What Do The French Eat For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner?

French Dinner

The importance of food in French culture is shown in how central it is to daily life. The French enjoy long, leisurely meals with multiple courses, whereas the British are known for their afternoon tea and the Americans for their endless buffets. This food culture has a significant impact on the dynamics of daily life in France.

The French typically eat pastries for breakfast, potatoes for lunch, and soups for dinner.  France, like most developed countries, also has its share of meat eaters, vegetarians, and salty-and-sweet food enthusiasts.

It may interest you to know that some French foods are named after the regions from which they originate. Bordeaux, for example, comes from Bordeaux, and Dijon mustard comes from Dijon. Continue reading this article to learn more about French cuisine.

What Do The French Eat For Breakfast?

Before picking up their breakfast plates, the French usually reach for the coffee maker. Even though the typical coffee served in France is a strong espresso (if you order a café in a restaurant, you will most likely receive an espresso), it is customary to have a café au lait for breakfast.

This coffee is served with a generous amount of warm milk, typically in a large circular bowl or mug. Tea and hot chocolate are less popular alternatives.

french toast

To go with that first cup of coffee, here are some typical French breakfast options:

  • A piece of bread with butter or jam is typically sufficient for a French breakfast.
  • Toast with jam, also called tartine; is a favorite because it is simple and has a pleasant sweetness that goes well with coffee.
  • Flaky, toasty croissants are a traditional weekend-only breakfast favorite, though they are becoming less common.
  • Pain au chocolat is a delicious and opulent breakfast pastry that can also be served with a cup of coffee.

Occasionally, fresh fruit or yogurt is served with bread, toast, or croissants.

Fun Fact: The reputation of French cuisine is so widespread across the globe that in 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included it on its list of intangible cultural heritage.

lunch french

What Do The French Eat For Lunch?

The most comprehensive range of answers to the question of what the French eat can be found around the lunchtime options available in France. Some French workers take a two-hour break from work to enjoy a hearty lunch and a glass of wine.

In urban areas, office workers may purchase a sandwich from a street vendor or from the takeout display cases in a café.

Lunch At A Restaurant:

A three or four-course meal might include an appetizer (salad, soup, or paté), a meat or fish dish served with a warm vegetable, a variety of potatoes, dessert, and occasionally a cheese plate.

This lunch is usually accompanied by wine. Naturally, there are restaurants that serve lighter versions of popular menu items as lunch specials.

Lunch At Home:

There are still many people in France who eat their midday meal at home, which is typically simpler than the elaborate meals that are served in restaurants that consist of multiple courses.

This practice is more common in rural areas, particularly in jobs that require working outside, as taking a break from the heat of the sun during the middle of the day is extremely beneficial.

Street Lunch:

As transit times and operating hours lengthen, particularly in urban areas, an increasing number of French people buy sandwiches on the street or in subway stations for lunch. 

Baguettes are used to make famous sandwiches, with the most common options being cheese or ham and cheese. Boiling eggs, tuna, and salami may be available as well.

Lunch Menu Items At A French Restaurant

French lunch menus typically include an appetizer (une entree), a main course (typically a choice of fish or meat with potatoes or rice), and a dessert. These are some of the most popular lunch items on any French restaurant’s menu:

Soupe a L’Oignon Gratinee

In France, where it is considered a complete meal, Soup à l’Oignon Gratinee is at its finest. The classic French onion soup is made to perfection with caramelized onions and a crusty lid of grilled gruyere (Swiss) cheese.


On the ice, half-shelled oysters are displayed for the viewing of passersby. The quality of the oysters produced in the seas along the extensive coastline is critical. The Speciale de Claire is better than the Fine de Claire, and the Speciale Pousse en Claire is the best of all.


The term “charcuterie” refers to a variety of homemade sausages, beef that has been air-cured, dry ham, and pate. You can also get cheese, a baguette, mustard made with stone, and small pickled onions.

With the addition of a bottle of red wine, you have a French picnic to enjoy on a park bench with a friend.

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise is a popular option on the menus of many different cafes. The dish, which is named after a well-known city on the French Riviera, comprises tuna, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, capers, green beans, and occasionally seafood.

What Do The French Eat For Dinner?

The type of dinner served in France varies depending on the day of the week, the season, and the quantity of lunch. While those who eat sandwiches for lunch may have a larger dinner, those who go home for a lavish meal often have a smaller dinner.

For Sunday supper with extended family and on special occasions, family meals lengthen, include more courses, and are furnished with fine linens, cutlery, serviettes, and plates. When dinner is ready, someone says “à table,” and everyone goes to find a seat.

The main course varies from north to south and from the Mediterranean to the Alpine because France is a large country with a variety of climates and landscapes.

If you don’t like steak or fish, you might start to like it if you try it in France. There are always tempting, expertly prepared sauces nearby.

French Eating

Top Seven Foods That The French Eat

There are as many cuisines in France as there are regions; French people eat almost anything as long as it is healthy and properly prepared. Here are some of the most common foods consumed by the French on a daily basis.

Soupe à L’oignon

This is a traditional French soup made with beef stock and onions, and it is frequently topped with croutons and cheese. This dish from the Roman era was typically served by peasants.  The current version, however, dates back to the 18th century.

The unique taste of the soup comes from the caramelization of the onions, which is often done by simmering them with brandy or sherry.  If you’re in the mood for soup, try Marseille’s traditional soupe de poisson à la rouille. 

This soup, which used to be a fisherman’s favorite, is distinguished by a topping of garlic and saffron mayonnaise. This onion soup might serve as an appetizer but is typically considered as a main course in French dinners.

Coq Au Vin

Julia Child popularized this traditional French dish, making it one of her signature dishes. In this recipe, wine, mushrooms, bacon or salty pork (lardons), mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sometimes a little brandy are used to braise chicken.

The braising method, which is ideal for tougher birds but is also known as “rooster in wine,” is commonly used with chicken or capon.

Although regional versions of the meal use local wines throughout France, the wine is primarily from Burgundy.

Among these are coq au vin jaune (Jura), coq au Riesling (Alsace), and coq au pourpre (Beaujolais nouveau). There is even a coq au Champagne (Champagne)!

To prepare this meal, there are only four basic steps you need to take:

Step 1: 

Put the flour in a zip-top bag.  Add pepper for flavor. Toss the chicken into the bag, seal it, and shake vigorously to coat it.

Step 2:

Warm the oil in a large pan over low heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes before transferring it to a platter.

Step 3:

Cook the onion, bacon, and mushrooms in the pan for 5 minutes before adding the garlic. After cooking for one minute, add the wine, stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Stirring combines the ingredients, so make sure you stir thoroughly.

Step 4:

Return the chicken to the pan and reheat it. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs after 30 minutes of cooking. Put in the parsley and mix well. Serve with mashed potatoes for a complete meal.


Cassoulet is a delicious dish made with white beans and slow-cooked beef. The dish is typically made with pork or duck, but it can also be made with sausages, goose, mutton, or any other leftovers the cook has.

This regional cuisine is popular in Toulouse and Carcassonne and is based on traditional southern French dishes. The dish’s name is derived from the casserole dish in which it is often cooked (casserole). This dish is popular in France and is a staple in many French households.  It is perfect for winter because it is warm and filling.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is one of the most traditional French dishes you can think of. The dish originates from Burgundy in eastern France, the same region as coq au vin, and the two recipes are similar.

The main ingredient in boeuf bourguignon is beef, which is stewed with seasoned vegetables like pearl onions and mushrooms in red wine and beef broth. This cuisine, which was once served only in rural areas, is now a worldwide standard in French restaurants.

Although there are several shortcuts available, traditionally, the cheap beef slices were tenderized in wine for two days to enhance the flavors.

The Fête du Charolais, which takes place in August in Burgundy, celebrates the dish with music and wine.

Chocolate Soufflé

A soufflé is a light, airy dish, as the name suggests. The term “souffle” comes from the French verb “to blow.” The cuisine dates back to the early 1800s and is now a classic on dessert tables all over the world.

The creamy chocolate can seep out for a beautiful surprise thanks to the crispy chocolatey shell. It does not have to be sweet. Cheese soufflés are just as good if you want something with a little more salt.


Flamiche, which means “cake” in Dutch, is a delicacy from northern France near the Belgian border. It has a puff pastry crust and is stuffed with cheese and vegetables, similar to a quiche. Although leeks and cream are the most common fillings, there are other alternatives.

To make flamiche, cream, eggs, and flour are combined to make a thick pastry dough. The pastry is then rolled out and placed in a flan dish.

There is also a pizza-style variation of flamiche that omits the top crust. For a southern French twist, try the anchovy, onion, and olive-filled thin-crust pissaladière.

Confit De Canard

One of the best French foods is confit de canard, a delicious dish made from duck, though some chefs cook it with goose or pork as well. The meat is prepared using slow-cooking and old preservation techniques (confit).

The duck meat is marinated in salt, garlic, and herbs for 36 hours before being simmered in its own fat at a low temperature. This is a better alternative to grilling.

Popular side dishes include braised roasted potatoes and garlic. Although there are many variations of this dish available throughout France today, the best can be found in the Gascony region.

french macarons

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is Lunch In Paris?

Lunch is typically served in Paris between noon and two o’clock, after which the kitchen closes. 

What Do The French Eat For Snacks?

Yogurt, cereal bars, fromage blanc, and fruits are popular snacks in France.

What Is The Most Popular Candy In France?

Although Paris, France’s capital, is famous for its nougat candies, the Haribo candy remains the most popular candy in France.

Final Thoughts

The French have as many cuisines as they do regions; the varieties of food they consume are numerous and equally delicious. If you’ve tried the American burger, Italian pasta, and British breakfast, perhaps it’s time to try French cuisine. It’s worth a shot!

Daniel Clarke

The website is run by myself Daniel Clarke, I’m lucky enough to have been living in Hervey Bay, for 31 years so I’m classed as a local I have seen many changes over this time. Read more about us here

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