Paris à la Carte: How to Eat Like the French

by Maddy Piggott

As you might already know, Paris is somewhat of a culinary mecca, where food, wine and the act of enjoying it take center stage, both within the city and in life. 

Gastronomical affair reigns supreme as a top attraction for foodies visiting the city. However, the dining experiences Paris has to offer are diverse, and for those looking to experience Paris’ food scene like a local, many unparalleled and equally quintessential experiences can be found not far from the beaten path.

Boulangerie Breakfasts

In France, starting the day with a boulangerie breakfast is a cherished tradition. In the early hours of the morning you’ll spot locals flocking to their favorite bakeries to enjoy a quick café and freshly baked croissant before heading to work. Or on the weekend, you’ll see people laden with paper bags stuffed to the brim for a luxurious breakfast in bed. 

Next time you’re in Paris skip the hotel breakfast one day and you’ll understand why the French take their boulangerie breakfast so seriously. For the ultimate breakfast-on-the-go Mamiche boulangerie (two locations in the 9th arrondissement) is a firm favorite of Frenchies. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, make your way to Du Pain et des Idées in the 10th arrondissement and be sure to try their famous “escargot” croissant, adorned with a spiral of almond cream and raisins.

Eating En Plein Air

No we’re not talking about terrasse life here, although enjoying apéro hour (when the French enjoy a drink and light snack before dinner), is certainly a must-do during any visit. Instead, we’re talking about picnicking in Paris, a cherished art form for the French. 

As soon as the weather starts to get warmer, Parisians – baskets and totes brimming with crunchy baguettes, oozing cheeses and crisp wine in hand – flock along the banks of the Seine, spread across the manicured lawns of the Luxembourg gardens, or perch upon any spot of grass available, to enjoy a leisurely meal outdoors.

The set-up is straight forward: find yourself a picturesque spot, then relax and revel in the simple pleasures of good food and company surrounded by the bubble of neighboring conversation and city life.

Pro tip: Looking for a quieter spot to picnic? The Canal Saint Martin in Paris’ artistic 10th arrondissement  is a favorite hang-out spot for locals, especially into the long summer evenings.

Food Markets

If you’re looking for a quick lunch, venturing into the bustling food markets of Paris will certainly have you feeling like a local. Hubs of culinary diversity, food markets come in the daily, weekly, temporary and permanent fixture varieties. 

The Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais district is the oldest covered market in Paris and a haven for food lovers. Start by exploring the vibrant stalls brimming with fruits and vegetables in every color imaginable before grabbing a bite at one of the market’s cozy eateries. Indulge in a plate of authentic cuisine – whether its French, Italian, Japanese, or Moroccan – all prepared with ingredients sourced directly from the market.

French Treats

Another indulgence that cannot be missed while in Paris is the perfect macaron – the pinnacle of French treats. Pierre Hermé and Ladurée are the two most renowned patisseries where you’ll be able to enjoy dishes of macaron in-house or carry out precious boxes of these almond delights. However, rivaling these locations is the picturesque Angelina. Typically recommended as a hotspot for hot chocolate, they also serve up luxurious pastries, including a perfect macaron, in their beautiful tea-rooms.

Bustling Bistros

Not short of restaurants, Paris can be a city where choosing where to dine in the evening can seem impossible. When such a moment arises, and you find yourself hungry and without a reservation, there’s one name that unanimously comes to mind: Bouillon! 

Established in the early 1900s, Bouillon restaurants can be found all over Paris. Long adored for their timeless charm and affordable French comfort food, the menu features classic dishes, including beef bourguignon, onion soup, and crème brûlée, all served in generous portions. Locals and visitors sit side-by-side, enjoying the warm ambiance, affordable prices, and unpretentious yet delicious meals, accompanied by a sense of nostalgia for a by-gone time.

Our favorite is Bouillon Chartier which has locations in Grands Boulevards and Montparnasse – both featuring opulent décor for an unforgettable experience that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

So, next time you’re in Paris, let your taste buds guide you through the city, and truly live life like the French: one delicious bite at a time.

Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Apéro

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