Food You’ll Want to Eat

In France food is very much a part of the culture. I’m lucky enough to have a French chef father-in-law and have sampled incredible food both at home and in France. Some of his easy French recipes we’ve used for our dinner parties at home to great success.

To understand the French you have to experience their food. It is special in the best cases. Lately, unfortunately, due to the “rush rush” syndrome that has infiltrated it’s way into France's food it is not as good everywhere as it was, say….ten years ago. You’ll get amazing meals most of the time and you’ll know the difference once you get in the swing of your trip. Be adventurous and try out interesting looking places.

France Food - Menu Guide

When you go to a restaurant the menu will be in French of course. Here’s a guide so you can have an idea of what you’ll want to order.

Petit Dejeuner (breakfast)

  • Pain (bread sliced from a baguette)
  • Beurre (butter)
  • Croissant (flaky, buttery, roll)
  • Confiture (jam)
  • Café (coffee) or café au lait (½ coffee ½ milk)

That’s about all you get for breakfast if your hotel or B&B serves breakfast or you go to cafe. That’s all the French eat. An omelette is not for breakfast in France. You’ll find it for lunch or a light dinner at a café.

Dejeuner (lunch)

Served 11:30am – 2pm (last order 1:30)

Depending on where you are in France food at a roadside restaurant serving a prix fixe (all inclusive meal) will get you a multi course lunch. Don’t worry about being too much, the portions are small and after dessert and café you are properly satiated w/out being stuffed. A roadside bar in the country or a café in the city you can order a la carte.

For a relatively quick lunch, the Classic French sandwich available at a café:

  • Croque monsieur- ham and cheese
  • Croque madame - ham, cheese and fried egg

France Food - Standard café menu items:

  • Soupe a L’ognion (onion soup with cheese melted on top)
  • Pate – chopped pork liver
  • Saucisson - salami
  • Andouille - sausages from intestines of pigs,
  • Rilettes – shreaded pork mixture you spread on toasted bread
  • Escargots – snails
  • Steak Frites - steak and French fries
  • Moules frites – mussels with fries
  • Boudin noir frites – blood sausage with fries
  • Cassoulet – casserole of white beans, sausage, and chicken
  • Confit de Canard – duck preserved in fat, then cooked.
  • Magret de Canard - duck
  • Coq au vin – rooster stewed in red wine
  • Poulet roti – roast chicken
  • Fruits de Mer – assorted shellfish
  • Ris de Veau - sweatbreads
  • Pot au Feu – stewed beef with root vegetables, may also include pork, chicken and sausage.
  • Coquilles Saint Jacques – scallops in a sauce of mushrooms, wine and lemon juice.
  • Hachis parmentier - shepherds pie made with meat or haddock. A country dish that’s good comfort food.
  • Salade Verte – green salad
  • Haricots verts – green beans
  • Macedoine de Legumes – assorted vegetables finely cubed mixed with mayonaise

Tea Time
Sorry no tea. For tea go to England, however around 4pm you’ll see folks standing at the café bars kicking back their expresso!

  • Pain au chocolat– croissant with chocolate inside it. Sooo good!. Traditionally an after school snack for the kids.

Le Diner (dinner)

Served 7pm- 9:30, in cities 7pm-10:30pm. Last seating is usually ½ hour before closing.

You can eat dinner at a café (see above for menu listing) or a restaurant.

Traditionally dinner is served in courses. Take advantage of the Prix fixe menu for a multi course meal if there is one, it offers a very good value, or you can order a la carte. Remember, portions are smaller than in the States and so a 3 course meal usually will not be too much to eat and just enough. rassasier, pronounced: “rah sa zier”, meaning: full.

Formules: Some restaurants and cafés will offer a choice of Prix Fixe menus call “Formules”. Available for dinner and sometimes for lunch.

France Food Restaurant Dinner Menu Guide

There are so many special dishes it would be impossible to list them all. I’ve included the ones Gildas and I are have enjoyed many times.

Entrée (appetizer)

  • pâté
  • escargot
  • crudite – raw and parboiled vegetables served cold with vinegrette
  • soupe
  • salade
  • artichoke

Plat Principal (main course)

  • Coq au Vin - a rooster stewed in red wine with potato
  • Steak frites – steak and French fries. French steak is thinner and tougher (less fat) than in the States.
  • Lapin a la moutarde - Rabbit with mustard sauce
  • Raie au buerre noisette – Skate (fish) served with a browned butter sauce of capers, garlic and wine. A flat fish. Superbe. Traditionally was served with Beurre Noir, black (burned) butter but now banned by the govt because burned butter is carcinogenic.

Le Fromage (cheese course)

  • Camembert, Brie and a million other possibilities.

Le Dessert

  • Crème caramel - custard
  • ile flottante - egg whites souffle sitting on a “sea of custard”,
  • profiteroles cream puffs w/ ice cream inside and chocolate sauce on top,
  • tarte tatin- upside down apple pie
  • fromage blanc au miel - fromage blanc has this amazing thick rich consistency of yogurt but not sour served with honey on the side. Had it at a fab restaurant in Vaison la Romain (Provence),
  • crepe suzette- thin pancakes with liquor
  • clafouti- a custard like tart baked with fruit (traditionally with cherries)
  • mousse au chocolat- chocolate mousse
  • napoleon- pastry layered with custard
  • éclair- long thin cream puff filled with custard

Coffee or tea (I lied, they do have tea) Not served with dessert but after. So if you order it w/ dessert don’t think the waiter forgot. It will come later. Take your time. That’s what dinner is for, watch the people, soak up the atmosphere.

Restaurant Review Guide Suggestions:

For fine dining, MICHELIN Guide France: Hotels & Restaurants (Michelin Guides)

For “good food at moderate prices” try the Michelin “Guide Bib Gourmand”. On sale in France, in French only. These selected restaurants must keep their prices below a certain level. We ate at two of many restaurants listed in Paris and the food was fabulous and it didn’t break the bank. (of course we were the first one’s in there along with the other Americans. The French crowd generally arrives around 8/8:30.)

Regional French Food Specialties

Below is a sample of specialties from Brittany.  You'll also want to check out our list of the best food of the Regions.


  • Moules frites
  • Fruits de mer – cold shell fish platter served on a bed of ice in a three tiered plate.
  • soupe de poisson pureed fish soup, aioli on the side , cheese, croutons
  • Crepes - large very thin pancakes. don’t waste your time eating crepes anywhere else. This is the staple of Brittany. did they invent them? I think so. Ble noir: Buckwheat crepes for dinner, froment sweet crepes for dessert. The dinner crepes you eat many of them. They are thinly stuffed with lots of salted butter that Brittany is famous for, put on top. The waiter comes back when you’re done with your first and you decide what to try next. My favs: tomato, cheese, ham, or a combo.


  • Far Breton (a baked custard traditionally with prunes)

In France food is an amazing experience and an important part of your adventures. Enjoy, and as they say, bon appetite!

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