Long associated with Michelin Stars, high quality local ingredients and some of the best red wines in the world, France’s dining scene is legendary. From simple provincial cooking to indulgent gourmet meals, every visitor on any budget can sample its culinary offerings to get a taste of this scrumptious European country.
Here are ten foods and drinks that you really should try during a stay in France.
Crepes & Cider
Crepes (sweet) and galettes (savoury) are France’s answer to the English sandwich or the American burger. Originally from Brittany, they are now served in creperie stands on many corners of the biggest cities. Fill it with cheese and tomatoes or simply with a shake of sugar. Eat yours with a drink of Brittany cider for a traditional lunch.
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You might have previously overlooked this soup as a starter but nowhere does it like France does. The sweet, almost caramelised onion mixture is topped with an oozing cheese like a rich Gruyere. Chunky bread is then served with it for you to dunk to your heart’s content.
Ratatouille is a traditional vegetable dish that is prepared and made differently depending on the cook! Some prefer it to have a crunch whereas others like an almost stew-like consistency. However it is served, you will feel full of nutritious, tasty homemade goodness.
Popular in Normandy, mussels are available quite cheaply in coastal eateries. You can normally order moules with the classic white wine sauce or with something a bit different like curry! For a fancy take on fish n chips, get yours with fries. A famous Normandy dessert to finish the meal with is apple tart. Moules-frites is another popular way to eat mussels.
The Italian influences on France’s south-east means that you can get an absolutely delicious pizza in Nice. Always freshly made, with a mixture of cheeses to pick from (Emmantal is a good choice), they give the Italians a run for their money.
Forget the roasties or a pile of mash – eat your potatoes the French way with this creamy and cheesy recipe. Spices like nutmeg and flavourings like vanilla are often added to the mix for extra yum factor. Definitely order this if you are lucky enough to go to a highly rated restaurant.
It is no myth – you’ll find snails on a lot of authentic restaurant menus. They are often doused in garlic, which makes them taste just like a piece of garlicy chicken! How many will you manage to eat?
In fact, this sub heading should say ‘pretty much everything you can get your hands on at the boulangerie’. You really are spoilt for choice with Paris Brests, Millefleurs and flan abricots. The brioche is a simple, sweet bread bun with a sugary topping that brightens up any morning alongside a cafe au lait.
If you like your meat bloody, you are in the right place. The French like their steaks red, so if you prefer it medium, ask for it to be well done. If you like it well done, you should probably order something else. The steak tartare is served completely uncooked with a raw egg on top, a total classic for those who like their beef walking off the plate.
Cheese and wine
You’re in France so indulge in its very best produce. Finish off an evening (or lazy afternoon!) a good wine like a Chateauneuf du pape wine or a Bordeaux. Popular cheese choices include Camembert, Gouda, a smelly blue and a garlic roulette. Dare yourself to try the smelliest cheese, like a bonafide French citizen.
Et voila, you’ll return from France probably a stone heavier but still hungry for more.
Images by Vanilla and lace and fugzu used under Creative Commons License.