Spain Guide

France Guide

French Food Cuisine of France

French Food Cuisine of France

The French are very serious about food, particularly French food (the best kind, of course), and they have good reason to shout about it. France is particularly celebrated for two things: oenology and gastronomy, in other words wine and food.

Eighty per cent of French workers go home for lunch every day; you rarely see anyone grabbing a quick sandwich for lunch unless you go to the financial district in Paris, and even then most people prefer to eat in a café. This is an astonishing figure but one that testifies to the important place of food in French daily life. In fact, deciding when and what to eat is the day's central concern because food is not just a necessity, it is a pleasure.

Breakfast in France usually consists of some good coffee and a tartine (bread and jam), or a croissant or pain au chocolat (a pastry square with chocolate inside). The morning will then involve a trip to the local marché (market) to buy the week's vegetables, then the charcuterie and boulangerie for the day's cold meats and bread. Lunch will keep you sustained through the afternoon when you pop to the pâtisserie and buy an exquisite gâteau for the evening meal, then dart to the boucherie in order to buy some seasonal meat and chat to the butcher (who you have probably known for years and years). For the holidaymaker, however, going to each individual shop may take up too much time. There are good supermarkets in France where you can buy everything you will need to eat. Don't forget to try some of the little shops too though, as these really do contribute to the ambience of a French holiday. Also, you can buy cooked meat by the tranche (slice) in a charcuterie, where as you may need to buy a whole packet in the supermarket unless there is a delicatessen counter.

If you are eating out you will find a wide choice of styles and prices of food available in France. At a brasserie you can order a (simple) meal such as steak and chips, or a croque monsieur (cheese and ham toastie), throughout the day, whilst a restaurant proper will probably serve only at meal times (12 2 for lunch; 7 9.30 for dinner). In large cities like Paris it is possible to find brasseries that serve until 1am, but in smaller provincial towns you will have difficulty finding anything after 9.30pm. For popular restaurants or ones in tourist traps it is advisable to book, especially during the summer months, and you can do this on the day in question.

Try eating French food as the French themselves do it: order the seasonal dishes, rather than the tourist fare such as steak frites and crème caramel, as these will be made with fresh, locally produced ingredients, which makes all the difference.