Do you want to try some of the famous French foods but don’t know where to start? In this article, I am breaking down 53 traditional French foods to check out!
One of the best things France is famous for is its food! In fact, it is lauded for being one of the best cuisines in the world.
What makes French food popular is its rich quality, great texture, diverse flavors and aromas, varying tastes, the use of seasonal and fresh ingredients, and above all, unique cooking styles.
What’s more, each region has various dishes and cooking techniques, so regardless of the region you visit, you’ll find something new to try!
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Since it’s hard to tackle every dish in France’s massive food scene, especially if you’re in the country for a short while, I have created this list of the 53 most famous French foods to try.
As someone who lives in France, I’ve tasted a lot of French dishes in various restaurants around the country and even prepared several of them at home, so you can trust that I know what I am talking about.
Of course, I might be biased but I believe French food is one of the best in the world! Yes, to me it’s way better than Italian food, but that’s a story for another day!
From traditional French food you might have heard about like escargots to unique ones that are region-specific, here are the most popular French foods that celebrate France’s endless culinary creativity.
Famous French Foods in France You Have To Try
Besides just listing the famous French foods, I’ll also give you a simple brief of what each is made of so that you get an idea about it and for region-specific dishes, I’ll also include where they come from.
So without any further ado, here are the famous foods from France you should try either in a French restaurant or back at home.
1. Cuisses de grenouille (Frogs’ Legs)
One of the most famous foods in France is none other than Cuisses de Grenouille or Frog legs as commonly known.
Although they’re called legs in English, the part that is eaten is actually the thigh and not the leg.
If you’re wondering what they taste like, frogs’ legs taste like chicken and they pair well with a salad or even fries.
While some may consider them some of the weird French food, in France they’re considered fancy and they’re quite expensive.
2. Foie Gras (Fat Goose liver)
Made from the fattened liver of a duck or goose, Foie Gras is another one of the famous French foods that’s beloved by almost everyone in France.
Loved for its distinct flavor, this French traditional food is usually eaten during special occasions, especially on Christmas in French families but you can find it in restaurants at any time.
The commonest way of eating foie gras is by putting a slice on sweet bread and then topping it with fig jam. There is even a special bread for foie gras.
3. Oeuf à la coque (soft-boiled egg)
If you’re looking for French breakfast food, look no further than Oeuf à la coque.
First, the egg is boiled for just 3 minutes to retain its gooey yolk. Using an egg cracker (or anything you have at hand), open the top of the egg to expose the runny york. Add salt and stir everything well.
Then dip your pre-battered small strips of baguette into the egg and you’ll have yourself a delicious French breakfast! It’s as easy as that!
4. Coq au vin (rooster with wine)
Full of flavor and complex with that dark tang from red wine, we must thank Julia Child for popularizing this rustic peasant French classic of chicken braised with wine and slowly cooked with lardons, mushrooms, and sometimes garlic.
The perfect family get-together meal, Coq au Vin has Burgundy roots — so it’s no surprise that a red Burgundy wine is typically used to braise the chicken, but some parts of France use their local wine.
5. Steak Frites (steak and fries)
Steak Frites is one of France’s beloved foods made of steak and crispy French fries.
While many claim it is of Belgium origin, it is still a French bistro classic and can be topped with a creamy sauce or garnished with seasonings depending on the region.
Served as a main course, rib eye or flank steak is typically used to make this dish.
6. Steak tartare (tartar steak)
What does raw ground beef mixed with onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings of choice molded into a circle and topped with a raw egg yolk taste like?
You will find out when you try steak tartare, a popular French dish normally served as an appetizer but it can also be served as a main! For maximum pleasure, eat it with a toasted baguette.
From the Provencal region of Nice, Ratatouille has been a part of French cultural foods since 1877.
This bright summer vegetable stew is usually made with tomato, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, and regional green herbs.
This perfect vegetarian main course can be served with pasta, French bread, or rice.
Although it sounds simple and indeed it is, it became so popular that the Disney hit movie of the same name was inspired by it.
8. Bœuf Bourguignon (Burgundy Beef)
Another famous French food from the Burgundy region is Bœuf bourguignon which takes a sentimental favorite spot in the French culinary scene.
Made from beef chunks simmered in red Burgundy wine, flavored with carrots, pearl onions, garlic, mushrooms, and bacon, and served with boiled potatoes or pasta, this beef stew can easily be considered the national dish of France.
This meal is so good and popular that every August, Burgundy celebrates it in the Fête du Charolais.
9. Escargots (Snails)
Believe it or not, Escargots or snails are some of the most iconic French foods which are usually served as appetizers before a multi-course meal. Though they come in different types, the Burgundy escargots are the best kind.
Escargots are usually cooked in beurre et ail (butter and garlic) and sprinkled with parsley on top hence acquiring that taste, but they have no particular taste on their own. But, if overcooked, they can turn rubbery.
Slowly cooked stew endowed with the meat of choice, beans, sausages, and herbs creates Cassoulet which takes its name from casserole — the earthenware pot used to make and serve the dish.
Originating from Southern France, particularly in the Languedoc region, you can find different versions of this traditional French food in supermarkets and grocery stores all over France in tins, although those don’t even come close to how good the homemade version is!
Birthed in Switzerland, Raclette is heated cheese with the melted part scrapped out and served with boiled potatoes, dried meats (charcuterie), and sometimes accompanied by wine.
A common dish in France, Raclette is the perfect dish for cold months. Needless to say, this is one of my favorite foods in France.
12. Gratin Dauphinois (potatoes au gratin)
Slice up some potatoes into thin bits and douse them in milk or garlic-infused cream — you can even top it with Gruyère cheese if you want.
Slowly cook this tasty mixture in the oven until perfectly melted and you have successfully made your own Gratin dauphinois.
This dish is an easy-to-cook comfort food that originated from Dauphiné region in Southeastern France.
Gooey, warm, and flavor-filled, nothing evokes a family spirit like this classic French mountain food.
It’s made by cutting potatoes into big chunks and baking them in a casserole with reblochon cheese, onions, lardons, and a splash of white wine optionally.
This dish comes from Aosta Valley and Savoy in the French Alps.
14. Quiche Lorraine
A Lorraine region masterpiece, this light buttery custard is garnished with smoked bacon (lardon), cream, and sometimes caramelized onions in an open pastry case to create a savory tart.
A classic French food, you can enjoy quiche Lorraine at any time of the day — be it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, though it’s mostly a lunch dish in France.
15. Pot-au-feu (pot on the fire)
This quintessential French dish is arguably the National dish of France and brings the family together during winter. Boiled beef and vegetables are the winning combinations used to make this dish.
Split into two or sometimes three serving options; the broth is served first, followed by the meat and then vegetables.
16. Hachis Parmentier (French Beef and Potato Casserole)
Hachis Parmentier is a famous food in France made by layering creamy mashed potatoes and minced beef stew together and topped with Emmental or gruyere cheese, then baked in a casserole and served with a nice green salad. The result? Pure deliciousness!
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, an 18th-century French pharmacist and nutritionist who named this dish saw the possible wonders in potatoes and publicized his sentiment. So we have him to thank for this delicious food from France.
17. Jambonneau Braisé
Next on my list of common French foods is also one of my favorites!
If you’re in a French restaurant, particularly in Alsace, since this is where it originated and don’t see Jambonneau Braisé on the menu, try looking for Jarret de Porc or Palette de Porc as the name can vary from one restaurant to another depending on the actual part of the pig they serve, but the idea is exactly the same.
A large piece of porc is either braised or grilled in a Madiera Sauce which usually consists of butter, honey, spices, and shallots, and it is then served with potatoes.
It sounds simple but it’s incredibly delicious! I’ve eaten it a number of times and I keep going back to it.
18. Salade landaise (salad from Landes)
The perfect sync of the different flavors of the ingredients used to make this traditional French salad makes it a beloved dish in France.
The Landes birthed this blend of shredded roasted duck breast, walnuts, bacon, crouton, and vegetables, dressed with a mixture of mustard, vinegar, honey, onions, olive oil, and chives.
The shredded duck breast is arranged on top of the salad and served warm.
19. Sole Meunière (Miller’s wife)
Sole Meunière may not be famous but it’s still one of the traditional French dishes to try.
It is so good that Julia Child called it “the most exciting meal of my life” and there’s definitely a lot of truth in what she said.
It is called Miller’s wife because the Dover sole, either whole or filleted is coated in flour and pan-fried in butter until golden browned.
Then parsley and lemon are added to the resulting brown butter sauce and served with the fish.
20. Quenelle (dumpling)
Traditionally, a mixture of minced pike, butter, breadcrumbs, milk, and eggs is poached in water and baked in a coral-pink cream sauce to come up with Quenelle.
A Lyon regional specialty, the highlight of this dish is its shape, which is oval — similar to a football, and obviously the taste!
Switzerland might have invented Fondue but it is now a significant part of French culinary culture.
In this dish, the cheese is melted and served communally in a caquelon (fondue pot), heated underneath with réchaud (portable stove), and enjoyed by using long forks to dip bread into the cheese.
There are different variations of this famous French food, but they still use three key ingredients — melting cheese, wine or brandy, and herbs.
The most popular French fondue is the Savoyarde fondue made with a mixture of gruyere, comté, and beautfort cheeses.
While cheese fondue is the most popular, there is also beef fondue where small pieces of beef are cooked in hot sizzling oil using a long fork.
22. Bouillabaisse (fish stew)
From its carefully selected Provençal herbs and spices to its cooking and serving method, this traditional Provençal fish stew is no doubt one of the best dishes from France.
Originating from Marseille, the broth seasoned with herbs and simmered with vegetables and potatoes is served first with rouille and grilled slices of bread.
Then followed by sea fishes, each added into the soup one at a time and boiled to perfection.
23. Croque-Monsieur and Croque-Madame (cheese and ham sandwich)
In the early 20th century, Michel Lunarca, a French bistro owner who obviously had good taste, popularized the Croque-monsieur!
It is made with ham, and cream, seasoned with pepper and salt, then topped with grated cheese and baked or fried until the cheese melts and forms a crust.
The accompanying bread is optionally dipped in whipped egg and grilled until brown.
While Croque-Monsieur is the most popular, there is another variation known as Croque-Madame! To get a Croque-Madame, you just add a fried egg on top of the Croque-Monsieur.
24. Confit de canard (Duck Confit)
Traditionally, duck confit was just a preservatory method of keeping duck for a long time!
Today, this French classic is made by submerging previously marinated duck legs in duck fat and gently cooking them under low heat until tender, and almost falling off the skin. It is then fried on a pan to create a crispy texture that I can never get enough of.
I’ve probably eaten duck confit more than any other famous French food! (I am just gonna add only 2 photos of my previous duck confit meals just to show you how much I love this dish).
25. Blanquette de veau (veal stew in white sauce)
Hailing from Normandy, this veal stew is a French family household jewel passed down from the generation before.
While every family has their own recipe, the traditional method is simmering veal in white stock made out of herbs, wine, carrot, mushrooms, and pearl onions, and then tempered with egg yolk and cream to make a smooth, fragrant sauce full of exquisite flavors and tender meat.
26. Soupe à l’oignon (Onion Soup)
Beef stock, caramelized onions, toasted bread, and melted cheese come together to produce one of the pillars of traditional French meals, onion soup.
An irresistible French favorite dating back to Roman times, this dish is the perfect comfort food on a cold day.
Although it can be found at any time of the year, it is especially common during winter months! You can almost find it in every Christmas market in Paris and everywhere else in France.
27. Charcuterie (cold cooked meats)
Pleasing both to the eyes and tastebuds, this dish is an assembling of cured meats, cheeses, terrines, pâtés, galantines, fruits, and crackers, all arranged on a Charcuterie board.
The perfect party centerpiece, you can customize this colorful meal to complement the occasion or season.
You can also easily find it in various restaurants as a shareable dish and although always delicious, how good a charcuterie is depends on the quality of the cured meats and cheeses used.
28. Salmon En Papillote (Salmon in Parchment paper)
For a moist and perfectly tender salmon, the fish is wrapped in parchment paper alongside vegetables, herbs, lemon, and olive oil, then baked to perfection until the delightful flavors have been ingrained into the fish.
When punctured, the packet exudes a verdant, fragrant steam that immediately gets your belly rumbling.
A famous French spread, the terrine is a loaf of either forcemeat, smoked salmon, or other meats cooked in a terrine mold and served cold.
There are so many variations of terrine that you may never be able to try all. But that’s okay because it’s almost impossible to try all the traditional foods in France, especially if you’re visiting the country for a short while!
I’ve been living in Paris for a couple of years now and I haven’t tasted everything yet!
Another common food in France with cheese as one of its key ingredients is Aligot.
It is traditionally made with melted Tomme cheese blended with mashed potatoes, butter, cream, and garlic until it has a smooth and creamy texture.
It is then served with Toulouse sausages, roast pork, and Auvergne red wine. This dish has its origin in south-central France.
31. Andouillette (coarse-grained sausage)
Pork intestines are seasoned with pepper, wine, onions, and other spices to produce this coarse-grained sausage known as Andouillette.
While the smell isn’t the nicest, especially for a first-timer, since it contains parts of a pig’s colon, like with other famous French foods, the taste is good! I’ve tasted it a few times and while I liked the taste, I couldn’t get past the strong smell.
Hailing from France’s Champagne region, vegetables (primarily onions) in a mustard or red wine sauce are usually used to side this dish.
It’s a popular barbecue dish among French families during the summer months, although it can be enjoyed any time of the year by baking it in the oven as shown in the photo above.
32. Gratin de Crozets (Savoie pasta)
Hailing from the Savoie region, this traditional French dish is a result of pan-fried onions and lardon combined with Crozets, a traditional square-shaped pasta cooked in chicken stock.
The resulting mixture is then mixed with crème fraîche, finished off with grated cheese, and baked until gooey and golden-browned. I gotta tell you, it’s as incredibly delicious as it looks.
33. Choucroute garnie (dressed cabbage)
Alsace is home to some of the tastiest French cuisine, and like others, Choucroute Garnie is an absolute hit.
A classic winter dish combining naturally fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) heated with white wine and traditionally prepared with sausage and salted meats, to produce a uniquely sour taste. The cabbage is the star player here.
34. Jambon-beurre (ham-butter Sandwich)
Three simple ingredients, one simply delicious street food; that’s the summary of Jambon-beurre!
This French ham sandwich is made by slicing a baguette in half and spreading it with salted butter and ham slices in the middle.
Prepared at home or found at French cafés, and bakeries all around France, Jambon-beurre is the perfect lunchtime option when you need something quick!
35. Salade Lyonnaise (salad from Lyon)
Who knew bitterness could play a significant role in perfecting a dish? Try this salad originating from the Lyon!
Just like Jambon-beurre, it is made out of three key ingredients: bitter frisée, crisp lardons, and topped with a runny poached egg.
This colorful dish is a delectable family meal and a popular French bistro classic.
36. Pâté (paste)
I briefly talked about Pâté in the Chacuterie section but it deserves its own entry on this list of traditional dishes from France.
Pâté is a paste stuffed with forcemeat and other seasonings, typically served on bread or crackers.
With more than 12 variations, including pâté en croûte, pâté grand-mère, pâté Lorraine, pâté hénaff, the vegetarian-friendly Mushroom Pâté, and the most popular, pâté de foie gras — made with the fattened liver of duck or geese, there are endless forms of this appetizing paste.
The paste is usually left to chill for a few days after making it for the best taste, although you can easily buy one from supermarkets!
37. Rougail saucisse (sausage Rougail)
If you visit the Réunion island, an overseas French territory, be sure to treat yourself to this traditional dish made out of spicy smoked sausages and vegetables, and served with white rice or zembrocal — a mixture of white rice, potato, turmeric, and saffron from Réunion.
The contrast of the flavors of this simple dish makes it hard to resist and a worthy family dinner meal.
However, even if you don’t go to Réunion island, you can still buy the sausage from a supermarket and make this delicious meal at home.
Ingrained into French cuisine at the beginning of the 20th century, Couscous is originally from Maghreb (a region in North Africa) and is made out of rolled durum wheat semolina steamed in couscoussier (kiskas), though any pot can work.
The dish is accompanied by slow-cooked stew and meat or fish. The preparation process is lengthy, but I guarantee, it’s worth the wait!
39. Diot de Savoie (Savoyard sausages)
Whether sautéd, grilled, dried, or boiled in white wine and onions, Diot is one of the famous French dishes you don’t want to miss.
Originating from the Savoie region, this dish can be paired with boiled potatoes, polenta, spicy Dijon mustard, or placed in between sandwiches, depending on the temperature it is served.
It’s also sometimes baked in the oven with cheese and potatoes! This is actually my favorite way of enjoying the Diot sausages.
40. Huîtres (Oysters)
Christmas holidays in France are incomplete without French oysters. Although they’re not typical French food, they’re very popular in the country throughout the year.
A “luxurious” French food, the methods of preparing oysters are limitless and all of them always turn out amazingly good.
One of the easiest methods is cracking them open and serving them raw with seaweed garnish and crisp Sancerre, or just lemon juice. Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven with some cheese.
41. Steamed Mussels with White Wine
Wine makes every dish better and hits all the right flavor notes and steamed mussels are no different.
They’re made by cooking the mussels in a perfect broth of white wine, garlic, and shallots. Mussels have natural juices which combine well with this broth to produce a heavenly flavor.
Serve with classic French baguette, pasta or rice, and viola! A masterpiece is set before you.
42. Poulet Basquaise (Basque chicken Stew)
South-west France birthed this decadent masterpiece and it is irresistible.
Who wouldn’t love Basque chicken cooked in tomato sauce meticulously seasoned with Espelette pepper and then served with rice?
Words don’t do justice to how tasty this dish truly is. Its simple cooking method yet complex flavors make it one of the most delicious classic French dishes when it comes to stews.
43. Carbonnade Flamande (Flemish Stew)
Another famous food of France made with two key ingredients — red wine and meat chunks is this flemish stew.
It is popular in the French Flanders region and is best served with mashed potatoes or fries.
On a cold day, be sure to curl up to a wonderful pot of classic ale casserole seasoned with mostly onions, bay leaf, thyme, clove, and juniper berries.
The long cooking time of this dish is worth the delicious result you will get.
Slow-cooked for 4 to 10 hours, this spread is a product of seasoned meat, mostly pork, tendered over low heat, then shredded, submerged in fat, and cooked for another several hours to get a paste that is best served on toasted bread.
45. Cordon bleu
Another traditional food in France that is of Switzerland origin, Cordon bleu signified a blue ribbon that only members of the highest order of knighthood wore, but today, it symbolizes dishes prepared to a high standard by outstanding cooks.
In this dish, meat, usually chicken breast, or veal is layered with a thin slice of cheese and ham, then breaded and baked or deep-fried to golden crunchy perfection.
46. Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops)
Christmas meal preparation can be stressful, but that’s where this flat-shelled goodness — a perfect festive starter comes in handy.
Gotten from the Atlantic coast and mostly found in northwest France, Coquilles Saint-Jacques or scallops are favored on the frontier for being easy to make, light, and with a subtle taste.
Butter, creamy wine sauce, and parsley breadcrumbs come together to create this culinary perfection.
47. Lapin a la moutarde (Rabbit with mustard)
Yummy and ancestral, Lapin a la Moutarde is a popular food in France made with chopped and browned rabbit cooked in a tasty mustard sauce.
It is sprinkled with herbs for taste and then served with browned potatoes and cooked baby carrots. The juiciness of this dish and the pack of flavors is enough reason to give it a try if you want to enjoy traditional French cuisine.
48. Tarte au maroilles (Maroilles tart)
A tart prepared in less than an hour, Maroilles — a soft cow’s cheese from Northern France and Aisne, Maroilles pepper, fresh cream, butter, eggs, and salt, are put in a base of pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry) and baked until golden brown.
Hailing from the regions of Thiérache and l’Avesnois, the Maroilles’ smell might take you aback at first, but hang on, the taste is absolutely worth it.
49. Tête de veau (calf’s head)
Originating from the Lorraine region, a calf’s head is set in a deep roasting pan with onions, carrots, thyme, and whatever else you choose to throw in to be infused with the meat’s simmering juices, then cooked in the oven for over three hours until tender.
A surprisingly weird but delicious dish, Tête de veau is often served with a flavorful gribiche sauce and potatoes. Although not common these days, it’s still one of the traditional foods in France.
50. Friand au fromage & Friand a la Viande (cheese and meat sweet)
Friand au fromage is made with Gruyre cheese and Friand a la Viande with meat.
For the meat variation, rolled puff pastry is stuffed with minced meat, shallot, parsley, and seasoning, folded at the edges, and then baked until well browned.
The cheese variation follows almost the same method but is stuffed with béchamel sauce made with flour, pepper, milk, and cheese. Pair it with a green salad, and you have yourself a nice evening French dish.
51. Galettes (flat cakes)
Galettes are crispy delights that can be sweet or savory, thanks to their customization flexibility.
Sometimes made with a base of puff pastry or yeast-risen doughs, galettes can feature meat, vegetables, cheese, fruits, jellies, and jams. The most common type is made with a crust folded partway with a fruit filling.
52. Oeuf meurette (poached egg in a red wine sauce)
One of the traditional foods for France to try the next time you want a starter is Oeuf Meurette.
Originating from Burgundy, this meal consists of an egg poached in red wine sauce — as you’d have guessed from the name itself and the wine used is usually burgundy wine.
To finish off this delicious dish, small slices of bread are added!
53. Tomates Farcies (stuffed tomatoes)
Summer table isn’t complete without this outstanding dish from France. A Provence classic, tomatoes are stuffed with ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, and most importantly, Herbes de Provence for that signature flavor.
Tomates Farcies is a French household favorite and the ideal meal for a sunny evening spent with friends and family.
Final Thoughts on the Best Traditional French Foods
These 53 famous French foods are just a tiny fraction of the food in France, but they are a good starting point if you want to immerse yourself in traditional French cuisine.
Offering the best flavors, there’s a dish to satisfy just about any appetite in the country, whether you want it sweet, savory, spicy, or juicy.
If you have found something on this list that just won’t leave your mind, don’t procrastinate. Go and try it out!
Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to Paris
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- How to plan a perfect picnic in Paris
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- Things to know before traveling to Paris
- Skip the lines Tickets for popular Paris attractions
- Best Hotels in Paris with Eiffel Tower views
- Things to do in Paris at night
- How to skip the long lines in Paris
- Best places to get stunning views of the Eiffel Tower
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