French food enjoys an unrivaled reputation around the world. The techniques of French cooking remain in many ways, the gold standard of cuisine, and the world of top international chefs is divided into those who have been to Paris and those who are going to go there at some point.
So it's no surprise that Paris is one of the world's great food cities. Just about every traditional item of French cuisine can be found here in the nation's capital. French culture is inextricably bound up with its food, so taking a food tour through Paris will help you learn more about the country as a whole as well as give you a delicious way to experience the city.
Forget about French fries. All the food items on this list are 100% French and 100% delicious. You can't visit Paris without trying delicious French food, so drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Paris and get ready to eat your way through this Paris food guide.
And don't be afraid to try something new. While French cuisine may have a reputation for being snooty, that's far from being universally true. For every white tablecloth Michelin-starred restaurant serving haute cuisine, you'll be able to find a food truck or hole-in-the-wall restaurant that will serve you the best street food in Paris. After all, a jambon buerre or croque monsieur is just as much French food as beef bourguignon or coq au vin.
And while many a traditional French dish is heavy on the meat, even herbivores will be able to find famous French food on offer at the best vegetarian restaurants in Paris. So drop off your bags and bring your appetite as you learn about the best things to eat in Paris.
French onion soup
This soup is traditionally made with beef broth, onions, and croutons but can also be vegetarian. The onions are slowly cooked to bring out their natural sweetness, and the soup is often served with a cheesy topping.
This hearty soup is the ideal way to chase away the chill of a cold day in Paris and is substantial enough to be a complete meal by itself. Plus, this is a truly Parisian dish. Legend has it it was invented by King Louis XV himself one hungry night when all he had in the pantry was onions, butter, and champagne. Modern French onion soup has a few more ingredients than that, but it remains a meal fit for a king and definitely something you should try to eat in Paris.
Pain au Chocolat
French pastry is enough for an article all by itself. Eclairs, chaussons aux pommes, profiteroles, croissants, and dozens of other delights, both sweet and savory, await anyone who walks into one of the seemingly millions of patisseries you'll find in Paris.
But if we had to pick just one pastry for you to try, it would have to be the pain au chocolat. This simple yet delicious breakfast treat is made of a flaky croissant dough filled with chocolate. It's rich, indulgent, and definitely something you'll want to eat more than once while you're in Paris.
Macarons are delicate meringue-based cookies that come in a huge variety of flavors. They originated in Italy but were popularized in France by the famous French chef Pierre Desfontaines. In 2015, the macaron was declared the official cookie of the city of Paris.
These colorful little cookies make for a perfect snack or light dessert and can be found at nearly every patisserie in the city. Choose your favorite flavors, or try something new. Either way, you're sure to enjoy these delicious little bites of French pastry.
These brightly colored delicacies are almost too pretty to eat. Therefore, they make great gifts for people back home. Unfortunately, they're also too delicious to save, so you may end up returning with just an empty box.
You may not think of hot chocolate as traditionally French. And it's true that chocolate was unknown here until the discovery of the New World, just as it was everywhere else in Europe. But once French chefs got their hands on this exotic ingredient, they never looked back.
If you think you know what hot chocolate is like, think again. This is not the watery, sugary mess you may be used to. French hot chocolate is thick, rich, and intensely flavored. It's more like melted chocolate than anything else and definitely not for the faint of heart.
This is a wintertime treat that's perfect for warming up on a cold day. You can find it at most cafes, but some of the best hot chocolate in Paris can be found at Angelina and La Maison du Chocolat. If you're looking for something truly special, try the hot chocolate at L'Eclaireur cafe. It comes with a side of whipped cream and a piece of chocolate cake, making it the ultimate indulgence.
Moules frites is a classic Belgian dish of mussels and fries, but it's also popular in France. The mussels are cooked in a variety of ways, often with wine or beer, and served with a heaping pile of crispy French fries.
This is the perfect meal for seafood lovers and makes for a great lunch or light dinner. You can find moules frites at restaurants all over Paris, but some of the best can be found at Chez L'ami Jean and Le Relais de l'Entrecote.
Au Pied de Cochon
This is definitely not one for vegetarians, or even for meat eaters who are picky about what they eat. But this is a classic of French cuisine and worth trying to eat in Paris if you have the stomach for it.
Au Pied de Cochon is a dish of braised pig's feet, often served with potatoes and vegetables. It may not sound appetizing, but it's actually quite delicious. The rich, fatty meat is cooked until it's meltingly tender, and the result is a hearty, comforting dish that's perfect for a winter meal.
You can find au pied de cochon at many traditional French restaurants in Paris. One of the best places to try it is at Chez L'ami Jean, where they serve it with mashed potatoes and green beans.
This is a classic French sandwich of ham and cheese, grilled until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It's simple but oh so satisfying.
You can find croque monsieurs all over Paris, but they're especially popular for breakfast or lunch. If you want to try a really good one, head to Le Petit Fer a Cheval. This charming cafe serves up some of the best sandwiches in the city. As simple as it is, a well-made croque monsieur can be a delightful culinary experience and is one of the best things to eat in Paris for a light lunch.
It's one of the hallmarks of French food that even seemingly simple items are elevated by the quality of ingredients and the techniques used to make them. Jambon buerre is a perfect example of this.
Jambon buerre is a baguette sandwich filled with ham and butter. That's it. But the key is in the execution. The bread should be freshly baked, and the ham should be of the highest quality. The result is a sandwich that's both simple and complex, salty and sweet, all at the same time.
This isn't for everyone. The ethics around the production of foie gras are problematic, to say the least, and even confirmed carnivores may choose to avoid this next item. But like it or not, it is a classic French food item and unquestionably part of the culture.
Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened through a process called gavage, in which the bird is force-fed large amounts of food. This produces a rich, fatty liver that's prized for its flavor.
Foie gras is often served as a pate but can also be found in dishes like confit de canard (duck confit) and magret de canard (duck breast). If you do decide to try it, some of the best foie gras in Paris can be found at L'Ami Louis and La Maison du Parc.
This is a French classic and one of the best things to eat in Paris if you're looking for a hearty, filling meal. Beef bourguignon is a stew made with beef, red wine, mushrooms, and onions. It's usually served with potatoes or rice, making it a complete meal in one dish.
This is the kind of food that's perfect for a cold winter day, and you can find it at many traditional French restaurants in Paris. If you visit Paris during the winter, it's well worth seeking this out in a traditional brasserie or French restaurant. And if you're not a meat eater, you can even find vegetarian versions here and there in the city, so everyone can enjoy this French classic while visiting Paris.
One of the most famous food items on the traditional French menu, escargots are simply snails. That's right, snails. But don't let that dissuade you from trying them because these little creatures can be quite delicious when cooked properly.
Escargots are usually served as an appetizer, and they're often baked in garlic butter. This gives them a rich, savory flavor that's hard to resist. If you're feeling adventurous, give them a try the next time you're in Paris. You might just be surprised at how much you like them!
You could easily write a book on French cheese. In fact, many people have. France produces a stunning variety of different cheeses, from mild and creamy to unbelievably pungent and downright caustic. And many of the best French food items rely heavily on cheese to impart flavor to traditional dishes, so it will be hard to avoid cheese when you visit Paris.
However, if you're a confirmed fan, you could consider taking a cheese tour to sample some of the best cheeses from around the country. No matter where you go, you'll find some incredible cheese options to try.
This is a traditional French pastry, and it's one of the best things to eat in Paris if you're looking for something sweet. The Paris-brest is a ring-shaped pastry made with choux dough and filled with praline cream. It's named after the Paris-Brest bicycle race, which was first held in 1891.
If you love sweets, this is definitely one to try while you're visiting Paris. You can find it at most bakeries around the city. Just be warned that it's addictive!
This is another seemingly simple dish that manages to be one of the best things to eat in Paris. Steak frites is simply steak and fries, but it's so much more than that.
The key to this dish is the quality of the ingredients. The steak should be a good cut of meat, cooked to perfection, and the fries should be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Add a little bit of sauce (preferably Bearnaise), and you've got a meal that's hard to beat.
You can find steak frites at most traditional French restaurants in Paris. Just make sure you're ready for a hearty meal because this dish is sure to fill you up!
It's a good thing you'll probably be doing a lot of walking in Paris. Because with so many delicious food items on offer, food lovers could well find themselves packing on a few pounds thanks to all the great things there are to eat in Paris. And if you need to burn off some calories, check out our guide to the best hikes in Paris to help keep that waistline under control.
A food tour of Paris will let you immerse yourself in amazing food and learn more about French culture as you do it. So drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage and try some of these classics of French cuisine.