You cannot truly experience Paris without fully indulging in the gourmet foods that it has to offer. From simple baguettes to exotic escargot, the City of Light offers diverse fare for foodies to enjoy. Once you've sampled Parisian delicacies, you'll quickly see why it's earned the reputation for having the best food in France - if not the whole planet!
The best way to ensure a well-rounded culinary experience is a gourmet food walking tour lets you indulge while walking to burn off the calories from everything you sample.
People from across the globe travel to Paris solely to sample its renowned delicacies, which are arguably the gold standard for the rest of the globe.
Most local breakfasts consist of a delectable pastry. A local patisserie will provide a wide selection of baked goods from a simple buttery croissant to a Paris-Brest, a wheel-shaped pastry garnished with almonds and praline buttercream. These bakeries also offer a number of delightful desserts, such as the macaron. These distinctly Parisian delights feature two almond meringue shells glued together with ganache or buttercream. Chefs also craft signature desserts like crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, or Mont-blancs, and France is well-known for its chocolates and caramels.
For lunch and dinner, which are traditionally heavier meals, your options range from simple street stands to exquisite fine dining. Nosh on classic staples like steak-frites, or splurge on sophisticated fare like duck confit. No matter where you dine, however, your meal will be prepared with pride and care.
Parisian foods often pair best with fine French wines. Try a rich Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bordeaux region with your main course or sip sparkling wine from Champagne while nibbling on macarons.
Although Paname has a reputation for being an expensive destination, you can enjoy the best eats that France has to offer on any budget. The cost will naturally vary based on where you eat. A fancy restaurant will cost a pretty penny, but you can order crepes on the street for just €5. Another rule of thumb is to dine where the locals eat. You'll find the most authentic and delicious fare outside of touristy districts while saving a few Euro.
Even if you're backpacking on a shoestring, you should certainly leave room to splurge on a gourmet dish or two. Pick a meal or place you've always dreamed of, and treat yourself! A fancy French dinner may cost a bit of money, but it's an experience that you won't soon forget.
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Finding the best baguette and croissant in Paris can be a difficult task—especially considering that few shops will sell both baguettes and croissants. Baguettes are a type of bread, so they will most likely be found in a boulangerie—an artisan bread shop. Croissants, on the other hand, are considered a pastry, so you will typically find them at a patisserie, or pastry shop. To find the best baguette in Paris, you should head to boulangeries such as Boulangerie 2M, Boulangerie Thierry Meunier, or Maison Decorde, which are all among the top baguette-makers in the city. For a perfect croissant, head to Des Gateaux et du Pain, Du Pain et des Idées, or La Maison d’Isabelle. Although these specialty shops are among the best of the best in Paris, you will likely find delicious baguettes and croissants throughout the city. For local options, always ask your concierge or Airbnb host for their favorite boulangeries and patisseries.
No culinary tour of Paris is complete without a visit to some of Paris’s finest chocolate shops. Debauve & Gallais is a classic Paris staple. In fact, it’s the oldest chocolate shop in the city, and when it first opened in the early 1800s, it supplied chocolate to Napoleon and his court. Pierre Hermé is another well-known Parisian chocolatier, and his shops are so popular among Parisians that you may need to wait quite a while before entering his stores. Jean-Charles Rochoux is another must-see chocolate shop. In the shop, Rochoux displays his stunning works of edible art that look more like bronze sculptures than chocolate treats. For chocolates that are more daring, head to Patrick Roger in Saint Germain, which offers adventurous options that feature flavors like ginger and Sichuan spices along with classic favorites for the less adventurous chocolate taster. Finally, head to Chocolats Richart for delicious, hand-decorated treats that make the perfect souvenirs to bring back home.
If you’re looking to find the best cheese in Paris, then you should check out the city’s plentiful markets and cheese shops. At markets such as Marché des Enfants Rouges and Le Marché Bastille, you’ll find plenty of locally-made cheeses to buy and sample. In Marché Beauvau, for instance, you’ll find Fromagerie Hardouin-Langlet, where you can buy some of the best cheeses and other dairy products in Paris. However, to find a more extensive selection of cheeses, you should visit one of Paris’s fine specialty cheese stores, or fromageries. Androuët is one of the oldest and best-known cheese shops in Paris - and for good reason. With over 10 locations, this fromagerie features a variety of cheeses from small high-end producers throughout France. Laurent Dubois in Saint-Germain is another excellent cheese shop, and the shop even produces some of its own cheeses, such as mascarpone-stuffed Camambert. Finally, Chez Virginie offers seasonal cheeses made from raw milk, making it one of the most interesting fromageries in Paris.
While most people enjoy French cuisine, certain foods and delicacies might be considered strange by US or UK standards. Escargot, an appetizer made of snails, is perhaps the best-known oddity in French cuisine, and snails have been a staple in French cooking for centuries. Likewise, frog legs - or cuisses de grenouilles - are another common French appetizer, and eating rabbit is also fairly typical in France. In addition to these unconventional meats, the French also eat unconventional parts of conventional animals such as cows and pigs. Pigs’ feet, called pieds de porc, are a traditional French dish, and langue de boeuf, which literally translates to beef’s tongue, is another common meal. Vegetarians and vegans aren’t totally immune from odd French dishes, either. Farci poitevin is a mixture of cabbage, greens, beets, and seasonings, and to make the dish veggie-friendly, some restaurants forego bacon and eggs in the dish. This odd mixture looks somewhat repulsive, but many French people will eat it plain or spread it on a baguette.
Millefeuille literally translates to “one thousand sheets,” and it is a traditional French pastry made from delicate layers of puff pastry and cream filling. A classic millefeuille is comprised of three layers of puff pastry with cream in between, and it is decorated with fondant and chocolate drizzle. It is quite similar to a Napoleon, which replaces traditional cream with almond cream. Because of the delicate layers of puff pastry, millefeuille can be difficult to make even for experienced bakers.
Although millefeuille is a popular pastry in Paris, its origins may not be Parisian. The pastry’s true roots remain unknown, but it first appeared in 1651 in a cookbook written by François Pierre La Varenne. La Varenne was born in Burgundy but spent a substantial amount of time studying culinary arts in Paris, and he did not disclose whether his millefeuille recipe came from his Burgundian roots or his time in Paris.
Opera is a traditional French cake that is made of almond sponge cake that is soaked in coffee syrup, layered in flavored ganache or buttercream, and topped with a chocolate glaze. Typically, this cake is decorated with musical notes, instruments, or the word “opera,” and it is served in many pastry shops throughout Paris. Although this confection is distinctly French, its exact origins have been the subject of debate among the culinary community. Some culinary historians have been able to trace Opera cake back to the late 1800s, but others believe that the cake was originally invented by Dalloyau, a Parisian pastry shop, in the 1980s. Other culinary experts contend that the cake was first made by Louis Clichy in 1903, contending that his gateau cake was the basis for modern Opera cake. Although the cake’s exact origins are unknown, Dalloyau’s popularization of Opera cake has rendered it a uniquely Parisian delicacy.
As Paris has become increasingly diverse, Middle Eastern foods have become more common throughout the city. In fact, most Parisians regularly eat popular dishes like falafel and kebabs. However, there is some debate over which of these dishes is most popular among French people. On one hand, falafel appears to be extremely popular among French people. Locals and visitors alike often post pictures of Instagram-ready falafels on social media, and even US newspapers like the LA Times have covered the French ‘falafel craze.’ And, if the lines at L’As du Fallafel are any indication, falafel has become one of the most favored foods in the city. However, in reality, kebabs are actually more popular among French people. French people tend to enjoy eating meat over vegetarian dishes, and unlike falafel, which is trendy and expensive, kebabs are a relatively economical meal, making them popular among locals, young people, and the Muslim community. So, while you may see more pictures of falafel on Parisian Instagram accounts, kebabs are actually the more popular dish.
First-time visitors to Paris might be surprised by the number of Vietnamese-influenced restaurants throughout the city, but given the two countries’ long history together, it is no surprise that this Asian cuisine is one of the more popular foreign foods in the city. Additionally, Vietnamese food in Paris is often well-made and inexpensive, making it popular among locals and students living on a budget. Vietnamese restaurants in Paris range from high-end fusion eateries to small holes in the wall, indicating this cuisine’s popularity among all types of Parisians. Le Drapeau de la Fidélité, for instance, is a tiny, cheap eatery in the 15th Arrondissement that offers a beer and a full meal for less than 10 Euros. While most Vietnamese restaurants are relatively cheap and unpretentious, some – like Atelier Annam – require a reservation to get in. Overall, Vietnamese food is relatively popular in Paris thanks to its high quality and low price.