20 Delicious French Foods You Have to Try Before Saying “Au Revoir” to France

A plate of escargots topped with fresh herbs

In addition to its fashion houses, Loire Valley castles, and the Eiffel Tower, France is known for its world-class wine and delicious, rich food. Don’t miss out! These are some of the best French dishes to try in France, so be sure to work your way through this list of French foods before you leave France. Including the wine, of course!

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A stack of French baguettes fresh from the oven

1. Baguette

Even the most amazing bakery in the United States cannot produce bread and baked goods that taste as amazing as the average French boulangerie. Approximately 320 baguettes are consumed every second in France, making it a traditional French food you have to try.

While French baguettes are solid enough to stand alone, they are even better when made into sandwiches. Try a jambon sandwich to taste a baguette in a new light. Simply prepared by slicing the baguette lengthwise, spreading it with a schmear of fresh unsalted butter, and topping it with ham and a bit of lettuce, they are simply amazing.

Sage Advice: From Death by Baguette to The Little Paris Patisserie these are some of the tastiest novels set in France.

A silver bowl of beef burgundy

2. Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

Braised in red Burgundy wine, boeuf Bourguignon is a hearty French dish with chunks of beef accented with pearl onions and mushrooms. Originally a “peasant dish” created to transform tougher cuts of meat into something tender, beef Burgundy has evolved into a more elegant entrée that is a French food you have to try.

Boeuf Bourguignon is often paired with potatoes like gratin Dauphinois, thinly sliced potatoes slowly baked with heavy cream and shredded Gruyere. A good choice if you’re watching your calories? Probably not. Delicious? Absolutely!

Fun Fact: This hearty beef stew is one of Julia Child’s most famous recipes. You can try Food.com’s version of the traditional dish here. Or discover more than 100 other proven recipes by the woman nicknamed “The French Chef” with this cookbook.

A dish of French bouillabaisse

3. Bouillabaisse

Also inspired by a mission to not waste less desirable food, bouillabaisse is a fish stew created by French fishermen to eat bony rockfish that they caught but couldn’t sell. Today it’s not uncommon to enjoy mussels, crabmeat, and chunks of lobster in bouillabaisse.

The dish can vary quite a bit by season, household, or restaurant, so it is a French food you have to try more than once! Although a different combination of vegetables, fish, or shellfish may be used, they are always slowly simmered in broth to make this dish.

Sage Advice:  Are you visiting France for the first time? These tips will help you enjoy your experience to the fullest. And once you’ve been to the Louvre and done the Eiffel Tower, check out these 30+ hidden gems recommended by Girl with the Passport.

A glass of calvados with fresh apples

4. Calvados

Moving across the country to France’s other coast on the English Channel, Calvados is from the province of Normandy. While this apple brandy is not technically a food, like wine, it can be used in cooking.

Enjoy it in chicken, duck, and pork dishes. Or, savor it in moules à la Normande, mussels cooked Normandy-style in cream and Calvados.  More on moules below…

Sage Advice:  Want to enjoy your delicious French foods with a view? Here is a restaurant recommendation with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

A plate of duck in orange sauce

5. Canard à l’Orange (Duck in Orange Sauce)

I first tried this classic French dish when I was in middle school and my family lived in the southern part of the Netherlands. My French class took a long weekend trip to Paris where we were immersed in the French language, culture, and cuisine. Because I always shoot straight here at Everyday Wanderer, I’ll admit that I struggle with duck. Even when drenched in a sunny orange sauce made from fresh oranges (especially freshly squeezed orange juice) and Grand Marnier.

I just absolutely love ducks — the live variety — especially mallards. So I have a very hard time eating them. Plus, no matter how well prepared, duck just always tastes a bit fatty and gamey to me. But, this is a list of French food you have to try before leaving France, not a list of foods you need to love before leaving France. So, despite my personal sentiments, canard à l’orange belongs on this list.

A cast iron skillet of traditional French cassoulet

6. Cassoulet

If a duck breast drenched in orange sauce seems like too much meat (or too much meat for a first go at duck), consider cassoulet instead. This dish from the south of France is another slow-cooked, stew-like concoction featuring white beans and meat.

Named for the round, earthenware dish in which it is cooked, the meat in cassoulet can be any combination of duck, lamb, pork, and sausage.

A steaming bowl of coq au vin with chicken breasts and white wine sauce

7. Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine Sauce)

Coq au vin is like the white meat version of beef Burgundy. Both dishes are from France’s Bourgogne region, but that’s not where the similarities end. While food recommendation #2 is beef slow-cooked in red wine with pearl onions and mushrooms, coq au vin is chicken braised in red wine and accented with pearl onions and mushrooms.

Sage Advice: If you’re like me and were raised to always pair chicken with white wine, consider ordering coq au vin blanc. This dish is typically prepared by cooking chicken breasts in a heavy cream and white wine sauce.

Related Article: 100 Things Every American Should Know Before Visiting Europe for the First Time

A white ramekin of creme brulee

8. Crème Brûlée

While there is a good chance you’ve had crème brûlée in the United States, there’s an equally good chance that it will taste even better in France. That’s not a dig against the US or some sort of snobby Francophile statement. Rather, there is something truly different about French dessert.

Maybe it’s the quality or freshness of the cream. Perhaps it’s the type of sugar or that the French seem to use much less of it. Who knows? But no matter what, I highly recommend you try one of these burnt sugar-topped custards when you visit France.

A plate of savory French crepes on a wooden table

9. Crêpes

Try these thin pancakes two ways: savory and sweet. Crêpes salées (savory crêpes) are made with buckwheat flour and unsweetened. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings in the meat, cheese, and vegetable categories and are served as a main dish for lunch or dinner.

A plate of powder sugar dusted sweet crepes

Crêpes sucrées (sweet crêpes) are the savory crêpes’ sweeter sister. They can be filled with everything from butter and sugar to Nutella to Grand Marnier sauce. These always seem to taste the best when purchased from a sidewalk stand or a small, walk-up window than in a sit-down restaurant.

Sage Advice:  With so many delicious, carb-ladened and sweet items on this list of French food you must try, it is easy to go overboard on calories while traveling in France. Here are eight tips to help you make healthy food choices while traveling without missing out on the local flavors.

Two croissants with a latte on a wooden table

10. Croissants

Back to the bread category, I’ve been hard-pressed to find French-quality croissants on this side of the Atlantic. Mass-produced croissants (think Costco and grocery stores) have next to no flaky layers. Higher quality bakeries get close, but are still missing a certain je ne sais quoi.

So when you’re in France, croissants are another French food you have to try. I recommend eating as many croissants as you can stomach, because you will miss them when you are back at home.

Sage Advice:  If you prefer your croissants filled with delicious chocolate, know that what Americans call a chocolate croissant is pain au chocolate (chocolate bread) in France.

Fun Fact: Along with crepes, macarons, and coq au vin, the croissants are one of the national dishes of France.

A croque monsieur, meat and cheese grilled between slices of French bread

11. Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame, Or Croque Provencal

Who can make a grilled ham and cheese sound all Fancy Nancy and taste just as amazing?

The French.


Because a croque monsieur is so much more than a regular grilled ham and cheese sandwich! 

Instead of spreading the slice of bread with butter or olive oil, a croque monsieur is dipped in an egg mixture. Once it’s crispy on the outside and the Gruyère cheese is melted on the inside, it’s plated and smothered in bechamel sauce.

A croque madame is a croque monsieur topped with a fried egg

For a croque monsieur with a twist, try a croque madame. It’s essentially a croque monsieur topped with an egg cooked sunny-side-up. Or a croque provençal that replaces the fried egg with sliced tomatoes.

Three chocolate topped eclairs on a white plate

12. Éclair

Éclairs are the supermodel version of upcoming food recommendation #17. While made from the same choux dough, stuffed with the same cream, and topped with the same chocolate, they are simply taller and slimmer than your average cream puff.

A plate of escargots topped with fresh herbs

13. Escargots à la Bourguignonne

Everything sounds more elegant in French, and snails are no exception. If the thought of eating a slimy garden creature turns your stomach, I understand. But stick with me. Even if you can’t eat the protein portion of this dish, you’ll still love dipping chunks of baguette into the herbed butter part of this dish.

So go ahead and add this to your list of French food you have to try. Or, at least bum some of that herbed butter from a fellow dinner companion’s order of escargots!

A raisin-filled pastry

Sage Advice:  If you still can’t manage to try the escargots à la Bourguignonne, then how about a different type of escargot? A French breakfast pastry called pain aux raisins (raisin bread) is also known as an escargot. It’s a spiral pastry similar to a danish that is filled with raisins. 

And not slimy at all…

A triangle of brie on a cutting board

14. Fromage (Cheese)

My high school French teacher told us that there are more French cheeses than days in the year. Depending on how you organize them, France is home to between 450 and 1,000 different types of cheese that fall into eight, distinct families that the French call les huit familles de fromage. The categories are based on factors like:

  • Type of milk (cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk),
  • Texture (soft to hard) and
  • Type of processing and aging (or lack thereof)

From the mild, creamy taste of brie to the strong-smelling epoisses, there is a French fromage for every palate.

Fun Fact:  Epoisses was one of Napoleon’s favorite cheeses. Made from raw cow’s milk with a rind washed with pomace brandy, epoisses is allegedly so stinky that it’s been banned from public transport like Paris’s Metro.

A stack of pastel-colored macarons on a pretty dessert plate

15. Macarons

Although many people associate these colorful meringue cookies filled with jam or chocolate with France they actually originated in neighboring Italy. When Catherine de Medici left her native Italy to marry King Henry II and become the Queen of France, she brought macarons with her. But back in 1533, macarons were single layer cookies, not sandwich cookies with fillings.

In the early 20th century, upscale Parisian pâtisserie Ladurée transformed the Italian import into the double-decker sandwich-like treat that you know and love today. From classic flavors — like chocolate and vanilla — to fruity flavors — like lemon and orange blossom — to more exotic flavors — like rose petal and lavender — Ladurée sells 15,000 macarons each day. And that’s when I’m not in town!

Sage Advice:  In addition to 10 locations across the Paris metropolitan area, Ladurée has bakeries in large cities on every continent but Antarctica.

Steamed mussels are a common French food in Normandy

16. Moules-Frites (Mussels with French Fries)

When you see the word frites after another on a French menu — like steak-frites or moules-frites — know that it will be served with a big side of delicious French fries. Okay, technically French fries are from neighboring Belgium. But they were invented in the French-speaking part of Belgium and the French still have mad skills when it comes to frites.

Back to the mussels…

While Belgium and the Netherlands are also well-known for their moules, the fact is the mussels are pretty amazing wherever they are pulled fresh from the North Sea daily, including France’s Normandy region. Classically-prepared, mussels are steamed in a white wine, butter, and garlic broth. But in Normandy, where dairy cows munch green grass under apple trees, try the moules à la Normande where mussels are paired with a cream-based broth infused with the Calvados recommended back up in #4.

Related Article:  14 Tasty Dutch Treats You MUST Try in the Netherlands

A plate stacked with chocolate-drizzled profiteroles

17. Profiteroles

The plain Jane version of the éclairs recommended in #12, profiteroles look like everyday cream puffs. But the filling can range from the standard custard to whipped cream to ice cream.

A plate of salade nicoise with a fork

18. Salade Niçoise

Hailing from the Mediterranean coastal city of Nice, salad Niçoise features tuna, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies tossed in a classic vinaigrette dressing. Outside of Nice, it’s not uncommon to find salad Niçoise served with blanched green beans and chunks of al dente new potatoes. But those veggies are not commonly included in salad Niçoise in the southeast of France.

Sage Advice:  Visiting Paris doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out these fantastic Paris hostels that are perfect for backpackers, solo travelers, couples, and families.

Bowls of French onion soup on wooden table next to a bowl of onions

19. Soupe à l'Oignon (French Onion Soup)

Like macarons which arrived in France via Italy and received a makeover, so did soupe à l’oignon. While onion soup dates back to Roman times, the French modernized the dish in the 18th century. When you order this dish in France today, expect a bowl of caramelized yellow onions in a beef broth and red wine sauce topped with sliced baguette and broiled cheese. Ooh la la!  

Sage Advice:  Want to give French onion soup a try at home? Use this French recipe from Tangled Up in Food.

A glass of red wine next to grapes, cheese, and other ingredients

20. Wine

Whether it’s cooked in a dish — like mussels, coq au vin, or French onion soup — or paired with each course, going to France and not trying its world-renowned wine would be like visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Enough said!

Related Article:  How to Ruin a Day of Wine Tasting in 5 Easy Steps

Frequently Asked Questions About French Food

What is French food?

France is well-known for its world-class wine and delicious cuisine. Some traditional French foods include croissants, crepes, escargots, bouillabaisse, canard a l’orange, and much more. Scroll up and browse this list to discover 20 delicious French foods you’ll want to try when you visit France!

Is French food good?

While some French dishes use ingredients that aren’t as popular in the United States (like duck, rabbit, and snails), French cuisine includes a wide range of items and you’re sure to find something you like!

Whether you select soup, salad, a sandwich, or a main dish, you’ll typically find that it is made from fresh ingredients and perfectly seasoned.

Is quiche a French food?

Yes, quiche is considered a French food. However, there are reports that it originated in Germany.

Quiche is prepared by scrambling eggs with heavy cream and baking it in a flaky pastry crust.

What Are Your Favorite French Foods?

What are your favorite French dishes? Have you cooked traditional French foods at home? Is there a French food you can’t wait to try the next time you’re in France? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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27 thoughts on “20 Delicious French Foods You Have to Try Before Saying “Au Revoir” to France”

  1. French food is famous all over the world and if going to Paris then I would definitely go for it. You have listed some very delicious food from France. I would go for Crème Brûlée as it is my favorite and therefore tasting it at its birth place must be more authentic experience. Thanks for sharing these delicious delights.

  2. French cuisine is of course renowned the world over. This however is an amazing curation of some of the best of French cuisine. Our favourites here are the classic Croissants and the Macarons, we love both and enjoy them wherever we are, but experiencing them in France must indeed be an experience on a different plane altogether.

  3. Mmm, all this talk about French food is making me HUNGRY! Especially that mouthwatering French onion soup at the end. Granted, as a vegetarian it certainly cuts down on some options, but I make a mean beef burgandy subbing portabello mushrooms and I looooooove savoury crepes with cheese and mushrooms. Well done making me hungry and wanderlusty all at once 🙂

    1. I predominantly follow a pescetarian diet, and love subbing portobello mushrooms for beef. Here in Kansas City, one of my favorite BBQ restaurants has a vegetarian option using that trick. I bet your bello burgandy ROCKS!

  4. I have never been to France. When I was travelling in Europe, Australians needed a visa to visit France, and every time I had the opportunity to go, I didn’t have the visa! One of my biggest regrets! However, I will return one day and I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more and a mature traveller rather than a backpacker! I will definitely eat my body weight in cheese and desserts! Pinning this post for later reference.

  5. I love France and all French food is delicious, especially breads, croissants, pastries and cakes. Mouthwatering stuff. But I can’t bring myself to try escargot. I just can’t do those. And frogs’ legs too.

  6. alicesadventuresonearth

    This is exactly why I love France, 20 dishes and not one I don’t absolutely love. Most notable everything that starts with C. Croque Madam, croissant, Coq au vin… Yes Please.

  7. Oh my goodness. SO much good food in France that I would go there just for a food tour. I am a huuuuge fan of bakeries and could eat a Baguette every morning. I bet the best Baguette in the world is in France!!

  8. I absolutely LOVE French food! I’ve had most of these (even escargot) except for the fish stew and the mussels with French fries. I’m not big on mussels. But I ate all the croissants, eclairs, profiteroles, creme brulees I could. Oh and cassoulets are THE best! France just has delicious food all around!

    1. Isn’t French food amazing? And I’m not afraid to admit that I LOVE escargots. Well, especially the amazing baguette bread and that melted butter sauce packed with chopped fresh herbs!

  9. The Holidaymaker | Renee

    There is nothing better than French cuisine, especially the breads and pastries. I make crepes, both sweet and savoury almost every week. And, my wine cellar is filled with a French reds. One of the best parts of visiting France is visiting their markets and trying their food.

  10. I love crêpes and I am sure they are even better in France. My daughter went to France last year and she is vegan, she did have a hard time finding food to eat. I wonder if you have stumbled upon any French vegan food?

    1. We tend to follow a pescetarian diet, so we do consume dairy and eggs. However, my daughter Charlotte, was recently diagnosed with an allergy to eggs, dairy, and beef, so she follows a vegan diet with chicken. That said, she’s okay eating eggs and milk when cooked, so we didn’t hold ourselves back when it came to enjoying French crepes!

  11. Jennifer Van Lent

    What a wonderful list! For food adventurers, I would like add a few more French delicacies to try: 1. rillettes de canard is a terrine of tender, melt-in-your-mouth duck, served as an appetizer with baguette toasts (and wine, of course!) ; 2. ratatouille is the go-to dish for vegetarians: originally from Provence, it layers the freshest of summer vegetables (the choice is up to the chef) in a tomato, olive oil and garlic sauce. It’s easy to make and even tastes like summer!; 3. choucroute – I am always amazed at how much my French friends adore choucroute, which is a dish from the Alsace region (bordering Germany). The dish consists usually of sauerkraut, potatoes and (usually, but not always) pork (a variety of sausages, ham, bacon, etc) served with the spiciest of mustards. Bon appetit!

  12. Love this yummy list! And surprisingly, I found something new here. I lived in France years ago and have visited several times since, but even so, I’d never heard of # 4. Must locate it here and give it a try!

  13. My aunt took me to France when I was 14 and I’ve been enamored with French food ever since! I’m way overdue for a trip to Paris and Provence but thankful there are some fabulous French restaurants in the States so I can get my fix.

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