People often ask me what they should eat when they go to France, so I decided to put together the ultimate 3 part guide on what you should absolutely try when visiting France. I chose the best of the national dishes and foods the country has to offer as well as some personal (and relevant!) recommendations. Remember the food is also part of the traveling experience! P.S: Of course this list is none exhaustive and depends on people's tastes. Please comment below with your favorite French dish. I would love to hear about your experience with French food!
A) 15 Best French Main Course Dishes
Let's start with the Famous French cheese! Because cheese has such a long history in France, the art of making it has been perfected there and they are proud of having the best cheeses in the world with over 365 varieties. You can get some of these delicious cheeses at a cheese store, a farmer's market or any grocery store. A good way to sample some cheeses is to order a cheese platter at a restaurant for dessert or an appetizer. Tip: pair your cheese with some French red wine.
Another thing the French love is their charcuterie which is cured meat. Jambon cru, pate, rillettes, and saucisson are some of the many varieties. Never heard of saucisson? It's our French version of the dry salami, and it's fabulous, you must try it! Tip: Buy some charcuterie at a local farmers market or supermarket along with bread, butter, and cornichons (French tiny pickles) to make a perfect French sandwich!
Another national dish, Les moules marinières, is rated one of the French's favorite (that includes me!) Mussels are a staple in France and you can have them many different ways. This classic dish has them prepared in a simple but delicious French sauce which contains cream, garlic, butter, shallots, white wine, and fresh herbs. Tip: You can find a restaurant that offers unlimited mussels for less than 15 Euros where you can gorge on delicious mussels, but for most people, one pot is enough, and don't skip the frites!
#4 The Salad Complete
Since charcuterie is so good the French simply made a whole meal out of it and added some lettuce and tomatoes to make it look more healthy. When at a restaurant don't hesitate to order the salad complete as your main dish, it's so good and very filling for a salad.
#5 Boeuf Bourguignon
Going to France and not trying the famous "Boeuf Bourguignon" is not an option. It is a tasty stew which combines red wine with beef, carrots, and onions in perfect matrimony. Tip: This dish will warm your heart on a rainy day. So yummy, you can taste the love the chefs put into it.
#6 Warm Goat Cheese Salad
Another delicious salad you can order is "La salade de chêvre chaud". This is one of my favorites. Great as an appetizer or a light lunch, the melted goat cheese on top of toasted bread pieces will delight you. This is a typical dish at restaurants so don't forget to try it out!
#7 L'Entrecote Steak-Frite
Steak-Frites is a dish that is served all over France and almost every restaurant and is common on menus at French restaurants in America. Since you can get them everywhere and there is not much to say about them, we will just tell you where to get the best Steak-Frites in the world. The restaurant "L'Entrecote" is famous for its incredible secret sauce and has locations in Paris and 5 major cities in France. If you are a steak lover this is a highly recommended stop. Be careful: at "L'Entrecote", the Steak-Frites is the only thing on the menu, so if someone doesn't like meat in your group, pass on!
#8 Fresh Oysters
Like the famous mussels, the French also love their oysters. Usually served plain and very fresh, with lemon or vinegar they are always very refreshing. Along with some dry white wine, they will make a delightful appetizer. Tip: If you are by the coast, find an oyster producer and go taste his oysters directly at his farm. It's an authentic and fun experience, plus the oysters are cheaper and as fresh as you can get. Call or check online to find oyster producers with restaurants on their farms.
#9 Home Made Fish Soup
Fish soup? You may wonder why not onion soup? Well, the French don't really eat onion soups plus we can already get great onion soups in the states so go for something more local. This dish comes with cheese, aioli sauce and toasted bread. Tip: Make sure to double check, and even ask, that it is home made or 'maison' in French otherwise it will be a disappointment.
Try the freshly baked quiches from any local bakery (yes, you can buy quiches at any bakery!) They usually come in individual portions so you can get 2 or 3 and try the multiple flavors. The most popular are the regular Lorraine (bacon and cream), the cheese quiche, or my favorite the leek quiche. Tip: ask the baker to warm it up for you, he will gladly do it!
#11 Melted Camembert
More cheese I know, but France is the cheese country and this baked Camembert is a dish that will take you to heaven. Trust me you won't regret it, as soon as you take your first bite you will wonder what is this delicious thing and why does no one make it in the United States. Tip: check out our easy recipe to make your own melted Camembert at home and impress your guests.
#12 Steak Tartare
Feeling a little adventurous? Try the famous steak tartare! It is well seasoned chopped up bits of raw steak served at room temperature. It is a departure from how people are used to eating beef in the States but if you try it you may actually be surprised to like -or even fall in love - with this authentic French dish. I personally love steak tartare! Tip: not feeling adventurous enough? Go for a tuna tartare, a little more like Japanese sashimi and very tasty as well.
A little bit of vegetables now with the Ratatouille. It is a common side dish which is a mix of slowly cooked tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, onions, and peppers. This tasty French Mediterranean recipe is a classic. Don't miss out!
#14 Duck Breast
The "magret de canard" (duck breast) is the French number one favorite dish as of 2017. With a consistency and texture similar to a steak, the magret holds amazing flavors. Usually served with a honey or fig sauce, this is a meal that you will remember.
Tip: The magret always comes medium rare. Don't be too worried if it is a little red, well-done duck breast doesn't taste great plus the chef might even refuse to cook it this way!
To end on a high note with the salty dishes: la crêpe. Yes, I said salty, we make all kinds of crêpes! It's common in France to eat savory crêpes garnished with swiss cheese and ham, bolognese or smoked salmon. There are endless crêpes recipes. Good to know: If you order a crêpe with an egg the egg yolk will be raw!
B) 9 Desserts That Will Make You Move to France
#1 Crême Brulée
Probably one of the most famous French desserts in the world, you cannot come here and not have the crême brulée. Delicious custard topped with a crunchy torch cooked caramel this is definitely one the best creations of the French cuisine.
Profiteroles, are cream puffs filled with pastry cream or ice cream and topped with chocolate. It's a perfect combination of different texture. Soft and sweet, this will be the end note to your excellent dinner.
#3 Ile Flottante
The ile flottante is a very light dessert composed of whipped egg whites on top of an crème anglaise of where the name of "floating island". It is a very sweet dessert and very good!
Any pastries from the bakery will be a delight. From the fruit pies to the chocolate cakes to the cream puffs and many, many, more there is a pastry for everyone. It is hard to choose because they are all good and there are so many. Tip: Go back a few times and try them all!
The French waffle will be a perfect afternoon snack. They are golden and delicious and topped many different ways. Stop at a cafe or crêpe store and enjoy a fluffy gauffre topped with Nutella and bananas. You can find one just by walking down the street and following your nose when you get close!
The chocolate fondant cake is my favorite! With its warm runny chocolate center, the rich flavor of the fondant will win over even a non-chocolate lover and become many people's new favorite.
#7 Cafe Gourmand
The cafe gourmand or foodie-coffee, composed of a coffee and 4 to 5 mini desserts it's one of the French's every day favorites. So cute and so yummy don't miss out on this little gem. Great to enjoy while relaxing at a cafe.
#8 Baba Au Rhum
The baba au rhum is a small sponge cake saturated in syrup made with rum. Sometimes filled with whipped cream, the baba au rhum is a tasty dessert that will warm you up.
#9 Sweet Crêpe
And again, the crêpe! After being eaten as a main dish we will now have it for dessert. Filled with sugar, chocolate or jam we never get tired of it. Try the crêpe Suzette (sugar and lemon) or the crêpe Bretonne (salted butter and sugar) some of my favorite recipes.
C) 3 Foreign Dishes Common in France
The Couscous is also one of the French's favorite. It was brought over from Northern Africa which was under French occupation. A very filling dish which can include lamb chops, chicken, spicy lamb sausages, veggies, and couscous, it is no wonder this tasty African meal earned its place with the French people.
If you are in South of France you may find the paella on the menu. Southern France was long occupied by the Spanish and has kept many recipes from this culture. Paella is one of them to try! A very flavorful meal which is made to share and is one of the most famous national dishes of Spain.
The Italian pizza is famous in the whole world. While most people believe the best pizza is still in Italy, you will be surprised at how good the French are at making pizza. Thin crust, delicious cheeses, and gourmet meats, no need to go all the way to Italy!
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