35 Typical French Foods (Mostly Yummy, Some Weird)

The French heritage cannot be simply summed up as a list of monuments to visit. It also includes a distinguished language as well as culinary specialties, often linked to certain regions, sometimes passed from generation to generation. Here is a small tour of France’s typical foods


1) Foie Gras

Foie gras
Foie gras

This can be found on any table on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Even if the world associates this specialty with France, the tradition of fattening geese can be traced back to antiquity. The best way for you to try it is on a piece of brioche with a bit of onion spread or fig jam.

Recipes to try your own foie gras :



2) Oysters (Huîtres)


Oysters are the second most common product during Christmas and New Year’s Eve in France. This shellfish can be eaten warm, but true oyster lovers prefer eating it raw and still alive. You can eat oysters either plain, or with a dash of lemon juice, or vinegar, or with a shallot sauce.



3) Cassoulet

Cassoulet – Credits: Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin under CC BY-SA 2.0

This probably isn’t the lightest dish that you can try in France. Originally from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, this dish is made up of white beans, duck legs and pork (different kinds). Rural families have enjoyed it for centuries, and the French continue to cook it to bring the family together.

Recipes to make your own French cassoulet :



4) Basque-Style Chicken (Poulet Basquaise)

Basque-Style Chicken
Basque-Style Chicken (Poulet Basquaise) – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Basque country is one of the richest regions of France in terms of cuisine. That is where they raise poultry, some rare breeds of chicken and duck specifically. The poulet basquaise is a full dish where the meat is made tender by use of “piperade”, a sauce made up of Bayonne ham, peppers, tomatoes and Espelette pepper.

Recipes to make your own basque-style chicken :



5) Herb Buttered Snails (Escargots au Beurre Persillé)

Snails (Escargots)

Travel to Burgundy to discover another typical French recipe, cooked snails with herb butter, commonly called “escargots à la bourguignonne”. Cooked, as the name suggests, with a butter parsley sauce, they are presented in their shells and you can eat them with a little skewer.

Recipes to try your own Escargots :

On the same topic : Where to Eat the Best Escargots in Paris?



6) Charente Mouclade (Mouclade Charentaise)

Charente Mouclade
Charente Mouclade – Credits: Matt Ryall / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 2.0

The area from La Rochelle to Ile de Ré is popular when the temperature becomes mild. Many visitors, charmed by the region’s culinary specialties, make this flavorful recipe at home. Mussels from Bouchot (a very popular type) are cooked with shallots, garlic cloves, herbs, spices, eggs, some cream, and most importantly some Pineau des Charentes (local alcohol).

Recipes to make your own charente mouclade :



7) Breton Buckwheat Pancakes (Galettes Bretonnes)

* This dish can be vegetarian or even vegan

Breton Buckwheat Pancakes
Breton Buckwheat Pancakes (Galettes Bretonnes) – Credits: Jacklee. / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Because of a gourmet enthusiasm, Breton creperies are almost everywhere in France. But what is a galette? It is a savory crepe made with buckwheat flour that gives it its greyish color. The traditional fillings are ham, cheese, and eggs or andouille and onions; however, the varieties have grown over time and have become more creative. If you are in Paris, the best creperies of the capital can be found in the Tour Montparnasse neighborhood.

On the same topic : The 18 Best Creperies In Paris Where to Eat the Best Crepes



8) Flemish Carbonnade (Carbonnade Flamande)

Flemish Carbonnade
Flemish Carbonnade

You can find a large selection of beers in the north of France. In fact, the proximity to Belgium has inspired generation after generation of housewives to cook the carbonnade flamande. This is a beef dish, slowly cooked in light ale and aromatics. When it’s almost done cooking, a traditional gingerbread spread with mustard is added to give even more flavour to this sweet and savoury dish.

Recipes to make your own Flemish carbonnade :



9) Quiche Lorraine

The quiche lorraine – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Let’s travel to Alsace to discover this original recipe. The quiche Lorraine is, according to the Alsatian tradition, a tart topped with a mixture of cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg, and grilled ham. These ingredients give a slight smoky flavor which is much appreciated in all regions of France. Today, quiche Lorraine has become so popular that you can find it in any bakery or restaurant or, in a more modern form, with mushrooms, leeks and chicken.

Recipes to try your own quiche lorraine :



10) Raclette

* This dish is vegetarian if eaten without cold meats.

Raclette – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Raclette has been imported to Savoy from Switzerland. It is a dish made of cheese (raclette cheese) that is melted (traditionally with wood fire, but increasingly often with small electric pans nowadays) and which is eaten with potatoes, cold meat, onions and pickles. This is the ultimate winter-friendly meal.

Tips for your own raclette :



11) Cheese Fondue (Fondue Savoyarde)

* This dish is vegetarian if eaten without cold meats.

Fondue savoyarde
Cheese Fondue – Credits: Caroline Léna Becker / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 3.0

Cheese fondue is also a perfect winter-friendly cheese meal. Three different kinds of cheeses are melted together in a pot (beaufort, comté, and emmental), and white wine is added. With a specific skewer, each guest dips a bit of bread. According to the tradition, if someone drops their bread into the pot, a forfeit is given to them. Stay focused!



12) Beef Fondue (Fondue Bourguignonne)

Beef Fondue
Beef Fondue – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

This here is another type of fondue. This time you don’t dip bread in cheese, but pieces of raw meat (generally beef) in boiling oil, which cooks the meat. Do not trust what the name says: although it is very popular in France, it does not come from Burgundy (Bourgogne), but Switzerland! The name is actually a reference to the beef meat that is the basis of this dish (and Burgundy is famous for its cattle farming).

Tips to make your own beef fondue :



13) Gratin Dauphinois

* This side-dish is vegetarian

Gratin Dauphinois
Gratin Dauphinois – Credits: Ludovic Péron / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

In the Grenoble region, another winter dish is an absolute must-try, the gratin dauphinois. Traditionally, it is made of sliced potatoes cooked with cream, milk and nutmeg. No cheese is added in the original recipe but there might be some in it when ordered. This dish is so popular that everyone likes to cook it in their own way.

Recipes to make your own gratin :



14) Tartiflette


Tartiflette also comes from the Savoy region; it is made from potatoes, bacon, onions and reblochon, a Savoyard cheese. There is a variation called “croziflette” where potatoes are switched with crozets, small buckwheat noodles.

Recipes to try your own tartiflette :



15) Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Bouillabaisse is a well-seasoned soup typical of Marseille. Since there are so many fishers in the area, the dish is logically made of various fish and shellfish to which you will add tomatoes, aromatics from the South of France, mustard, and egg yolks. You eat it with bread and potatoes.

Recipes to make your own bouillabaisse :



16) Ratatouille

* This side-dish is vegetarian and vegan

Ratatouille – Credits: Barbara Wells under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Provence, ratatouille is the ultimate traditional dish. This vegan dish is so delicious that many restaurants today offer it to accompany fish or meat.

Recipes to make your own ratatouille :



17) Boeuf Bourguignon

The boeuf bourguignon

Boeuf bourguignon is a traditional family meal. It consists of slow cooked beef cuts with red wine, root vegetables and mushrooms. This dish is typical of Burgundy, a region in which cattle farmings and red wine are famous.

Recipes to try your own boeuf bourguignon :

On the same topic: 10 Restaurants in Paris In Which to Eat Excellent Boeuf Bourguignon



18) Veal Blanquette (Blanquette de Veau)

Veal Blanquette
Veal Blanquette – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Veal Blanquette is also a traditional slow-cooked meal.It is cooked with a veal shoulder or chest, cream, and a carrot and onion broth. It is often accompanied with mushrooms, but this is not compulsory.

Recipes to try your own blanquette of veal :

On the same topic : 10 Restaurants in Paris Where You Can Eat an Excellent Veal Blanquette


19) Pot-au-feu

Pot au feu
Pot-au-feu – Credits: André / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pot-au-feu is the ultimate traditional family meal. Beef meat is made tender by being slowly cooked in a carrot, turnip and leek broth.

Recipes to make your own pot-au-feu :



20) Coq-au-vin

Coq au vin
Coq-au-vin – Credits: jeffreyw under CC BY 2.0

The coq-au-vin (literally “rooster in wine”) is a downright symbol of French cuisine since, according to the legend, the recipe dates back from the Gergovia battle and the victory of the Gallic leader Vercingetorix over Julius Caesar. It is a variation of the famous boeuf bourguignon – cooked with rooster marinated in red wine and bacon and mushrooms.

Recipes to make your own coq-au-vin :



21) Cottage Pie (Hachis Parmentier)

Cottage Pie
Cottage Pie – Credits: Amy Ross under CC BY-ND 2.0

Hachis Parmentier is a two-layer dish: minced meat with aromatics for the bottom layer, and a homemade potato mash (often au gratin) for the upper layer. Usually, you will eat hachis Parmentier with a green salad.

Recipes to try your own cottage pie :



22) Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is a typical pub dish in France. It is a preparation made of thickly minced raw beef or horse meat to which spices are added and with an egg on top. It is generally served with French fries.

Recipes to make your own steak tartare :



23) Sauerkraut (Choucroute)


Historically speaking, sauerkraut comes from China and was exported by the Huns all the way to Austria before reaching Alsace, where it is now the flagship dish of the local cuisine. It is simply fermented cabbage with potatoes, lard and different kinds of sausage. There’s a variation, “sea sauerkraut”, in which cabbage is not eaten with pork meats but with fish (salmon, whitefish, and smoked fish).

Recipes to make your own sauerkraut :

On the same topic : 10 Restaurants in Paris Where You Can Eat an Excellent Sauerkraut



24) Cheese Soufflé (Soufflé au Fromage)

* This dish is vegetarian

The cheese soufflé – Credits: Pierre Alain d’Orange / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Cheese soufflé is a classic, but is very complicated to make in regards to technique. The success depends especially on the cooking time and oven temperature. A few degrees more and the results could lead to a catastrophe. So this one is best left to professionals! There are also varieties of delicious sweet versions, with lemon or chocolate.

Recipes to try your own cheese soufflé :



25) Frogs’ Legs (Cuisses de Grenouilles)

Frogs' Legs
Frogs’ Legs – Credits: Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

We could not avoid mentioning another dish that worries tourists: the famous frogs’ legs. They are generally breaded or fried with a bit of onion. The meat is delicate and soft, and tastes a bit like poultry.


Recipes to try frogs legs by yourself :



26) Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon)

Onion soup
Onion Soup – Credits: Ludovic Péron / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Onion soup has been a typical French dish for a long time but it began to become popular in the 18th century. Before, this soup was seen as a “poor people’s dish”. It’s now popular and has been revisited by many French chefs such as Alain Passard.

Recipes to make your own onion soup :



27) Baguette (French bread)

Baguette – Credits: Stacy Spensley under CC BY 2.0

Known worldwide, the baguette is a French symbol. Its origins still aren’t clear but it might have become popular in the 20th century to facilitate the baker’s bread preparations which was therefore made faster.

Of course, you can try the traditional one by buying it in a bakery, or you can try to make it yourself.

Recipes to make your own French baguette :



28) Croissant


The croissant has a Viennese ancestor – the kipferl – which was imported in France during the XIXth century. As it became popular, many people revisited the recipe which finally made it the croissant we know today. It then became a traditional element of French breakfasts since the fifties.

How to make famous croissant on your own :

On the same topic: Where to Find the Best Croissants in Paris? Our 8 Best Addresses



29) French cheeses

French cheeses
French cheeses

It’s not a secret that French people like cheese. France is known for its several types of cheeses but we don’t really exactly know how many types exist. Some people say that there is a cheese for each day of the year (365).



30) Chocolate cake (fondant au chocolat)

The fondant au chocolat – Credits: Emi Moriya under CC BY-SA 2.0

The chocolate cake is said to have been invented during the 18th century after many years during which chocolate was only used in drinks. This type of cake has many variants such as the chocolate lava cake (fondant au chocolat) which is known for being very sweet and a very good dessert.

Recipes to make one on your own :



31) Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin overhead view
Tarte tatin

The tarte tatin is a caramelized apple pie that is turned upside down after cooking it. It has been created by the baker of the famous restaurant Maxim’s in Paris but the most famous story about its origin is that one of the Tatin sisters was so clumsy that she spilled the pie after taking it out of the oven.

Recipes to try the tarte tatin :



32) Macarons

Various macarons
Macarons – Credits: Nicolas Halftermeyer / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

Macarons are small almond cakes that have appeared during medieval times and have been imported from Italy to France during the 16th century by Catherine de Médicis. They exist in many countries and, due to their popularity, have been revisited many times. Each country has its own version.

Recipes to create your own version of the macaron :

On the same topic: Which Macarons Are the Best and Where Can You Find Them in Paris?



33) Crème brûlée

crème brûlée
Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée is a vanilla dessert with caramelized sugar on the top. We don’t exactly know the origins of this dessert, but it might come from the Catalan cream which was prepared for “las fellas” (Saint Joseph feast) since the 17th century, though it seems to have existed ever since the 14th century.

Recipes to make your own crême brulée :



34) Floating Island (Île flottante)

Floating island
Floating Island (Île flottante) – Credits: Juhan Harm / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 2.0

The main ingredients of the floating island are whipped egg whites and English cream (crème anglaise). This mix which is what gives us the feeling of a floating island. This dessert is served cold.

Recipes to create your own floating island :



35) Profiteroles

Profiteroles – Credits: Ralph Daily under CC BY 2.0

Profiteroles are pastries made of pastry balls filled with custard or cream. You can eat them with ice cream, whipped cream and/or chocolate. They have existed since the 17th century and until the beginning of the 19th century they were savory.

Recipes to try the profiteroles :



What are some french food for kids?

1) Steak haché frites

You may already know this dish – which might come from Belgium – made of a piece of ground beef and french fries. It’s usually served with salad and some sauces.

Kids are usually crazy about this dish because they love french fries and they can eat them with their fingers!


2) Croque-monsieur

The croque-monsieur is a French hot sandwich made with two slices of white bread, ham, and cheese. It is then toasted for a minute or so and gratinated with cheese on top. This dish is really easy to make and also easy to eat!

Recipes to make your croque-monsieur :


3) Gratin dauphinois

This dish, which has already been mentioned above, is also a good one for kids who usually like potatoes.


4) Salted Crepe (Crêpe Salée)

We all know the famous crepes are usually eaten as a dessert or snack. But have you ever tried a salted crepe? In France, we eat it as a main dish, generally with ham, grated cheese, sometimes with sausage or an egg and then we had the sauces. In fact, you can more or less throw whatever you like in it.

Recipes to try salted crepes :



What are some of the traditional Christmas french food?

1) Capon (Chapon)

The capon (“chapon” in French) is a rooster that has been castrated to have more flesh and to be more tender. For Christmas, it’s usually cooked with some stuffing or another.

Recipes to cook your own capon :


2) Foie Gras

It’s an important part of the Christmas food experience. It can be eaten before the main dish during as an appetizer.


3) Oysters (Huîtres)

As previously mentioned, oysters are also a main part of the Christmas. Oysters lovers prefer to eat them alive, but for those who don’t really fancy them, you can cooked them in the oven first.

Recipe of cooked oysters :


4) Whelks (Bulots)

Whelks can be described as sea snails. They belong to the mollusks family. They’re usually eaten with mayonnaise as an appetizer after having cooked them in a salty, seasoned broth. But it’s also possible to integrate them into a dish.

Recipes to handle your whelks :


5) Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)

The Yule log has existed since the 19th century, its origin is still unclear but it became popular in the 50s. It’s usually a pastry log with some decorations served as a dessert at the end of Christmas Eve. An iced version exists too, it’s a frozen log. Whichever the kind, it is best to eat it cold.

Recipes to try your own Yule log :


What are some easy french foods to make?

Amongst the ones we talked about, the followings are all fairly easy to make. You usually won’t need more than 30 minutes to prepare them.

  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Cottage Pie (Hachis Parmentier)
  • Gratin Dauphinois
  • Ratatouille
  • Tartiflette