Welcome to the food and wine guide to France for travelers who want the biggest bang for their bucks. We’ve scoured the French cities and countrysides for the best macarons, Champagne, and beef bourguignon. Whether you want to indulge your taste buds with a sumptuous, pricey feast or satisfy your hunger pangs with cheaper authentic fare, we’ve got you covered.
Macarons in Paris
You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the otherworldly delight of an authentic French macaron. Made from two meringue-based almond-flour cookies, a macaron can be sweet or savory, filled with everything from strawberry jam to prosciutto and burrata. Match a sweet macaron with an equally sweet wine or Champagne, while dry white wines like Brut Champagne are best for macarons that are more like tapas than dessert. So where do you find the best macarons in France? Try Pierre Herme. Home to the world’s best pastry chef in 2016, Pierre Herme is just a 1-kilometer walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Cassoulet in the Languedoc Province
Sure, bean and pork stew (cassoulet) might not sound like the most amazing French dish, but that is part of its appeal. The flavors sneak up on you, luring you into a false sense of familiarity before whamming your palate with a deep, rich, hearty punch.
A cassoulet is a slow-cooked delight, usually featuring duck or goose but occasionally pork sausage and mutton. Crispy pork skin, fresh herbs, and white beans round out the flavor profile. The ingredients get to know each other in a traditional clay pot called a cassole.
Three towns within the Languedoc province lay claim to the world’s best cassoulet: Toulouse, Carcassone, and Castelnaudary (the self-proclaimed birthplace of cassoulet). Le Puits du Tresor offers a revelatory dining experience, as does Emile in Toulouse. Try pairing your cassoulet with Cahors, a southwestern French wine similar to Malbec.
Quiche in the Lorraine Region
If you’re a quiche enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of quiche lorraine. This savory egg tart takes on new life in the northeastern region of France. Due to its close proximity, German culinary traditions also play a part in shaping this culinary classic.
Smoked bacon and Munster-Gerome—a soft white cheese from the Vosges Mountains—take the cake (er, the quiche) when it comes to Lorraine’s quiche ingredients. Ham is also a common addition, as are a variety of pickled veggies. To indulge your egg-loving senses, consider a visit to the riverfront city of Nancy. Once the seat of the Dukes of Lorraine, this historic forest-ringed city makes quite the visual and culinary impression. Pair with your quiche lorraine a glass of a local dry white wine, such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Reisling or Gewurztraminer.
Beef Bourguignon in Beaune – Burgundy Region
You might remember the fateful adaptation of Julia Child’s beef bourguignon from the movie “Julie and Julia.” In Burgundy, they know how to do it right.
The dish, for those who don’t know, is a slow-roasted masterpiece of braised beef, pearl onions, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. This long, careful process creates a depth of flavor that is, simply put, miraculous. Nowhere does this ring truer than in the town of Beaune. Both Caves Madeline and Ma Cuisine offer to-die-for bourguignon, paired with local wines like Beaujolais, Chablis, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
One final tip for your culinary travels across France: Eat where the locals eat. No one knows the true soul of authentic French cuisine quite like the people who eat it every day.
Looking for more tips for your trip to France? Here are a few of our favorites: