France is well known for its food and wine, which are both important aspects of French life. Make the most of the local food and drink available in your area of France.

The wide variety of French food and drink is one of the many reasons expats give for making the move to France.

A healthy yet inexpensive lifestyle

In France, you will find a large focus on fresh produce – instead of the ready meals and processed food that so many of us get used to in the UK; you may then find that, despite indulging in the many French culinary delights, you adapt to a healthier lifestyle and way of eating. You will also find that you can enjoy a very good diet in France without overspending. Food prices in the supermarkets are essentially on a par with the UK; the large hypermarchés (hypermarkets) are very cost-effective, and eating out is less expensive (apart from the very upmarket establishments and some restaurants in large cities and tourist hotspots). Many restaurants in France offer a ‘prix fixe’ menu, which is extremely good value.

You will find that you can enjoy a very good diet in France without overspending.

Making the most of French markets

Markets (marchés) are the mainstay of French life, and have been an important part of life in France for hundreds of years. Each marché will usually have its own speciality food, so it’s always a good idea to find out the times and dates of your local market. Even if you do not have a specific shopping list, it’s a pleasure to wander around the vibrant French markets for inspiration and to get to know the local area better.

Local shops in France

Smaller towns or villages will usually have dedicated individual shops selling all the main produce, for example, the boulangerie (bakery), traiteur (deli), fromagerie (cheese shop), boucherie/charcuterie (butcher) and epicerie (grocers). Most butchers and bakers stock their own food; often these specialists will have studied their particular trade for many years. You may pay a little more in these shops in the smaller villages, but the end product will be fresher and of a higher quality. As you would expect in France, there is a vast choice of wines available, with many good quality wines priced cheaply at around €5.

Living - Food and Drink

French food and drink is a great reason to move to France

Different areas of France are particularly well known for their own food choices; here we provide a summary of the most well-known regions and their culinary specialities.

Alsace

Local Fish

In Alsace, the cooking draws heavily on the fish caught in local rivers.

Wine and Beer

There is also a great tradition of white wine in Alsace, with the region equally well known for its beer; Kronenbourg is probably the best known brand.

Meat

Nearby Franche-Comte is known for its charcuterie (cold meats), particularly smoked beef, sausages and hams.

Cheese

Comte, a hard cheese made in the region, is the most popular cheese in France.

Sauerkraut

Chaucroute au Alsacienne, Alsatian Sauerkraut is the undoubtedly the gastronomic symbol of the region.

Brittany

Every day is Pancake Day

Brittany is well known for its crêpes, or thin pancakes sprinkled with icing sugar; so much so that every crêperie in France declares itself to be Breton. There are also the popular buckwheat galettes.

Living - Food

Every day is pancake day in Brittany!

Sumptuous seafood

Brittany is also renowned for its seafood. The official ‘plateau de fruits de mer’ will usually include at least six kinds of shellfish, served on a bed of the local seaweed, goemon.

Eating your greens

Green vegetables feature strongly in this area, particularly artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower and peas.

C’est Cidre

Cidre (Cider) is the main drink in Brittany, and it is the second largest cider producing region of France.

Normandy

Normandy is known for its cream and butter – along with seafood. It is customary here to have a pause in between courses of copious means for trou normand (Norman gap), where you drink the local calvados (apple brandy) to restore appetite.

Meat lovers

All kinds of meat are popular in the Normandy region, particularly duck from Rouen and andouilles, which are sausages made from cows’ intestines.

The Burgundy region is a gastronomic paradise, home to some of the best French food and wine.

Burgundy

The Burgundy region is a gastronomic paradise, home to some of the best French food and wine.

Famous recipes

One of the most popular dishes from Burgundy is Boeuf Bourguignon, a rich stew of beef cooked in wine, bacon and shallots, served with Dijon mustard from the town of Dijon in the region. Chaource and Epoisses are known for their cheese namesake, and the area is home to a host of rustic foods, including snails (escargots), mushrooms, crayfish and quail.

Famous wines

Burgundy is most famous for its wines, made from Pinot Noir (red) and Chardonnay (white) grapes, and, along with Bordeaux and Champagne, it is one of three main centres of wine production in France.

Champagne

Famous fizz

The Champagne region is of course renowned for its sparkling white wine, although many other wines are also produced here, including rosés and still red wines.

Living - Food champagne

Champagne is of course known for its sparkling wine.

Game for a good meal

The cuisine of the area is characterised by the abundant wild game – Troyes is best known for its specialty sausages and andouilletes, and Ardenne is renowned for its quality hams and terrines.

Languedoc-Roussillon

The cuisine in Languedoc-Roussillon is very similar to the traditional food in Catalonia, just across the border in Spain. Cassoulet, a rich stew traditionally made of goose, duck and sausage, mixed with beans and a topping of breadcrumbs, is the signature dish of the region.

Local specialities

Meatballs, grilled snails, peppers and aubergines  are the food most likely to be found on the restaurant menu, as well seafood in the more coastal areas – mussels, oysters and clams in particular. Other local specialities include tapenade, duck cooked in red wine, foie gras and confits.

Fine wines

The best wines of the region are Corbieres, Minervois, Fitou and Cabardes – produced in the Aude.

The food in Limousin is traditionally simple and filing.

Limousin

The food in Limousin is traditionally simple and filing. The forest yields wild mushrooms, and the chestnuts found here are a renowned speciality of La Creuse.

Auvergne

The Auvergne was once an important wine region, and is slowly making a comeback. Food wise, the area is also famous for its cheeses, such as Bleu d’Auvergne, Salers, Saint-Nectaire and Cantal. The speciality local dish is potee auvergnate – a hotpot of vegetables and pork. The term a l’auvergnate means ‘with cabbage, bacon and sausage’. Truffade is a hearty dish of potatoes and Cantal tomme cheese. Ham features prominently in the region: pounti is a terrine based on ham, pork breast, prunes and beet leaves.

Paris

While Paris is known as one of the world’s greatest gastronomic centres, there are few specifically Parisian dishes. The city is home to a wealth of global cuisines, with particularly good North African and Vietnamese restaurants.

Living - Food Paris

Paris is home to a wealth of cuisines.

Famous cheese

The Brie de Meaux cheese has been made in the suburbs of Paris since the 8th century.

Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur

The food of Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur is largely based around olive oil, basil, olives, fish and shellfish, with the generous use of thyme and rosemary giving dishes a genuine Mediterranean flavour.

Healthy appetite

Provençal cooking is one of the healthiest styles of cooking in France, with Bouillabaisse (fish soup) a meal in itself. There are also some classic cow’s milk cheeses from the region, such as Tomme d’Izoard, Bleu du Queyras and Gruyere Fontu.

Provençal cooking is one of the healthiest styles of cooking in France.

Fruity wines

Dry, fruity rosé wines, especially Côtes de Provence, are popular jug wines from the region of Provence. Popular, well known red wines from this area of France include Chateauneuf du Pape and Côtes du Rhone.

Buying a House in France Guide.

The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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