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Eating in France: Top 10 Must-Try Classic French Dishes

The Eiffel tower, Mont Blanc, the Louvre, the wineries in Provence… There is no shortage of impressive and one-of-a-kind attractions in France. It’s a country with a rich history, stunning sights, and unique culture.

Yet, one of the most special parts of traveling to France is the opportunity to indulge in their cuisine. Many of the world’s best chefs have lived, studied, and influenced the culinary scene in France. 25 of France’s restaurants have even been awarded 3 Michelin stars for mastering the art of French cooking.

So, which foods top to the list of must-haves when dining in local cafes, bistros, and restaurants? Here are 10 classic french dishes that you must try when visiting France

  1. Crêpes

France is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The country receives over 87 million visitors a year.

These travelers come from all over and for all different reasons. Yet, experiencing French food tops the list.

So, which iconic dish should you try first? Crêpes are one of the most well-known dishes in France.

These can be sweet or savory and are much like a thin pancake. They include different fillings, depending on your palate.

Sweeter style crêpes feature ingredients like fruit, jam, chocolate, and whipped cream. Some cafes also make layered crêpes, which is more like a cake.

Savory crêpes are somewhat like an omelet. You’ll find cheese, ham, mushrooms, or spinach as fillings.

  1. Nicoise Salad

This salad is served at many bistros throughout France. It offers a light and flavorful lunch option and is a popular choice in French cuisine.

It’s made from a bed of fresh lettuce topped with tuna. Other ingredients include hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, olives, anchovies, and green beans.

Chefs tend to switch up the ingredients to put their own style on the salad. Some serve it with cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, onion, and capers as well. It’s topped with a vinaigrette dressing with hints of lemon, garlic, and dijon mustard.

  1. Croque Monsieur

The delicious Croque monsieur is another of the top popular dishes in France to try. It’s much more than the traditional ham and cheese sandwich.

The sandwich features a creamy béchamel sauce, famous in France. The dish also has broiled cheese on top to give the bread a nice crisp crust. A variation of this is the Croque madame, with a fried egg on top.

  1. French Onion Soup

Many restaurants all over the world serve this soup. But none can do it quite like the French.

Also called Soupe à l’oignon, it features sauteed or caramelized onions. A hearty beef stock with bread or croutons is another staple of the dish. Then it’s topped off with melted Fromage (or cheese).

  1. Moules Mariniéres

This recipe originated in Belgium but is served throughout France. It features marinated mussels with white wine, butter, shallot, and parsley sauce. This dish is most often served with crusty bread or Frites.

Bouillabaisse is another popular seafood style dish in France. It’s like a fish stew with mussels, herbs, onion, and garlic.

For a one-of-a-kind culinary experience, try the stew of clams at Mirazur. It’s been named the best restaurant in the world and is located in Menton, France. They do feature an ever-changing menu though.

  1. Beef Bourguignon

This is an iconic dish that was a favorite of Julia Child. It features braised beef that is rich and full of flavor.

The dish is made with wine, beef stock, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. The key to the perfect beef bourguignon is tenderizing the meat well in advance.

  1. Coq au Vin

This hearty and comforting dish is ideal for experiencing classical French cooking. It is made with a chicken, or rooster, that is braised in a light wine sauce.

The sauce is often made with red Burgundy, yet other wines make an appearance. Some chefs add a bit of brandy as well.

The dish is cooked with vegetables like potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. Many chefs also add pork belly or bacon for extra flavor from fat.

  1. Ratatouille

This is one of the most common foods in France and is served at many restaurants. This main dish is made from fresh thinly sliced vegetables.

It’s best described as a slow-cooked vegetable stew. Some chefs prepare it arranged in a layered circular presentation. The main ingredients are eggplant, zucchini, pepper, tomato, herbs, and garlic.

  1. Confit de canard

This main dish features a slow-cooked duck. You’ll find it on the menu at many higher-end dining establishments.

It involves marinating the duck for a few days then cooking it in a pan with duck fat. The outside of the duck becomes crispy and golden. Yet, it’s still tender and juicy on the inside.

  1. Soufflé

Chocolate soufflé is a must-have dessert when visiting France. Not every chef will attempt to make this dessert and serve them in their restaurant. A soufflé is quite tricky to make right, without having it fall.

This dessert is airy and decadent when done right. It’s crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

The secret to its success is beating the eggs the right way. You can also find other flavored soufflés, like cheese or spinach that is worth a try.

Crème Brûlée is another top dessert option to try while dining in France. Booking food tours is a great way to experience the best of French cuisine. These allow you to try all the classic French dishes, including oysters and Champagne.

Experiencing the Best Classic French Dishes

French foods will expand your palate for a culinary experience like no other. These classic french dishes offer a taste of the country’s best cuisine. You’ll find these dishes on most menus at dining establishments all over France.

Looking for more ways to enhance your next trip to Europe? Check out the travel destinations section of our blog for more culinary inspiration.

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