Food & Drink

France boasts one of the most varied and developed cuisines in the world, and is renowned for both its classical ('haute cuisine') and provincial styles. French wine and cheese are an integral part of French cuisine, both as ingredients and accompaniments, and the country is known for its large ranges of wines and cheeses.


The normal day begins with a light breakfast in the morning, generally consisting of:

  • bread with jam and spreads (often replaced nowadays by breakfast cereals)
  • a hot drink such as coffee, tea or chocolate flavoured milk
  • viennoiseries (although not necessarily every day)
  • some fruit or fruit juice

Hotel breakfasts often contain croissants, but it is uncommon for French people to eat croissants at every breakfast. Indeed, they are mainly eaten on weekends, when people have time to go to their baker's and buy fresh viennoiseries before eating breakfast. Croissants may be replaced with other kinds of viennoiserie such as pains au chocolat, madeleines and so on.

Lunch and Dinner

Lunch is had at some point between noon and 2 pm, and dinner in the evening after 7:00 pm. However there are large variations depending on the local regional cultures. For example, dinner is usually between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm in northern France, whilst in southern France it is more likely to be sometime after 8.30 pm. The meal may be followed by a digestif - some small dose of liqueur or other high alcoholic spirit.

Regional Specialties

French cuisine is characterised by its extreme diversity and style, and traditionally, each region of France has its own distinctive cuisine:

  • Cuisine from northwest France uses butter, cream and apples.
  • Cuisine from northern France uses potatoes, pork, endives and beer, and shows Flemish influences.
  • Cuisine from eastern France uses lard, sausages, beer and sauerkraut, and shows German influences.
  • Cuisine from southeast France uses olive oil, herbs and tomatoes, and shows deep influences from Spanish cuisine, Catalan cuisine and Italian cuisine.
  • Cuisine from southwest France uses duck fat, foie gras, porcini mushrooms and gizzards.

Besides those five general areas, there are many more local cuisines, such as Loire Valley cuisine, Basque cuisine and the cuisine of Roussillon, which is similar to Catalan cuisine. Although such regional differences are less noticeable than they used to be, they are still clearly marked, and anyone travelling across France will notice significant changes in the ways of cooking and the dishes served.

  • Alsace:
    • Choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with sausages, salt pork and potatoes)
    • Spätzle
    • Baeckeoffe
    • Kouglof
    • Bredela
    • Beerawecka
    • Mannala
  • Alps:
    • Raclette (the cheese is melted and served with potatoes, ham and often dried beef)
    • Fondue savoyarde (fondue made with cheese and white wine into which cubes of bread are dipped)
    • Gratin dauphinois
    • Tartiflette (a Savoyard gratin with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, cream and pork)
  • Artois-Picardy:
    • Andouillette of Cambrai
    • Carbonnade (meat stewed in beer)
    • Potjevlesch (a four-meat terrine)
    • Waterzoï (a sweet water fish stew)
    • Escavêche (a cold terrine of sweet water fish in wine and vinegar)
    • Hochepot (four meats stewed with vegetables)
  • Auvergne:
    • Tripoux (tripe 'parcels' in a savoury sauce)
    • Truffade (potatoes sautéed with garlic and young Tomme cheese)
    • Aligot (mashed potatoes blended with young Tomme cheese)
    • Pansette de Gerzat (lamb tripe stewed in wine, shallots and blue cheese)
  • Brittany:
    • Crêpes
    • Far Breton (a flan with prunes)
    • Kik ar Fars (boiled pork dinner with a kind of dumpling)
    • Kouign amann (a type of galette made flakey by a very high proportion of butter)
  • Burgundy:
    • Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stewed in red wine)
    • Escargots de Bourgogne (snails baked in their shells with parsley butter)
    • Fondue bourguignonne (fondue made with oil in which pieces of meat are cooked)
    • Gougère (cheese in chou pastry)
    • Pochouse (fish stewed in red wine)
  • Lorraine:
    • Quiche Lorraine
    • Potée Lorraine
    • Pâté Lorrain
  • Côte d'Azur/Provence:
    • Bouillabaisse (a stew of mixed Mediterranean fish, tomatoes, and herbs)
    • Ratatouille (a vegetable stew with sautéed aubergine, asparagus, yellow squash, bell peppers, tomato and basil)
    • Pieds paquets (lambs' feet and tripe 'parcels' in a savoury sauce)
  • Nimes:
    • Brandade de morue (puréed salt cod)
  • Normandy:
    • Tripes à la mode de Caen (tripe cooked in cider and calvados)
    • Matelote (fish stewed in cider)
  • Southwest:
    • Salade landaise
    • Cassoulet (a dish made with beans, sausages and preserved duck or goose)
    • Foie gras (the liver of a force-fed duck or goose)
    • Basque cuisine


Traditionally, France has had a culture of wine consumption. Although this characteristic has lessened somewhat with time, even today, many French people drink wine daily. For more information on French wine, take a look at the extensive Wine Resource Centre, which has details on all France's wine regions.

Other popular alcoholic drinks include pastis, an aniseed flavoured beverage drunk diluted with cold water, or cider.