The Best Places To Visit In France – Difference In The Cuisine

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A restaurant in France.Have you ever wondered why France has the best restaurant or cafe in Europe? It is because of their delicious food and beverage which capture the hearts of guests from all over the country. Paris, in particular, is the city where tourists spend thousands of dollars every year to spend time in dining at both the fabulous restaurants, cafes and the nearby surroundings. The best places to visit in France where dining is concerned is yet to come.

Origin Of The French Cuisine

French cuisine consists of the cooking traditions and practices from France. During the 14th century, Guillaume Tirel, a court chef known as “Taillevent”, wrote Le Viandier, one of the earliest recipe collections of medieval France. It is during this time that French cuisine was heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Later in the 17th century, chefs François Pierre La Varenne and Marie-Antoine Carême spearheaded movements that shifted French cooking away from its foreign influences and developed France’s own indigenous style.

Today, French cuisine rides a fine line between haute and nouvelle styles. What remains the same since the 19th century is that fine food is available to everyone, no matter one’s income or station in life. Cheese and wine have now become a major part of the cuisine.

Haute cuisine or Grande cuisine (which in French means ‘high cooking’), refers to the cuisine of certain kitchens, characterized by meticulous preparation and presentation of food in the established French style. On the other hand, novella which means “new cuisine” is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine. It is characterized by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation in contrast to cuisine classique, an older form of haute cuisine.

A Haute Cuisine

Ethnic Cuisine With A Twist

Like their British neighbors, France once had a vast empire. Many immigrants from these former colonies have settled in Paris over the past 60 years from countries such as Senegal, Cameroon, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Vietnam, Laotia, Cambodia and Lebanese to name a few. They have made a huge effort to reproduce the cuisine of their countries, making Paris a place where you can take a culinary journey.

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Ethnic Cuisine has now become a part of everyday life, although the restaurants have had to work their way into the French consciousness. Fatéma Hal, who opened the Mansouria restaurant in 1985, has become an ambassador for Moroccan cuisine worldwide while Rougui Dia, of Senegalese origin, revitalized the kitchen as head chef at the venerable restaurant.

France’s favorite national dish is Couscous and is served in school cafeterias at least once a week. On any given night, Parisians can choose between a steaming bowl of Vietnamese phô, a crispy almond and chicken Moroccan pastilla served with confectioner’s sugar or the Senegalese national dish called tieb bou dien made of rice and fish cooked in a tomato broth.

Pho Tai, a Vietnamese dish.

Lunch And Dinner

Zerda Café

Zerda Café is one of Paris’ first north African restaurants which opened in 1946 and is located in 15 rue René Boulanger Street. Franco-Algerian chef, Jaffar Achour manages the kitchen, serving a variety of couscous dishes. He usually recommends his “spring couscous” dish which is made with yellow turnips, fresh peas and broad beans. Another meal that is often consumed regularly is mechoui lamb (marinated in butter and honey or strictly butter), olive oil, garlic, onions and spices. Karim, a pastry chef, invented a Seffa dessert, semolina with raisins, almonds, pistachios, dates and crushed speculoos (thin and spicy crunchy biscuits) which are sprinkled with orange flower water. The Zerda also has one of Paris’s largest wine cellars specializing in north African wines.

Pho Tai and Pho Tai Tai

Pho Tai restaurant was opened by owner, Te Ve Pin and was later relocated on Paris Chinatown in 2002. Phô and derivatives of the Vietnamese soup are served with aromas of cinnamon, ginger, and star anise wafting through the restaurant. Across the street is Pho Tai Tai which was opened in 2011. Clients can go over and get not only their Phô fix but also crispy chicken with orange and lemon, sautéed duck with basil and green pepper, rice noodles with grilled pork and shrimp sautéed in lemongrass. You can find these restaurants on 13 & 18 rue Philibert Lucot Street respectively.

Comme sur une île

This pretty restaurant has a steady neighbourhood clientele that comes to eat Mauritian Rafiq Hamjah’s light and spicy dishes. Mauritius’s cuisine is one of the most multi-ethnic in the world, combining Creole, Indian, Chinese and French influences that he uses in his Indian flavored wontons, shrimp in a Creole rougail sauce or his spicy French Daube. To get this tasty delight, you can visit the restaurant on the 83 rue Orfila on the 20th arrondissement.

One of a number of excellent Lebanese restaurants in Paris, Rimal provides a variety of meals such as tabboule (finely chopped parsley with onions, tomatoes, bulgur and mint), smoky eggplant (“m’tabal”), “kibbeh nayyeh”(raw, ground lamb with bulgur and spices and grilled meats such as chicken, lamb or quail). The homemade pistachio, mango, strawberry or almond Arabic ice-cream is one dessert that you shouldn’t miss. Rimal also has two hubs, one across the street from the restaurant and the other on Boulevard St Germain in the 6th arrondissement.

Le Palanka restaurant is run by Cameroonian chef, Christian Abegan who created pan-African cuisine with French flavors inspired by African countries such as the Ivory Coast, Mali, Gabon and of course Cameroon. You can start with a spicy fresh papaya salad with chili or hearts of lettuce with fried shrimp and a tamarind seed dressing and continue with a yassa (fish or chicken in a lime and onion marinade) from Senegal or guinea hen with a moyo onion sauce from Benin.

Lisa restaurant is the first to create a contemporary, creative and hip Parisian-Lebanese cuisine. Now well-established, the restaurant continues to serve re-invented Lebanese dishes and its bakery next door is the ideal place to stop for a sandwich if you’re in the area of the Paris covered “Galerie” .

Look for freshly-baked man’ouché sandwiches with zaa’atar (herb) cheese, cucumbers, olives or a kafta sandwich of lamb brochettes with parsley, onion, hummus, tomatoes and pickles. It is located on the 14 rue de la Banque on the 2nd arrondissement.

What’s For Breakfast?

A French Breakfast.

According to customers, these cafes are among the best places to dine with the majority of them ranking in the top 15 of customer reviews. These include Claus-La Table Du Petit-Déjeuner (14 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (rue du Louvre), Hardware Société(10 rue Lamarck), Carette(4 place du Trocadéro), Eggs & Co(11 rue Bernard Palissy), Le Saint-Régis(6 rue Jean du Bellay), Angelina(226 rue de Rivoli), Biglove Caffè (30 rue Debelleyme) and many others(These are all French names for their locations).


Located both on no 5 and 19 avenue in Lucien Sampaix street, Paris respectively, Hollybelly is a cafe serving delicious coffee & food with a focus on season ability and freshness.

For breakfast, they have a meal called Savory Stack made of pancakes with fried eggs, bacon, housemade Bourbon butter & maple syrup. This meal is the most favorite among customers. You can ask their staff about ‘The Champ’).

Sweet Snack is their world-famous pancakes with fruits de saison, crème fouettée and noisettes et sirop d’érable. Another meal to savour is the Black Rice Porridge, a delicious, warm, black rice porridge cooked in vanilla bean and infused with coconut milk. It is usually served with puffed grains and seasonal fruit.

For the eggs and sides menu, the meals usually come with the delicious toasted sourdough and fine French butter. They also offer both gluten free homemade cornbread and cashew butter for their customers. Sausage Party is a meal, a housemade pork sausage patty with a hint of toasted fennel seeds. According to the staff at Hollybelly, this particular food is terribly addictive.

Lastly, is the Marinated Feta Pastries made of fresh sheep milk cheese marinated in olive oil and thyme on a hot piece of bread.

The cafe is located in the 10th arrondissement, within walking distance from place de la République. You can get to place de la République with métro lines 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11. The closest subway stop to HB is Jacques Bonsergent and it’s on line 5. The other branch in the 19 avenue is currently closed and will re-open soon.

I think that these are the best places to dine with friends and family especially at Christmas where people from all ethnic backgrounds can have their favorite national dishes in the French capital. What are your views? Let me know by leaving comments below.

Updated: 26 January 2019

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13 thoughts on “The Best Places To Visit In France – Difference In The Cuisine”

  1. My daughter visited France last summer and she did tell me about the food. She told me about Couscous, but I didn’t know it was a favorite national dish. She buys it at the supermarket and I would like to prepare it with her. I think we could do with a good recipe. Is there a favorite one you could share?

  2. This article just make me hunger! I like your description, very detailed, I always like to heard a story like this! Very interesting! Thank you for the article!

  3. Carmeta,
    These are wonderful suggestions on food and places to go when visiting France. I don’t have any plans to go to France, but will keep this post in mind. I thought all the meals sounded delicious. When I read these kind of posts I always wonder if the information comes from research, word of mouth, or from personal experiences.

  4. Hi Carmeta, thank you so much for a wonderfully written and colourful review to some of the amazing cuisine that is available in Paris. I absolutely adore different spices and flavours from around the world and have been lucky enough to travel a great deal an experience them. However 7 years ago I drastically changed my diet and became vegan. I would love to know if any of these wonderful restaurants had vegan options on their menu. I suspect that they do but it would be a lovely thing for you to include in you reviews. Thanks you again for such a colourful a descriptive review. When I am next in Paris I will check them out, particularly the Zerda café and their couscous dish!

  5. I will take my girlfriend to France and I really would love to have a breakfast in Holybelly. I really like that it has gluten free foods as well. I wonder what is the best way to buy not cooked gluten free foods in that area? Do you have any recommendation?

  6. It’s always an interesting experience to try traditional foods from different countries. Sure, authentic places here in the Stats might work well, but nothing compares to the legitimate thing. If I travel to France or any other country, the traditional food will be the first things I go after.

  7. Very interesting article. I just read that France is one of the most popular destinations for retirees. It did not mention the cuisine though. I am going to be adding France to our bucket list, and I’ll be sure to try a few of these places.

  8. I’ve never been to France, but am planning on a European tour in the next year (hopefully!). This is an amazing guide and boy does it make me want to stop for awhile in the French Country. Do you ever make these dishes yourself?

    • Honestly, I have never made any of those dishes since I am not French but I do make oatmeal porridge with milk and either tea/coffee and scrambled eggs with/without cheese for my breakfast of course, lol. I do sometimes make pancakes too for myself as well.

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