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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > France

France Food and Drink

From the baking aromas wafting from the traditional village boulangeries to the Michelin-starred fussiness of the gourmet restaurants, France has an almost unparalleled reputation for food.

Crucially, while the archetypal French dish is a fabulously rich preparation, the national cuisine is in truth as varied as the country's landscape, and much of its prestige comes from the quality of its regional specialities. It is not all about the ultra-exclusive eateries either – many of the choicest gastronomic treats are simple, affordable and delicious. And did we mention the cheese? It is said that there are 1600 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories with each region has its own specialities. For example, the Lorraine region is famous for Munster Géromé, while the Bourgogne region is famous for Époisses, to name but a few.

Bon appétit.

Specialities

Bouillabaisse: Fish stew, usually containing at least three - but often far more - types of fish and shellfish. A Marseilles speciality.
Cassoulet: Rich haricot bean casserole, often slow-cooked with various meats including duck, goose, and pork sausages.
Quenelles de brochet: Pounded pike formed into sausage shapes and usually served with a rich crayfish sauce. Common in Lyon.
Soufflé au Grand Marnier: A traditional light and fluffy dessert flavoured with orange liqueur.
Bœuf bourgignon: A Burgundy dish of beef stewed in red wine.
Raclette: Melted cheese served with potatoes and meats. Popular in alpine areas in both France and Switzerland.
Ratatouille: A vegetable stew with ingredients commonly including aubergine, tomato, and courgette.
Salade Niçoise: A salad originating from Nice, with tomato, tuna, and Niçoise olives.
Crêpes: A speciality of Brittany. Savoury, buckwheat versions are known as gallettes.
Wine:
The most popular alcoholic drink in France.
Calvados: An apple brandy made in Normandy.
Pastis: A popular anise-flavoured aperitif. Leading brands include Ricard and Pernod.
Champagne: This sparkling wine is made in the Champagne region of France, and is a customary drink for celebrations and special occasions.

Tipping

A 15% service charge is normally added to the bill in hotels, restaurants, and bars, but it is customary to leave small change with the payment.

Drinking age

18.

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