Ready to plan a trip to France? Ready to eat all that fabulous food? Worried about how you’ll actually dine in French Restaurants? Well, worry no longer! I’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to know right here.
From the finest Michelin Starred restaurant to a crepe street vendor you’ll be ready to order up your french food faves.
Let’s break this down into four groups; Fine Dining, Casual Lunches/diners, quick bites, and street food.
Before you can place your first order in the top French restaurants there are a few things to keep in mind. Rule number ONE when it comes to fine dining in France is MAKE A RESERVATION. Some seats are very hard to get and you’ll need to plan months in advance to snag a table. These restaurants are all about creating the perfect atmosphere to showcase their award-winning cuisine. That generally means a suit for men and “Sunday best” for women. Once these two prerequisites are filled you will be able to order to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content.
Ordering tips and tricks:
Some old-school Michelin restaurants actually have 2 menus. One with prices, given to the gentleman at the table and one without, for the ladies.
The top restaurants will over a few different menu options. The “decouverte menu” is the Discovery Menu. Basically, this means that you will get a selection of courses specifically created for the evening by the chef. If you are lucky they will have a printed copy for you at the end of your meal. Most common are the seasonal or themed menus that the chef creates. They can be several 10-12 courses or just 5-7. Each menu will include a few starters, a few proteins (seafood, poultry, and beef dish) then desserts and cheese. There may be a few items offered a la carte (available to order as a single dish) but I have found this is not the best value or the best way to taste all the chefs have to offer.
Known as bistros, cafes, and brasseries, these French restaurants offer everyday meals and usually have specials of the day. The classic chalkboard with a listing of the day’s “prix fixe menu” is a French staple. This is a set menu that will include a starter (entree), main course (plat), and dessert for a fixed price. These are generally of great value and typically French. There will also be a full menu of items “a la carte”. Often, regional specialties will also be featured based on the owner’s or chef’s heritage in France.
Sometimes you are looking for a quick meal rather than a three-course 2- hour repas (meal). In these restaurants, it is quite acceptable to order a single dish and be on your way. Creperies are great for this purpose. You can stop in for a single savory or dessert crepe depending on your mood then be off to your next adventure.
Tea salons and wine bars, while technically not French restaurants, are also great for a quick bite. Small plates and drinks can make a perfect mini-meal if you are saving yourself for the next 12-course food marathon. (or if you are still recovering from the last one!) Tea salons will be quite civilized and have a standard menu of light bites and sweets. Wine bars will offer tantalizing and creative small plates and many wines by the glass.
Often overlooked, the food markets offer to-go dishes for shoppers and locals on their lunch breaks. Always fresh and made with local ingredients these dishes are some of the best ways to try authentic French cuisine. In winter there will be melted cheese over potatoes and bacon. Summer brings sauteed garden veggies with herbes de Provence. Just watch what the locals are ordering in the line and follow their lead…you won’t be disappointed.
A single crepe wrapped in paper is always a great snack in between museums and sightseeing. Crepe stands are all over Paris, they only cost about 2 euros and are super easy to order.
So, are you ready to conquer the french restaurant scene? Let’s start planning that culinary getaway today. Schedule a call with me here (it’s only a 15-minute vacation brainstorming session).
Not ready to chat with me yet? No problem, check out these other posts on eating in France 👉 3 Must-Try French Pastries, Sweet Tooth for Paris – Part 2, What to eat in Paris when you’re tired of French food.
At Gourmet Adventures Travel Co., I craft culinary getaways for travelers who love to eat well and yearn to truly savor the authentic side of their destination. From a river cruise through Provencal wine country to a journey through the heady spice markets and medinas of Morocco, you'll taste your way through the world's most enchanting landscapes.