Paris

Profiteroles au chocolat Profiteroles au chocolat are a classic French dessert filled with pastry cream or ice cream, and topped with melted chocolate.

 

French cheeses

Brie (soft easy, cow)

Camembert (soft running ripe, cow)

Cabecou (soft small tasty, goat)

Comté (hard tasty, cow)

Epoisse (soft smelly liquid, cow)

Munster (hard stinky, cow)

Rocamadour (soft tasty, goat)

Reblochon (soft smelly, cow)

Rocquefort (soft blue, sheep)

 

Wines from Bordeaux

Rive Gauche (Left Bank)

Haut Médoc; Margaux; Médoc; Pauillac; Saint-Estèphe; Saint-Julien

Rive Droite (Right Bank)

Pomerol; Saint-Emilion

Graves (South of Bordeaux)

Graves; Pessac-Léognan; Sauternes

Official website of Bordeaux wine producers

 

French cuisine and traditional French foods and dishes


Odd classic French dishes: snails, frog legs, goose liver pâté

We, the French, may have more culinary common points with the Chinese, than we think: we eat pretty much anything, in particular things that foreigners may consider off-putting.

Escargots de Bourgogne (Burgundy snails) are pretty common in supermarkets and restaurants. What do they taste like? Chewy, like rubber. Escargots are drowned in a rich butter, parsley and garlic sauce. If you've had garlic bread before, you get the idea.

Cervelle de mouton (mutton brains)? They start feeding it to you in primary school and most of us never develop the taste.

Tripes, langue de bœuf (beef tongue), pied de porc (pig's trotter) have fairly sizeable following, not just in the countryside, but also among Parisians.

When was the last time we had cuisses de grenouille (frog's legs)? Not that common, and not a particularly sought after dish, despite the myth.

There are about half a dozen boucherie chevaline still standing in Paris. Again, cheval (horsemeat) has not been a favourite for a couple of generations.

What about foie gras (goose liver)? Now, we'd have foie gras everyday if it weren't for the price and the cholesterol. It cannot be summarily dismissed as "just" liver pâté. If you've never had it before, here's your chance to eat what the locals eat. Foie gras comes in can, but can also be purchased from delicacy shops. Higher end restaurants and cuisine du Sud Ouest (southwest), where foie gras originates, will likely offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy a typical French delicacy.

Aside from these odd French dishes, you're safer sticking to classic French cuisine and the plats du terroir (regional dishes) that we list on our pages.

 

French cheeses (fromages)

One can spend a year in France without eating the same cheese twice. There are by and large the same number of cheeses as days in a year. Your French cheese odyssey should not begin with the maroilles, whose pungent smell can knock you off your socks if not wearing a gas mask, and don't wait for your Corsican brocciu to be infested with white worms.

Start with cheeses that are soft and easy, or hard and easy, with a simple Bordeaux red wine and some bread. Check whether it is made with lait cru (raw milk) or lait pasteurisé (pasteurised milk).

You need wine with your cheese, and cheese with your bread. There starts the cycle: there is never enough wine, cheese or bread...

We list in the right column of travel tips to Paris and French foods about a dozen mainstream cheeses that you can find in most good Parisian refrigerators. If somebody has the nerve to inquire "fromage ou dessert?" (cheese or dessert?), reply swiftly and with much aplomb "les deux!" (both!).

 

French wines (vins)

In volumes, France has been consistently ranked as one of the top producing countries in the world.

Your average French drinks more than a bottle a week. Come to think of it, it's not that much, about a glass a day. Enough to keep fit.

France exports a lot of wine, and no doubt in your corner of the world you've had a few gulps. But when we travel abroad, the prices people pay for the plunk we drink every day is... sadly laughable.

For a totally drinkable smaller Chateaux, estate bottled, great vintage year... 5 euros is what Parisians are used to paying at the corner mini-mart. If you buy by the box from a supermarket, or take the train out to Bourgogne (Burgundy) to see the producers, the prices are unbeatable...

You should make your stay in Paris, a wine tasting holiday.

Start with wines from Bordeaux, the largest wine producing region of France, located in the southwest (Sud Ouest), of course also a great home for hearty food. Go into any supermarket and look for the following on the bottle: mis en bouteille à la propriété (estate bottled), and a vintage of at least 3 years old. If you have extra cash and want to brag a little, get a grand cru classé (great classified growths). The classification has changed little since 1855. Not only is it official, it's also legal... mess with it and you mess with the law. Only 61 wines from Bordeaux have made it to the list. You find good wines from Bordeaux everywhere in Paris.

For wines from Bourgogne (Burgundy), you have to look harder and pay a little more. But they're well worth it. Beaujolais is famous abroad, thanks to good marketing, but it's really an everyday wine for us. Unlike Bordeaux, wines from Burgundy focus on terroir (area of origin and geographical location). Start with Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC controlled appellation of origin), and drink all the way to the premier crus (first vintages) and the legendary grand crus (great vintages). There are only 34 grand crus in Burgundy.



The cost of a meal in Paris

These days, you have to look hard for good food at good value in Paris. Unless you come from Nordic Europe where a root and herring salad will cost you the price of a house, you will find it expensive to eat out in Paris.

If you cannot find a decent restaurant in your adventures, just head for the closest boulangerie, or bakery. It will have plenty of tasty sandwiches, take away dishes and cakes to eat. Alternatively look for grocery stores since they are bound to be loaded with delicious foods as well, and they usually have a deli section. You can easily survive in Paris on croissants, chocolate éclairs, wine and cheese alone.

The Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) offers plenty of deals since impoverished students inhabit the area. The Champs Elysées are a tourist trap and usually avoided by Parisians. We have put up a list of French culinary specialties that you ought to taste. Enjoy hearty French classic dishes.

Expensive (cher): Above 20 euros for a main dish

Average (moyen): Around 15 euros for a main dish

Not expensive (pas cher): Less than 10 euros for a main dish

 

Hors d'oeuvre

Escargots de Bourgogne - Burgundy snails

Foie gras - Goose liver

Huitres - Oysters (raw)

Quiche lorraine - Lorraine Quiche

Moules marinières - Steamed mussels in white wine sauce

Soupe à l'onion - Onion soup

Soupe de poisson avec la rouille - Fish soup with rust sauce

 

Traditional French main dishes (plat principal)

Boudin - Blood sausage

Bœuf bourguigon - Burgundy beef stew

Carré de porc - Roast pork loin

Cassoulet - Beans and sausage stew

Coq au vin - Rooster braised in red wine

Daube de bœuf - Beef and wine stew

Gigot d'agneau - Roast leg of lamb

Pot au feu - Beef stew

 

Dessert (Dessert)

Crème brulée - Caramelised custard

Charlotte - Sponge cake

Profiterolles au chocolat - Puff pastries served with melted chocolate and ice-cream

Tarte tatin - Caramelised fruit tart

 

 

French Nouvelle Cuisine

"New Cuisine" is really not that nouvelle, as the term was coined in the early 1970s by famed French food critiques Mssrs Gault and Millau. Spearheaded by a generation of young chefs bored with classic heavy cholesterol laden French dishes, nouvelle cuisine made used of exotic spices, new kitchen equipment (microwave and Tefal pans...), and served smaller but exquisitely tasty portions. Paul Baucuse, the Troisgros brothers, Alain Sanderens have since retired but new generations of nouvelle cuisine chefs and groupies have taken the concept further.

 

Paris Travel Tips from our Blog

What Parisians supposedly think of tourists

Paris: la Petite Alsace, a slice of Alsace in Paris

Paris Great Mosque

Paris vineyards and wines made in Paris

Paris top spots for kids

Paris top romantic spots

Navigating Paris public transport, in style

Enter the Chinese New Year of the Dragon in Paris

Day out with the kids at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris

The stairs of the Paris Opera with a baby carrier

Feeding a baby in the Guimet Museum in Paris

Cherry blossoms at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris

 

About Gnarfgnarf

Follow me, Gnarfgnarf the Travel Mouse, and my friends in cities around the world. See for yourself whether you like what the locals suggest: itineraries for cultural discoveries, fine cuisines or street foods, guesthouses or five-star hotels, shopping for souvenirs or handicraft, and other fun activities for insightful travel. Written by local city slickers and the natives!

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