fish + saffron marseille and french riviera : don't be fooled. a real bouillabaisse is a really expensive dish due to the amount of fresh fish it requires. be prepared to pay at least €30/persons. if you find restaurants claiming serving bouillabaisse for something like €15/persons, you'll get a very poor quality.
Every French region has dishes all its own. These dishes follow the resources game, fish, agriculture, etc of the region, the vegetables cabbage, turnip, endives, etc which they grow there. Here is a small list of regional dishes which you can find easily in France. Generally each region has a unique and widespread dish usually because it was poor people's food:
landes : the liver of a duck or goose. although usually quite expensive, foie gras can be found in supermarkets for a lower price because of their purchasing power around the holiday season. it is the time of year when most of foie gras is consumed in france. it goes very well with champagne.
Most of the taste of Bourgogne snails escargots de bourgogne comes from the generous amount of butter, garlic and parsley in which they are cooked. They have a very particular spongy-leathery texture that is the characteristic that is liked by people who like snails. Catalan style snails "cargols" are made a completely different way, and taste much weirder.
Also known as rillettes du mans. a sort of potted meat, made from finely shredded and spiced pork. a delicious speciality of the sarthe area in the north of the pays de la loire and not to be confused with rillettes from other areas, which are more like a rough pate.
Canard à la presse
pressed duck the duck is asphyxiated to retain the blood, the meat is then roasted and the carcass is put through a press to extract the blood and juices. the extract is thickened and flavoured with butter, cognac and duck liver, and the sauce is then served on pan-fried duck breast.
Baguette de tradition française
Made from wheat flour, water, yeast and salt not frozen dough, and may also contain broad bean flour max 2%, soya flour max 0.5% and/or wheat malt flour max 0.3%; by law, it must be prepared and baked in the same place where it is sold usually sold for €1 to €1.20 - arguably the best type of baguette
With its international reputation for fine dining, few people would be surprised to hear that French cuisine can certainly be very good. Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants serve very ordinary fare, and some in touristy areas are rip-offs. Finding the right restaurant is therefore very important - try asking locals, hotel staff or even browsing restaurant guides for recommendations as simply walking in off the street can be a hit and miss affair.
There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to French "brasseries" or "bistros" that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities. These usually offer a relatively consistent and virtually standardised menu of relatively inexpensive cuisine. To obtain a greater variety of dishes, a larger outlay of money is often necessary. In general, one should try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal. Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants which are sometimes listed in the most reliable guides. There are also specific local restaurants, like "bouchons lyonnais" in Lyon, "crêperies" in Brittany or in the Montparnasse area of Paris, etc.
Chinese, Vietnamese, even Thai eateries are readily available in Paris, either as regular restaurants or "traiteurs" fast-food. They are not so common, and are more expensive, in smaller French cities. Many places have "Italian" restaurants though these are often little more than unimaginative pizza and pasta parlors. You will also find North African Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian as well as Greek and Lebanese food. The ubiquitous hamburger eateries US original or their French copies are also available; note that McDonalds is more upmarket in France than in the US.
In France, taxes 10 per cent of the total in restaurants and service usually 15 per cent are always included in the bill the menu/bill will state 'prix service compris', so anything patrons add to the bill amount is an "extra-tip" 'pourboire'. French people usually leave one or two coins if they are happy with the service.
Fixed price menus seldom include beverages if drinks are included, the menu will state 'boisson comprise'. If you want water, waiters will often try to sell you still mineral water Évian, Thonon or sparkling water Badoit, Perrier, at a premium; ask for a carafe d'eau bottle of tap water, which is safe to drink and, by law, must be provided free of charge when you order food at a restaurant. Water never comes with ice in it unless so requested and water with ice may not be available.
As in other countries, restaurants tend to make a large profit off beverages. Expect wine to cost much more than it would in a supermarket. Some restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle of wine to drink with a corkage/BYOB fee droit de bouchon.
You can order either from a fixed price menu prix fixe or à la carte. Many restaurants/eateries also offer a cheaper lunchtime fixed price menu menu du midi or menu du jour.
A typical fixed price menu will comprise:
appetizer, called entrées or hors d'œuvres
main dish, called plat
dessert dessert or cheese fromage
Sometimes, restaurants offer the option to take only two of the three courses, at a reduced price.
When you order food at a restaurant, by law the price includes bread 'du pain'. Feel free to ask for more bread if you want.
If you order a steak/piece of meat such as liver, you may be asked how you want it cooked 'Quelle cuisson?':
very rare/blue rare bleu
medium à point
well done bien cuit
very well done très bien cuit
Coffee is always served as a final step though it may be followed by liquors. A request for coffee during the meal will be considered strange.
Not all restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, nor are they open all year around. It is therefore advisable to check carefully the opening times and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept patrons until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and patrons are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in the larger cities and in the downtown area. Finding a restaurant open on Saturday and especially Sunday can be a challenge unless you stay close to the tourist areas.
In a reasonable number of restaurants, especially outside tourist areas, booking a table is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to research potential eateries in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid disappointment, especially if the restaurant you're considering is specially advised in guide books.
It is illegal for a restaurant to turn you away unless there is an objectively justifiable and legitimate reason for example, the restaurant is about to close, or you are clearly inebriated. The restaurant must not turn you away simply because you have children with you, or because you are alone/in a small group and the only table left can sit more people. The restaurant is permitted to turn you away if you have a pet animal with you unless it is a guide dog. If the restaurant turns you away without a legitimate reason, the restaurateur will be liable for a minimum fine of €1500. If the restaurant turns you away based on your race, family situation e.g. you have brought your children with you, disability, religion and/or beliefs/opinions, the restaurateur will be liable for a fine of €30000 and a 2 year prison sentence. If you are the victim of illegal treatment by a restaurant, you should report the incident to the responsible consumer protection authority see below.
If you are a patron at a restaurant, by law the restaurant cannot charge you to use the toilet.
A lunch or dinner for two on the "menu" including wine and coffee will cost you as of 2004 €70 to €100 in a listed restaurant in Paris. The same with beer in a local "bistro" or a "crêperie" around €50. A lunch or dinner for one person in a decent Chinese restaurant in Paris can cost as little as €8 if one looks carefully.
Outside of Paris and the main cities, prices are not always lower but the menu will include a fourth course, usually cheese. As everywhere beware of the tourist traps which are numerous around the heavy travelled spots and may offer a nice view but not much to remember in your plate.
If you are dissatisfied with the food and/or service you receive at a restaurant, you should speak to the waiter/manager. By law, the restaurant is obliged to provide a new plate of food if the one which has been served to you is not fresh, sufficiently hot, or inconsistent with the menu description. However, if the plate served is merely not to your taste, the restaurant is not legally obliged to provide a new plate of food, and you are still obliged to pay for what you have ordered even if you do not consume it. If you are still dissatisfied with the food/service, you can complain to the responsible consumer protection authority. In Paris, the relevant authority is the Direction départementale de la protection des populations DDPP 8 rue Froissart, 75153 PARIS Cedex 03, ☎ 01 40 27 16 00 (firstname.lastname@example.org. ). Outside Paris, you can find a list of consumer protection authorities by département at (http://www.economie.gouv....). If, following your meal at a restaurant, you become unwell and suspect that it was because of the poor hygiene conditions at the restaurant, you should alert the relevant health protection authorities as soon as possible: in Paris, the consumer protection authority DDPP also acts as the regulator of hygiene conditions at restaurants, but outside Paris, it is the Direction régionale de l'Alimentation, de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt DRAAF which is responsible for monitoring hygiene conditions at restaurants contact details by region can be found at (http://agriculture.gouv.fr/services-deconcentres).
Vegetarianism is more common than it used to be, especially in larger cities. Still, very few restaurants offer vegetarian menus, thus if you ask for something vegetarian the only things they may have available are salad and vegetable side dishes.
There may still be confusions between vegetarianism and pesce/pollotarianism. Vegetarian/organic food restaurants are starting to appear. However, "traditional" French restaurants may not have anything vegetarian on the menu, so you may have to pick something "à la carte", which is usually more expensive.Veganism is still very uncommon and it may be difficult to find vegan eateries.
Breakfast in France isn't the most important meal of the day and is usually very light. The most typical breakfast consists of a coffee and a croissant or some other "viennoiserie", but since it implies going to the baker's store early in the morning to buy fresh croissant, it's typically reserved for somewhat special occasions. On normal days most people have a beverage coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice and either toasts "tartines" made of baguette or toast bread with butter and jam/honey/Nutella that can be dipped in the hot beverage, or cereals with milk. People who eat healthy may go for fruits and yoghurt. As a general rule, the french breakfast is mostly sweet, but everything changes and you can have salty breakfasts everywhere today.
Pastries are a large part of French cooking. Hotel breakfasts tend to be light, consisting of tartines pieces of bread with butter or jam or the famous croissants and pains au chocolat, not dissimilar to a chocolate filled croissant but square rather than crescent shaped.
Pastries can be found in a pâtisserie but also in most boulangeries.