You could climb up the Eiffel Tower, stroll down the Champs-Elysées and spend the entire day getting lost among paintings in the Louvre, but if you don’t eat out in Paris, you’ll have missed out entirely.
Food is an integral part of French culture. So much so, in fact, that UNESCO declared the French way of eating as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010!
To better understand the country’s love for our gastronomy, there’s only one way: eat it all! Or at least, start with some of the most famous food in Paris.
These 7 local dishes and bites are a perfect way to fall in love with French cooking; and to make your mission easier, we’ve even included a recommended address or two. Bon appétit!
1. Croissants: cheap, yet unforgettable
Start your day like a true Parisian and get yourself an all-butter croissant for breakfast!
Croissants may look simple, but these perfectly flaky pastries require time (we’re talking several days!) and a whole set of skills.
Whether you have them with your coffee, orange juice, or on their own, croissants are guaranteed to brighten up your morning!
Where to try them: Stay away from frozen industrial versions and only order your pastries from true artisan bakeries. A great address is La Maison d’Isabelle (47ter Boulevard Saint-Germain), which recently received an award for Best Croissant in Paris. The boulangerie makes truly unforgettable croissants using organic flour and certified butter from the Charente-Poitou region.
2. Escargots: a national symbol
You just can’t leave Paris without trying them!
Though we enjoy snails cooked in a variety of ways in Paris, the Burgundy recipe remains the most popular. The escargots (usually a dozen of them) are presented in their shells and stuffed with a mouthwatering combination of garlic, herbs and butter.
Want to know the best part? Not only are escargots delicious, but they’re also rich in iron and magnesium!
Where to try them: L’Escargot Montorgueil is a true Parisian institution that has been serving snails for nearly 200 years. You can sample the traditional Burgundy variety, or spice things up and try the curry, foie gras, or truffle butter versions!
Not to be confused with macaroons (shredded coconut delicacies), macarons are possibly the best thing that ever happened to French sweets. Their delicate and airy shells are made of almond flour, and filled with a rich, luscious interior.
Popular flavors include pistachio, chocolate, vanilla or raspberry, but don’t be scared to try some of the more unusual options: salted butter caramel, green tea, or rose petals, just to name a few.
Where to try them: Paris abounds with macaron specialty shops, most of them offering incredible quality. Pierre Hermé remains a clear favorite of ours for his creativity—and his Balinese dark chocolate macaron.
Dessert lovers should also try “Symphonie,” an innovative recipe by Tokyo-born Sadaharu Aoki. His scrumptious violet macaron comes filled with violet and earl grey creams as well as fresh raspberries. Délicieux!
4. Jambon-beurre: Paris street food at its best
Who knew sandwiches could taste so good?
Simplicity is key for this beloved lunch snack. A great jambon-beurre is all about the quality of its only three ingredients: Parisian ham, butter and, of course, the deliciously crispy baguette that’s holding the magic together.
Where to try it: Made from carefully-selected ingredients, the jambon-beurre sandwich at La Fontaine de Belleville is famous throughout the city. You can opt to have it to go, or sit down at the terrace and enjoy it alongside a green salad.
5. Steak tartare
Eating raw meat may not be for everyone, but for daring foodies the reward promises to be extremely flavorful!
Steak tartare is a bistro classic that consists of raw ground meat, seasoned with capers, onion and black pepper. Traditionally, you’ll find it served with a raw egg yolk on top.
Where to try it: Le Severo is heaven for carnivores, so you can expect the meat quality to be absolutely top notch. Their amazingly tasty steak tartare comes with french fries or green beans.
“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” asked President Charles De Gaulle. We don’t have the answer, but we do know that visiting such a country is bound to be a treat!
In fact, France offers more than 300 varieties of cheeses, ranging from creamy Brie de Meaux to pungent Munster. That’s over 300 possibilities to fall in love with French fromage!
Where to try it: L’Affineur Affiné is a cheese lover’s dream come true. Owned by a passionate young couple, the place offers 120 varieties of cheeses to buy and take home, as well as a restaurant section for those who wish to savor cheese from starter to dessert. On Sundays, they even provide a memorable and utterly cheesy brunch menu!
7. Onion soup
Another French must-try dish, onion soup is about as comforting as it gets.
According to legend, the recipe was invented by Louis XV nearly three centuries ago. Nowadays, the caramelized onion and beef broth is served gratinéed with crusty croutons and a slice of Gruyère cheese on top. And, oui bien sûr, it tastes as good as it sounds.
Where to try it: Order it from the excellent Bistrot des Vosges, where the onion soup is maison (homemade), and to die for.
Is your mouth watering yet? Good. We have a solution: go book our Ultimate Paris Food Tour, and you’ll be able to taste some of these famous foods in Paris for yourself. After a morning spent eating your way around the French capital with us, you’ll start to understand this unrivaled gastronomic destination like a local (and come away armed with knowledge on how to navigate everything from a French cheese shop to a Parisian bistro).
15 years may have passed since Parisian-bred Sophie embarked on new adventures abroad, yet her love for French food has never diminished. Every few months, she returns to the capital for one main reason: vanilla macarons.