French cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, both because people enjoy it and because French chefs redefined cooking that remains the same today. Though it was Italian cuisine that influenced the French, the chefs in France mastered cooking by creating new dishes and techniques that have been practiced throughout culinary schools around the world. French cuisine is outstanding throughout France, but the best city to enjoy the exquisite entrees and desserts is in the heart of the country, Paris.
We tried our best to enjoy all of the popular French dishes while we were in Paris for four days. We ate in fine dining, Michelin Star restaurants, local brassieres, pastry shops, bakeries, and more. Here is our list of our favorite 20 things to eat while in Paris. (Note we lost some of our own pictures so I had to replace them with ones I found online).
This is a no brainer right? The famous French pastry that is golden brown delicious, flaky, light with buttery layers! You bet we did not miss an opportunity to eat an authentic French croissant in the heart of France. Even though there are some great croissants in the U.S. the ones in France just doesn’t compare. We had some delicious croissants at a bakery as well as a luxurious one at Le Jules Verne, it was seriously the best looking and most tasteful croissant we had ever seen and tried.
We love almond croissants! It has everything from the original, but the addition of some sweetness and nuttiness of almonds. Toasted almonds can also be found on some of the croissants for added texture and flavor.
Some may turn away from luxurious foie gras, but we do not. What is foie gras? It is the liver of a goose or duck that has been specially fattened. The result is a delicate, rich and buttery delicacy that is very popular and served throughout France. It can be prepared in many ways, both hot and cold preparations – seared, mousse, terrine and more. They all produce different textures, but same delicious taste. We enjoyed ours in a cold preparation with a red currant gelee at Le Jules Verne and it was amazing!
Who would have thought that snails were amazing to eat? Yes, you heard me correct, snails. The most common prepared escargot dish is cooked with garlic butter (mmmm butter). Escargot has a surprisingly nice, soft texture and are delicious smothered in the sauce or stock they are cooked in. The only bummer about this appetizer dish is that it does not fill you up, but luckily bread is always served with your entree and you can dip your bread in the remaining sauce and that will surely fill you up. We had escargot as an appetizer at Mustache, a brasserie down the road from our hotel. They were the best escargot I have ever had and Adam was surprised at how much he enjoyed them too.
Croque Monsieur and/or Madame
Both great sandwiches, but whats the difference? Well, a croque-monsier is a baked or fried sandwich with boiled ham and cheese. A croque-madame is the same sandwich, but with a fried egg on top. They both make the ultimate sandwich! We had our croque madame watching the Euro Cup final at a brasserie that became our favorite spot in Paris. The only bad thing about this croque madame was that France lost in the final.
An eclair is a decadent pastry made with pate a choux that is filled with pastry cream and iced on top. The flavors are endless: vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, coffee, you name it. Today, there are pastry chefs who create “luxury” eclairs and are a big hit. What makes them “luxury” is the icing on the eclairs to make them look more elegant such as, pearls, gold leaf, or other fancy decorations.
Palmier “Elephant or Pig Ear”
Another popular French pastry that is crunchy, sweet and delicious! Though its original name is palmier, it is often referred to as an elephant ear or pigs ear because of its shape. Elephant ear or pig’s ear, it doesn’t matter to us we will eat them whatever their name or shape is because they are darn good. They can be found at almost any bakery or pastry shop. Make sure you buy more than one because you won’t want to share!
Cannele is an interesting, yet delightful pastry. Canneles are traditionally baked in a cylindrical fluted mold and come out with a nice, crisp, caramelized crust and a soft, custard-like interior. With that being said, the result has a great contrasting texture with a sweetness that hits the spot. This wouldn’t be on our list if it didn’t taste amazing or if it was not a popular pastry item so, check out a pastry shop and grab this unique pastry and thank us later!
Who doesn’t love a macaron? A lot of people will mistake the pronunciation of this famed cookie, so let’s clear things up. It is pronounced (mah-kah-ROHN), not (mah-kah-ROON). And who makes the best macarons in the world? Pierre Herme and that is exactly where we went. Even with all the hype, these macarons blew all expectations! It is no joke why Pierre Herme is the macaron God. So please, if you are going to have a macaron in Paris go to a Pierre Herme shop, there are plenty of them for you to find.
Any chocolate lover should get some chocolate truffles in Paris, France. A chocolate truffle is chocolate ganache covered in chocolate or cocoa powder which was originated in Chambery, France. They were named after the truffle fungi because they resembled the look of a truffle and held the same luxury and elegance as truffles. Today truffles are still considered luxurious, but are more affordable. The chocolate ganache flavors are endless – pistachio, coconut, caramel, raspberry, and more. The ganache can be covered with milk, dark or white chocolate too. We got our chocolate truffle fix at Pierre Herme and they did not disappoint. You will be able to find chocolate truffles in a lot of pastry shops or chocolatier shops in Paris. Make sure you buy a box full and not just one!
Fromage & Charcuterie Board
Fromage and charcuterie board – cheese and meat board. This is a pretty essential starter in Europe, especially France as they produce some of the finest meats and cheeses in the world. Personally, we love to snack on meat and cheeses at home so, enjoying a French fromage and charcuterie board was big on our list of things to eat. It is the perfect starter to any meal and goes well with a glass of wine. Expect a variety of amazing cheeses and different kinds of meats you will not find elsewhere. For example, living in America we are not familiar with a terrine on our meat and cheese board, but it was certainly served on our board in Paris. Fromage and charcuterie boards can be found at almost any restaurant or brasserie!
A luscious, custard-like baked dessert that is typically served with cherries inside. The batter is sweet, (close to a pancake batter) and is poured over the desired choice of fruit. The result is a light, puffy and custardy dessert that is naturally sweet from the fruit. We enjoyed an apple clafoutis at a brasserie and it was delicious!
A puff pastry danish twisted with pastry cream and chocolate chips. Simple, beautiful and delicious! Since this danish is simple, the quality of ingredients used are important – this is a common factor in French bakeries. Chocolate twists, are flaky and rich with the abundance of chocolate chips. This is always one of our favorite danishes to get.
Pain au Raisin
A very popular breakfast item in France, is croissant dough with pastry cream and raisins shaped into a spiral and baked to perfection. Apricot glaze is common to brush on top for a shiny and sweet finish. This breakfast pastry can be found in pastry shops and bakeries throughout the city. Though Adam prefers cinnamon rolls, pain au raisin danishes are the next best thing.
Millefeuille means a “thousand leaves” in French and though it means a thousand there are only five layers in this pastry. Three layers of puff pastry alternated with two layers of pastry cream. Throughout the years the traditional millefeuille has been recreated with different flavors – we had fresh raspberries in ours. Regardless of what flavors are used this pastry is sweet, buttery and extremely flaky.
A classic French dessert named after the French patron saint of pastry chefs, Saint Honore. The dessert consists of a round puff pastry as its base with an outer ring of caramelized cream puffs. Between the cream puffs is some sweet chiboust cream and then topped with whipped cream using the special St. Honore piping tip. Its messy, but decadent! This dessert was created in Paris and therefore can be found in pastry shops around the city.
A very thin pancake made from wheat flour, whereas a galette is made from buckwheat flour. Crepes can be used as a savory or sweet dish, both are amazing. Crepes being filled with juicy chicken, mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheese or nutella, banana and whipped cream – which would you choose?
Madeleines are sponge cakes baked in a shell mold. They are a delicate French pastry beloved by everyone around the world. Some people mistake the shell texture to be on top, but it is the “pearl” that should be faced up. We received madeines as take away gifts from our lunch at Le Jules Verne and I have to say they were the best I have ever had.
Bread and Butter
Fresh baked bread has never been so good, seriously Adam could have ate French bread for every meal. In fact sometimes he would ask for more bread just to get full. French bread/baguette bread has a crunchy crust with a soft interior. Having bread with butter or sandwiches is how we got by in Paris with a budget. The butter in Paris is always soft, rich and luscious. During our time in Paris we had complimentary bread and butter for every lunch and dinner meal – its like chips in salsa for Texans.
Quiche, one of our favorite breakfast items. The base is a pastry crust with a savory, custard filling made of eggs, milk or cream and a variety of ingredients for flavor such as, cheese, seafood, meat, chicken, and vegetables. It is a decadent entree that can be served hot or cold, but we prefer it hot. Yummy.
I hope you enjoyed my list! What are you looking forward to trying? What have you enjoyed from my list and would you get it again?