a mixture of potatoes, mixed veggies, and beans with fatty meat that is quick and easy to prepare thus making it one of their popular french dishes way back 1778. The dish can be cooked by cooking all the vegetables altogether or separately. It’s commonly served as a side dish but can be a main dish and comes great with rice or bread. My family went to a restaurant in Paris called Chez Janou and loved their dishes! Although, you’d have to wait patiently because there could be a lot of customers but the wait is definitely worth it!
≡ Croque Monsieur
Stephanie Craig from History Fan Girl
A Parisian snack that popped up at cafes and bars in the early twentieth century. And it’s still one of the most popular French food items. The Croque Monsieur is so quintessentially Parisian that it even appears in French literature when it was memorialized by Marcel Proust in “In Search of Lost Time.” This perfect French bar food is made from a ham and cheese sandwich that is fried or baked in an outer layer of cheese. Packing a punch of protein and energy, it’s a great way to warm up and recover after a day of sightseeing, especially if it’s cold outside. Alternatively, you can try out the Croque Monsieur’s close relative, the Croque Madame, which is essentially the same sandwich with the addition of a fried or poached egg on top. While the sandwich did start out as a snack for bar patrons, you can find it in many cafes and even in traditional French restaurants in Paris and elsewhere.
Eloise from My Favourite Escapes
The Galettes are a specialty from the western region of France, Brittany. Some will think galettes are like crepes, but the recipe is very different. First, it’s not the same kind of flour: the galettes use buckwheat flour. It makes them look a lot darker than the crepes. Second, there is no milk in the galette but only water. Flour and water are actually the only ingredients in the dough. Then it’s all about the fillings. While crepes are usually a snack or a dessert, galettes are a savory dish. The most famous galette is the “complete”, filled with ham and cheese and an egg on top. You can go from the simple but popular galette-saucisse (sausage) to a gourmet butter-cooked scallops with leek puree. Actually, you can add any ingredient you like to fill your galette. Traditionally, cider is served with the galettes, or lait ribot (fermented milk). However, be careful not to drink cider from Normandy with your galette, Brittons could be offended! You can find crêperies everywhere in France and Paris.
There are especially many original crêperies around Montparnasse. So if Galettes are on your food to eat in Paris list, head over there!
≡ Boeuf Bourguignon
Michelle from Moyer Memoirs
Is there a dinner more French than beef bourguignon? The French name itself is something that I can’t pronounce very well. It is usually pronounced “BOAR-GEEIG-NOAN or BOR-GIG-NOAN”. The rich, red wine bourguignon sauce recipe hails from the Bourgogne region in France. The decadent dinner meal is composed of tender chunks of melting braised beef that has been stewed for hours and is then served in a side pot to be drizzled over buttery noodles.
On our first trip to Paris, hubby and I wanted to sample this French meal and our taste buds were definitely not disappointed in the results. We chose to sample the delectable beef bourguignon at Restaurant Josephine Chez Dumonet. Josephine’s, as is it affectionately called by the locals, is a beloved century-old French bistro located in the Montparnasse district of Paris. Its menu is still revered by the locals who come to dine for a late dinner in the front section of the bistro. Diners can choose to order a more wallet-friendly half-plate order of Beef Bourguignon which is still filling. Although old-fashioned Parisian cooking is becoming a rarity in Paris, Josephine’s is still serving up the classics like beef bourguignon at top-notch quality standards so that you can experience the old-world style of dining in Paris.
≡ Soupe à l’Oignon
Katy Clarke from Untold Morsels
A hearty soup made from beef stock and caramelized onions, soupe l’oignon is one of the famous French dishes that you must try in Paris. While onion soups were originally a cheap but flavourful dish that helped keep hunger pangs at bay for the poor of the city, the beloved recipe we know today originated in 18th century Paris. At first glance, soupe à l’oignon might seem like a fairly light meal but don’t be fooled. This decadent soup is served with large croutons dripping with melted Gruyère or Comté cheese on top of the rich meaty broth. And the best versions are finished with a generous dash of brandy or even cognac. So the soup is rich, full of flavor and simply delicious. You will find soupe à l’oignon in the many traditional bistrots and brasseries of Paris and throughout France. We enjoyed the version made at Chez Flottes, an art nouveau era brasserie close to the Jardins Tuileries.
≡ Steak Tartare
Although imported from abroad hundred of years ago, the steak tartare has become an essential dish on the menu of most French brasseries. The steak tartare is made of raw ground beef, traditionally seasoned with a mix of capers, shallots, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and tomato sauce It is often served, with a raw egg yolk on top, and a side of fries (or lettuce for a healthier version !). If you are into raw food, you will love it. When ordering steak tartare you can ask for it to be seasoned already, or with the dressing on the side, so you can measure how much you want to put in. In some restaurants, the waiter will even prepare the whole dish in front of you, so you can really see what goes in there. Slightly less common, you can also order your steak tartare aller-retour, a version of the steak tartare slightly seared on both sides, but still raw at heart. Although easy to find in most Parisian restaurants, I particularly recommend the one at the brasserie/concept store MONSIEUR MADAME, a couple of minutes from the Arc de Triomphe. Take a seat on the terrace, order a steak tartare and sip a glass of red wine for a true Parisian experience.
How to find a good restaurant in Paris
I don’t know about you, but fo it’s a returning issue for me to find a restaurant. I would say something very determined like: “we eat at the first place we see”. But then the first place is a kebab stall or something that doesn’t look nice or I am not up for… and then we walk, I am checking a menu of a random restaurant, go to the next, have a look here.. mhm… dunno… and it takes so long until I am all frustrated or not hungry anymore. Does that resonate with you?
Well.. wrap yourself for 13.000 restaurants to chose from. That’s Paris. But there are a few tips on how to find a good restaurant and the best french food. Especially one that is not aiming on mainly catering tourists
• Don’t eat in direct proximity to any famous landmark. Is the cute restaurant close to the Louvre? A French brasserie with view on Notre Dame? Or a fancy place next to the Eiffel Tower? I am not saying the food is bad – but it will be expensive. You’ll pay way more than 300m down the road and for me – personally – that qualifies kinda as a rip-off.
• Don’t eat at St. Michel Especially not at Rue de la Harpe and Rue de la Huchette. It looks cute, it’s cheap, the waiters are forthcoming and the menu is in English. But it’s the total tourist thing, the food is of low quality and it’s anything but authentic. It’s not the place you want to be when you search for good food in Paris.
• Eat where the Frenchies are Most restaurants are having a patio, listen to the language spoken by the guest.
• Avoid places with English menus It’s not necessarily a bad sign but never a good one. The same applies to menues with pictures.
• Eat at places with only a few dishes on the menu Places with 50 different mains on their menu can’t be good. They simply can’t guarantee quality and/ or fresh products. As a general rule: as fewer dishes on the menu, as better the restaurant.
Is the service in french restaurants is really that bad?
I know… France and Paris, in particular, has a very bad reputation when it comes to service. The waiting times are so long, the waiter doesn’t care and everything takes aaaages. That might be true if you come for example from a US background, where a waitress asks you all 3 minutes if you’re alright and refills your water as soon as you took a sip. But… the eating culture in France is very different.
Generally, you should calculate 1,5h at least if you go for a meal. More realistic are 2 hours, if not more. (If you’re invited to a family lunch or dinner, you can even expect 5 or 6 hours!). It’s not that the service is bad, you are just given some time to chose your wine and your meal. There is no rush.
The waiter’s job in France is to take your order, bring your food and get you the check. However, if you need anything else, you need to get their attention. This is not a sign of bad service in France, it’s more that they leave you alone so you can enjoy your meal and time without being interrupted.
Is it true that you don’t need to tip in Paris?
No. Forget everything you read about it. I know most guides stating that you shouldn’t and that it’s not expected but I can assure you, that this is NOT true. As good as everyone in Paris tips in restaurants, unless it was REALLY bad. However, it is not 20% like in the USA though and less strict neither, it’s rather a generous rounding up. If you have to pay 47€, you give 50. If it’s your bill is 75€, you leave 80. If you pay by credit card, just tell the waiter the adjusted amount you wish to pay, or you can leave some coins on the table. Either way works. And if you have no coins on you or your bill was only 10€ anyway, no one will think bad of you either if you don’t tip. Tipping is somewhat expected but It’s in the end just a nice gesture that is appreciated. If you go for dinner and you don’t tip, it is considered rude, but not as rude as it would be in the US.
Eating in a restaurant abroad is always kind of an adventure. And it’s also so easy to put one’s foot in it. However, I am not a super fan of etiquette and I don’t think it’s necessary to overdo it anyway. I always felt comfortable in french restaurants even though I never looked up how to correctly eat my bread or how to hold a glass of wine. But there are a few things you should be mindful of when eating in a French restaurant:
• Wait until seated
• Don’t ask if you could change a menu – for example having potatoes instead of rice. It’s not a thing. The Chef created the menu as it is and most likely he had some kind of concept in mind, he won’t change it for you
• Don’t lay your bread on your plate but next to it and don’t ask for butter. That’s for breakfast 🙂
• Don’t split a meal. I know that portions in the US are enormous AF (we used to order 2 dishes for 4 people!) but it’s not the case in Paris. If you are eating in a restaurant, you can easily order a starter, a main and a dessert and you’ll be fine. The portions are made of it. On the more pragmatic side: if you sit down in a restaurant, everyone is expected to order a main dish.
• Don’t ask for separate bills for your table. Pay for the table or split the bill and everyone pays their share but don’t argue who had a starter and who hadn’t or who just had water. You can do that afterward.
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