Eating out is a part of the French way of life. Don’t have a holiday here without a meal in a French restaurant. Although there are many unusual French foods (frogs legs, snails, tete de veau etc.) you will find many foods that are a true delight!
Which restaurant? Try to find a restaurant that is targeted at French diners (French menus are a good clue!). In the major tourist destinations we would recommend something safe and straightforward such as pizza, crepes etc..
What time? It’s often cheaper to eat at lunchtime and during the week. Sunday lunch is always busy and it pays to book ahead. In the evenings, don’t arrive too early – 7.30PM is often the earliest you can get served.
Which menu? Menu prix fixe is often cheaper and a la carte but has exactly the same choice! Avoid Menu Touristique like the plague!
Which wine? Wine can be quite expensive if you go for named bottles. But carafes of house white or red wine have usually been exquisitely selected by the restauranteur and are cost almost nothing. Refer to our wine section for more advice on wines in France…
Advice for Vegetarians:
Well we’re not vegetarians so we can only pass on second hand advice….and it’s this: Don’t expect to be well catered for in France. Vegetarianism really isn’t well understood in France (although this is slowly changing). But you can often find restaurants where there is nothing suitable on the menu at all, so check carefully. It’s frankly surprising as there is so much fresh produce available in France….probably the best advice is to get lots of fresh produce from the markets and cater for yourselves. There’s some suitable suggestions here. Please do let us know if you’re aware of others.
Websites for restaurant recommendations
- Relais Gourmands – An impressive site with what appear to be high class restaurants with contact details (http://www.theworldwidegourmet.com/access)
- Dining in France – A comprehensive website on dining in France (http://www.dininginfrance.com/)
- A.F. Touch Cuisine – French food – the French gastronomy guide (http://www.aftouch-cuisine.com/)
Major restaurant chains in France:
Courtepaille: – a convenient chain of 168 restaurants – a bit like the Harvester in the UK. The meals are predictable, although the quality is generally quite good. Food is cooked over a log fire (hence their distinctive pyramid shape which hides a huge chimney), service is reasonably quick and you can often get a table without a reservation (it pays to book ahead at peak times).
You can get a nice 3 course meal for around €20.
Buffalo Grill : We’d be the first to admit that these steak houses are not very French, but they are incredibly popular with around 250 restaurants throughout the country. And to tell the truth, our kids love them! One of the big benefits is that it is possible to get a reasonably quick meal here if you arrive early – ideal for those who haven’t quite adapted to the French culture of late dinners!
Our favourite food and wine in France: