Eating in France

  • © Atout France/Phovoir

    © Atout France/Phovoir

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Phovoir

    © ATOUT FRANCE/Phovoir

Eating in France


In France there are countless ways to dine:on the hop, at the bar, seated on a terrace for a leisurely meal, in fast-food restaurants, at sandwich shops, in bakeries, brasseries…and Michelin-starred restaurants.

In short, there’s no lack of choice. International cuisines are also available as well, including Mexican, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Indian, Scandinavian, and more. You can also prepare your own meals by buying fresh produce at one the many local markets, which usually feature local specialities.


In France, people eat three times per day.

  • Breakfast, between 7 a.m and 9 a.m, usually consists of a hot drink (coffee, tea, or chocolate) and a croissant and/or bread with butter and jam.
  • Lunch, between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., is a real meal, usually lasting one hour, that includes first course, main course and dessert, often capped by a cup of espresso coffee.
  • Dinner, sometime around 8 p.m., also lasts an hour and includes an hors d’oeuvre, a hot dish, and dessert.

French gastronomic meal: world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

For the first time ever, the ‘French gastronomic meal’ was listed as part of Intangible Cultural Heritage on 16 November 2010. Never before had UNESCO’s cultural commission thus honoured a culinary tradition.

UNESCO recognition pertained to the following elements of a full, traditional meal (first course, second course, dessert):

  •  The choice of dishes from among an ever-growing body of recipes;
  •  The purchase of good, preferably local, produce whose flavours marry well;
  • The right combination of food and wine;
  •  The attractive appearance of the table;
  •  Special techniques for appreciating dishes (smelling and tasting what is put on the table).


There are many gourmet guide books that list good restaurants. The most famous is obviously the Michelin guide, which awards the country’s greatest chefs a certain number of stars (from 1 to 3) on the basis of highly demanding criteria that include not only the quality and originality of the food but also the standard of welcome, service and ambiance.

The Gault & Millau guide is also well known, as are the Hachette and Petitrenaud guides.

Bon appétit!