When thinking of Paris, the most obvious superlatives for the city are “the city or love,” or “the city of lights.” Tourists so often masterfully plan their schedules to maximize the amount of museums they can see, walks along the Seine they can take, and hours of the nights they can spend wandering the lively streets. However, what many people often overlook when planning their dream vacation to this world-renowned city is the sheer mass of new foods there are to try! Trust me, there’s a lot more than just baguettes! Although I highly recommend trying all of the foods Paris has to offer, the unfortunate existence of time and budgetary restraints many travelers face don’t really make that a possibility. But fear not! I have compiled a list that definitively ranks my favorite Parisian delicacies from “yum” to “life-changing.”
4. Macaroons: Even before heading to Paris, many people are familiar with the brightly colored and flavor-packed miniature cookie sandwiches that seem to grace the brunch tables of every country club. Laduree, arguably the most well-known Macaroon maker in Paris, is a very popular tourist hot-spot– with some patrons even waiting in lines up to an hour long for their turn at the counter. In my opinion, the cookies are often too artificial tasting, and with flavors like lime, green apple, and champagne, it’s fairly easy to understand why. I really just think that some flavors weren’t meant to be transformed into cookie form! I say buy one just to say that you’ve tried them, but save your time and money by avoiding the lines and chaos of Laduree.
3. Escargot: Every American knows of this French specialty, but not necessarily in a good way. American kids all grow up knowing that French people eat snails for dinner, and most turn up their noses then and decide that they’ll never try it. I actually highly recommend trying escargot, as it has a very unique texture and taste, but there are some warnings and suggestions that come attached to my recommendation. Firstly, it is very easy to have bad escargot. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get off the busy tourist streets if you want to try authentic escargot. A shop that cranks out thousands of plates of escargot per day alongside t-shirts that say “I tried snails in Paris!” is not the place you want to buy it from. Secondly, although some French people do order escargot as a main dish, it’s usually offered as an appetizer that’s meant for sharing. I recommend ordering the dish as a group, and then splitting the dish so everyone can have a small taste.
2. Crepes: Chances are you’ve had this dish at some point in your life for breakfast, but in Paris it’s mostly a street food served at all times of day. Although actual French people usually only take them with a squirt of lemon juice and some sugar, tourists often opt for the more decadent Nutella & Strawberry combination. If you’re not in the mood for something sweet, crepes in Paris are also savory– often being filled with ham, cheese and spinach.
1. French Onion Soup: Although in Paris it’s simply know as “Onion Soup,” (for obvious reasons). This dish is fairly simple in theory as it’s really just onions in broth covered with pieces of baguette and topped off with a thick layer of gooey-melted cheese. However, the French really know how to hit this dish on the head. During my time in Paris I quickly lost count of the number of bowls I devoured. It’s usually served as a starter dish during dinner, but at about six euro a bowl it also makes a very affordable and tasty lunch– especially when paired with a picturesque Parisian café street view.
This list is clearly a very condensed listing and by no means includes all the food Paris has to offer. But, that being said, it’s my humble opinion that these four delicacies (and their respective order) should be at the top of every visitor’s to-do list– right beside visiting the Louvre and the Cathedral Notre-Dame.