The French, they love their food. You can see this in the quality and freshness of the ingredients they use to prepare their meals. They don’t cut corners either when it comes to their artisan street food either, but if you know where to look and where to avoid you can steer clear of disappointment.
Lunches and dinners in France are leisurely affairs. They often last hours, and the quality of the carefully prepared dishes is an important factor. That’s not to say that you can’t find fast street food in the cities of France just as you would in any other country. Look in the right places and you can find some of the most delicious crepes, filled baguettes, sandwiches and savory snacks.
In the major French cities you’ll no doubt come across street vendors selling prepared sandwiches, filled croissants and a range of warm snacks near the Paris hotels, transport links and popular tourist attractions. Avoiding them is a good way to avoid food poisoning, which can seriously put a crimp in your vacation while the price puts a dent in your wallet. Try to follow the locals if you can; if a place looks busy and has a large queue of customers, all those people can’t be wrong!
One of the best places to find artisan-quality street food is at the many open-air and covered markets. The sandwiches, croissants and baguettes will be baked on the same day and you can choose from a range of French cheeses and ham. Keep an eye out for the fresh quiches and the huge variety of specialty sausages, as well as the popular cheese-covered sausages sold at the markets. The markets are also the place to go for the freshest seafood snacks and you can even pick up some sushi in many of them.
If you want to be sitting while you eat then remember that it will cost more to sit outside at a sidewalk table; standing at the bar costs less. Again, look for the cafes that are busy with locals, especially during lunchtimes. Tasty, quick and inexpensive meals include the croque monsieur, which is basically two slices of warm crust-less bread filled with Gruyere cheese and lean ham. For something equally simple, quick and inexpensive, choose an omelet served with pommes frites and a salad.
Images by magerleagues, kurmanstaff and sheerluck7 and tornatore, used under Creative Commons license.
About the Author: Hugh Jacobs is a travel writer and self-confessed Francophile who has a particular interest in the works of Alexandre Dumas. When not indulging in French culture, he likes to wind down with some jazz, his favorite musician being Duke Ellington.