Home Lifestyle Food & Drink Paris street food: the best snacks and where to find them
Last update on September 06, 2021
Written by Jenna Lyons

Grab your walking shoes and get ready to tuck into some of the best street food Paris has to offer with our snacker’s guide to the city.

When it comes to food, Paris is known for its famous literary cafés like Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, and its many Michelin-starred restaurants. In fact, the city was home to a whopping 119 of these in 2020; placing it second – beyond Tokyo – on the list of cities with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. However, in recent years, the Paris food scene has moved to the streets.

That’s right, the city of haute cuisine has developed its own unique street food culture based on both classic French flavors and international favorites. From traditional French crêpes to late-night Turkish kebabs, the City of Lights is a paradise for foodies looking to indulge in some seriously tasty snacks. So whether you prefer them sweet, savory, fried, or steamed, here are some of the best street eats to add to your Paris bucket list.

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1. Crêpes

Originating from France’s Brittany region during the 13th century, this iconic Paris street food can be found almost anywhere across the city. These light, thin pancake-like delights are cooked in a large pan or skillet and often served with Nutella or jam. Aside from the many street vendors dotted throughout Paris, the city’s parks and outdoor markets are other popular spots to enjoy a humble crêpe. And while the prevailing consensus is that they are best served without a knife and fork, some of the more ‘chic’ varieties can also be found at restaurants. Needless to say, this is one Paris street food that you can’t visit the city without tying.

French crêpe

Where to find it

2. Galettes

Also originating from the Brittany region, the hearty and versatile galette is another popular Paris street food that you will encounter while exploring the city. However, unlike the traditional sweet crêpe which is made from wheat flour, the galette is made from buckwheat flour which gives it a richer and more savory flavor; not to mention a darker color. The beauty of this hearty French snack is that you can load it with all kinds of delicious and nutritious fillings, such as ham, cheese, and egg.

French galette

Huge, greasy, cheesy, and sometimes meaty, galettes are popular late-night street food in Paris. A great place to find them is along the pedestrianized Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris’s oldest and most picturesque streets. And if you want to follow the French tradition, you should wash it down with a pint of cider.

Where to find it

3. Gaufres

Hailing from neighboring Belgium, the heavenly gaufre (or waffle) is the ideal snack to enjoy during the winter or summer months. And while they can be enjoyed with all manner of sweet and savory toppings, they are best served with a dollop of Chantilly cream to add a little lightness to the rich pastry. Surprisingly, these delicious thick waffles might actually be the oldest Paris street food on our list. In fact, they are mentioned in French poems from as early as the 12th century, when they were sold at fairs and religious festivals. Although you will find packages of them on the shelves at local supermarkets across France, it is best to enjoy them fresh from street vendors around Paris or at one of the many bistros that serve them.

Gaufres

Where to find it

4. Bao burgers

Often referred to by expats as ‘Taiwanese hamburgers’, bao burgers (or gua bao) are soft and fluffy steamed buns that are traditionally filled with slow-cooked, braised pork belly, pickled greens, powdered peanut, and coriander. Cousins to dumplings, these tasty Asian delights became a huge trend in New York back in 2009, before reaching the streets of Paris soon after. The contrasting textures of the rich and tender meat against the light and airy bao make this an absolute hit with tourists and locals alike. Fortunately, you won’t have any trouble finding this delicious Paris street food across the city, with numerous venues serving them.

Gua Bao
Photo courtesy of Panda Panda

Where to find it

5. Falafel

In the popular Marais neighborhood of Paris, one street food rules them all – the falafel. In fact, this Middle Eastern specialty, which sees these deep-fried chickpea patties placed in flatbread along with vegetables, hummus, and other ingredients is even tasty enough to bring carnivores and vegans together. You will find several different types of falafel dotted throughout Paris, including Israeli, Lebanese, and Syrian varieties. And these make for a tantalizing and filling snack while you’re out and about exploring the city.

paris street food: falafel

One of the most popular spots to pick up this delicious Paris street food is along the Rue des Rosiers in the old Jewish quarter of the Marais district. Every day (except Saturdays) a long line snakes outside of L’As du Fallafel, which serves the most famous falafel sandwich in all of France.

Where to find it

6. Ice cream

Ice cream is the go-to Paris street food to keep locals and tourists alike refreshed during the hot summer months. Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici first introduced France to the frozen dessert in 1553, following her marriage to King Henry II of France. The delicacy was first accessible to the general public in 1660 when it was served at Le Procope, the oldest café in Paris. Back then, the recipe simply called for milk, cream, butter, and eggs. The legendary venue still serves its artisanal ice cream today, albeit in a wider assortment of flavors. These include lemon, coconut, passion, vanilla, chocolate, white coffee, and heavenly amaretto. Luckily, though, you can find equally delicious scoops on offer at numerous street vendors, bistros, and restaurants across the city.

Ice cream in front of the Eiffel Tower

Where to find it

7. Pastrami sandwiches

This delectable Turkish delicacy has charmed its way into the mouths and stomachs of Parisians. The most famous variety of this highly seasoned, cured beef is made in the town of Kayseri in central Turkey. Interestingly, the term ‘pastirma’ literally means ‘being pressed’ in Turkish. This refers to the way the nomad Turks of Central Asia used to preserve the meat by placing slabs of it in leather bags on the sides of their saddles as they rode. Thankfully, however, it’s much easier to come by today, especially in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. In fact, many of the restaurants that serve the iconic delicacy claim that it is the best in the world!

Pastrami sandwich
Photo courtesy of Florence Kahn Boutique

Where to find it

8. American-style cookies

France may be famous for its colorful macarons, madeleines, and simple shortbread sablé. But when it comes to the city’s cookie culture, the traditional American-style variety is just as trendy among Parisians. In fact, in recent years, bespoke shops selling the popular US treat have been popping up everywhere across the city’s various arrondissements. Cookie lovers can choose all kinds of unique and creative flavors, such as matcha, toasted pecans, caramelized banana, and pistachio with white chocolate.

cookies
Photo courtesy of Scoop Me a Cookie

And they won’t have trouble spotting them either, because the French are so crazy about these crumbly American delights that they have no translation for them: they simply call them ‘cookies’.

Where to find it

9. Croque monsieur/madame

So much more than your average grilled cheese sandwich, the croque monsieur has been an institution in France since 1910. It first appeared on the lunch menu at a Parisian bistro where it was served as a quick but hearty lunch for the local workmen; hence its rough translation as a ‘bite for the men’. Made with crunchy bread, melted cheese, and smoky ham slathered in Béchamel sauce, this delicious snack remains a popular snack today. However, for it to be a real croque monsieur, cafés and stalls around Paris use the tasty Swiss cheese known as Emmental, which has melting properties that are ideal for a sandwich. Its female counterpart, the croque madame, is a lighter, vegetarian version that is served with a poached or lightly fried egg on top. Interestingly, this is also known as a croque à cheval in some parts of Normandy.

croque madame

Where to find it

10. Kebabs

If there is one king of late-night Paris street food, then the hearty kebab sits rightfully on the throne. Once again hailing from Turkey, the filling snack consists of a pita pocket of shredded meat and tangy sauce. Most people opt for either the sweet and creamy Algerian sauce or the spicy and creamy Samurai sauce to accompany the meaty filling of their choice.

Eating kebab in Paris

And whether you crave a classic doner, or perhaps something more adventurous, you are never too far away from a bustling kebab pitstop when you crawl out of the city’s bars and nightclubs in the early hours.

Where to find it