The importance of food in French culture is shown in how central it is to daily life. The French enjoy long, leisurely meals with multiple courses, whereas the British are known for their afternoon tea and the Americans for their endless buffets. This food culture has a significant impact on the dynamics of daily life in France.
The French typically eat pastries for breakfast, potatoes for lunch, and soups for dinner. France, like most developed countries, also has its share of meat eaters, vegetarians, and salty-and-sweet food enthusiasts.
It may interest you to know that some French foods are named after the regions from which they originate. Bordeaux, for example, comes from Bordeaux, and Dijon mustard comes from Dijon. Continue reading this article to learn more about French cuisine.
What Do The French Eat For Breakfast?
Before picking up their breakfast plates, the French usually reach for the coffee maker. Even though the typical coffee served in France is a strong espresso (if you order a café in a restaurant, you will most likely receive an espresso), it is customary to have a café au lait for breakfast.
This coffee is served with a generous amount of warm milk, typically in a large circular bowl or mug. Tea and hot chocolate are less popular alternatives.
To go with that first cup of coffee, here are some typical French breakfast options:
- A piece of bread with butter or jam is typically sufficient for a French breakfast.
- Toast with jam, also called tartine; is a favorite because it is simple and has a pleasant sweetness that goes well with coffee.
- Flaky, toasty croissants are a traditional weekend-only breakfast favorite, though they are becoming less common.
- Pain au chocolat is a delicious and opulent breakfast pastry that can also be served with a cup of coffee.
Occasionally, fresh fruit or yogurt is served with bread, toast, or croissants.
Fun Fact: The reputation of French cuisine is so widespread across the globe that in 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included it on its list of intangible cultural heritage.
What Do The French Eat For Lunch?
The most comprehensive range of answers to the question of what the French eat can be found around the lunchtime options available in France. Some French workers take a two-hour break from work to enjoy a hearty lunch and a glass of wine.
In urban areas, office workers may purchase a sandwich from a street vendor or from the takeout display cases in a café.
Lunch At A Restaurant:
A three or four-course meal might include an appetizer (salad, soup, or paté), a meat or fish dish served with a warm vegetable, a variety of potatoes, dessert, and occasionally a cheese plate.
This lunch is usually accompanied by wine. Naturally, there are restaurants that serve lighter versions of popular menu items as lunch specials.
Lunch At Home:
There are still many people in France who eat their midday meal at home, which is typically simpler than the elaborate meals that are served in restaurants that consist of multiple courses.
This practice is more common in rural areas, particularly in jobs that require working outside, as taking a break from the heat of the sun during the middle of the day is extremely beneficial.
As transit times and operating hours lengthen, particularly in urban areas, an increasing number of French people buy sandwiches on the street or in subway stations for lunch.
Baguettes are used to make famous sandwiches, with the most common options being cheese or ham and cheese. Boiling eggs, tuna, and salami may be available as well.
Lunch Menu Items At A French Restaurant
French lunch menus typically include an appetizer (une entree), a main course (typically a choice of fish or meat with potatoes or rice), and a dessert. These are some of the most popular lunch items on any French restaurant’s menu:
Soupe a L’Oignon Gratinee
In France, where it is considered a complete meal, Soup à l’Oignon Gratinee is at its finest. The classic French onion soup is made to perfection with caramelized onions and a crusty lid of grilled gruyere (Swiss) cheese.
On the ice, half-shelled oysters are displayed for the viewing of passersby. The quality of the oysters produced in the seas along the extensive coastline is critical. The Speciale de Claire is better than the Fine de Claire, and the Speciale Pousse en Claire is the best of all.
The term “charcuterie” refers to a variety of homemade sausages, beef that has been air-cured, dry ham, and pate. You can also get cheese, a baguette, mustard made with stone, and small pickled onions.
With the addition of a bottle of red wine, you have a French picnic to enjoy on a park bench with a friend.
Salade Nicoise is a popular option on the menus of many different cafes.The dish, which is named after a well-known city on the French Riviera, comprises tuna, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, capers, green beans, and occasionally seafood.
What Do The French Eat For Dinner?
The type of dinner served in France varies depending on the day of the week, the season, and the quantity of lunch. While those who eat sandwiches for lunch may have a larger dinner, those who go home for a lavish meal often have a smaller dinner.
For Sunday supper with extended family and on special occasions, family meals lengthen, include more courses, and are furnished with fine linens, cutlery, serviettes, and plates. When dinner is ready, someone says “à table,” and everyone goes to find a seat.
The main course varies from north to south and from the Mediterranean to the Alpine because France is a large country with a variety of climates and landscapes.
If you don’t like steak or fish, you might start to like it if you try it in France. There are always tempting, expertly prepared sauces nearby.
Top Seven Foods That The French Eat
There are as many cuisines in France as there are regions; French people eat almost anything as long as it is healthy and properly prepared. Here are some of the most common foods consumed by the French on a daily basis.
Soupe à L’oignon
This is a traditional French soup made with beef stock and onions, and it is frequently topped with croutons and cheese. This dish from the Roman era was typically served by peasants. The current version, however, dates back to the 18th century.
The unique taste of the soup comes from the caramelization of the onions, which is often done by simmering them with brandy or sherry. If you’re in the mood for soup, try Marseille’s traditional soupe de poisson à la rouille.
This soup, which used to be a fisherman’s favorite, is distinguished by a topping of garlic and saffron mayonnaise.This onion soup might serve as an appetizer, but is typically considered as a main course in French dinners.
Coq Au Vin
Julia Child popularized this traditional French dish, making it one of her signature dishes. In this recipe, wine, mushrooms, bacon or salty pork (lardons), mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sometimes a little brandy are used to braise chicken.
The braising method, which is ideal for tougher birds but is also known as “rooster in wine,” is commonly used with chicken or capon.
Although regional versions of the meal use local wines throughout France, the wine is primarily from Burgundy.
Among these are coq au vin jaune (Jura), coq au Riesling (Alsace), and coq au pourpre (Beaujolais nouveau). There is even a coq au Champagne (Champagne)!
To prepare this meal, there are only four basic steps you need to take:
Put the flour in a zip-top bag. Add pepper for flavor. Toss the chicken into the bag, seal it, and shake vigorously to coat it.
Warm the oil in a large pan over low heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes before transferring it to a platter.
Cook the onion, bacon, and mushrooms in the pan for 5 minutes before adding the garlic. After cooking for one minute, add the wine, stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Stirring combines the ingredients, so make sure you stir thoroughly.
Return the chicken to the pan and reheat it. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs after 30 minutes of cooking. Put in the parsley and mix well. Serve with mashed potatoes for a complete meal.
Cassoulet is a delicious dish made with white beans and slow-cooked beef. The dish is typically made with pork or duck, but it can also be made with sausages, goose, mutton, or any other leftovers the cook has.
This regional cuisine is popular in Toulouse and Carcassonne and is based on traditional southern French dishes. The dish’s name is derived from the casserole dish in which it is often cooked (cassole). This dish is popular in France and is a staple in many French households. It is perfect for winter because it is warm and filling.
Beef bourguignon is one of the most traditional French dishes you can think of. The dish originates from Burgundy in eastern France, the same region as coq au vin, and the two recipes are similar.
The main ingredient in boeuf bourguignon is beef, which is stewed with seasoned vegetables like pearl onions and mushrooms in red wine and beef broth. This cuisine, which was once served only in rural areas, is now a worldwide standard in French restaurants.
Although there are several shortcuts available, traditionally, the cheap beef slices were tenderized in wine for two days to enhance the flavors.
The Fête du Charolais, which takes place in August in Burgundy, celebrates the dish with music and wine.
A soufflé is a light, airy dish, as the name suggests. The term “souffle” comes from the French verb “to blow.” The cuisine dates back to the early 1800s and is now a classic on dessert tables all over the world.
The creamy chocolate can seep out for a beautiful surprise thanks to the crispy chocolatey shell. It does not have to be sweet. Cheese soufflés are just as good if you want something with a little more salt.
Flamiche, which means “cake” in Dutch, is a delicacy from northern France near the Belgian border. It has a puff pastry crust and is stuffed with cheese and vegetables, similar to a quiche. Although leeks and cream are the most common fillings, there are other alternatives.
To make flamiche, cream, eggs, and flour are combined to make a thick pastry dough. The pastry is then rolled out and placed in a flan dish.
There is also a pizza-style variation of flamiche that omits the top crust. For a southern French twist, try the anchovy, onion, and olive-filled thin-crust pissaladière.
Confit De Canard
One of the best French foods is confit de canard, a delicious dish made from duck, though some chefs cook it with goose or pork as well. The meat is prepared using slow-cooking and old preservation techniques (confit).
The duck meat is marinated in salt, garlic, and herbs for 36 hours before being simmered in its own fat at a low temperature. This is a better alternative to grilling.
Popular side dishes include braised roasted potatoes and garlic. Although there are many variations of this dish available throughout France today, the best can be found in the Gascony region.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Is Lunch In Paris?
Lunch is typically served in Paris between noon and two o’clock, after which the kitchen closes.
What Do The French Eat For Snacks?
Yogurt, cereal bars, fromage blanc, and fruits are popular snacks in France.
What Is The Most Popular Candy In France?
Although Paris, France’s capital, is famous for its nougat candies, the Haribo candy remains the most popular candy in France.
The French have as many cuisines as they do regions; the varieties of food they consume are numerous and equally delicious. If you’ve tried the American burger, Italian pasta, and British breakfast, perhaps it’s time to try French cuisine. It’s worth a shot!
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The website is run by myself Daniel Clarke, I’m lucky enough to have been living in Hervey Bay, for 29 years so I’m classed as a local I have seen many changes over this time. I have been running websites since early 2000 and also have a tech business in Hervey Bay.
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What do French people eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? ›
The French typically eat pastries for breakfast, potatoes for lunch, and soups for dinner. France, like most developed countries, also has its share of meat eaters, vegetarians, and salty-and-sweet food enthusiasts.What do the French eat for breakfast? ›
A typical French breakfast consists of a croissant or bread with butter and jam and sometimes a sweet pastry. Fresh fruit juice and hot beverages, like coffee or tea, are also included.What do the French have for breakfast and at what time? ›
A typical French breakfast is light, sweet, and fairly simple. It's usually made up of breakfast cereals, a tartine (slice of bread with topping) and a drink (tea, coffee, orange juice). It's usually eaten between 6 AM and 8 AM.What do French eat for dinner? ›
French dinner courses can include: an apéritif (which is an alcoholic drink before the meal), hors d'oeuvres (which is typically soup, vegetables, or eggs), the principal plate (a meat, pasta, or crêpe), a salad (which is typically served separately from the principal plate), cheese (which is also served separately), ...What time do the French eat dinner? ›
The French typically eat dinner between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., but later evening meals aren't uncommon in major metropolitan areas like Paris. Thanks to its vibrant cafe culture, long lunch breaks are a popular concept in France, and the French tend to enjoy a substantial meal in the middle of the day.Do the French eat dinner? ›
French people eat dinner quite late. Most French people eat dinner at 8 pm or later. Some French families, especially if they do not have young children, may start dinner as late as 9 pm or 9:30 pm.What time do the French eat lunch? ›
Rules of etiquette
Lunch is usually between midday and 2 pm, when the kitchen will go off duty. Watch out, as during these times, service can be rather slow if you find yourself in a business area. Parisians don't dine until at least 8.30 pm as prior to that, time is set aside for “l'apéritif”.
Foods that are a staple of the French diet include full-fat cheese and yogurt, butter, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables (often grilled or sautéed), small portions of meat (more often fish or chicken than red meat), wine, and dark chocolate. Make meals a priority.Do the French eat big breakfast? ›
Considering France is well-known for its gastronomy, it may come as a surprise to you that French people typically eat a very simple meal for breakfast. Usually more sweet than savory, le petit déjeuner, as the French say, is not a very big or important meal in France.How long are lunch times in France? ›
A typical lunch break at work in France lasts at least 1 hour and is never taken at your desk. We value eating slowly and being seated at a table to do so. If you are having a "social lunch" with your team or a client, plan for a 2 hour break—or even more if it's an important meeting.
What is a bed and breakfast called in France? ›
A “chambre d'hôte” is a furnished room you will rent from a host, for one or several nights with breakfast and household linen included.What does the average French person eat for dinner? ›
For the French, dinner is the lighter meal of the day. During wintertime, homemade soup can be the starter or the main. And the French usually eat it with a generous piece of bread and some cheese. I usually make a big batch of soup on the weekend that makes it through the week.What is the most popular French dinner? ›
Le bœuf bourguignon
Also called beef Burgundy, this is one of the most classic French dishes, and usually ranks as France's favourite food. In case you've never heard of it, it's a beef stew braised in Burgundy red wine.
They eat it at every meal - breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea (le goûter), apéritifs, dinner - and it's no surprise because their bread really is THAT good. The most common being the typical baguette or le pain.What is the main meal in French? ›
Le plat or Le plat principal: The main course or dish.Do the French eat eggs for dinner? ›
(yuck, more or less) Eggs for breakfast?” The French eat eggs for lunch and dinner only. 1. Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl just until they are broken up.What time do they stop serving food in France? ›
Restaurant Opening Times in France
Most restaurants offer service between 12pm and 2.30pm, and 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Depending on the restaurant, these hours can also be quite specific (12.15pm to 1.45pm, for example!) and restaurants are often very strict about only serving within the designated hours.
Fixed meal times and no snacks
The French have always stuck to three meals a day and generally don't do food outside these set meals. Children usually have a small snack or goûter after school – a piece of fruit or a cake – but this is limited to a specific time, and adults generally don't snack.
France is a country known for its fine dining, fresh produce and the slim waistlines of the locals, but the reality is quite different. Half of French adults are overweight and one in six is obese and it's mostly to do with the fact the nation has been having a not-so-secret love affair with junk food for years.Do the French eat meat for breakfast? ›
A few facts about breakfast in France
Unlike many other countries, breakfast is considered the least important meal of the day. Our big meal is lunch or supper. While in many countries, breakfast contains savoury elements – cheese, cold meats, eggs or bacon, breakfast in France tends to be sweet and carb-heavy.
Do the French not eat breakfast? ›
Many French people in larger cities enjoy having their breakfast in “un café”. They may even indulge in “un café noir et un croissant” every day! Many adults skip breakfast in France, or just drink coffee…Do French go home for lunch? ›
The lunch break, or "la pause déjeuner," is now sacrosanct in France. Originally, there wasn't a culture of leaving your workplace to eat lunch but it was a public health crisis that paved the way for the lunch break and another crisis that nearly ended it, reported NPR.What do the French eat after dinner? ›
1. Always end on a high note. Upon finishing a meal, the French tend to end on a high note—that is, with a dessert, digestif, and/or simple coffee. For lighter lunches, a small cookie or piece of chocolate with an espresso will do the trick, though for dinner, we recommend indulging a bit heavier on the dessert.What is the first meal of the day in France? ›
Breakfast – le petit déjeuner
Usually bread, butter and jam, croissants or perhaps cereal. Bakeries and pattiseries will be full of cake products for breakfast such as pain au raisins or pains or chocolat – but it's not considered an important meal of the day to the French!
In France, it's generally not scrambled eggs or an omelet like we might eat in the U.S. Eggs are more commonly seen as a non-breakfast meal option for the French. A typical French breakfast tends to be light and on the simpler side. That's because the French eat a heartier meal for lunch — especially on weekends.What foods do the French eat the most? ›
- Bread. Read more about our Cooking Classes here. ...
- Pastries. Read more about our Cooking Classes here. ...
- Cheese. Read more about our Cooking Classes here. ...
- Soup and Potage. Read more about our Cooking Classes here. ...
- Magret de Canard. Read more about our Cooking Classes here. ...
- Desserts. ...
- Salads. ...
Bread in France: It's a Staple
Most French people eat bread every day. It's not just a cliché, bread in France is a staple and something most people care about. French people take bread very seriously. In some countries bakers add nutritional supplements to their bread, or they add gluten to make the bread rise better.
While many North American restaurants serve portions big enough for two or even three people, French restaurants serve smaller amounts. This is because the French tend to eat more slowly and leave the table feeling satisfied rather than stuffed. The French don't drink milk with their meals.What is the most popular breakfast food in France? ›
Instead, the most common breakfast items are brioche, a buttered baguette, or even Zwiebeck-like packaged toasts. And they're all just vehicles for jam. Besides bread and pastries with butter and jam, there's usually just a glass of orange juice and a coffee, drunk from a bowl.
Do French people drink at lunch? ›
Water and wine are the drinks of choice. Although everything in moderation! It may seem like they drink a lot of Burgundy, Chablis, or Beaujolais, but in all honesty, modesty is more the French lifestyle. Due to their adherence to dining hours, they do not snack in between.How many hours a day does France work? ›
The French working hours are usually 8 or 9 AM to 4 or 5 PM, with 1 hour of unpaid lunch break. This will, however, vary depending on the business and company agreements. The weekly working hours are 35 (7 hours a day, five days a week). Hours worked beyond this quota are compulsory paid as overtime.Is lunch free in France? ›
Almost universally, councils subsidise the cost of school meals. Indeed, in a small number of areas school lunches are provided without charge. Generally, expect to pay from €4 to €8 per meal (2022 prices).What is the French afternoon snack called? ›
Eating between meals is discouraged in France, yet there is one snack which is never passed up, a beloved tradition known as 'le goûter' (also called 'le quatre-heures' or 'la pause gourmande') and an integral part of French culture.What is the morning meal called in French? ›
Breakfast is the first meal of the day. It is usually eaten in the early part of the morning.What is a queen bed in France? ›
In France, single size beds are usually 90 cm × 190 cm (35 in × 75 in). The most common sizes for double beds are: Valet size 140 cm × 190 cm (55 in × 75 in) Queen size 160 cm × 200 cm (63 in × 79 in)What are the 4 meals of a French person? ›
- Breakfast – le petit déjeuner.
- Lunch – le déjeuner.
- Dinner – diner.
- Eating “en famille” Family meals.
In France, lunch is typically the main meal of the day, and French people spend more time enjoying lunch than most people in other countries.Do the French eat a light dinner? ›
For the French, dinner is the lighter meal of the day. During wintertime, homemade soup can be the starter or the main. And the French usually eat it with a generous piece of bread and some cheese.What are the most common breakfast foods in France? ›
A French breakfast is sweet. It is composed of slices of buttered bread and jam spread on it, sometimes croissants or other pastries and cereals. Usually, the drinks are coffee, orange juice or milk. Let's take a closer look at the principal ingredients of a Made in France breakfast.
How many meals do the French eat a day? ›
The French have always stuck to three meals a day and generally don't do food outside these set meals. Children usually have a small snack or goûter after school – a piece of fruit or a cake – but this is limited to a specific time, and adults generally don't snack.What do the French eat a lot of? ›
Fruit pastries, fruit jams, and fresh fruit are all big parts of the French diet. For breakfast, it is a common occurrence to have fruit jam with bread or fresh fruits. The fruits that the French consume do depend on what's in season, but fruits like apples, peaches, and bananas are year-round staples.Do French people eat a lot of snacks? ›
French people usually eat a smaller meal for dinner, such as a soup or salad with bread and a dessert (often a yoghurt or a slice of cheese). Considering French people famously don't snack, they must survive a long break between lunch and dinner. The solution is that lunch is the biggest meal of the day.What time do French go to bed? ›
At what time do you go to bed during the week?*
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- 1) Bénédictine:
- 2) Grand Marnier:
- 3) Cointreau:
- 4) Chambord:
- 5) Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur:
- 6) Armagnac:
- 7) Liqueur de thym or farigoule:
- 8) Crème de menthe:
Just like turkey is to Thanksgiving, a French Christmas main dish is almost always a large roasted “dinde” (turkey). A French Christmas turkey is traditionally made with a chestnut stuffing, and served with roasted potatoes, chestnuts and sometimes cooked apples around it.