Top 10 Paris Foods to Eat on Vacation

Paris + food equals the best vacation ever if done right! And this list of top 10 Paris foods will help you make that happen! Not only will you have the best foods in Paris, France to eat, but also some of the best places to eat them, including some excellent hidden gems of Paris you won’t find on any other list. Yup, I’m even sharing my number one secret Paris cafe with you too, so don’t skip Paris food #2!

Paris Food Scene

France undoubtedly has some of the best food in the world. In fact, in 2010, UNESCO declared French cuisine a “world intangible heritage.” And I think Paris has the best of the best!

Unfortunately, when visiting, there is never enough time to try all of the Parisian foods available. The Paris restaurant count exceeds 44,000! Who knows how many Paris menu items that makes! So, without help, it can be a little overwhelming to decide which foods in Paris to eat on vacation, and where to eat them. But do not despair.

I love the City of Lights and have visited many times. I even lived there for 3 months, and just recently stayed again in an apartment for one month. So, needless to say, I’ve eaten a lot of food in Paris. Let’s say I’ve done my research on the best Paris food and restaurants one meal at a time.

Top 10 Paris Foods

1. Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame

This famous French food was born in a Paris cafe in the early 1900’s. Croque in French means to crunch. So these two classic French ham and cheese sandwiches are toasted to melt and brown the cheese as well as to make a crispy crunchy crust.

This Parisian snack is no ordinary ham and cheese. Think gooey beschamel and gruyere with more cheese on the outside!

What’s the difference between Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame? Simply, an egg. The Croque Madame adds an egg on top.

Nowadays you’ll find many different presentations of Croques in addition to the traditional like open face, stacked sideways, or the addition of mushrooms or tomatoes. I have not found a bad one in Paris, but here are some of my favorites: Buvette Paris, 28 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009, Angelina Paris, 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Le Nemrod, 51 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006.

2. Duck Confit and/or Duck Magret

One of the most traditional French foods, Duck Confit, is melt in your mouth, slow-cooked duck leg and thigh with crispy skin. Often you’ll find it served with pommes de terre à la Sarladaise (sliced potatoes cooked in duck fat) and a small bed of greens.

And you can enjoy this Paris famous food at my number one secret restaurant! Too my surprise, my absolute favorite spot for Duck Confit was also the least expensive! Less than 10 euros (about 12 U.S. dollars) if you could believe at Bo Man Café, at 33 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 75009. This would easily be a $35 meal in the states! Truly one of the best places to eat in Paris!

A more fancy dish in Paris cuisine, Duck Magret, is a duck breast and can be prepared many different ways by chefs across the city. You will find Duck Magret on many Paris restaurant menus, but if you want someplace that specializes in duck, try Le Petit Canard, 19 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009, their lunch and dinner “formules” are a great deal too! Reservations are recommended for this tiny restaurant.

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3. Moules Frites

The name of this famous Paris food, Moules Frites or Mussels and French Fries, sounds a little misleading to some. Why would the French put fries in a dish with mussels—they don’t! When your Moules Frites arrives rest assured, the fries will be on the side.

Steamed with garlic, shallots, white wine, and of course, butter, the mussels smell divine. Unlike what we get in the states, the portion size is large enough for a meal, and with fries, this becomes a hearty meal. and You’ll receive a huge pot large enough for 2 people to share at Le Royal near Galleries Lafayette (8 Rue La Fayette, 75009). Or try the seafood restaurant, Juste at 48 Rue Laffitte, 75009.

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4. Crepe and/or Galette

You can’t discuss famous foods in Paris without talking about crepes! The first time I travelled to Paris I ate my weight in Nutella and banana crepes! Small stands dot every arrondissement and they make a budget-friendly snack. But what is a galette?

Basically, galettes are the savory cousin of crepes. The French eat sweet crepes as dessert, and galettes as a meal. The pancake part of a galette is made with buckwheat so it appears more brown with a purple hue.

These days I’m addicted to the Alaska at Le Creperie by the Pantheon (12 Rue Soufflot, 75005). Still a budget friendly meal, and what a view!

And if you look the other way, you can see the top of the Eiffel Tower and The Senate at the Luxembourg Gardens. And if you’re a fan of Emily in Paris, her building and her go-to cafe are just a couple of blocks away. It’s a very touristy thing to do in Paris, but it’s fun to see, free, and no crowds!

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5. Cheese, or as the French say, Fromage

Speaking of addictions, cheese is one of mine! And definitely a top 10 best food in Paris!

Every region of France produces different types of cheeses, and Brie de Meaux is by far the most famous cheese in Île-de-France, the region where Paris is located. However, as the capital of France, Paris has French food products produced from all over the country. Which means, you can get almost any French cheese your heart desires here.

Parisian restaurants will offer some sort of cheese option for dessert, and cafes can offer cheese boards. But I prefer going to a neighborhood cheese monger and buying a few different types for lunch or dinner. I cannot tell you how many cheese and charcuterie boards I made in my last month in Paris.

In addition to Brie, some French cheeses I recommend are: Morbier, Saint Agur (blue), Brillat Savarin, Camembert, and Mimolette. For more on French cheeses click here.

Even the small grocery markets sell a decent selection of cheese. But the cheese mongers at the cheese shops can help you choose something to your tastes, and every neighborhood has a few of these shops. As one of the best food streets in Paris, Rue de Martyr has many to choose from, and all have terrific selections. Try Fromagerie Beillevaire at 48 Rue des Martyrs, 75009

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6. Breads from Artisan Boulangeries

What pairs better with cheese than bread? Maybe that’s why the most popular food in Paris is the baguette! Did you know that a traditional baguette must weigh between 250-300 grams and contain only three ingredients: yeast, flour, and salt?

In 2021, Makram Akrout of Les Boulangers de Reuilly at 54 boulevard de Reuilly, 75012 won the contest for Paris best baguette.

The 12th arrondissement can be a little out of the way. So, look for signs that say Artisan Boulangerie to ensure your baguette comes from the baker’s oven and not a mass produced industrial one.

Also try different types of baguettes with different seeds and flours. For the adventurist, Gontran Cherrier at 8 rue Juliette Lamber, 75017, makes a baguette with squid ink!

Likewise, every Parisian boulangerie (bakery) bakes many varieties of breads in varying shapes and sizes in addition to baguettes.

One of the most renown bakeries in Paris on the street I lived on once upon a time. Every time I visit Paris I stroll by to at least catch a glimpse of their marvelous sour dough loaves. The began in 1932 and now have four locations: 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006, 49 Bd de Grenelle, 75015, 38 Rue Debelleyme, 75003, and 83 Rue de Crimée, 75019

7. Pastries

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between breads and pastries, and you’ll see distinctions blurred in the boulangeries and pâtisseries (pastry shops). The tricky items look similar to breads, like brioche and croissants, but are prepared with fats like pastries. These can even function like a bread, and you’ll find them more often in boulangeries than in pâtisseries. Whether you call it a bread or a pastry, a croissant and/or pain chocolate from any of our favorite bakeries above should be on your list of things to eat in Paris!

In Paris food culture, people eat dessert, even at lunch! And with an abundance of pâtisseries, pastries are a very popular food in Paris. Personally, I usually prefer savory to sweets and rarely eat dessert, but I wound up eating a year’s worth of dessert in a month. C’est la vie!

Paris Brest, praline cream sandwiched between a puff pastry shell wins most famous dessert in Paris. Some of the other popular pastries include: St. Honoré, Baba au Rhum, Tarte aux Framboise, Tarte Citron, Tarte Tatin, Eclairs, and Vanille Flan which I actually had for dinner twice. The best Paris dessert is the one that looks best to you!

Double indulge and pair your pastry with the best hot chocolate in the world at Angelina Paris, 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 or if you prefer tea, Pâtisserie-Salon de Thé des Tuileries by Sebastien Gaudard at 1, rue des Pyramides, 75001. Sebastien Gaudard’s Pâtisserie des Martyr (22, rue des Martyrs, 75009) windows display stunning (and delicious) cakes and pastries. And just down the street at #18, you can purchase an incredible Vanilla Flan for 8 euros at Le Pain Retrouvé.

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8. Foie Gras

Just as decadent as any pastry, foie gras literally means fatty liver, and it’s a duck liver. Although a delicacy of French cuisine, I really hate that I love foie gras so much.

Foie gras comes in many forms so make sure you know what you are ordering. My favorite preparation sears the liver so that the outer layer crisps and the inside remains as smooth as butter. It’s no surprise that I found the best version at the duck experts, Le Petit Canard, mentioned above. Many Parisian cafes and bistro offer pâté de foie gras, made with pieces of liver, sometimes chunky and sometimes smooth. Sometimes the smooth is called mousse, but sometimes it is just called foie gras. These versions will be served cold usually with toast.

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9. Escargot

If you’ve never tried Escargot or snails in English, it’s one of the foods to eat in Paris. First of all, while this traditional French dish will cost a pretty penny in the states, it’s actually a relatively inexpensive appetizer (called entrée) in Paris cafes and bistros.

Second, if you swoon over butter like I do, you’ll love them! Drenched in garlic butter, that’s what they taste like—really! And French butter is the bomb!

Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable ordering them at L’Escargot where they specialize in snails. Located on my second favorite foodie street, Rue Montorgueil in the first (#38), just look for the big snail. They will be more expensive there, but hey, you’re on vacation!

10. Soupe a L’Oignon

One of the quintessential famous foods in Paris, Soupe a L’Oignon, or French Onion Soup, was originally a French peasant food made from leftover ingredients. Now chefs prepare this staple French food all over the world.

Unfortunately, I think this famous food in Paris may have the greatest variance in price and quality. We paid between 3.50 to 8.50 euros and the most expensive didn’t live up to its price tag.

The least expensive version was from Brouillon Pigalle. However, this Paris restaurant is way over rated. One of the only places with a long line to get in, yet the Soupe a l’Oignon was really the only choice I can recommend.

Find better versions at my Paris hidden gem, Bo Man Café, and Les Philosophe at 28 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004.

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