From flaky croissants to rich onion soup, certain recipes have become synonymous with Paris through the ages. Beyond the classics lie hidden gems and local treats that reflect France's diverse landscapes and cultures. This guide will tour both the traditional Paris foods and regional delicacies that define this gastronomic capital.
We'll sample Paris's most beloved recipes, must-try delicacies, and unique local dishes. Along the way, in this amazing guide, we'll learn about the Paris food varieties, ingredients, and techniques that shape Paris's cherished food traditions. Whether it's your first visit or tenth, Paris's food always has something new to savor.
Let's explore the gourmet food and culinary delights of Paris - The capital of gastronomy.
Famous French Food: Icons of Parisian Cuisine
Paris dazzles visitors not just with its sights and landmarks but also its delicious food, its quintessential French dishes that encapsulate so much fun the city's culinary essence. Certain classic recipes like flaky croissants, pâté en croûte, rich onion soup, tender coq au vin and paris-brest dessert have become icons of Parisian food culture through the ages.
Savory and Sweet Crêpes
Parisians adore crêpes and galettes, thin pancakes that can be filled either savory or sweet. Simple crêpes made with just flour, milk, eggs, and butter then dusted in sugar make for a classic street food dessert. Heartier buckwheat galettes can have fillings like ham, sausages, cheese, spinach, or eggs. Their versatility suits France's bustling cafe culture.
Caramelized Onion Soup
French onion soup can warm your soul with its deep flavors. Caramelized onions meld with a rich beef broth then get capped with bread and cheese toasted to bubbly perfection. This bistro classic may differ slightly between restaurants, but the combination of sweet onions, meaty broth, and melted cheese remains consistent.
Caramelized onion soup is also a popular appetizer - one of the most popular French appetizers - accompanying most food.
Coq au Vin “rooster in wine”
This rustic Paris braise represents comforting home cooking. Chicken simmers gently in a red wine sauce with onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and bacon. The wine tenderizes the meat while infusing it with depth. Other herbs like thyme and bay leaves round out the flavors. This regional dish hails from Burgundy but is beloved nationwide.
Similar to coq au vin, this stew features beef as the star along with red wine and vegetables. Tender beef cubes cook slowly in an aromatic red wine broth with onions, mushrooms, and bacon. Carrots, garlic, and herbs add layers of flavor. A Burgundian specialty, it warms body and soul on cold winter nights.
French Dishes: Must-Try Delicacies in Paris
No Paris food tour, be it a private food tour or a company tour of any group size, is complete without indulging in some quintessential French delicacies. From escargot to steak frites, experiencing these dishes offers a delicious window into traditional French food and culture.
Escargot, or snails, are a beloved French appetizer. The snails are typically cooked in garlic, butter, parsley, shallots, and white wine, then tucked back into their shells for serving. This decadent starter is always served with bread that you have to dip in snail sauce for a truly authentic experience of traditional French food.
The fattened liver from a duck or goose makes for a rich, indulgent delicacy. Smooth and opulent, foie gras often comes in the form of a terrine or “torchon” (round log), placed on fresh bread or toasted brioche, and paired with a sweet spread and sweet wine. Controversial but undeniably delicious, foie gras represents the lavish side of French gastronomy.
Quiche Lorraine makes for a satisfying brunch or lunch dish. This savory custard tart in a pastry crust typically contains bacon and Gruyère cheese. Variations may include mushrooms, ham, or various kinds of vegetables. The elegant simplicity of quiche highlights the French knack for balancing flavors. Serve with a fresh green salad for a light yet filling meal.
Steak frites, the French take on steak and potatoes, make stars of beef and French fries. Expertly cooked steak - often filet or rumsteck - gets served with a heap of crisp frites seasoned simply with salt and pepper. This bistro staple demonstrates the French reverence for quality ingredients and technique.
Flaky croissants and pain au chocolat viennoiserie pastries made with fine French puff pastry are quintessential Parisian breakfast fare. Crêpes and heartier buckwheat galettes also represent classic street food – thin pancakes perfect for sweet or savory fillings during a food tour. Another staple for the little ones is the “goûter”, i.e. snack time that is traditionally enjoyed at 4:30 PM when kids are done with school. Various options like madeleine, tender brioche with pieces of chocolates, and biscuits (cookies).
Classic French Soups
Of course, we all know that the onion soup encapsulates traditional French cuisine with its interplay of sweet caramelized onions and rich beef broth. This bistro staple recipe, often topped with cheese and croutons, is a soul-warming favorite. But let’s not forget about the various thick and creamy vegetable soups or the flavorful “bouillons” known as broths. The broth of classic recipes are often kept and consumed with vegetables to warm up our bodies over the rough winter days!
Comforting French Braises
Coq au vin, a rustic chicken dish braised in red wine, epitomizes traditional French cooking techniques. Tender poultry and aromatics like onions, garlic, and “bouquet garni” infused with depth make this regional favorite comfort food at its finest. Our other winter favorites stews are the veal Blanquette, beef Bourguignon, Lapin à la moutarde, Cassoulet, and choucroute.
Beloved French Desserts
Stepping into a French bakery or patisserie is a feast for the eyes, the beautiful textures, shapes, and colors are just never-ending! From fruit tarts to creamy mousse, to chocolate cakes, flaky multilayered pastries, macarons, and chocolate bonbons, those specialties provide a taste of Paris’ favorite sweet and salty pastry.
French Markets and Tours
Paris offers endless opportunities to immerse yourself in fabulous culinary traditions. Explore markets stocked with gourmet foods, take a private gastronomic tour, or join a specialized gourmet food and wine tour. Food tours in Paris run the gamut from chocolate walks to cheese crawls. With an amazing and knowledgeable guide, your taste buds will sing like Notre Dame's bells.
Unique French Dishes: Hidden Gems and Local Specialties
Beyond Paris's iconic dishes lie regional French delicacies waiting to be discovered. These unique traditional foods offer you a tasty glimpse into France's diverse landscapes and local cultures.
Choucroute from Alsace
Choucroute is a specialty of the Alsace region in the East of France. It features sauerkraut topped with assorted cured and cooked meats like bacon, Montbéliard and Strasbourg sausage, pork and potato. Hearty and warming, this traditional French dish evolved as a way to preserve cabbage through lactic fermentation. The interplay of sweet, tart, and savory flavors is a signature from Alsatian cuisine.
Pissaladière from Nice
Hailing from Nice on the French Riviera, pissaladière is a savory open onion tart. Caramelized onions sit atop a bread dough flavored with olive oil and anchovies. Olives, tomatoes, or onions may garnish this Provençal treat. Both the flavors and presentation of pissaladière encapsulate the sunny cuisine of southern France.
Kouign-Amann from Brittany
Brittany's specialty cake kouign-amann is a buttery, caramelized delight. Its name means "butter cake" in the Breton language. Bakers take thin layers of yeasted dough, spread them with salted butter, then fold and bake until ultra crispy. The result is a buttery and flaky-style cake with a shattering, caramelized exterior and tender inside. A few bites transport you to the rugged Breton coastline.
Olive Oil and Fresh Herbs
The sunny climes of Provence yield flavorful olive oils and abundant fresh herbs that permeate the region's cuisine. Herbes de Provence spices up everything from roasts to salads with thyme, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs.
Wine Tours and Tastings
As a renowned wine producer, this country offers opportunities for tasting its famed wines everywhere from Paris wine bars to wine tastings and vineyard tours in Burgundy and Bordeaux. Experiencing the wine firsthand offers insight into the nuances of France's different wine regions and styles.
Bread and Cheese
No French meal is complete without offerings of freshly baked bread and artisanal cheeses. Baguettes, croissants, and rustic country loaves all accompany meals and snacks. The diverse world of French cheese ranges from creamy brie, tangy goat cheese to pungent Roquefort blue cheese and beyond.
The elegant tarts of France make an appearance at every dining occasion. Savory galettes, Quiche Lorraine, onion tarts, and tomato tarts start things off. Fruit tarts like Tarte Tatin and Tarte aux Pommes deliver sweetness. Their balance of crispy crust with luscious fillings captures French finesse.
Rustic French potages (soups thickened with bread or pulses) provide comfort on cold days. Garbure features duck confit and veggies in broth. Soupe à l'oignon gratinée is topped with croutons and cheese. And potage Parmentier which incorporates potatoes and leeks is quite an easy one to make at home.
Salads and Crudités
The French excel at composed salads that are both healthy and flavorful. Try Salade Niçoise with tuna, green beans, anchovies, eggs, olives and tomatoes or Salade Lyonnaise with frisée salad, poached egg and bacon. Crudités platters with dipping sauces also accompany meals.
Smooth French Sauces
From velvety béchamel to tangy Béarnaise, French sauces embody refinement. Béarnaise, flavored with shallots, vinegar, and tarragon, dresses up beef or Sauce au Poivre (creamy with peppercorn) is delicious on steak. Béchamel, a milk and roux sauce, creates lasagna's lusciousness. France's mastery of mother sauces is renowned worldwide.
The cheese course is sacred in the French culture of dining. A good food tour guide can have the deep knowledge to illuminate the nuances of French cheeses like earthy Camembert, floral Chaource, or pungent Roquefort. Pair with wine, bread, and fruit for a true French culinary adventure.
Paris offers an endless feast for the senses, sight, and taste alike. Whether it’s your first crêpe or fifth cheese course, Paris promises delicious new experiences for every visitor. Our food tour guide only scratches the surface of this capital’s culinary treasures. One thing is certain—this is a city that loves fine food and wine and knows how to savor every moment. Enjoy every little moment this city has to offer by savoring each bite, treat and drink!!!