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Food is ingrained into French culture. Not only are they considered the culinary masters of the globe, but the French attitude to eating and food is so revered it was classified as an Intangible Cultural Heritageby UNESCO in 2010.

Whilst every region of France has incredible delicacies and drinks to try, Paris is a hub of diverse cuisines, from Michelin starred restaurants to hole in the wall bistros. Considering the range of traditional French food and drink you can enjoy in Paris, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, we’ve broken it down into what to eat at the important meals of the day.

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Traditional French Food and Drink in Paris

Below we take a look at some of the very best traditional food and drink that we recommend trying when you visit Paris.



Better known as viennoiserie, any boulangerie worth its salt will have an abundance of fresh breakfast pastries available. Favourites include pain au chocolat, pain au lait, pain au raisin, chausson aux pommes and abricots a l’angalise – but of course, the iconic is the croissant. Paris hosts an annual competition to discover the city’s best croissant, a title currently held by Patisserie Colbert in the suburb of Sceaux.


A buttery and sweet breakfast bread, you’ll find brioche in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from loaves to logs. Whether plain or packed with chocolate chips and fruit, the brioche dates back to 1404. So famous in fact, Marie Antoinette supposedly said ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’ – let them eat brioche.

Café au Lait

Settle into any bistro or brasserie and you’ll see the authentic café au lait everywhere. While you could order un thé or a une tisane (a herbal tea), the café au lait is a Parisian staple. Made with a single shot of espresso and hot milk, this milky coffee is perfect for dunking your croissant in before taking to the streets of Paris.

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The true Parisian can be seen picking one up for lunch, sometimes filled like the street food favourite jambon beurre (ham) or sometimes plain. They’re an inexpensive and delicious lunch choice. Head down to Maison Julien in the 17th Arrondissement for the winning baguette in the Concours de la Meilleure Baguette de Paris – aka the best baguette in Paris. As winners, they supply baguettes to the Elysee Palace, home of the French President.

Croque Monsieur / Madame

A French companion to the American grilled cheese and Welsh rarebit, the Croque Monsieur is usually served with fries and salad, or just on its own, or even smothered in Béchamel sauce. Its construction is simple – slightly sweet bread, cheese – Emmenthal, Gruyere or Comté – and ham. Crack an egg on top and you’ll get a Croque Madame.


For something sweet to round off your meal, head to a patisserie and look for smaller morsels of sugary heaven. Pick up some buttery madeleines at Blé Sucré or head along to Pierre Hermé or Ladurée for delicious macarons in every shade of the rainbow. Or, if your sweet tooth is even bigger, trek up to Montmartre for caramels from Etoile d’Or.


A tradition in France, an aperitif is served around 6pm, before dinner, in the bars, terrasses and bistros around Paris.

Kir Royal

One of the most popular cocktails in France, Kir is made using tart white wine mixed with crème de cassis – a blackcurrant liqueur. Becoming a national sign of resistance during the Nazis occupation of Burgundy in WWII, adding champagne instead of white wine will turn Kir into Kir Royal.


French wine is sacred and what you drink depends on the season. In summer, you’ll find rosé and white on the menu, with reds coming in during the winter. You can ask your waiter which wine they would recommend, but look out for bottles from top wine-making regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Champagne.


An excellent pairing with wine, look out for French favourites like brie, camembert, comté, chevre (goat’s cheese), gruyere, Emmenthal, Roquefort and reblochon. Remember – the stinkier the cheese, the better its taste.

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You can’t talk about traditional French food and drink and not bring up escargots. Don’t be put off by the idea of eating snails; this French delicacy is generally cooked in a buttery garlic sauce and parsley. The French are the world’s biggest consumers of escargots and it’s particularly a traditional speciality in Paris.


If the Pixar film didn’t convince you to rush and try this vegetarian delicacy, finding the perfect one in Paris just might. The traditional recipe includes common Mediterranean vegetables like courgette, aubergine and peppers, as well as onions, garlic, tomatoes and parsley. A traditional peasant dish, Chez Janou in Le Marais and Café Louise on Boulevard Saint Germain offer particularly popular ratatouilles.

Crème Brulée

Literally translated, it means ‘burnt cream’. But the traditional crème brulée is a must-taste. The satisfying crack of the top as you hit your spoon against it is the closest you might get to foodie ASMR. If you’re looking to recreate the famous scene from Amélie, this vanilla custard delight is on most menus across the city – from five-star gourmet restaurants to suburban bistros.

Tarte Tatin

Usually served with cream or ice cream, the famous tarte tatin cooks sweet apples in a rich caramelized sauce and a crispy pastry top – then flips the whole thing upside down. Invented by two sisters in the late 1800s, Vogue Paris name checked a handful of its favourite restaurants that offer tarte tatin perfection. Look out for Benoît Castel’s take at rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Bo&Mie in Etienne Marcel and La Closerie des Lilas in Montparnasse for a true classic.

Book a Traditional Food Tour in Paris

Get to know the food scene and you’ll get to know Paris. Our handpicked selection of food and drink tours in Paris will give you a delicious guide to the city – from the tourist hotspots to the local's favourites. Book your food and drink experiences in Paris with tabl. and start planning your next foodie holiday.

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