Food in Paris: 30 Things Locals Love to Eat

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Paris is the city of lights, love… and most importantly – food! Chefs from around the world travel to seek out food in Paris and find inspiration for their restaurants.

With thousands of renowned restaurants in the city it is hard to prioritize what to eat in Paris.

Paris is a city that is best spent wandering the streets. While there is so much to do in Paris, it’s really just to keep you occupied between meals. 

You can opt by booking a tour that solely focuses on food, but sometimes that isn’t enough to try everything.

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But wherever you go, there are classic French foods in Paris that you do not want to miss. But don’t worry, we have you covered.

Best Food in Paris

Different types of cheese in Paris

All the Cheese

Cheese in Paris is some of the best in the world. From chevre cheese served with breakfast, to brie and Roquefort, and don’t forget crottin de chavignol.

All cheese in France is worth trying. Because it’s like none other in the world.

Chevre cheese is often served with omelettes and salads for breakfast. Brie is excellent on top of a burger, or on its own with a baguette.

If you have an afternoon, pick up a baguette, a bit of brie and blue cheese, or crottin de chavignol if that is your taste, and head to the Eiffel Tower.
 

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Lay out a blanket and enjoy the view while you take in some of the best food in Paris. 

All cheese pairs well with wine. If you opt for blue cheese try a port wine. The mix of the two pairs nicely with a sunset in Paris.

Pro Tip: There are no grocery shops, boulangeries etc near the Eiffel Tower. Make sure to pick up picnic items before you head to spend the day at the Eiffel Tower.

Of course there are restaurants, but they will come with a high price tag.

Foie Gras

Foie gras is made from fatty duck or goose liver. It tastes salty, fatty, and delicious spread on bread or even as a topping on a burger.

This is perhaps the most decadent food in Paris, and you won’t regret the splurge.

Foie gras is prepared in different ways for different occasions. But the most popular way to eat foie gras in Paris is as a torchon.

It is a pure preparation where the foie gras is wrapped in a thin cheesecloth then poached in wine, stock, or water.

It’s an incredibly rich dish so try a small amount the first time.

Another popular form of foie gras is mousse. Mousse can be made with foie gras and wine or water. Some restaurants in Paris will also whip together black truffle with the foie gras to make a silky smooth, rich mousse.

 

French baguettes, one of the cheapest things to eat in Paris

Baguettes

Boulangeries is simply a bakery in Paris. But here, there are boulangeries to get bread and then there are patisseries to buy desserts and sweets.

Baguettes in Paris will last you for a full week if you don’t finish it in your first day. But the bread is so good most people eat one a day.

Baguettes are made from fresh wheat, flour, butter, and salt. The best baguettes are made fresh, which is common in Paris. No one wants a day old baguette.

If you haven’t seen the movie Ratatouille (which you must) we firmly believe in Collette’s ideal that the best way to tell if a baguette is fresh is not by the smell or the look – it is by the sound…

That soft crunch with a feeling of sturdiness – that sound is how you know you’re at the right place!

Baguettes are perfect to take to go. You can break baguettes with your hands and pair it with cheese, jam, or nothing.

Baguettes in Paris are so fantastic you don’t need to put butter or cheese on them. But it does help! Again, don’t miss the opportunity to eat more French cheese!

Pair your baguette with your drink of choice. Baguettes pair well with any drink. Our favorite is 1664 Kroenenburg.

sliced roasted duck on a cutting board

Duck

There are two places in the world where you must have duck: Beijing and Paris. Duck is a French delicacy that is copied around the world by many famous chefs.

The duck in Paris is moist, flavorful, and always the perfect portion. You will never leave unsatisfied.

Duck is best served with light potatoes, fries, or green beans. Almost every restaurant in Paris serves their duck with a special homemade sauce.

Salty, sweet, and savory, the Parisian duck sauce makes duck in Paris some of the best you will ever have!

But if you get the opportunity, you must have duck confit. This is one of the oldest ways to cook duck, as is a very traditional French dish.

It’s centuries old, where duck was salt cured and then cooked in its own fat.

While today we don’t need this method to preserve duck, you can still find this luxurious food in Paris because it’s so decadent.

Steak Frites

A simple dish of steak and fries, what makes this dish so special in French is the local beef.

More and more restaurants in Paris are serving beef from other European countries so be sure to ask if it’s French beef.

Steak frites varies all over Paris. Sometimes the steak is served whole, other times it’s sliced for you.

There are varying cuts of meat chosen, the bavette is popular and skirt or flank steak is the most economical.

But you can also find the côte de bœuf, which is served on the bone and is very thick – this is usually for two people or one very hungry person.

Whatever you do, don’t order your steak well-done. The French often eat it rare, or at most medium-rare.

 
 
 

Croque madame in Paris

Croque Madame or Croque Monsieur

Croques are sandwiches served at breakfast. While these French foods have similar names, the recipe varies slighly.

Not for the faint of heart – both croques are rich sandwiches that are toasted and filled with ham and cheese, then covered in more cheese.

The difference between a Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur is the Madame is topped with a fried egg while the Monsieur is not.

You may see croques on the dinner menu at some restaurants, although they are typically served at breakfast or lunch.

Escargot

Don’t knock it until you try it! Yes, escargot are snails. But escargot is a delicacy in France and served at almost every restaurant. 

Before ordering escargot at a restaurant, look around to see if the locals are ordering it.

While escargot is served at nearly every brasserie, that does not mean you should order it. The locals only order escargot from the best places so you know it will be good. Our favorite place for escargot is Brasserie Lipp.

Snails are often cooked in a garlic butter with fresh herbs. They are served steaming hot with baguette pieces.

The best part about escargot is dipping your baguette in the butter and garlic filled circles. It soaks the butter garlic sauce after all the snails are gone. 

Pair your escargot with deep flavored red wine. The more dark fruit and tobacco flavor the better.

Beef Bourguignon

A rich beef stew braised in french red wine and beef stock. Beef bourguignon stew is made with beef, mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, pearl onions, bacon, and sometimes potatoes.

It is the ultimate  comforting French stew.

Beef bourguignon is served with fresh baguette slices to dip in your stew. We recommend pairing the stew with red wine from Burgundy.

 

French onion soup is one of the most popular things to eat in Paris

Onion Soup

Otherwise known around the world as French onion soup, this traditional french dish is the perfect appetizer to any dinner.

Also, it’s amazing and sufficient enough for a hearty lunch.

The soup has a beef broth base, and is filled with caramelized onions. The soup itself is warm, filling, and sweet tasting with the delightful slight crunch of onions.

And to top it all off, its covered in cheese!

The amount of cheese on top depends on where you go. Some places have just the right amount, while others have none! Croutons also may or may not be served.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin translates to chicken (technically rooster) cooked in wine. A typical dish from Burgundy with mushrooms, garlic, and lardons, it’s popular all over France.

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Like many of the classic French foods, coq au vin was a peasant dish. They said Julia Child’s made the dish famous when she cooked it on her television show.

But that was only to Americans as the French had been eating it all along.

Today it is considered one of the best to eat in Paris. Everyone from brasseries to fine dining restaurants will have their spin on poultry in a wine sauce.

Coq au vin is best served with red wine from Burgundy, that’s the traditional recipe.

 

Cheeseburger and fries on a plate

Cheeseburgers

Yes, cheeseburgers. Believe it or not, but Paris has the best cheeseburgers in the world. But why wouldn’t it as it’s home to the best cheese in the world.

Paris burgers are very different from American burgers. They are small, fresh, and usually handmade – if you go to the right place. Parisians do not put up with frozen patties.

When enjoying a cheeseburger in Paris you never use your hands. The burgers are so juicy and covered by the freshest possible vegetables and locally made cheeses that you have to use a fork and knife.

Pair your Parisienne burger with homemade fries to make a full meal. Pair it with a glass of rose for lunch, or a pinot noir with dinner.

Bone marrow, a common food in Paris, on a cutting board

Bone Marrow

Yes it is the actually marrow from beef bones. It’s a  buttery, gelatinous substance that is rich in flavor, often covered in a herb salad, and topped with crunchy sea salt.

It is perfect to spread on fresh baguette.

Although bone marrow is a delicacy enjoyed around the world, it is best in Paris. The French have the unique ability to turn any buttery flavor into something wonderful.

It is a very rich dish, so it is difficult for one person to have on their own. It pairs perfectly with an afternoon glass of Champagne.

 
French quiche

Quiche

Fluffy, farm-fresh eggs cooked with excellent vegetables and cheese. Quiche in Paris comes in all shapes and sizes.

The most famous is Quiche Lorraine, with egg, bacon and cheese.

In patisseries, and sometimes boulangeries, you can pick up a personal quiche to go.

They will heat it up for you. Or you can order a piece of quiche at most restaurants before dinner. At sit-down restaurants your quiche will have a side salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing.

Quiche can be vegetarian and made of vegetables and cheeses. 

Croquettes

Croquettes are found all over the world, you can even find croquetas in Cuba.

They are bite-sized fried balls of bread crumbs with gooey cheese, fresh vegetables, or local meats paired with sauces.

What’s in the croquette depends on where you go. Most restaurants offer traditional croquettes with ham and a vegetarian option.

This snack is a perfect food in Paris to have with a glass of wine, sitting on a patio to people watch.

 
Glasses of Champagne in a row

Champagne

There is a reason you’ve heard of Champagne: from The Great Gatsby to Hollywood and all the fancy parties.

It is bubbly, slightly sweet, refreshing, and makes you just the right amount of giggly.

Champagne is made in the Champagne region in France. It’s a sparkling wine that can only be called “champagne” if it’s from this region.

It is considered the best sparkling wine in the world because it is made by a stringent traditional method that other sparkling wines Prosecco in Italy and Cava in Spain do not follow. 

Having champagne in Paris is an experience that you should not miss.

Frites

If you leave Paris without having frites, you’ve done something wrong. Frites, or french fries, are made from the freshest of potatoes in France.

Frites in Paris are thing, crispy, and lightly fried and a great addition to any meal. They pair well with all the french classics, especially onion soup, duck, and steak.

Steak frites is a favorite dish from Paris that is served around the globe.

The best part about this food in Paris is they go with every popular drink in Paris: red wine, rose, white wine, 1664, or gin.

 
French baguette sandwich

Baguette Sandwiches

Let’s face it, eating in Paris can be very expensive. If you’re on a budget eating at grand cafes and restaurants in Paris isn’t an option.

But the beautiful thing about food in Paris is that it is delicious at every budget.

Baguette sandwiches make for the perfect lunch or afternoon snack. Boulangeries and sandwich shops alike offer baguette sandwiches that may look mediocre but are filled with high quality ingredients and are delicious.

Even plain baguettes with fresh cheese are very good. It might sound dry but fresh cheese from France paired with a freshly made baguette is not. 

The ultra local sandwich in Paris is called Le Parisien, or jambon beurre. It really shows that the most simple ingredients make an excellent sandwich.

It’s simply high quality ham and butter on a baguette. If you want to eat like a local, this is the sandwich to eat in Paris.

Baguette sandwiches in Paris are a must. But whatever you do, don’t eat and walk. Parisians respect food and so they take the time to sit down and eat – even if it’s a snack. 

 
Man making crepes at a restaurant in Paris

French Breakfast Foods

Crepes

Crepes are found around the world. But no crepe compares to one made on the streets of Paris. They are thin light pancakes and can be sweet or savoury.

Sweet crepes can be made with simple ingredients like Nutella or strawberries.

Street vendors make crepes from their batter which is usually in a bottle, similar to a ketchup bottle.

But don’t let this turn you off!

Crepes are made from similar ingredients to pancakes, although they are much lighter.

Street vendors put batter onto a scolding hot round metal plate. After a few rotating seconds, the vendor flips it over.

Each side of the crepe spends just enough time to have a little color.

Once the crepe is nice and hot, the vendor put in the fillings. Some popular crepe fillings are: ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, vegetable, cheese, cinnamon, Nutella and banana, and plain butter and sugar.

The vendor closes the crepe up and hands it to you in some paper. Perfection!

Omelettes

They say a mark of a good chef, is how he makes a simple, plain omelet. And many restaurants in Paris continue to test their cooks by getting them to make one.

And so Paris is the best place to eat an omelet.

There is something special about fresh egg omelettes in Paris. Parisians know how to make an omelette unlike any you have ever had before.

Light, fluffy, a little runny, sprinkled with fresh ham and gooey French cheeses.

This food in Paris is usually served with a side salad and a baguette (of course). Omelettes are best ordered at breakfast or lunch. 

 

Croissants, a popular breakfast food in Paris

Croissants

Once you have a croissant in Paris your life will never be the same. Fresh, crunchy, with a soft inside, french croissants are unbeatable.

Boulangeries make them in the early hours of the morning while the rest of us sleep.

When everyone wakes, these buttery delights and freshly made and ready to be devoured with coffee.

There’s nothing like a good butter croissant, but they also come with many variations including cheese, chocolate or ham and cheese.  

If you have a long day of walking ahead to explore Paris pick up an extra croissant. Unlike croissants in other areas of the world *cough* Starbucks *cough* croissants these will keep all day, and even two days.

Chocolat Chaud

Hot chocolate in Paris is unlike anywhere else in the world. In Paris, flavorful chocolate in its truest form is melted down slowly over heat and blended with cream to create a yummy hot beverage.

The hot chocolate in Paris is rich, dark, and intense. The flavor and density are unique to Paris, and it’s difficult to find elsewhere around the world.

We suggest picking up some hot chocolate at Angelina’s and while you’re there, pick up a kit to make some at home.

 
French macarons

Dessert in Paris

Macarons

This sweet food in Paris, has become a global phenomena. If you’re one of the few people who haven’t had one, what are you waiting for?

Macarons look like miniature cookie sandwiches. They take hours to make, and seconds to eat.

Patisseries and pastry shops sell popular flavors like pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, tiramisu, and more.

Specialty macaron shops sell local favorites like Mont Blanc and rose.

Macarons also vary in size. Some are small, about an inch around, making them a perfect afternoon snack. Others are quite large, even as large as your face! 

Macarons hold up well, especially if they are chilled, which makes them an easy gift to bring home. Just make sure to bring some home for yourself too!

Crème Brûlée

The dessert for every person does exist! And creme brulee often wins people over that swear they don’t like dessert.

Creme brulee is made with vanilla custard and is wonderfully creamy, yet light.

The chef torches the a sugared top of the custard to form a crispy shell that contrasts with the creamy pudding. And yes, it is as delicious as it sounds.

The amazing thing about creme brulee is that it is just the right amount of sweet and creamy so it pleases every palette.

Some restaurants serve it with berries, others plain, and some even include chocolate sticks.

Giant Macarons

If we could eat only one thing the rest of our lives, it would be Parisian macarons.

There are two sizes of macarons: small (as seen above) and big. Big isn’t enough to describe them, that’s why we went with giant.

Giant macarons in Paris are over 4 inches around and perfect for an all day snack. You can purchase one in the morning and it will stay good all day long.

This is perfect if you are walking around the city and want to have a sweet snack while staring at the Eiffel Tower! 
 

 
Lemon tart, tarte citron in Paris

Lemon Tart: Tarte au Citron

Any bakery in Paris will have a lemon tart to try. Some tarts are lemony sweet while others are pucker tart.

The tart has a pastry dough base that is light and a little crumbly. The tart is filled with a scrumptious lemon curd filled with fresh, plump, juicy lemon flavour.

The chef heats up a combination of their own special mixture of lemon curd and strains the mixture onto the pastry dough.

Some bakeries top the tart with meringue or freshly made whipped cream. The best tarts have a slightly torched top.

Eclairs

Eclairs are pastries with a similar texture as American donuts, but far better. These French sweets are made from a choux pastry dough and often filled with freshly made cream.

There are many types of eclairs including, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, strawberry, lemon, Mont Blanc, and more.

Whatever flavor you’re craving Paris is sure to deliver.

Millefeuille

The name translates to a thousand layers and that’s exactly what it looks like.

Millefeuille is a classic French dessert with layers of thin puff pastry filled with cream.

While it’s possible to have them both savoury and sweet, the most common in a patisserie is the sweet version.

A truly decadent one will have vanilla pods scattered about. When trying this treat be prepared for light, clean tasting dessert bursting with flavor.

Some millefeuilles are filled with vanilla cream and fresh berries, other patisseries choose chocolate to accompany the cream.

Millefeuille pair well with espresso, latte, red wine, and well, basically any drink you can name.

Millefeuille can be found at almost every patisserie. But one of the best is at Angelina’s in Paris – the same place that also created the Mont Blanc. This sweet food in Paris is a light dessert that you will have room for after any meal.

Opera Cake

If you enjoy tiramisu this one is for you! Your trip to Paris would not be complete without this sultry, almond sponge cake drenched in coffee syrup.

Opera cake pays tribute to the beautiful Palais Garnier which is also known as the Opera.

The opera cake is made with light layers of joconde (almond sponge cake), lots of fresh coffee, chocolate ganache, and coffee or Grand Marnier buttercream.

Can you say yum?

Most opera cakes are topped with a chocolate glaze as rich as the golden streets of Paris.

You can find opera cake at almost any patisserie in Paris. We recommend enjoying it coffee at the patisserie or by the river.

If you have time to take the opera cake for a walk, pick up a bottle of wine and indulge somewhere with a fantastic view.

 

Meringue cookies

Meringue Cookies

Meringue cookies are puffy-looking pastries found in patisseries around Paris. These colorful, wispy balls of sugar are best enjoyed in Paris.

These French cookies come in a variety of flavors from the standard vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio to more eccentric like cookies and cream, mont blanc, and any fruit you can think of.

Meringue cookies are light and airy with crisp interiors. Meringue cookies are best enjoyed with coffee or tea.

Mont-Blanc

Named after the snow-capped mountain it resembles, the Mont Blanc is a fascinating dessert.

Mont-Blanc desserts were created by a store on the Rue di Rivoli – Angelina’s – over a hundred years ago.

The dessert consists of a crisp French meringue under a creamy dome of Chantilly, covered with chestnut paste.

A satisfying crunch covered by chestnut and chocolate flavors.

This dessert gained so much popularity that you will find versions of it across Paris.

And as you go to different pastry shops and macaron stores you will see many different desserts – and drinks – that are inspired by this pastry.

Mont-Blanc does not pair well with a typical dessert wine. You need something that balances the chocolate and nuttiness.

An oaked Chardonnay from the Cote D’Or region of France works beautifully.

The best thing to eat in Paris is…

Everything. From street food to Michelin star restaurants, Paris is the food capital of the world.

After travel hacking my way to Paris three times in the past two years. I still feel like I have unfinished business when it comes to food. 

Au revoir!

Author Bio: Alex Kroeger is the Co-Founder and Editor of Via Travelers. Via Travelers is a modern travel blog focused on helping you learn the best travel tips, travel hacks, and itineraries to explore the world. Find your wanderlust. Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter

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Images: Cheeseburger (c) Arièle Bonte, Macarons (c) Anna Onishchuk, baguette (c) Filip Mishevski, cheese (c) Elisa Michelet, quiche (c) Edgar Castrejon, baguette sandwich (c) Jez Timms, champagne (c)  Deleece Cook, French onion soup (c) sheri silver, croque madame (c) Jonathan Pielmayer, crepes (c) Monika Grabkowska, man making crepes (c) Travis Grossen, croissants (c) Kavita Joshi Rai, lemon tart (c) Mae Mu, meringue cookies (c) sheri silver, Paris cafe (c) Charles Loyer, charcuterie board (c) John Canelis, Eiffel Tower (c) Anthony DELANOIX, apple tart (c) Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian
Plates of french pastries

Join the Conversation

  1. Some great looking food here. It looks like you have covered just about everything! We have spent quite a bit of time in France, since we used to live just across the channel in England. However, I cannot say for certain we have eaten all the items you have called out.
    It looks as though we have a reason to go back now!
    Thanks for posting.

  2. BigCats India says:

    Delicious dishes to try. Great and helpful post.

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