Paris, the land of amazing museums, landmarks, and of course, good food. Here's our guide through eating in Paris, including all the classics, instructions, and tips.
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When you think of Paris, you might think about the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other iconic landmarks. While there are many things to do in Paris, France is well known for its gastronomie. If you’re in the districts of Paris, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy some classic French food.
Wondering what’s best to eat while you’re in Paris? Fear not, we’re here to help!
What is the most popular food in France?
There are so many excellent dishes in France, there’s no way to pick one as the most popular. We’ll do our best to list some must-try French dishes, though!
Pastries you won’t baguette
If it’s your first time in France, you absolutely must visit a boulangerie/patisserie. When you head inside, pick up a fresh baguette for your dinner, or a delicious croissant for breakfast. A handmade French pastry made in France can’t be beaten.
For more pastry ideas, try an eclair, pain au chocolat, profiterole, or a macaron (the poshest ones coming from Ladurée in Paris). These quintessentially French pastries will have you saying ooh la la in the best way possible!
Meaty French entrées
If baked goods aren’t your craving, you should aim to try soupe a l’oignon (onion soup), coq au vin, or boeuf bourguignon. These are classic French dishes that will not only whet your appetite but also have you feeling très francais.
For more meat suggestions try oysters (huitres), duck (canard), quiche, or even be adventurous and eat some escargots (snails). Have steak frites for some classic French beef, but no, French fries don’t come from France, they’re Belgian!
If you’re just feeling peckish and want something more sandwich-like, try a croque monsieur. It’s melted ham and cheese, which makes for the perfect pick-me-up. Add an egg and it’s called a croque madame!
Cheese brie-ond belief!
Another popular food in France is cheese. You can find a fromagerie to help you pick the cheese for your tastes, or you can go into a supermarket (Monoprix, Carrefour, or Casino are some big names you can check out) and peruse the massive cheese sections.
Enjoy Paris, one crêpe at a time
As you wander around Paris, you’ll also find food carts serving piping hot crêpes. You can have them sweet or savory, and there’s nothing quite like eating a crêpe hot off the pan in the streets of Paris. During the holidays, be sure to try roasted marrons (chestnuts) as well!
Drinkable sweet treats
For a sweet drink, have a chocolat chaud! Yes, it’s a hot chocolate, but unlike what you’ll be expecting. The French hot chocolate is thick and made with actual chocolate melted in milk so you can indulge in a rich, delicious beverage.
Paris food markets
One reason why Paris is so well known for food is because of its markets. The French love shopping in markets for fresh meat, produce, cheese, and all kinds of food, and while visiting Paris, these markets are something to see. If you’re looking to visit some marchés while in Paris, you won’t be disappointed.
Whether you want to visit the Marché des Enfants Rouges in Le Marais, or head on over to Rue Montorgueil, there are marchés in every arrondissement you can explore. They aren’t all open every day, though, so don’t forget to research the markets that interest you before you take a trip to make sure they’re operating.
Markets are the best place to experience Parisian food, even if you aren’t cooking for yourself. See the fish stands to know what’s freshest and speak with the vendors to get their personal recommendations for cheese, produce, or even local food souvenirs. It’s also a perfect opportunity to practice your French!
French food words
If you’re wanting to explore Paris, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your French. To have the best experience as you try out Parisian cuisine, here are some keywords and phrases to have in your back pocket!
- Bonjour: Hello. In France, it’s crucial that you start any interaction with anyone with bonjour or bonsoir if it’s the evening
- Merci: Thank you
- S’il vous plaît: Please
- Manger (pronounced man-jay): To eat
- Boire: To drink
- Petit-Déjeuner: Breakfast
- Déjeuner: Lunch
- Dîner: Dinner
- Parlez-vous anglais?: Do you speak English?
- Je voudrais…: I would like…
- L’addition: The check/bill (to ask for this in French, you would say “l’addition, s’il vous plaît”)
- Pourboire: Tip (if a restaurant says service compris, this means the tip is included in your bill)
One way to eat your way through Paris is to book a food tour. With these, you’ll be able to enjoy classic Parisian food and wine with a dedicated tour guide. This is a perfect way to not only indulge in some delicious cuisine but also to learn about it as well.
A highly rated food tour operator in Paris is Secret Food Tours. Run by Parisians, you can choose from five different food tours to help you explore the culinary side of Paris. For sweet tooths, check out their chocolate & pastry tour, or explore different quartiers with their tours of Le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain, and the Latin Quarter. Their wine tour includes five wine tastings (known as dégustations in French). Tickets for the tours are on the spendy side but can be worth it if you want to delve into French food outside of a restaurant setting.
You can also check out Viator’s top-rated Ultimate Paris Food Tour for a three-hour food fest in the Le Marais neighborhood. You’ll get 12 tastings from eight dining establishments, and with groups limited to ten people, you’ll be able to truly immerse yourself in the intimate experience. This tour is operated by Devour Paris Food Tours.
Finding restaurants in Paris
With all the food options in Paris, it’s hard to go wrong with where you eat. That being said, there are some ways to ensure you aren’t being overcharged for your Parisian delicacies, and that you’re eating at a local joint. Here are some things to keep in mind during your search for a delicious restaurant in Paris:
- Don’t eat too close to tourist landmarks: Head a few blocks away to find more local haunts that won’t carry as high a price tag
- Look for menus in French: Many restaurants that cater to tourists will have menus in English and French. If the menu is only in French, that’s a sign it’s not necessarily a tourist hotspot, and the prices will likely reflect that
- Avoid menus with pictures: The fewer pictures there are on a menu, the better
- Don’t shy away from “small” restaurants: One of the joys of eating in Paris is experiencing the sometimes crammed restaurants squeezed into the French architecture
- Listen for French: If everyone sitting en terrace is speaking French, there’s a good chance the restaurant is approved by local Parisians
- Read TripAdvisor reviews: Even if you have to pop off to the side to check, it’s never a bad idea to read reviews before committing to a restaurant
Paris, you had me at bon appétit!
Whether you’re in Paris for the first or hundredth time, you’ll never get tired of French food. The options are endless, and no matter if you’re searching for something sweet, savory, or alcoholic, you’ll find so many delicious ways to make your mouth water. Regardless of how you choose to eat your way through Paris, be sure to always say bon appétit!
While food is a very important part of any holiday, there are other things to plan before you go. Head over to Pilot for itinerary planning ideas, budgeting tips, and more! If Paris is your next destination, be sure to also read our post on where to stay in Paris so you can figure out your accommodation easily! Bon voyage!