French Food and Drink

Paul Baderman 
by our France expert Paul Baderman

Eating & Drinking in France

For many, France is unquestionably THE home of food and drink, and once you have sampled fine French cuisine it is hard to disagree. Famous French specialities range from the stereotypical garlic & baguettes through to the infinitely varied worlds of French cheese and wine.

A foreigner’s journey through French gastronomy often begins in Paris where the café culture and myriad of restaurants make it an ideal place to sample both national and regional French food. Even in the hustle and bustle of Paris you will see Parisians taking plenty of time for lunch (l’heure du dejeuner). Sandwiches are not considered a proper meal, but if you are a busy tourist with no time to sit down and eat, the classic jambon beurre – a crusty baguette filled with just butter and ham – can be a taste sensation in itself. Or, if you want some hot “food to go” why not try a delicious croque-monsieur (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and a crepe au chocolate (a pancake with melted chocolate).

chamonix town centre
chamonix town centre

For more serious food buffs, a restaurant meal gives you a chance to sample the true flavours of France. Perhaps start by treating yourself to a glass of champagne as an aperitif before the arrival of your first course (or entrée) - maybe a plate of delicious charcuterie or a wholesome French onion soup. A simple main course of grilled fresh fish washed down by a fine white Bordeaux wine and then on to a scrumptious dessert of crème brulee or tarte tatin. To finish the meal, ask for a “café” - a proper French coffee that won’t come with milk unless you ask for it!

But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can only find the best food in the Michelin starred restaurants of Paris and Lyon. Exceptional regional dining throughout France is a feature of any French road trip and, if you have time, why not punctuate the culinary delights with a tour of one of the many famous wine regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace or Bordeaux.

notre dame paris
notre dame paris

And if your head is a bit fuzzy in the morning from all that wine tasting, what better than a mug of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and a warm croissant to set you up for the next day’s exploring?

See below for some French language words and phrases to help you find your perfect holiday meal in France...

Useful Phrases when Eating Out
English French
Do you have a table? Vous avez une table?
are you ready to order? vous avez choisi?
What is it? Qu'est-ce que c'est?
how much is it? combien ça coûte?
I would like ... je voudrais ...
The day's special Le plat du jour
And to drink? Et comme boisson?
Beer Une biere
A bottle of red wine Une bouteille de vin rouge
orange juice jus d'orange
A jug of water Une carafe d'eau
sparkling / still gazeuse / plate
Tea Un thé
Coffee Un café
With milk Au lait
cheers À votre santé!
I'm vegetarian je suis végétarien/végétarienne
I'm allergic to ... je suis allergique à
It was very good c'était très bon
the bill/check, please l'addition, s'il vous plaît


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