5 French Foods You've Got to Try

Delphine Zebouloun
January 16, 2024

France is known for its amazing food. If you don’t already know this, I’m saddened by all the years of missing out you have to catch up on. 

But, fear not - I'm here to help you get started with the basics. These French staples go beyond your tourist go-tos like crepes and macaroons, but they are still easily accessible and make great everyday meal options while you’re traveling in France.

1. Salade Chevre Chaud (Baked Goat Cheese Salad)


This salad might be my favorite, and the good news is you can find it anywhere! It is simple, usually inexpensive, and mouth-watering delicious. 

A simple bed of greens tossed with walnuts, tomatoes, and a thick balsamic vinaigrette topped with warm and creamy goat cheese on top of toasted baguette. 

I’m drooling just writing about it. Sometimes, the chef drizzles honey on the cheese for a sweet and savory flavor too. Oui please!

2. Steak Tartare


I know what you’re thinking. This sparks some food safety concerns. You’re not wrong. 

In fact, I wouldn’t eat this dish anywhere in the world, but the French take food preparation very seriously. And for that, Steak Tartare has become a very popular Bistro dish. 

The fresh raw minced meat is usually served on its own with a raw egg on top and a side of fries. Then, you mix in your array of sides like onions, capers, finely chopped cornichons (tiny adorable pickles), salt, pepper, olive oil, and last but not least a shot of Cognac. 

So...are you brave enough?

3. Picnic


You haven’t fully immersed yourself in the French dining culture until you’ve sat in a park for hours on a sunny day and gone through an entire baguette, cheese plate, charcuterie board, and bottle of wine with your friends (or by yourself. I don’t judge). 

The French live to eat and take meal breaks as seriously as they do their work. While most Americans shove down their tupperware lunch without even leaving their desk, the French take a different approach to lunchtime. 

Many shops and stores will close down for a 2-hour lunch break. Plenty of time to eat, enjoy a glass of wine, and maybe even a power nap or power walk before returning to work.

4. A “Pure” Butter Croissant


I am about to drop some crazy croissant knowledge on you. 

Have you ever noticed that croissants have different shapes? No? Oh you have more important things to do than analyzing baked goods? 

Well, in France, there is an unwritten rule about these croissant shapes, and let me tell you, it is no joke. 

If a croissant is straight, it is made with pure butter. If a croissant is curved, it is made with margarine or sometimes a low-fat butter replacement. This rule doesn’t apply in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. Who knows what kind of croissant you’re getting in New York or Germany. 

Which is why you NEED to walk into a boulangerie and get yourself a pure butter croissant. It might change your life and make you wonder how something so simple can taste so fucking good.

If you feel like you’ve had your fair share of good croissants, try another quintessential puff pastry like the Chausson aux Pommes or the Pain aux Raisins, the French take on the apple turnover and raisin bread. No cinnamon needed.

5. Escargot


Escargot or snails are a Burgundy region staple. Commonly eaten as an appetizer, escargot is nothing to fear. 

To be honest, escargot is probably one of the least weird foods the French eat (see Steak Tartare above). Once you get past the texture, something similar to mussels or clams, the taste is absolutely delicious. 

The escargot meat is doused in a butter, garlic, and parsley mixture that will make your mouth beg for more. So go ahead, step out of your shell (get it?) and give escargot a try. You will not regret it.

French food is incredibly diverse, and the choices are endless. In fact, these five foods barely scratch the surface of French cuisine - but they will help you gain a better understanding of what the hype is all about. 

It’s amazing how fresh, unprocessed, and in-season ingredients can turn what we find bizarre and scary into something flavorful and appetizing. 

So on that note, BON APPETIT!

Want to join us on our ultimate French cuisine experience? Learn more here!

Delphine Zebouloun
Delphine is trip leader and travel writer for Under30Experiences. A France native turned California girl, Delphine enjoys frolicking in nature, surfing, and chocolate croissants. Five years ago, she traveled to Costa Rica and fell in love with the country. She has lived there ever since, continually learning, exploring, and giving back to her new home.


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