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10 things you should know what living in France has taught me about food

10 things you should know what living in France has taught me about food Posted on March 30, 201760 Comments

I’ve been living in Paris for over eighteen months. And it’s pretty apparent there is a different attitude to food. When I was back in the UK in January, the magazines were screaming: DIET, DIET, DIET. At least two celebs had books out on a new fangled diet that had changed their lives. But back here in Paris. We ate well over Christmas, and we are going to carry on eating well. Because food is for pleasure and it brings happiness to one’s life. But food is consumed with discipline and moderation is key. Here is what living in France has taught me about food.

1. We don’t drink jugs of wine

Wine is served in small glasses, the largest I have had is 175mls, that’s a small glass in the UK.  Wine should be drunk with food, and French wine tastes so much better with food.

2. And the wine always seems to be French

I’m partial to a nice glass of Australian Shiraz, but it’s not easy to find wines that aren’t French.  In the supermarkets and the caves aux vins (the cute little wine shops)  they only seem to have French wine. And why would you sell anything else when there is so much to offer.

3. Butter is not the enemy

Everything tastes so much better when you have cooked it with a knob of butter. Just try roasting chicken slathered in butter and a little pepper and salt. Nothing quite beats it!

And I have a favourite butter. It’s from Normandy, with sea salt crystals. Eaten with a baguette, it is simply sublime.

4. Nor is bread

I have grown to love bread. I have a favourite boulangerie, it bakes fresh baguettes at least three times a day. Walking home with a warm, freshly baked baguette tucked under my arm, is heavenly. And we don’t just have one boulangerie, there are four within a five-minute walk of my apartment. And that doesn’t include the patisseries (another three). There is no point low carbing here!

5. In fact, bread is a religion

Next to godliness is breadiness. That’s what if feels like here.

The French might queue barge or queue jump in the supermarket or at the bus stop but never at the boulangerie. The boulanger must be respected. When I walk into a boulangerie behind the counter there are many types of baguettes. Check out this post by David Lebovitz to get your head around the French baguette.

6. I’ve rekindled a love of sugar

When I left the UK I was doing the sugar-free thing, cutting out refined sugar from my diet. But living in Paris it’s hard to do. I just can’t ditch those pain au chocolats for breakfast. And the cakes are to die for. I’m like a kid standing with my nose pressed up against a sweet shop window, trying to decide how to spend my pocket money, on cake!

7. Chocolate is an art form

Oh yes. Walking into a chocolate shop, you might think you have walked into a branch of Tiffany’s. The handmade, artisan chocolates are jewels exquisitely presented in glass cabinets by equally well-presented serveuses. The chocolates are packed in beautiful boxes, to be brought home and admired, gaze in wonder as to how such a little morsel can yield so much pleasure.

8. No eating on the run

No one eats on the street. That is just uncouth. A big no, no.

9. There’s no snacking

This has been a big lesson. I never really see anyone snacking in between meals. Now I eat three meals: breakfast, lunch and supper and nothing in between (at least I try not to!).

And it’s been pretty easy to stop snacking because snacking is almost impossible to do. The temptation to treat oneself to a little tidbit has been taken away. That’s because there aren’t corner shops selling bars of chocolates, sweets and crisps; cake stands in railway stations; a Krispy Kreme concession in the local supermarket. And the newsstands, they just sell magazines and papers.

But there is one single prescribed snack time, at around four o’clock, when it’s gouter when we are able to munch on a sweet snack.  People are very disciplined when it comes to food.

9. No drinking vats of coffee

There is Starbucks, Costa Coffee and branch or two of Pret a Manager.  And more, and more, artisan coffees houses are springing up around the city. But generally, I don’t see many people running around Paris slurping their grande soya latte with a shot of caramel. Mostly, the done thing is to nurse a little espresso in a cafe and watch the world pass by, thinking deep existentialist thoughts while scribbling in a notebook.

10. And don’t get me started on cheese, it’s going to be life long thing

When I first walked into our local supermarket I was overwhelmed by the cheeses housed within the wall of fridges. I like cheese, I am partial to a bit of Stilton, the kids love a mature Cheddar. When I was a kid, the most exotic we ever got was to eat a bit of Red Leicester.

But, French cheese, where do I start? Reblochon, Savoie cheeses, Mont d’Or (I’m going to treat myself to some of this!),  Tomme. And I can gnaw my way through a block of Comte in a single sitting.

We went to buy a piece of goats cheese at our local market and were greeted by at least thirty different varieties. We came home with a goats cheese that resembled a mouldy grey pebble but tasted divine.

Yes. cheese is going to be a life-long adventure of eating and learning.


Brilliant blog posts on

Dear Bear and Beany
Sparkly Mummy
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My Petit Canard

60 thoughts on “10 things you should know what living in France has taught me about food

  1. My husband is French and I am American. It was hard to get our cultures aligned on the snacking policy with our son! I would rather graze all day than eat a meal, which is sacrilegious to my husband. I recognise so much of what I know from having French family reading this post. And about the cheese, sometimes I’d like to have a meal WITHOUT a cheese course, but apparently this is just nearly impossible with a French family. C’est la vie! xx

    1. My kids expect snacks all the time, I admire the discipline the French have about food. I so get you with the cheese! Thanks for dropping by!

  2. I’ve read about some of these practices in the past, and I find it really fascinating. It sounds like the French have a much healthier attitude to food, diet and health. I have always practiced an “everything in moderation” approach but it can be very difficult when as you say, the UK is so set up to give people every type of food convienience you could ever want. It does make you really think though.. I might try to adopt some of the French approaches in our family as I think they might be on to something! Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily
    My Petit Canard recently posted…The Quiet Before The Storm. Gratitude List #22My Profile

    1. The French do take their food seriously. And their culture of eating starts very early, and even at school food is considered important, three-course meals, and learning how to sit and eat properly! And yes they are very disciplined.

    1. Yes in the UK I was a total snacker, and it’s easy to do. Much harder here. I’m with you on the bread, cheese and wine!

  3. Hi, as a foodie I was fascinated by your post. The different attitude to food is amazing. We should perhaps learn from France. I’m guilty of snacking and eating on the go. This has reminded me that perhaps I shouldn’t, Chloe #sharethebloglove

    1. I do think we can learn a little from the French when it comes to eating, a little less snacking and eating on the run is a good start. I know it’s hard to find time to sit and have a full meal but it doesn’t hurt to try!

  4. Errr these sound like wonderful things to have learnt about food – especially embracing bread and butter and chocolate and cheese… delicious!! #kcacols

  5. I’d be happy to live anywhere where bread is religion 😉 not sure I’d be happy with the teeny glasses of wine though! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    OddHogg recently posted…Financial ResetMy Profile

    1. Yes those teensy weensy glasses of wine were a shock! It’s a different attitude to drinking here, slowly and with food!

    1. Oh thank you! I am absolutely hooked on pain au chocolats! I do agree, I think in the UK we’re not so great at how we consume food.

  6. This is just fabulous. I love everything French when it comes to food. I always have. I love that they don’t eat on the run and espresso is my favourite coffee anyway. I think we could learn so much from the French and their attitude to food in the UK. Thank you for joining the #BigPinkLink

    1. Thanks for the fab comment. I am going to be taking away some French eating habits when I leave Paris, number one on my list is no snacking!

  7. It’s funny, my first thought was that I’m not actually a huge fan of French food – I much prefer Italian – but I have to admire their love of butter, bread, and cheese! All huge favourites of mine! I’ve always found the European lack of chain coffee shops a funny one – you can’t move two steps without bumping into one in the UK, but whenever I’ve seen one in Europe it’s been a huge surprise! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…Living Arrows 14/52My Profile

    1. You’re right about the coffee chains, there are a few Starbucks spreading around Paris, and they are getting more and more popular. But I think on the whole they really don’t like the Americanisation of their culture and try and avoid it as much as possible! But the bread, cheese and the butter – so delicious!

    1. Even though there are lots of cakes, croissants, butter, wine, chocolate there is less temptation and once you get your head round it, the discipline comes.

  8. Parisian way food/life sounds truly divine, a place that I wish I could call home and eat my way happily through the country vivia la france! x

  9. I agree with all this and definitely love the French attitude to food. I do intermittent fasting to lose weight (I eat only 500 cals 2 days/wk), which has reset my appetite even when I’m not fasting and made me realise I don’t need to snack. It has also made me appreciate food more when I’m eating it. So on the days when I’m not fasting I am really savouring my food but naturally eating less of it. This post has made me think I should be stricter with myself about not eating in a rush, enjoying food and eating only at certain times of day. A very good read. #kcacols

    1. This is something I have learned and really started to appreciate, about really relishing good food, not denying yourself, but eat with discipline and moderation. They really know how to do this here!

  10. I really enjoyed reading this. I adore Paris so I am so envious that you live there. Their idea of food is right up my street. i love the idea of snacking and no walking around sipping coffee. I do love sitting at a cafe, drinking an espresso and people watching while I am there x

    1. That is a very special treat being able to take a coffee and watch the world walk by. I love that people don’t run around eating, and the no snacking is great too – so much better for our health!

    1. Yes to that. That’s one thing you don’t see people eating out on the street or on buses or on the tube. A big no, no!

    1. I really like that as well. I love the reverence that is given to food. It’s a big part of life here. And so it should be!

  11. Great post. I spent 10 months living in France in 2006/2007 and found it very much as you describe. I ate so much bread, cheese and drank copious amounts of espressos. There were no Starbucks or anything like that where I lived, although there was a McDo! I really miss the eating culture.

    Nicola | Mummy to Dex recently posted…2017 // MarchMy Profile

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