Paris, France: French Foods You Must Eat in the City of Light

From Tokyo to Mumbai to New York, there are hundreds of world-class food cities around the world. But few can hold a candle to the gastronomic capital of the world: Paris, France! Known as the “City of Light,” Paris not only offers stunning architecture and romantic ambiance but also a kaleidoscope of delectable French cuisine. In this food guide, we will delve into the must-try dishes that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you longing for more.

What is French Cuisine?

Ratatouille is one of many French classics you can enjoy in Paris, France | Davidsbeenhere
Ratatouille is a popular French dish containing stewed vegetables. Photo by Marjan Sadeghi on Unsplash.

French cuisine is renowned around the world for its rich, hearty, and fancy feel. French chefs take great pride in sourcing the finest produce, cheeses, meats, and seafood. These ingredients form the foundation of many iconic French dishes. From creamy French onion soup to the briny flavors of bouillabaisse, French cuisine celebrates the natural bounty of the land and sea.

Another defining characteristic of French cuisine is its emphasis on technique and precision. French culinary traditions include a strong focus on meticulous preparation and cooking methods. From classic techniques like braising and poaching to the artistry of pastry-making, French chefs are known for their exacting standards and attention to detail. This commitment to technique, combined with the use of premium ingredients, makes French cuisine one of the most celebrated in the world.

Bouillabaisse: A Seafood Stew From Marseille

Bouillabaisse, a classic seafood dish from the French Riviera | Davidsbeenhere
Bouillabaisse is a tomato-based seafood stew. Photo by henry perks on Unsplash.

One of the iconic dishes of Marseille that has made its way to the Parisian culinary scene is bouillabaisse. This sophisticated yet rustic fish stew is a true celebration of the sea, featuring a rich broth made from various types of fish, shellfish, and aromatic herbs. The flavors of bouillabaisse are enhanced by the addition of saffron, giving it a distinct and vibrant hue.

To experience the best bouillabaisse in Paris, France, head to the historic district of Montmartre. Here, you will find charming seafood restaurants tucked away in cozy corners. Sit down, take a sip of the velvety broth, and savor the tender pieces of fish and shellfish that have been cooked to perfection. Don’t forget to soak up the flavors with a slice of fresh, crusty baguette!

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Crepes: A Must-Have Pancake in Paris, France

Crepes, a popular food you can find everywhere in Paris, France | Davidsbeenhere
Crepes are a versatile snack and breakfast food in France. Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash.

No visit to Paris, France is complete without indulging in its delicate and delicious crepes. You can find vendors selling them along many major streets in the city. Whether you prefer them sweet or savory, crepes are a versatile treat that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Start your day with a classic French breakfast – a warm, buttery crepe filled with Nutella and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The combination of the soft, thin pancake and the rich, chocolatey spread is a match made in heaven. Pair it with a steaming cup of coffee, and you have the perfect start to your day in Paris, France.

For a savory option, try a crepe filled with ingredients like ham, cheese, and mushrooms. It makes for a great snack on the go or a delicious lunch in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Don’t forget to accompany your crepe with a glass of crisp cider, the traditional drink of Brittany.

One of the most well-known variety of crepe is crepe Suzette. This is a flambeed crepe infused with orange liqueur and topped with a zesty orange sauce. Once you get over the spectacle of the flames, you get to enjoy a French classic that’ll take your breath away!

Croque Monsieur & Croque Madame: The Ultimate Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Croque Madame, a variation of croque monsieur that adds a fried egg on top | Davidsbeenhere
Croque Madame is a hearty, fatty, and delicious French sandwich. Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer on Unsplash.

If you’re in the mood for a classic French sandwich, look no further than the croque monsieur. This iconic dish consists of ham and cheese sandwiched between two slices of buttered bread, topped with creamy bechamel sauce and grated cheese, and then baked to golden perfection. The result is a heavenly combination of melted cheese, savory ham, and crispy bread.

To taste one of these iconic sandwiches in Paris, France, head to a traditional French bistro or brasserie. The sandwich is the perfect balance of crispy, meaty, and velvety, and the flavors are out of this world. Rich, creamy bechamel sauce and the gooey melted cheese just makes everything better, doesn’t it?

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For a twist on the classic, try the croque madame. This version features a fried egg on top of the croque monsieur, adding an extra layer of decadence. The runny yolk blends perfectly with the creamy sauce and the salty ham, creating a symphony of flavors.

Duck Confit: The Best Duck in Paris, France

Duck confit consists of cured duck legs cooked in their own fat | Davidsbeenhere
Duck confit may be one of the best duck dishes on Earth. Photo by Eric McNew on Unsplash.

When it comes to French cuisine, duck is a star ingredient. One of the most iconic dishes in Paris, France, featuring this feathered fowl is duck confit. This traditional French delicacy involves curing duck legs with salt and herbs, then slowly cooking them in their own fat until they become tender and flavorful.

The dish is typically served with crispy golden skin on the outside and succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat on the inside. Accompanied by a side of roasted potatoes and a simple green salad, duck confit is a dish that epitomizes French gastronomy.

The richness of the duck meat, combined with the umami flavors from the curing process, creates a dish that is both luxurious and comforting. Pair your duck confit with a glass of red wine, such as a robust Bordeaux or a fruity Beaujolais. It’s the epitome of comfort food!

Cassoulet: A Savory French Bean Stew

Cassoulet, a bean stew that's popular throughout the country | Davidsbeenhere
Cassoulet is an amazing blend of beans and tender, smoked meats. Photo by Andrey Câmara on Unsplash.

If you’re looking for a hearty and satisfying dish, look no further than the cassoulet. Originating from the Languedoc region roughly 450 miles south of Paris, France, cassoulet is a slow-cooked bean stew. It also features various meats like pork, sausages, and duck confit.

The key to a good cassoulet lies in the long cooking process. It allows the flavors to meld together and the meat to become tender. Traditional cassoulet recipes often call for white beans, such as Tarbais beans, which have a creamy texture and absorb the flavors of the stew.

I love beans in pretty much any form, so it’s no surprise that this dish is one of my favorites. Each spoonful of this hearty stew is a treat for your taste buds. Between the smoky sausages, tender meat, and creamy beans, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Pain au Chocolat: Flaky & Buttery Chocolate Bread

Pain au chocolat, a mainstay at bakeries in Paris, France | Davidsbeenhere
Pain au chocolat is a simple but delicious dessert in France. Photo by Vicky Nguyen on Unsplash.

If you have a sweet tooth, Paris, France is a paradise for chocolate lovers. One of the must-try treats is the famous chocolate bread, known as pain au chocolat. This flaky pastry is made with layers of buttery dough, generously filled with rich dark chocolate.

To experience the best pain au chocolat in Paris, head to a local bakery and indulge in this decadent treat. The combination of the buttery, flaky pastry and the smooth, velvety chocolate is simply irresistible. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but a tasty pain au chocolat with a cup of rich, aromatic coffee is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!

Escargot: A Unique Delicacy in Paris, France

Escargot, a traditional dish made from snails cooked in garlic butter and served in their shells | Davidsbeenhere
Escargot may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of my favorites!

No culinary journey through Paris, France would be complete without trying the quintessential French delicacy – escargot. While the thought of eating snails may not be appetizing for some, escargot is a true delicacy that should not be missed.

Escargot is typically cooked in garlic butter and served in their shells. Try it with some crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce. The combination of the tender snails and the rich, garlicky butter is a match made in heaven. Its flavors are delicate and nuanced, and the texture is surprisingly tender.

Pair your escargot with a glass of dry white wine, such as a Chablis or a Sancerre. The crisp acidity of the wine will cut through the richness of the butter, creating a perfect balance of flavors.

Crème Brûlée: France’s Most Famous Dessert

Crème brûlée, a creamy custard with a layer of caramelized sugar on top | Davidsbeenhere
Crème brûlée is the epitome of decadence in French cuisine. Photo by Max Griss on Unsplash.

For dessert lovers, crème brûlée is a must-try French classic. This creamy custard dessert has a layer of crunchy, caramelized sugar on top. It creates a delightful contrast between the smooth vanilla custard and the crunchy caramel.

To experience the best crème brûlée in Paris, head to a traditional French patisserie or a fine dining restaurant. The layer of caramelized sugar on top provides a satisfying crackle as you break through it with your spoon. It’s both elegant and comforting, perfect for rounding off a memorable meal in Paris, France.

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Nicoise Salad: The Quintessential French Salad

Nicoise salad contains greens, tomatoes, olives, boiled eggs, and tuna | Davidsbeenhere
Nicoise salad hails from the city of Nice along the French Riviera. Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash.

For a lighter option, the Nicoise salad is a classic French dish showcasing vibrant Mediterranean flavors. Originating from the city of Nice, this salad celebrates fresh ingredients and has a simple yet flavorful dressing.

The salad typically features ripe tomatoes, tender green beans, boiled eggs, olives, and tuna. The dressing is a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. It’s a vibrant, delightful combination that bolsters the fresh ingredients without overpowering them. Each bite is a burst of freshness, with the tangy dressing complementing the sweetness of the tomatoes and the brininess of the olives.

Enjoy your Nicoise salad on a sunny terrace, overlooking the bustling streets of Paris, France, during the summer. Pair it with a glass of crisp white wine, such as a Provence rose or a Sauvignon Blanc, and you have a light and satisfying meal.

Soupe à L’oignon: The Best Soup in Paris, France

Soupe à l'oignon, or French onion soup, with melted cheese on top | Davidsbeenhere
Soupe à l’oignon is the perfect dish for a cold winter day in Paris. Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash.

No adventure in Paris, France would be complete without a traditional French onion soup. This hearty soup is the epitome of comfort food, and one of my all-time favorites. It features caramelized onions, rich beef broth, and a generous topping of melted cheese.

The soup is typically served in a crock or a bowl and topped with a slice of toasted baguette. Of course, it also usually comes with a generous amount of melted Gruyere cheese. The combination of the sweet, savory onions, the umami-rich broth, and the gooey cheese is a flavor explosion in your mouth. The flavors are deep and complex, with the sweetness of the onions balancing the richness of the broth.

Its hearty nature makes soupe à l’oignon perfect for a chilly evening in Paris. If you find yourself in the city during the winter holidays, it’s the perfect dinner option. Pair it with a glass of red wine, such as a Bordeaux or a Burgundy. The wine’s robust flavors will complement the soup’s richness, and elevate your dining experience.

Explore the Vibrant Food of Paris, France

Macarons in a variety of colors are popular in Paris, France | Davidsbeenhere
Macarons, the classic French cookie, are a favorite among Parisians. Photo by Melanie Kreutz on Unsplash.

Whether you’re looking for something cheesy and decadent or a lighter, healthier option, Paris has something for you. From the fatty goodness of a croque monsieur to a tangy Nicoise salad, Paris is a culinary wonderland.

Of course, this guide barely scratches the surface when it comes to French cuisine. I visited Paris nearly two decades ago and had the time of my life. I ate my way through the city, diving head-first into the city’s most flavorful options, and you can do the same! Book a trip to Paris, France, and embark on a gastronomic adventure you’ll never forget. Bon appétit!

NOTE: Need information about which travel documents you need for your next international trip? Check out my essential travel documents guide!

Featured image by Melanie Kreutz on Unsplash.

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