French Food 101 - Patisseries, Cheeses, Starters and Main Dishes, Desserts

French cuisine is regarded as one of the best in the entire world, and food is an extremely important part of the country’s culture.

A traditional French meal will start with an aperitif, an alcoholic drink to open your appetite, followed by an hors d’ouvre -or starter-, a plat principal, dessert, cheese, then coffee, and finally a digestif drink.

Though each region has its own individual cuisine and flavors, there are definitely dishes that have become iconic, and that represent the uniqueness of French food. These are some of the dishes everyone should try in their lifetime:


Pastries are the cherry on top to the heavenly feast that is French cuisine. The iconic éclairs, filled with chocolate or cream, are a national favorite, and are a must in every pastry shop in France. Macaroons, little round pastries of all kinds of flavors, are so important there is even a “Macaroon day”, where shops give away these pastries for free and only ask for donations for social foundations. The religieuse is not only delicious, but also evokes in a quite comical way the figure of a nun. If you’re looking for something a little fruitier, a tarte au citron will satisfy any craving you have.


Of course, you haven’t enjoyed France if you haven’t enjoyed French cheeses. Cheese is an integral part of everyday life, and it is so important, there is a black-market for cheeses that have been banned. The French are famous for their bold cheese flavors, as their cheeses often include mold. If you want to go for the stronger flavors, some roquefort and some bleau are a must. For softer cheeses, some of the most popular ones are brie and camembert. Other cheeses that have gained widespread fame include comte, beaufort, and gruyere. Chevre, or goat cheese, gives a unique flavor to dishes, and fromage blanc is used for basically everything, from cooking to spreading in bread. Either way, whichever you choose, the important thing is to give some a try.

Starters and Main Dishes

This is where all the condiments and flavors swirl into a delicious invention that will make your heart and soul happy. Although not everyone is open to trying snails, escargots are one of the most delicious starters French restaurants offer. Huitres, or oysters, are also great starters for seafood lovers, and soups like French onion soup are perfect for cold winter days. In terms of main dishes, coq au vin, boeuf bourguinon, poulet a la Comtoise, quiche, foundue, and canard a l’orange are sweet perfection.


Everyone’s favorite part of the meal! The good news is that the French have mastered the art of dessert-making. The crepe is perhaps the most famous dessert, sold all around the world. Although it is sold as street food in the most touristy cities, a real crepe is eaten in a restaurant and is accompanied by some cider. Another famous French dessert is the delicious creme brulee, which mixes temperatures and textures to achieve its unique taste. Mouse au chocolat, floating islands, and profiterole are also highly recommended.

It goes without saying, that no French meal is complete without a good bottle of French wine to accompany it.