Eating your way through Paris is the best way to visit the French capital. Food in Paris is perhaps the best gift France gave us, with its long culinary history and top chefs. French cuisine is renowned internationally and rightfully so. Most Michelin star restaurants have French-trained chefs. But food in Paris is not just about sophisticated dishes. The soul of the food can be found in a small bakery or can be sampled in the most unusual bistro out of the tourist areas. Parisienne food is something worth travelling for. In fact, during our myriad Europe itineraries, we'd always add France to the list, just so we can indulge in the local cheeses, bread and wine.
Many assume that food in Paris is expensive and quite intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. You can reserve a spot in a top-notch restaurant, of course, and experience in a Michelin star lunch to remember, or you can just grab a picnic basket, shop at the local supermarket and have the time of your life. So let's talk about that Paris food which will make your trip super special and will get you to return to France over and over again.
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Food in Paris with a tour
If you wish to experience the best food in Paris but not too sure where to start, you can always just take a foodie tour to get introduced to the local cuisine. We recommend a food tour because you also get a list of all the places you'll visit, so you can just return to them after the tour. It's a safe bet to have a worry-free holiday in Paris. Depending on where you stay in Paris, you can also join a local food tour which takes you around your hotel, so you can sample the food before you commit to dining there again.
We recommend this food tour here. You check the latest prices and book in advance as Paris is an incredibly popular city which sells out pretty quick.
Food in Paris with a cooking class
Not only you will sample the food in Paris but learn how to cook it. Pretty perfect if you ask us. We recently took a cooking class to learn how to make Parisienne desserts with chocolate. It was so much fun, and we got to work as a team and meet a lot of people. It's a nice way to get introduced to a new city, meet a few other travellers and support a local business. As humans, we really connect through food. It's something really special about cooking as a group, eating together and sharing stories. Paris is a big city and can be overwhelming. So entering a local community and making something together can really help.
We recommend this cooking class here where you'll learn the best of your yummy Paris food.
Discover the best food in Paris
Are you the explorer type? We are too, and we love exploring in the name of food. That's why we made it into a priority to try as many awesome foods in Paris as anyone can possibly imagine. We made a list, walked around and ticked all the boxes as we sampled along. Don't laugh, a little strategy was needed to ensure we try all the best of the Paris food. We did a similar thing in the French Riviera where we also tried the best food in Nice.
A few notes, before we start: Paris is not known to be the best place for dieting. Although I like to pay attention to the food I eat, I dropped the ball in Paris and went all in. Sugar, fat, salt, I tried them all. No regrets, because I decided to believe that the French paradox applies to me too. What is the French paradox you might ask? Well, the French have this terrible diet made of wine, cheeses, croissants and sweet items, yet they are some of the slimmest people in Europe. It's what nutritionist experts call the French paradox. Maybe there is just a food vortex in France and the moment you enter the awesome world of Paris, you enter a parallel universe where you can eat as much as you want without putting an ounce of weight. Whether is true or not, I just indulged in all the great food in Paris.
What better way to start your foodie exploration than by eating a mightly French croissant. Best served with butter and jam and tea or coffee on the side, the croissant is one of our favourite snack in the morning. Did you know that croissants are actually of Austrian origin, but these crescent-shaped breads have been made since the Renaissance? They really are the staple food in any French bakeries and pâtisseries.
If you are a bread lover like we are, then you are going to love a fresh French baguette. This thin, long loaf of French bread has an amazing crisp crust. There is something satisfying about breaking a bit of crusty baguette and eating it alongside delicious cheese. We all saw those movies, with the Frenchmen walking around with a beret, a stripy t-shirt and a handful of baguettes. Today, you might not see that exact image, but you will see plenty of locals walking home from work with fresh, crusty baguettes.
Pain au chocolate
Now let's put together a warm croissant and some delicious chocolate. The result? A pain au chocolate or a chocolatine as they are known in South of France.
According to the legend, Marie-Antoinette introduced the croissant to France. The word croissant entered the French dictionary in 1863. Here is an interesting fact about croissants and pain au chocolate. They used to be made from a brioche type base but eventually evolved into the flaky dough we all love so much.
This goes back a long time for me... tarts and I, were best friends when I was a kid. I used to go to this French pâtisserie with my mum and order the same thing: fruit tarts. It was my so-called guilty pleasure. A tart is a baked French dessert which is usually made of shortcrust pastry, filled with custard and topped with fruits with a layer of jelly on top. Tarts can be sweet or savoury. Really delicious and very addictive.
I have a funny story about quiche. I once purchased a quiche not knowing what it was. I honestly thought it was some sort of funky pie. A friend invited me over for dinner so I happily announced that I'll be bringing pie over. Excited, my friend told me she's been fancying pie for a few days, so the dinner is all set. Once I showcase my pie, my friend starts laughing uncontrollably at me, telling me that I brought quiche. Like, the French savoury open flan. Well, I did feel really silly, but at least I got to try (and love) quiche for the first time. On the bright side, quiche is a popular party food so after all, I got that right.
Honestly, I'm not so sure what I think of macaroons. I sort of like them, but I wouldn't go out of my way for one. Perhaps they are too sweet for me? Or I haven't found the right macaroon for my taste. Either way, macaroons are one of those desserts that you'd travel to France for. Most people associate macaroons with Ladurée which is a French luxury bakery created in 1862. Macaroons look stunning and they make a fantastic present, but I'm still unsure about the taste. Why don't you try it in Paris and tell me what you really think of them?
My husband always laughs when I say that my dream is to bathe in a tub full of french fries and not champagne. No joke, I love fries so much, I can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between meal snacks.
You can call them pommes de terre frites, but more commonly pommes frites or just frites. Whatever their name, you will love a portion of thin, crispy and delicious French fries. Be right back, going to make some asap.
Oh, sweet tooth of mine, cannot resist a delicious eclair. Back when I was a little girl, eclairs were super boring: a classic oblong pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with chocolate icing. Nowadays, however, eclairs are so varied. With all sort of creams, toppings, fillings and colours, eclairs are made to look incredible and taste amazing.
Here's a fun fact about eclairs. The name eclair means "flash of lightning" so called because this delicious choux pastry was eating in a flash (quickly). How about that for a cool name?
My mother used to make Crêpes filled with all sort of jams, but I didn't like them until I became a young adult. Don't know what sort of child doesn't really like crêpes (I'm still puzzled by that myself). My recent love for French pancakes was reiterated in Japan when I realised that eating giant crazy pancakes is one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
Crêpes are usually of two types: sweet crêpes and savoury galettes. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings but we recommend you try the flambéed crêpes Suzette.
French onion soup
This may not sound delicious, but you'll be amazed by how awesome this French dish is. One of the best foods in Paris is the mighty onion soup. The real deal is based on meat stock and onions, and served gratinéed with croutons and cheese on top or a large piece of bread. It looks glorious for pictures but it also tastes wonderful. I avoided this dish for a very long time, until, my husband and I went to a restaurant in Paris which had set lunch. As part of the deal, we got a small bowl of French onion soup which honestly changed my life. There is no way we visit Paris now without going to a restaurant to order French onion soup.
It sure doesn't sound great in English, so maybe just order it in French: soupe à l’oignon.
Baba au rhum
When I think of Baba au rhum I start salivating. Again, childhood memories come running. Baba au rhum is a small round cake in syrup made with rum, filled with whipped cream. This deliciousness is the perfect dessert. You can buy it in individual portions or you can buy it as a bundt cake.
Just take a moment to imagine a rum syrupy sponge with cream on top. What more can you ask for? Ok, I'm really having difficulties writing this list now. I'm getting so very hungry!
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Duck à l'orange
If you are not vegan, then this dish is a must. This is a French classic, where the duck is roasted in a bitter orange sauce. The Italians claim this dish migrated from Italy to France. Antonio Caccitore wrote about this saying it first encountered this dish outside of Italy, explaining how the dish made it to Paris from its original location in Naples. Whether this dish originates from France or Italy, it doesn't really matter. It's a classic present on almost all French menus which will warm your heart with culinary pleasure.
Truffles, ganaches and other chocolate sweets, ah Paris, you have the best food. This is the part where we recommend a foodie tour again because locals will know to take you to several small shops, located off the beaten path. Of course, the big chocolate houses are worth a visit too. I mean let's talk pralines, mendiants, caramels, fondants, marrons glacés... they are all waiting for you in Paris.
First time we tried foie gras was in a restaurant called Onyx, in Budapest. Foie gras is considered a luxury food product made of the liver of a duck or goose. The production os foie gras is controversial because the animals have to be purposely fattened for this luxury food to be produced. If you do decide to try it, we recommend trying it in a restaurant where you can ask about the production of foie gras and the methods employed to do so. Foie gras is considered a delicacy in France known for its flavour usually described as rich, buttery, and delicate.
This is one of the best food in Paris when you visit during winter. It's a hearty beef stew braised in red wine usually served with potatoes and other vegetables. The name of the dish refers to the use of the Burgundy wine and not the region itself.
Interestingly enough, this dish is considered a French traditional dish, but in reality, Beef bourguignon was first documented in the 19th century. This is a staple in most Paris bistros so you will have no troubles finding this dish.
Some swear by their French wines and it's well known that so many make a trip to France just to acquire some of the best wines there are. When you enter any supermarket you will have a dedicated aisle to all types of reds, whites, roses and cuvees.
France is the source of many grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah). These are now planted all over the world. Of course, France is known for some of its prestigious wine regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Don't ever leave me alone in a room full of cream puffs because I'll eat them all in a blink of an eye. I adore cream puffs or as the French call them: profiteroles. A profiterole is a chou à la crème or a small round ball made of choux pastry, filled with cream with a chocolate topping. I personally prefer profiteroles with no ganache on top, but that's just a preference. You should be able to enjoy them the way you want them. You can purchase them as dessert in a restaurant or in a local supermarket.
The big French thing which everyone makes fun of: frog legs. Let's talk about them. Don't worry though, you don't have to try them if you don't want to. But it is one of those Paris food which you might want to sample once in a lifetime. They are delicacies of French cuisines, but not quite for everyone. Cuisses de grenouille (frog legs) is a traditional dish particularly found in the region of the Dombes. They are served with slices of baguette on the side.
A few things to note here. There are many who urge the restriction of frog consumption because amphibian populations are declining and frogs are an essential element of ecosystems. If this is something you wish to try, please ensure the frog legs were responsible sourced and not from the wild.
Ile Flottante is a sublime and delicate French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise. The first time I ever tried this, was in Budapest when my husband took me to a French restaurant and told me that this was his favourite dessert. The floating meringue is very soft and resembles snow. It's the perfect dessert which is neither too sweet nor too heavy.
We used to have so much fun as kids, joking about people who eat snails. To be fair, I'm yet to try the mighty escargot which is very popular in France, Spain and Portugal. These are edible land snails and usually served as hors d'oeuvre. When cooked, snails are prepared with garlic and parsley butter, added for seasoning, and served in their shell. They are very expensive because they are considered a delicacy, especially in France.
I love oysters although this wasn't always the case for me. In fact, the first ever time I tried an oyster I wasn't impressed at all. I'm not sure if they are an acquired taste, but I now absolutely adore a platter full of oysters. I especially loved them with seasoning and spice, although some prefer them as they are. They are considered an aphrodisiac because of their resemblance to female sex organs. However, a team of researchers recently studied this and found that oysters were rich in amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. Well, who saw that coming? Either way, oysters are a delicacy and they sure make an amazing Paris food to add to your list.
Crème brûlée is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base hardened caramelized sugar. It's usually served chilled, as a dessert. It's also called Burnt cream, Trinity cream, crema Catalana and Cambridge burnt cream.
Wait, what? Falafel in France? No, I'm not mad, falafel is a dish you should actually try in Paris. Falafel is a beloved dish in Paris, usually served in pitta bread with vegetables and sauces. It's delicious and makes a surprisingly great vegan treat for lunch.
If you can only try one single type of food in Paris, make it cheese. The mighty French cheese is the best in the world. I'm going to state that again for the record: French cheese is the best in the world. Sorry, but no exceptions. I also adore Italian cheese, but French cheese is the best thing ever. In fact, we used to do roadtrips in Europe just so we can cross France and buy some of its delicious cheeses. We'd hit a supermarket and get a massive cheese platter, two baguettes and a bottle of white.
So, if you want to enjoy the best Paris food, grab a blanket, a few kinds of cheese and enjoy a romantic picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Yes, you read this right: I'm recommending you eat couscous as the best Paris food. In fact, did you know that couscous was voted as the favourite food in Paris? It's also one of the most affordable. To be fair, who doesn't love aromatic couscous with herbs, roasted tomatoes and a hint of lemon? It can be served as a salad, can be turned into a side dish or be made the star attractions for a vegan dinner.
Steak tartare is a dish made from raw ground meat. Doesn't sound appetising? It's usually served with onions, capers and peppers. We tried it once with expanded quinoa. It tasted really great, although, lucky for us, we didn't know it's actually raw meat, otherwise, we probably would have skipped the dish. To reiterate, this is raw beef mince, so you should only try it in a safe restaurant you can trust. We tried it as part of a taster menu in a French Michelin restaurant.
Coq au vin
Another French classic, this dish is chicken cooked in red wine. A red Burgundy wine is usually used for this dish, although you can find a variation throughout the many regions of the country. For example, you can try coq au vin jaune, coq au Riesling, coq au pourpre or coq au violet, coq au Champagne. This is a hearty dish, so we recommend it during the colder months.
Have you ever heard of French meringue, Swiss meringue or Italian meringue? This is because they are all slightly different and they all dispute the fact that "they" invented meringue first. In France, however, meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. It is baked at a low temperature and the result should be a crispy outside with a soft interior.
Salted butter caramels
You can get a small box of salted butter caramels from almost any confectionary shop (or supermarket). You can also buy them as a nice souvenir if you like. Salted caramel is prepared by adding salt to the ingredients. There has been a fun study conducted at the University of Florida which came to the conclusion that most people prefer salted caramel because of its main chemical composition. Basically, the main ingredients have effects on the reward systems of the human brain. So next time you need a pick me up, grab a small piece of salted butter caramel.
Roquefort with quince
Can we talk about cheese a little longer? Roquefort is one of my favourite kinds of cheese, and probably one of the most well-known types of blue cheese in the world. It's usually made from sheep milk. It's a very tangy type of cheese, and that's why I recommend eating it with a quince sauce on the side. You can also have it with grapes or just raw quince if you prefer. Just something really delicious to add to your picnic for when you want to really try all those delicious foods in Paris.
Croque-monsieur or Croque-madame
A croque-monsieur is a baked boiled ham and cheese sandwich. This used to be a quick snack, but nowadays you can order it for lunch served with salad on the side. A croque-madame is similar to a croque-monsieur sandwich, but it has a fried egg in it.
The cute little French cakes which make such great souvenir from Paris (as well as an awesome food to try). The Madeleine or petite madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun. Madeleines are small sponge cakes with adorable shell-like shapes. They are sweet and are a fantastic snack served with tea or coffee.
Are you ready to visit Paris for a weekend and enjoy all this amazing food? What food in Paris will you go for on your next visit? Please let us know in the comments section below.