Paris is home to French cuisine that is well-recognized worldwide for its decadence, unique qualities, and delicious flavour. I explore French culture in Paris through its famous French food items and find some of the top cafes and restaurants in Paris for a medium budget. Below, I’ll dive into the eateries I found which serve mouth-watering items, such as escargot, boeuf bourguignon, and the famous croissant.
Croissants : Buttery bread for breakfast
There’s no better way to start your day than with a fresh croissant. Luckily, they are abundant in Paris, France!
Of course, you can select one of the touristy locations. However, my fiancé and I prefer a more local experience, so we opted for cafes and restaurants throughout the city that offered a more authentic experience.
First on the list was enjoying a flakey croissant with a coffee. To achieve this goal, we headed to La Maison d’Isabelle, the Best Croissant in Paris winner. All the pastries at this café are made with organic butter and flour for a healthier version. This café is right in the heart of St. Germain, so it's ideal for a stop before you continue on one of the available tours in Paris.
Our croissants were still warm when we began eating and were perfectly crispy on the outside. Plus, they were the right amount of buttery. We selected a regular croissant and chocolate croissant, though you can also try options like the orange escargot flavor. It's safe to say we visited this croissant shop a few times during our trip to try a few more flavors.
Escargot : Snails in the Oven
After spending the morning exploring the nearby markets and listening to our travel companion, it was time to enjoy another typical Parisian dish – escargot.
Typically, when you order this dish, it comes with a dozen snails on a platter !
You can order the snails with various sauces and flavors, so they cater to your taste preference.
In particular, we love eating Burgundy snails which are flavorful yet simple. They are served in the shell and have a generous helping of snail butter. This butter is loaded with aromatic herbs, such as parsley and shallots. It also usually includes garlic, salt, and pepper.
We enjoyed a plate of escargot from L’escargot Montorgueil, a restaurant serving traditional Burgundy snails since 1832. It was a quick 10–15-minute ride by car in Paris from Saint Germain in the 6th Arrondissement, making it an ideal lunch spot.
Macarons : Sweet meringue-based confection for desert
Like croissants, you'll find many cafes with various macaron flavors. These sweet treats are delicate, light, and flavorful. Plus, they have a rich, delicious, creamy interior. While many people are not sure of the origin of macarons, they’re known as a Parisian food item, and we knew they were a must-try while we were visiting the city.
Depending on the café you visit for macarons, you may find classic flavors like pistachio, vanilla, or chocolate. Other cafes have more creative flavors, like Earl Grey tea or salted butter caramel. Depending on your flavor preference, you can find an option that suits your needs.
We tried a few different macaron stores on our trip. Ultimately, we decided on a café that offered more creative macaron flavor options as our favorite. Our café of choice was Aoki Sadaharu, and we enjoyed the crowd favorite, the Symphonie. It’s made with fresh forest fruit, violet cream, and Earl Grey crème brulee, all stuffed into a red macaron.
Several shops spread throughout Paris allow you to taste the delicious offerings of Sadaharu Aoki. The stores also offer delicious and beautiful pastries, including mini cakes to help satisfy a sweet tooth. We decided to pick up some other pastries for a snack later in the day.
We knew we wanted to end the day with a delicious truffle-filled meal, so we made reservations for La Maison de la Truffe. This restaurant is pricier than the cafes you’ll find on the streets of Paris. However, if you choose seasonal truffles instead of black truffles, you can enjoy a more affordable meal for around 23 euros (depending on what you order).
We elected to try the croque-monsieur, another classic Paris dish, from this restaurant. This yummy sandwich typically includes ham and cheese and is served hot. The restaurant included a few truffle slices on the sandwich for a flavor boost and served it alongside a fresh salad.
If you have extra spending money, you can splurge on black truffles, featuring a bolder taste in your meal. If you select seasonal or summer truffles, you can still experience a tasty meal, though the flavor will be much lighter.
Boeuf Bourguignon : Beef stew braised in red wine
On our second day, we wanted to taste authentic boeuf bourguignon, and we found one of the best classy restaurants in Paris serving this meal. Le Volant Basque offers a fantastic boeuf bourguignon which uses Madeira wine for a slight sweetness.
You can order boeuf bourguignon (burgundy beef) at this restaurant for 19 euros. Our dishes were served with large helpings of tasty vegetables, so we felt we were eating healthy food in Paris.
The quality of the ingredients is also high, making it one of our favorite meals. The restaurant was cozy, and we loved eating here for a romantic meal.
Jambon-Buerre : Ham and Butter baguette sandwich
One of the simplest snacks in Paris that only requires three ingredients, jambon-buerre was one of my favorite items to grab while strolling around the city. This tasty sandwich uses ham, butter, and a fresh baguette for a filling snack you can easily take on the go. The restaurant you find must use Parisian ham, not regular ham. It makes a large difference when enjoying this sandwich. Parisian ham will have a much different flavor than regular ham.
Jambon-buerre is typically a street food, so you will find it as you're exploring Paris. Since it only has three ingredients, finding a vendor that uses high-quality items is important. Otherwise, you will not get the full effect of this sandwich. We found a great local café with some of the best jambon-buerre ever. La Fontaine de Belleville is a café that has been open since 2016.
This cafe is beloved by locals throughout the city, as it has been open since 1908. Even though it is under newer management, the café still has some of the best sandwiches in Paris. You can also find very tasty croque monsieur sandwiches here. We got one of each and split them as we continued walking.
Onion soup, or as we know it, French onion soup, is a great option for a lighter meal.
After snacking on jambon-buerre and croque-monsieur sandwiches, we wanted something tasty yet not too heavy. Onion soup is typically made with beef broth and caramelized onions. Then, it's topped with melty gruyere cheese and crispy croutons. My fiancé and I hunted for the best onion soup in Paris and found a few exciting options, including Bistrot de Vosges.
This bistro is nearby Bastille and the Place des Vosges. It specializes in serving menu items that come from the Aveyron region. If you ask anyone on the street, they'll point you in the direction of this bistro for some of the best onion soup. It's homemade, which you can taste with every bite of soup. Other menu items include a charcuterie board with regional meats, cheeses, and Aubrac beef.
Plan your five days meals in Paris
If you’re not sure where to start your food journey, you can always ask a tour guide to help you. A native tour guide provides a quality itinerary tailored for you to follow during your trip. For example, you can book the Five Days in Paris option, which includes a few daily activities plus a stop by a local restaurant for lunch.
If you plan to stay longer than five days, you can incorporate the above restaurants into your trip and a special occasion restaurant to your list.