From pâtisserie delights to indulgent savoury dishes – these are Paris’ unmissable eats.
Snails smothered in golden garlic butter
These juicy little morsels are tender in texture with a subtle, earthy flavour. Each shell is stuffed with a mouthwatering combination of garlic and parsley butter, which is melted in the oven and comes out hot and bubbling. Drenched in this delicious marinade, bite-sized snails are usually eaten straight from their shells as an appetizer (with tongs and a fork that come alongside the dish).
Nothing beats a rich, hearty bourguigon of tender, slow-cooked beef
Thick cuts of tender, marbled beef are simmered slowly in a gently simmering broth, with a generous glug of Burgundy red wine. Stewed with a fragrant bundle of herbs and combined with carrots, salty bacon, potatoes, golden onions, and garlic – this hearty casserole bursts with full-bodied flavour and gives off a deep, rich aroma that’s sure to set stomachs rumbling. To make it truly authentic, this dish should be made with tender meat from the Charolais cows of the Burgundy region.
Perhaps the ultimate Parisian café classic
This flaky, buttery pastry is named after its characteristic crescent shape. Crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside, it’s eaten with all sorts of sweet and savoury fillings – sometimes with butter and jam, or melted cheese and ham for something more substantial, or simply plain (allowing for the true buttery taste and flaky texture to shine). Or, you can always go for the croissant's more indulgent cousin, a pain au chocolat (rolled buttery pastry with a melted dark chocolate centre).
Nourishing, comfort food never tasted better
If you're not already familiar with a croque monsieur, picture steaming slices of flavoursome ham smothered in melted gruyère cheese that oozes out from between two slices of crisp, toasted bread. Dipped in egg and fried in butter, this tasty toastie can also arrive drenched in a velvety béchamel sauce. Top it with a lightly fried egg and it becomes a ‘croque madame’, while the vegetarian version is a ‘mademoiselle' – whichever the variation, it’s the ultimate nourishing, comfort food choice.
Delicious steak in its rarest form
This raw steak dish combines the highest-quality beef, with onions and capers – though ideal ingredients vary widely. Once finely chopped, it's all served neatly in the centre of a place usually with a single, uncooked egg yolk sitting on top (the fat of the egg complements the leanness of the beef). It also generally comes with frites (chips) or a side salad, and dressings and seasonings like Worcestershire sauce and mustard. The final touch is often a garnish like watercress or a drizzle of olive oil, before you're meant to stir it all up (including the yolk) and take your first bite.
Colourful confections in every imaginable flavour
These pretty meringue-like mouthfuls sit in neat rows along the pâtisserie counter. Perfectly round and smooth, each dainty cookie is delicately crisp on the outside with a sweet, chewy centre that melts in your mouth. Traditionally a simple, almond-flavoured treat, the famous La Maison Ladurée was the first to experiment with the original recipe, inspiring the rainbow of flavours that are so well-loved today.
Local tip: many pâtisseries will let you pick and mix flavours, and may even sell just a single one for you to sample.
A sweet treat celebrating France’s cycling legacy
This wheel-shaped dessert was first whipped up in 1910 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris cycle race. A delicate ring of light choux pastry, it’s crusted with toasted almonds and sprinkled with powdered sugar, while prettily piped praline cream bulges extravagantly from its middle. A fast favourite with cyclists and fans alike, it’s no longer just a race-side indulgence, and is found in most pâtisseries.
Golden, light and fluffy, best served hot and sprinkled with lemon and sugar
These hot, butter-browned pancakes are characteristically large and thin, providing a versatile blank canvas just waiting to be smothered and stuffed with an endless variety of ingredients. Sweet favourites include a scattering of strawberries and whipped-cream, a thick sweep of delicious Nutella or a simple sprinkling of sugar, while savoury creations include seafood, meat, vegetables and melted cheese.
A thick, satisfying slice of savoury tart
Savoury egg custard is poured into a crumbly shortcrust pastry case and baked to golden perfection. Usually thrown into the mix are popular additions such as bacon, cheese, onion, spinach, or tomato – in practically any combination. The result is a generous helping of rich fluffy flan, cut into satisfying chunks and eaten both hot and cold.
A vibrant vegetable stew that's full of flavour
Healthy and hearty, this classic Provençale stew is a chunky medley of courgette, aubergine, tomato, red pepper, onion and garlic. Each component must be sautéed separately before being layered into a large pan with basil and tangy balsamic dressing. Usually served as a side dish, it can be accompanied by pasta, rice or bread to make a delicious vegetarian main.
A tasty, creamy pastry best scoffed in seconds
Oblong puffs of light choux pastry, topped with a thick sweep of chocolate icing and piped full of sweet custard or cream, splurging indulgently from the sides. Usually eaten for ‘le goȗter’ – a traditional french mealtime around 4pm every day – these decadent desserts are named after lightning because they always vanish in a flash.