Your guide to France: what to eat and drink

France is the epitome of food and drink, and you won’t go far without falling in love with something, as every region has a delicious speciality for you to try. And while the recipes may seem complex, it is the amazing, locally sourced, fresh ingredients that are the solid foundation of French cuisine.

These classic French dishes are timeless and brought from farm to table, a true celebration of the country’s rich agriculture.

What to eat in France

National dish:

Cassoulet – While the perfect white beans are the star of this dish, it is the variety of salty meats used that really give it its hearty flavour. The beans and choice of meats to use is widely debatable and changes from region to region but the end result should delight you all the same. Cassoulet to me is the prime example of peasant food being taken to a whole new level.

What to give this dish a try in your own kitchen? Here’s Chef Bernard’s take on it.


Coq au vin and beef bourguignon – Rooster and wine, or beef and wine, both dishes have the same simple ideas of braising your meat with wine and vegetables, all you need is patience (thanks to Julia Child for bringing this to dinner tables everywhere).

Why not have a go at making it yourself with Chef Maynard’s recipe?

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin

Duck confit – Quite simply, duck (or sometimes goose) legs cooked in its own fat. It is so popular in France you can buy it in a tin at low cost to give you an easy dinner option to cook. Typically, duck and goose legs are cooked down for several hours, then preserved by jarring it in its own fat, making it a winter essential. Although times has changed and food has progressed, when something is that good and tender, you can still find it stocked the old fashioned way.


Soupe à l’oignon – French onion soup is a staple, that uses only minimal ingredients but does not compromise on taste. Your main splurge for it may just be the cheese! You can try making this at home using Chef Poul’s recipe, found here.


Tarte-aux-pommes – The French always make sure to leave room for desserts, from the difficult to master macaron, to the gorgeous eclairs with delightful fillings, but if you want a taste of France, go for this apple tart. This shows how important seasonal ingredients are as they become the star of the dish (with the help of a lot of butter).

Try making this dish yourself at home with our French Chef’s recipe.

Apple tart with apples in the background

Tarte aux pommes

What to drink in France

I don’t think you need me to tell you that trying these classics on your journey is a must:

  • Cognac (variety of brandy named after the town of Cognac, France)
  • Wine (in all shapes and colour)
  • Armagnac (produced in Gascony, South West France)
  • Champagne (from the Champagne region of North East France)

Not to be missed

As with any trip, we firmly believe in exploring places on your own terms and carving your own personal experiences. However, the NotInTheGuideBooksteam’s personal culinary highlights in France were:

Des cuisses de grenouille (frogs’ legs) – I am not sure if everyone loves it as much as I do! Delicate meat (similar to chicken wings) that holds onto flavour and melts in your mouth.

After dinner cheese – Should you find yourself in a French home and the host whips out the cheese board, grab some fresh crusty bread and dig in! Glass of red wine to accompany it essential.

Croque monsieur/madame – Head to a quaint French café anywhere in France and you can be sure this is on the menu. Philistine will tell you it is just a ham and cheese toastie. Believe us. IT IS NOT.

Bon appetit!

If this has got your taste buds going and an itch to explore the culinary wonders of France, why not take your next holiday in France to the next level on a cooking holiday?

Join our community

Get off the beaten track and support local communities that you visit.

Sign up for inspiriation for your itinerary, new experiences and special offers.