So you have a trip to France planned, and you want to make the most of it while you’re there. You’re headed to one of the best culinary countries in the world so you need to be prepared to take full advantage of your time there. Check out these great suggestions for what to eat in Paris.
How Do You Eat Your Way Through Paris
A common question asked is how do I eat my way through Paris. It is quite the challenge since there are so many amazing foods to be eaten. With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to tackle Paris and all it has to offer in the culinary world.
I recommend making your own personal list of foods that you must try while in Paris (or France in general). Then, start working your way through the list, making sure you don’t miss a single item. I mean how often do you get to Paris! Calories do not count in France, it’s just a fact of life.
Here is a list of my must-eat foods in France:
- Pastries, Pastries Pastries
- Café, Cappuccino and Café Crème (Coffee)
- Crème Brulee
- Chocolat chaud: hot chocolate
- Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame
- Foie gras
- French cheese
- Chocolate Mousse
- Jambon Buerre
- Pate en Croute
- Soupe à l’oignon (French Onion Soup)
- Beef Tartare
What to Eat in Paris
Pastries, Pastries Pastries
The different kinds of pastries in France are endless. Try a variety and if you find one you love, keep eating it.
I thought my favorite would be a Chocolate Croissant, but I found one even better called a Le Pepito. It’s like a chocolate croissant since it’s pastry dough with chocolate chips but there’s also a layer of pastry cream like a custard baked into it.
Cafe, Cappuccino and Café Crème
Coffee is just a fact of life for me. Be sure you know what to order and what you’re getting while in France. You won’t find large American coffees but there are a couple that are pretty close.
The most common coffee beverage that the French drink is a café. A café is a small expresso that comes with sugar on the side and sometimes a small piece of chocolate. The French drink a café in the morning and after almost any meal (even if it’s 10 pm at night).
For something a little closer to an American coffee, order a café crème which is an expresso with lots of cream added to it.
Or, go for the tried and true cappuccino.
Another common dessert you’ll find is crème brulee which is a rich custard with caramelized sugar on top. Each restaurant will have its own version, possibly with Earl Grey Tea or Vanilla. It’s a sure to be great dessert where ever you go.
Chocolat chaud: Hot Chocolate
Chocolat chaud is French hot chocolate. The most famous place in Paris to get it is at Angelina’s, but you can find chocolate chaud everywhere. It’s richer and not as sweet as the American counterpart, and is definitely a must try if you are a fan.
There’s nothing like walking down the street eating a freshly-baked baguette. For the most authentic baguettes, look for the words Baguette à l’ancienne or Baguette de campagne. This means that baguettes were hand-formed, not using a machine.
You can find baguettes everywhere. Search for locals buying their baguettes, and you’ll know they are good.
Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame
Butter, bread, ham, melted cheese, cream, with the option of an egg on top. It really doesn’t get much better than that for a quick meal in Paris.
You’ll see Croque Monsieur, which is a classic French hot ham and cheese sandwich, on menus everywhere. The lady version is called a Croque Madame and it has a runny egg served over top.
Try our quick version of this French classic dish.
Foie gras is a unique and delicious food found in France consisting of the liver of a fattened up duck or goose. It sounds weird and crazy, but it’s truly tasty. It’s served like a pate, and you cut it into pieces and eat on a baguette. Be sure to try it out somewhere in Paris; you’ll see it as an entrée (appetizer) everywhere.
Do not leave Paris without trying one, two, three or more of the amazing cheese options.
You can go to a Fromagerie (a cheese shop), or to an open-market with a cheese counter, or even get a cheese plate at most restaurants. The cheese course is traditionally served as a dessert or right before the dessert. It’s a great way to get some great cheese picked by the restaurant.
We visited a cheese stand in an open air market in district six. The options were endless but you really can’t go wrong no matter which cheeses you pick.
Butter in France is as good as candy in my opinion, and you’ll often find it wrapped up in pretty little packaging making it look like candy.
Take advantage of any butter you can find – at breakfast, served with baguettes at restaurants, or purchase the best butter called Le Beurre Bordier.
Mousse au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse)
Be sure to try a chocolate mousse somewhere in Paris. You’ll most likely see it as a dessert option, or grab one at one of the hundreds of Patisseries that you find. There’s something about fine chocolate and heavy whipping cream that is heaven on earth.
I know you’ve heard of escargot (snails), and you might not be all that excited about trying them, but you really should while you’re in France. In all honestly, they taste like butter and garlic, because they are absolutely drenched in both ingredients.
Some restaurants serve snails outside the shells, and others in the shells, either way, they are quite tasty and deserve a chance.
We tried escargot when visiting the Burgundy region of France. Learn more about what to do while in Beaune, France here.
French Gratins are potatoes au gratin to us Americans. Made in France with the best cream and delicious ingredients makes them the ultimate decadence.
The best place to get gratins is along the Seine River at a tiny little restaurant called Bistro des Augustins. You’ll have several options of ingredients that get mixed in with potatoes and cream, and believe me, they are worth a visit.
I’ve even recreated their gratins at home. Find that recipe here.
For a simple lunchtime option (at a cheap price), try a Jambon Buerre, a ham and butter sandwich served on a baguette. This working man’s lunch is totally affordable and quite yummy. These sandwiches can be found in most boulangeries or patisseries.
Pate en Croute
My hands-down favorite thing I ate in France was a complete surprise to me. While on a food tour, our guide recommended we try a pate en croute, a pate wrapped in pastry.
We stopped at a little shop and picked out a pate filled with bits of foie gras. The top of the pate had a little layer of savory gelatin, similar to a beef broth jello, and then it was wrapped in pastry dough and baked. Holy Moly, it was the tastiest, most unexpected treat.
If you’re looking for a decadent dessert, search for a profiteroles, particularly a profiteroles with chocolat chaud. A profiterole is essentially a round cream puff filled with either pastry cream, ice cream, custard or whipped cream. Often times, they have chocolate sauce poured right over top. You might want to share this dessert, just saying!
Soupe à l’oignon (French Onion Soup)
Most likely, you are well aware that French Onion Soup or soupe à l’oignon is a famous part of French cuisine. There is just something amazing about a bowl on oniony, beefy broth with a melty French cheese and chunks of baguette. Be sure to add it to your must-haves while you’re visiting Paris.
Another interesting French meal that you should try while in Paris is beef tartare, a dish of raw beef mixed with onions, capers and other seasonings. They take the best cut of steak, grind it up and add these flavorful ingredients for a melt in your mouth meal. While the thought of eating raw meat is outside the mindset of most Americans, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
Paris and macarons go hand and hand. Arguably one of the most famous macaron-makers in Paris is Pierre Herme, although you’ll find macarons scattered throughout the city.
Macarons are a light and airy meringue cookie filled with various fillings. The options go from traditional chocolate, rose, lavender to more crazy flavors such as foie gras.
Be sure to eat these right away; they are quite delicate and will attract moisture resulting in a hard macaron.
In conclusion, no matter how much time you spend in Paris or France, whether its two days or 10 days, expect to eat like a king or queen. Take the time to prepare a list of the foods you want to try so that you don’t forget.
And don’t forget, go outside your comfort zone and try a couple new foods while you’re there.
Planning a Dream Trip to France?
If you are like me and have a trip to France on your bucket list, I shared some other helpful tips and thoughts about traveling to Paris, as well as other places in France:
- How to Spend 4 Days in Paris
- Tips on Traveling to Paris
- How to Spend a Day in Bayeux, France
- The Best Thing to do in Beaune France