Culinary notes from France: 25 things about French food

Culinary notes from France: 25 things about French food

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Expatica food blogger Dominique Cachat shares 25 trivia facts about food in France.

1. Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food. The French view eating as not just a neutral act, but as culture.

2. France has a different cheese for almost every day of the year.

3. In France, people eat approximately 500,000,000 snails per year.

4. Ten billion baguettes are produced each year in France. By law, a traditional baguette can only have three ingredients: flour, yeast and salt, and must weigh 250 grams, just short of 9 ounces.

5. To help with the rising obesity in France, Starbucks has opened 46 stores in Paris and Lyon.

6. Many people in France drink their hot beverages from bowls and dip bread in it.

7. The legal drinking age is officially 18 for strong liquors (21percent vol. alcohol), and 16 for most alcohol drinks, like beer and wine.

8. While French cuisine is often associated with rich desserts, in most homes dessert consists of only a fruit or yogurt.

9. France is the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products — and Europe’s largest.

10. France is the world's second-largest consumer of pesticides after the US — and the world's first-largest consumer of fungicides. The widespread use of chemicals is one reason people in France are turning to bio or organic products. In fact, almost 30 percent of French are now bio buyers.

11. Even though one in five French people say they have stopped eating beef, most of them do not like tofu. They have obviously never tried the tofu dishes at The Bamboo House!

12. The French enjoy eating horse and rabbit. It is normal to see these items on a restaurant menu.

13. Almost all grocery stores close at 8pm and are closed on Sundays. There are exceptions in big cities.

14. Wine is considered an important part of the French meal. "Wine ...the intellectual part of the meal." - Alexandre Dumas, 1873.

15. It is almost impossible to find true Mexican food in France. I say "almost" because I am hoping someone can prove me wrong.

16. In times of celebration, the French always drink Champagne. The first written reference to Champagne was English, not French! In 1676, Etherege wrote in praise of "sparkling Champagne" which "Quickly recovers, Poor laughing lovers, Makes us frolic and gay, and drowns all our sorrows."

17. At a French McDonald's, you can order a beer and a Croque McDo. Prices on most items are twice as expensive as the USA, most likely because 90 percent of all agricultural products used at French McDonald's are produced locally.

18. Cuisine TV, which is the French Food Network, is way boring. The recipes are interesting, but if you are not passionate about cooking, you won't want to watch.

19. A traditional French Christmas menu consists of raw oysters, escargots, fois gras, smoked salmon, scallops and Champagne.

Photo @ avlxyz
On the grill: banana, ricotta, almond, maple syrup crepe

20. Goûter or quatre-heure is an afternoon snack for French children and is made up of crepes, croissants, brioche, cookies or hot chocolate.

21. It is common for people in most parts of France to take a two-hour lunch break. Therefore, most shops close at 12pm and reopen at 2pm or sometimes even 3pm.

22. The cuisine from each different region in France differs greatly. The Provence region uses olive oils, tomatoes and herbs in many dishes. In Normandy, the food is influenced by butter, crème fraiche and apples. The Alps region is known for its cheese dishes, including fondue and raclette, while the Alsace region has a strong German influence which includes beer and sauerkraut.

23.Grand Cru (great growth) designates the best. In Burgundy it refers to the best vineyards which usually have multiple owners. In Bordeaux its meaning varies by the specific region but always refers to properties with a single owner.

24. AOC, Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, is a system of labelling products - wine, cheese, chickens, olive oils, potatoes and even lentils. It serves as a guarantee of the origin of a product and its quality.

25. Côte-Rôtie is a French wine AOC (see above) in the northern Rhône region of France. The earliest record of wine making in the region dates to the 2nd century BC when the Romans settled in the regions around Vienne.

Photo ©
Ampuis (Vallée du Rhône): Terrasse de Côte Rôtie en hiver

The vineyards surround the tiny village of Ampuis, just minutes from our home. The vineyards are unique because of their vertical slopes and stone walls. Côte-Rôtie means the roasted side and refers to the long hours of sunlight that these steep slopes receive. The wines are red, made with Syrah grapes and up to 20 percent Viognier.

Dominique Cachat / Expatica

Dominique Cachat writes about her true love of food and her culinary adventures in France. After running a family restaurant in Florida, she moved to France following her passion for French food and quality of life. Dominique and her French husband own and operate,, a company specialising in food and wine tours in the South of France.

Photo credits: avlxyz; kvins

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8 Comments To This Article

  • Nigaude posted:

    on 26th August 2015, 02:24:56 - Reply

    I agree. Many of these facts seem very dated to me.
  • Stracciatella posted:

    on 25th July 2015, 00:29:44 - Reply

    The legal age to drink alcohol IS 18 ( even if many people start drinking beer - for example- earlier, at 16.)
    I'm french, and I was a bit shocked to see so many clich
  • Parigi posted:

    on 23rd May 2012, 14:02:15 - Reply

    "3. In France, people eat approximately 500,000,000 snails per year."

    That's not even 8 snails per year per person. Why is this worth mentioning? Why not say a French person also has two eyes and a nose?

    "15. It is almost impossible to find true Mexican food in France. I say "almost" because I am hoping someone can prove me wrong."

    In Paris: El Nopal, Candelaria.

    "21. It is common for people in most parts of France to take a two-hour lunch break. Therefore, most shops close at 12pm and reopen at 2pm or sometimes even 3pm."

    Food shops close for lunch around 12:30, 1pm, and reopen around 3:30, 4pm. The markets are deserted between 2pm and 3:30pm."

    For food shops and markets, the traditional closing day is Monday. They are open Sunday morning.
  • judi dunn posted:

    on 17th September 2010, 05:38:25 - Reply

    Dominique.. a wonderful and fun article! Bravo! Judi
  • Carole posted:

    on 12th September 2010, 20:48:47 - Reply

    McDonald's started helping with obesity long before Starbucks. By the way, you can order un petit noir.
  • Steve posted:

    on 7th April 2010, 08:37:06 - Reply

    Paul, I live 50 kms NW of Lyon in a village of 650 people. Our baker and our grocer are both open 6 days a week (inc Sunday) and I have 3 small supermarkets within 10 kms that are also open on a Sunday morning.

    When was the last time you saw horse on a menu ?

  • Paul posted:

    on 6th April 2010, 18:22:56 - Reply

    These may be a little bit clichés, true... but most of these are facts and are right, i'm French and i can tell you! You live in a city but in the country nothing is opened on sundays!!! there is a law coming autorizing opening on sundays soon. I eat a different cheese almost everyday! It may not be interesting to you but i found it fun...
  • Steve posted:

    on 24th March 2010, 11:38:58 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator] a real collection of tired or erroneous facts. i) Most grocery shops around us in the Lyon area are open on a Sunday, the exception being the large hypermarkets. ii) I would imagine that 95% of French people have never heard of tofu iii) I think Starbucks have probably opened stores with a view to making money rather than tackling obesity !