What Do French People Eat

What Do French People Eat

France is known for its cuisine and the French have certainly mastered the art of eating. You can learn a lot about a culture and their way of life by looking into what they eat.

Today, I am dedicating this post to talking about what French people eat. Plus, I am also sharing a tartine recipe along with my Francophile friend Annie, of Most Lovely Things.

France is certainly a paradise for foodies, and the French people have a world-renowned reputation when it comes to cooking. Food is their way of life.

Even though some of the dishes might seem a bit overwhelming to make, they are actually pretty simple with wholesome ingredients. More than anything, it’s about appreciating the food, where it comes from, and who it’s shared with.

French Philosophy of Eating

Even though I am not French myself, I appreciate the French culture and their approach to eating. They take pleasure in food, the ingredients within each meal, the recipe used, and eating the meals with family and friends.

Meals are meant to be savored over conversation and can last for hours. There’s no eating on the run, eating at your desk, or snacking in between meals.

They visit their local farmer’s markets for fresh in-season ingredients. French people try to avoid processed foods at all costs, this includes in their bread and pastries. Instead, they visit local bakeries or even bake their own bread.

What Do French People Eat For Breakfast

Bistro tables and chairs in Paris.

French people call breakfast le petit déjeuner, which literally means little lunch. The French don’t necessarily consider breakfast the most important meal of the day like we do in America.

Breakfast is usually a lighter meal for the French. Here’s what a typical French breakfast can look like.

Bread or Pastry

A typical French breakfast tends to be on the sweeter side of things compared to more heavy meals we eat in America. The French like to have a slice of bread with French butter, jam, or even Nutella. These are often called tartines, which you can see an example of a tartine recipe below.

Another option for French women would be yogurt with fruit and some granola. There is nothing more heavenly than French yogurt in my opinion and this is what I eat when I am in Paris.

When it comes to pastries for breakfast, the most typical ones are croissants, Pain au chocolate, or Chausson aux Pommes (apple-filled pastry).

Although, a lot of French people reserve these pastries for weekends only. The French are still about balance and moderation when it comes to eating pastries.

The French either drink some sort of juice or coffee with their breakfast, but it may not be what you’re used to drinking.

Coffee is usually an espresso, café crème (my personal favorite), café au lait, un allongé , or un noisette. You can see more about ordering coffee in Paris here in this guide.

If you are not a coffee drinker, you can have some hot tea like Mariage Freres or even hot chocolate.

Eggs, which are typical of the American menu, are not as popular for breakfast in France. They are however served at lunch and dinner in the form of an omelet.

Although, they are starting to show up on more menus over the last several years. Breakfast habits are changing in France, but the mainstay breakfast is still bread and jam or yogurt.

oeufs mouillettes

One egg dish that does show up on French menus would be Oeufs Mouillettes. A dish of soft-boiled eggs.

They’re served in an egg cup with little strips of toast for dipping. It’s actually pretty tasty and fills you up.

One way we eat like the French is with a breakfast tartine. I am sharing my tartine recipe below with my friend Annie as part of her Tartine Tuesday.

What Do French People Eat For Lunch

Lunch in France is referred to as le déjeuner and it’s common for French people to take 2-hour lunch breaks.

A typical French lunch can consist of 3 courses: an appetizer, a main dish, and cheese or dessert.

Lunch in France is usually served between midday and around 2 P.M, and most kitchens will close at this time until dinner, which usually starts at 7:30. On the weekends when the weather is beautiful out, French people will picnic.

Typical lunch dishes will include a salad or soup for the appetizer ( une entrée), a meat or fish dish for the main plate (le plat principal), and cheese or dessert to follow.

Here are a few popular French lunch dishes:

Croque Monsieur

A Croque Monsieur is basically a hot ham and cheese sandwich the French way. Made with lots of butter, cheese, and cream. You can’t go wrong with this popular and traditional dish.

Steak-Frites

Just what the name implies, steak and fries. This is another traditional French dish that can also be served at dinner as well.

Salade Niçoise

One of my favorite dishes to eat in France for lunch is Salade Niçoise. A flavorful salad of tuna, green beans, potatoes, and tomatoes.

What Do French People Eat For Dinner

Dinner is typically the main meal for the French although some French women prefer to keep dinner light and instead make lunchtime a heavier meal.

For the French, dinner is usually served later in the evening after 7:30 and some restaurants don’t even open back up until this time.

Like lunch, the French dinner will consist of an entree, main, and cheese or dessert to end the meal. And, maybe an espresso.

The starter usually consists of light appetizers like Salmon Tartare, salad or melon (in summer), and soup in the winter season.

For the main dish, popular French dinner dishes include meat and or fish with vegetables and some sort of French staple (potatoes). Some popular main dish options include:

Ratatouille

A vegetable dish usually made with eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini. This is one of my favorite French dishes, especially when I don’t want to specifically eat meat.

Cassoulet

A dish of sausage, beans, and meat that is slow-cooked all together. This is a very popular dinner meal at traditional French restaurants.

Bouillabaisse

A seafood stew all cooked together.

boEUf bourguignon

Delightful and tasteful French stew which is mostly made during the colder months. This is my absolute favorite French meal to make at home.

Of course, you can’t have a French dinner without French red or white wine depending on what you are serving. Red wine is usually served with meat and heavier dishes, while white wine is served with lighter dishes like seafood and chicken.

After the main dish is served, the cheese (fromage) is served. This is completely different from what we are used to in the States. Depending on the number of people eating, there could be between 3-5 different cheeses brought along with bread.

What Do French People Eat For Dessert

Dessert can consist of something as simple as fresh fruit or more sweet like a mousse or cake, or even pastries. My favorite French dessert to eat is Crème Brûlée, and one I take advantage of especially in Paris.

Hopefully, you have learned a little about how the French eat, have some ideas for meals you can make at home, and understand a bit more about how the French culture thinks about each meal.

Now, I am sharing our favorite breakfast Tartine to make as well as sharing one my friend Annie, of Most Lovely Things, likes to make as part of her Tartine Tuesdays.

Here is one of our favorite breakfast Tartines to make when we want something savory and a little sweet. It takes less than 5 minutes to make.

French Breakfast Tartine

Easy French breakfast Tartine with Ricotta Cheese and your favorite jam.

  • Baguette or Country Bread
  • Jam
  • Ricotta Cheese
  1. Cut the baguette or bread loaf into slices

  2. Toast the bread slices in the toaster or oven until crisp

  3. Spread Ricotta Cheese on top of the bread

  4. Add Jam to the top of the Ricotta Cheese

Breakfast
French
French Tartine
breakfast Tartine recipe

2 Comments

  1. Noelani—reading all about what the French eat is making me excited for my next trip to France! The food and the experience of the meal is one of the things I love most!! Lovely post with so much information!
    Xo
    Annie

    1. Thank You Annie! Yes, I agree the food experience is one of the best things about France. I am excited for your trip also! So Fun!
      Have a great day,
      Noelani

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