(Cheap) Must-Eat Foods in Paris, France -- with Recipes!
What to Eat in France and How to Make It When You Come Back Home
You've only got a little while in Paris -- so much food, so little time, right? "Where should I start?"
That was my thought when I first traveled to Paris. Having less than 48 hours in the city and determined that my only souvenirs would be the sights and the food, I knew that I had to be prepared. What are the must-eat foods in Paris? Where can I find them?
Thankfully, it was all so much easier than I expected it to be. That's why I want to share what I've learned with you -- what the must-eat foods are and where to find them.
Don't panic. It's all very manageable (and wonderfully cheap!).
Read on to discover my top five must-eat foods in Paris, the most authentic places to find them, and recipes for how to prepare them when you come back home!
#1 -- Crepes (with Recipe)
Sweet or Savory and Oh-So-Portable
Usually, when most people think of French food, they think of crepes. There's a reason for that.
Extremely cheap, delightfully portable, and almost ridiculously easy to find, crepes are a great introduction to French food. It is very difficult to mess up a crepe, so you can snag one from virtually anywhere and rest assured that it's quality food. This Parisian delight can be either savory or sweet, and the huge variety of flavors will leave you with a lot of options. Although I personally recommend chestnut-flavored crepes, try as many as you can!
Don't panic. You can come back for more.
Thankfully, these popular Parisian snacks can be easily made at home, too, with your choice of fillings. They're wonderfully customizable, so they're a great fit for picky families. All you need is....
Cookbooks from Paris
To help you keep a little bit of Paris in your home.
#2 -- Pain au Chocolat (with Recipe)
Melty Goodness, Bakery Style
I highly suggest that you compliment your time in Paris with pain au chocolat. Just do it.
If you're like me and generally ignorant of French (not for lack of trying...) and French food, you're probably thinking, "Err...bread with chocolate in it?"
Well, yes...and no. Pain au chocolat is a very popular pastry-like snack because it's small (and therefore easy to carry by the basket-full!) and particularly cheap. I personally recommend the pain au chocolat at a cafe on the alleyways outside the Louvre called "Tea by The." If you get there right when they're baked, the chocolate will still be deliciously melted, So if you want to make sure you're first in line at the Louvre by getting there early, Tea by The is a great place to swing by.
More on Tea by The: You come out of the metro station (Palais Royal--Musee du Louvre) and turn to your right to see the long tunnel with a big LOUVRE written above it, right? Through that tunnel is the Louvre, as I hope you'd have guessed! But if you're planning on snagging a quick pain au chocolat (a wise decision, my friend), and you're standing facing the Louvre tunnel, turn to your left and walk straight away from the exit to the Palais Royal--Musee du Louvre metro. You'll come to a street that goes to your left. Tea by The is on this street, and you should be able to see it from the corner, I believe.
Go inside. You won't regret it, and you might just decide (like me) to munch on more than just a pain au chocolat! Take, for example, that wonderful picture near the top of this article that looks like apple pie. Tarte pommes, also from Tea by The....
If you want to make these at home, be prepared to spend a few (worthwhile) hours -- probably about 4, after you've let the dough sit. Here's a recipe that should make around 18 pain au chocolat.
#3 -- Eclairs (with Recipe)
Fantastic French Fillings
You're probably well aware that you just can't go to France without trying an Ã©clair, but I just had to put it on this list to make sure that any wayward travelers to France didn't miss this little delicacy.
These filled desserts are French natives, cheap and sweet without having an overpoweringly rich taste. When it comes to Ã©clairs, there's only one name I trust -- the notorious Parisian shop Laduree. I strongly suggest that you go there for one. Awarded as one of the top three bakeries in all of France for its Ã©clairs, Laduree is down the main street in front of the Arch de Triomphe. It's a straight shot, so when you come out of the metro station, you're already on the right street. Turn away from the Arch and find #75 (on the right hand of the street) to get some Laduree treats.
Eclairs can be daunting to make in your own home simply because they have so many separate phases that go into their preparation. Still, don't be afraid! Try this recipe on for size:
Out with the Old, in with the New
Many people believe that visiting a new place means learning to eat like the people there do. Others, however, think that it's important to bring and sustain one's own culture in the new place, and this means not entirely adapting to the new food lifestyles of a foreign country.
Is it important to try local food when you visit a new place?
#4 -- Orangina
What is Food without a Drink?
Let's admit it -- if you're walking around Paris (and especially if you're thinking of climbing the Eiffel Tower without the elevator!), you'll get thirsty before you know it.
If there's one drink in Paris you've got to try, it's Orangina. But why would I recommend orange soda? Because it's not orange soda. It's orange juice, pulp and all, but carbonated too. Interesting and notably cheap, you should definitely grab some Orangina in Paris!
Don't buy it from the stalls near Notre Dame and other popular tourist sites -- it's WAY too expensive. Instead, find a little miniature store and look for it in the section where you'd expect products like cold Coca-Cola. I know for sure that there is one such store on the small streets between the Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel metro and the Bir-Hakeim metro (closer to the latter).
As for a recipe...well, listen up you chefs and bakers! Some American stores have Orangina (such as Trader Joe's), but I'll tell you the best way to make it at home.
Be aware that homemade Orangina goes flat in about a day, so drink it when you make it! If you're ready, try it out:
#5 -- Macarons
NOT Macaroons. Period.
Don't leave Paris without grabbing at least one macaron. But I'm begging you, for the love of all deliciousness, do NOT confuse macarons with macaroons. They are two entirely different things.
Macarons are actually quite difficult to describe, so I figured that my best bet would be to take my food journal entry on them from my blog, bythepathlesstraveled, and give that to you instead:
"The two that I had were just basic vanilla and then a pistachio one. Both had an almond undertone that was barely noticeable (in fact, I've only been able to place the flavor in retrospect now that I know that macarons are made with almond flour). The "cake" part of the macaron was...well, "airy" isn't the right word, as there were no pockets of air inside, and it wasn't flaky or anything. I suppose "light" is better - you bite into it and the very outside shell gives way in uneven cracks before you get to the soft, almost nonexistent but very flavorful inside. Then, you come to the crÃ¨me, which was smooth and refreshingly flavorful, having no taste of wax or anything that held it together. It all looks like a miniature cake with icing, but I can guarantee that is nothing of the sort. Not even comparable in texture, taste, or consistency" (October 7, 2012). (http://bythepathlesstraveled.wordpress.com/2013/01...
There is no good way to describe a macaron other than getting someone to just taste one (well, hopefully more than one!).
Look for some great, cheap macarons near the Bir-Hakeim metro stop. There are large, expensive ones in a shop on that main street between Bir-Hakeim and the Eiffel Tower, but if you instead turn down that street where that bakery shop is and walk for a while, there is a small (almost unnoticeable) bakery on your left that has them.
Be aware, though, that they don't speak any English. That tells you that you're in a good place for authentic food.
For you avid bakers out there, be aware that making macarons is HARD. Not going to lie about that. There is a fine line, no wider than a hair, between making perfect macarons and messing them up. That is why macarons are so highly regarded in France -- like the Japanese with fugu (pufferfish), you need a special cook to make them.
However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try! For the daring, try this recipe:
Helpful Guides for Travelers
Need some tips to carry with you? Try these.
This is a great guide if you're looking for the best food Paris has to offer. For real foodies.
Some people live for the sweet side of life, and this is a great guide to help you indulge in Paris!
If you're looking for a basic guide to help you decide on some great places for Parisian food, this is a great help!
For the general foodie, the Food Lover's Guide is everything you could ever want!
Are you getting ready to travel to Paris and need some tips or advice? Just want to talk about how excited you are? Have you already been to Paris and want to share your experiences? Leave a comment below! I love hearing from all types of people!