In this blog post, I take you to a culinary journey through the flavors of France!
From cozy bistros to upscale fine dining establishments, French restaurants offer a wide range of gastronomic experiences. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with these diverse dining options!
Bistros: The Quintessential French Charm
Bistros are the heart and soul of French culinary culture. With their cozy and rustic ambiance, these casual eateries serve up comforting, home-style dishes with a touch of elegance.
Easting at a bistro can be cheap, but nowadays you’ll hear about “la bistronomie” combining bistro foods and dishes with gastronomic cooking methods. These type of bistronomic places are very trendy right now and often make for a great dinning option.
Did you know? The origins of French bistros can be traced back to the early 19th century in Paris.
The word “bistro” is believed to have derived from the Russian word “bystro,” meaning “quickly.” During the Russian occupation of Paris after the Napoleonic Wars, Russian soldiers would often shout “bystro” to urge waiters to serve them quickly.
And the spirit of classic bistros is still the same nowadays: Fast-served and easy food. If you’re in a rush, you can eat there within 30-45 minutes for sure!
Brasseries: Lively and Alluring Atmosphere
Brasseries are lively establishments that combine the charm of a bistro with a more bustling ambiance. They are also a little bit more expensive.
These popular eateries are known for their extensive menus featuring French classics such as steak frites, moules marinières (mussels), “des huitres” – oysters (read Camille’s article for French pronunciation of oysters an a fun practice video) and croque-monsieur.
There are many, many famous “brasseries” in France, several are very famous and older, like in Paris “Bofinger”, “La Coupole”, “Le Sud”, “Julien”, “Brasserie Flo” – all known for their amazing Art Déco decors and history.
With a vibrant atmosphere and an emphasis on conviviality, brasseries are perfect for enjoying a casual yet memorable dining experience.
Did you know? Brasserie comes from the word “brasser”, which means to brew. Originally, a brasserie is supposed to brew their own beers!
Quick tips: Always ask if the food is “homemade”. It is a big deal in France for restaurateurs being not transparent enough about what they serve.
Michelin-Starred Restaurants: Fine Dining at Its Finest
The best of the best: For an extraordinary culinary adventure, Michelin-starred restaurants are the epitome of elegance and refinement.
These are prestigious establishments that showcase the skills of top-tier chefs and offer meticulously crafted dishes using the finest ingredients.
From innovative gastronomy to perfectly executed traditional French recipes, Michelin-starred restaurants provide an unforgettable fine dining experience.
Did you know? Michelin is a tire company. Focused on cars and tires, they initially started to guide motorists on their journeys, leading them to exquisite culinary experiences.
Thus, the “Guide Michelin” was born! Sprinkling stars upon deserving restaurants and igniting a passion for gastronomy that continues to shine brightly today.
Quick tip: install the Michelin App to find excellent restaurants around you. A great alternative to a star restaurant (which is very expensive) is the Michelin bib selection.
Farm-to-Table Restaurants: Embracing Local Flavors
If you’re visiting France countryside, Farm-to-table restaurants, or “auberges”, celebrate the beauty of French regional cuisine. Only fresh and local French farm produced ingredients.
These establishments focus on seasonal produce. With dishes that reflect the terroir of the region, farm-to-table restaurants offer an authentic and sustainable dining experience.
Let’s mention here “L’Auberge du Pont d’Acigné”, located in Acigné, Bretagne. Friends that visited there always told me they loved its unique experience.
And France regions are not like US states, it’s within 3 hours drive, depending where you stay. I’d advise you to spend a weekend in Bretagne, and stop by l’Auberge du pont d’Acigné for dinner!
Crêperies: Delightful and Versatile
Crêperies specialize in crafting French crepes, both sweet and savory.
These charming eateries are perfect for a casual brunch or a quick bite.
Whether you crave a classic Nutella-filled crêpe or a savory one filled with ham and cheese, crêperies offer a delightful taste of French culinary versatility.
These are so well-known that I even saw the rising demand in the US. So we started selling crêpes at Pastreez! I even detailed the best crepes near me to help readers find the best fit in their city.
In Paris, if you like crêpes, visit “Rue Montparnasse”, just by the Montparnasse train station. This is the place to be for crêperies.
Did you know? Crêpes are NOT thin pancakes. One of the biggest differences is that pancakes have baking soda, whereas crêpe has not.
Wine Bars: A Journey Through French Vineyards
Wine bars, or “caves à vin,” are havens for wine enthusiasts like me.
These establishments showcase an extensive selection of French wines, allowing patrons to explore the diverse regions of France. Accompanied by artisanal cheese and charcuterie platters, wine bars provide a relaxed and convivial atmosphere to savor the rich flavors and aromas of French wines.
It’s not really a restaurant per se, but most of the time wine bars have a food menu as well.
Did you know? We call it “caves à vin” because centuries ago, French winemakers realized that a “cave” (or cellar) provided a stable environment with cool temperatures and controlled humidity.
Pâtisseries: Sweet Delights and Decadence
I had to include pâtisserie in this list. Your trip to France is not complete without indulging in exquisite French pastries and desserts.
And of course, as a French chef, I’m clearly biased talking about these pastries. I won’t talk about croissants & pains au chocolat, too obvious.
Instead, I will invite you to visit “Du pain et des idées”, in Canal Saint Martin in Paris. My favorite!
This beloved bakery is celebrated for its artisanal approach and mouth watering creations. The bakery’s commitment to quality ingredients and attention to detail have earned it a loyal following among Parisians and connoisseurs.
Writing this article reminded me of lots of good memories. What about you, what were your favorite restaurants when you visited France? Comment below!