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A Beginner’s Guide to French Food in France

by Hannah Deno
Young woman eats a crepe, a type of food in France | AIFS Study Abroad

France is a country renowned for its cuisine, and if you’re studying abroad there you’ll no doubt want to try as much as you can. But with limited amount of time abroad, what types of food in France should you prioritize? What’s the best that the country has to offer?

While there are too many amazing types of French food to try — and you’ll definitely want to do your own exploring while you’re studying abroad to find new personal favorites — this list can serve as a beginner’s guide to give you some ideas when you’re abroad.

Here are the top 5 types of food in France that I loved while I was studying abroad.

1. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

I didn’t expect fruits and vegetables to be much different abroad. However, when my host family first served fruit with meals, I found that it was so much better. In France a lot of fruits and vegetables are sold in the outdoor markets. It’s all so fresh, and you can tell when you eat it or cook with it. Foods I had loved before, like apricots, strawberries, and green beans, were enhanced; and foods I had never cared for before while I was in the United States, such as carrots, melon, and peas, I found I enjoyed so much more.

2. All of the Ice Cream

French ice cream | Food in France | AIFS Study Abroad

If you study abroad during the summer, or any other time when it’s hot, ice cream is a must. There’s something special about European ice cream that makes it so much better than ice cream anywhere else. It’s creamier and sweeter and incredible. Several times a week, my friends and I would try out different ice cream shops to try a variety of flavors. Besides enjoying the delicious ice cream, it was a great way to spend time and get to know the people I was traveling with.

3. Crêpes and Galettes

French crepe and coffee | Food in France | AIFS Study Abroad

One of my goals when I decided to go to France was to find a café and try a crêpe, and it all completely met my expectations. I personally think it’s important to try a crêpe if you ever go to France. Whether it’s crêpes sucre (sweet), or a savory galette, they’re very French and satisfying. For a sweet crêpe, Nutella is always a good choice. For something more savory, a galette with chicken, cheese, and caramelized mushrooms and onions makes for a perfect lunch to share with a friend, or to eat all yourself.

4. Almond Croissants

French almond croissant | Food in France | AIFS Study Abroad

There’s such a wide variety of baked goods around every corner in France. There’s a pastry for whatever your tastebuds might like. From croissants, tarts, pain au chocolate, to macrons, you should try to taste as many as possible while you’re in France. However, the pastry that stole my heart at the end of my time in France was the almond croissant. Almond croissants have the flaky, buttery essence of a normal croissant, but with a sweet, decadent almond paste filling, and crunchy almonds on top. There was nothing better than a trip to the bakery after a long day, and I’ll be dreaming of almond croissants for a long time to come.

5. Boursin Cheese

I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan of cheese before I studied abroad, but while in France I decide to broaden my horizons. Similar to pastries, there’s such a wide variety of French cheeses that there’s something for everyone, even for those who don’t typically like cheese. We had a cheese tasting, and I discovered Boursin. It’s a cheese similar to cream cheese with garlic and onion flavor. It’s not a harsh variety, so it’s perfect for someone like me who doesn’t typically like cheese. It’s also perfect to smother on slices of baguette and eat in a park.

Of course these are just my recommendations to start exploring all the wonderful cuisine of and food in France.  There’s so much to try, and when you’re on your study abroad program in France I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites to create your own list of incredible, crave-worthy foods.

Young woman eats a crepe, a type of food in France | AIFS Study Abroad
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