In order to eat like the French, you must first, value your meal times and second, plan to spend a lot of time at the dinner table. After studying abroad in France, I realized that even though the lives of the French may be as busy as ours, they make time to sit down and enjoy food. I also realized that the rumor is true, the French really do eat a lot of bread and cheese. The three meals of the day– breakfast, lunch, and dinner– often include both bread and cheese. Maybe that is why the French rarely snack. But truth be told, once you’ve tried French cuisine, you won’t blame them– a bag of chips is worth skipping to save room for a sweet crêpe any day. Below I’ll give you more details on each meal, and you can begin to eat like the French.

Breakfast/Petit Déjeuner

A French breakfast is typically sweet over savory and normally consists of breads and sweet spreads like jelly or Nutella, though occasionally one will find light cheeses to also spread on the bread. Like Americans, the French love a hot cup of coffee or a fresh cup of orange juice, but unlike Americans, the French may also have a hot chocolate with their breakfast. 

Typical breads for breakfast include: a baguette, a croissant, a pain du chocolat (chocolate filled with bread), or a viennoiserie (various types of puff pastries)


chicken, cheese
Suzanna Gibbs

Today, lunch is becoming a quicker meal for the French than in the past. In the past, people often enjoyed two hour lunch breaks, with more than one course and a glass of wine. But just like the rest of the world, lunch breaks have become shorter, and more and more people are likely to grab a sandwich from a boulangerie (a bakery) rather than sit at a café. Though lunch breaks are becoming shorter, cafés are still packed with business professionals during the noon hour.

Featured above is a picture of a quiche. Though a quiche is mainly eaten during breakfast for Americans, quiche is a typical item on lunch menus in cafés. Quiches normally include eggs, cheeses, different types of vegetables, and occasionally potatoes, all of which are typically served with a small salad and bread. 

Another typical dish for lunch is a croque madame, which is featured above. This dish includes a piece of bread topped with an egg, cheese, and ham. A croque monsieur is the same thing as a croque madame, minus the egg. 


cheese, egg
Suzanna Gibbs

Dinner is the longest meal for the French. When I studied abroad and lived with a host family, there were times when we stayed at the dinner table for three hours. This was partly because we would eat 5 to 7 courses. Additionally, the French don't eat until 7:00 or 8:00– so a dinner could easily last until 11:00 at night.

French dinner courses can include: an apéritif (which is an alcoholic drink before the meal), hors d'oeuvres (which is typically soup, vegetables, or eggs), the principal plate (a meat, pasta, or crêpe), a salad (which is typically served separately from the principal plate), cheese (which is also served separately), dessert, and coffee. 

Featured above is a savory crêpe that included an egg, chicken, and cheese, but crêpes can also be sweet and served as a dessert. 

bread, wheat, flour, cereal, crust, baguette, bun, rye, dough, yeast
Mia Fratto

Additionally, bread is served throughout the meal. The French will use a tear of a baguette to soak up any remaining juices that are left on their plate. I think that's a custom that we need to bring to the US! 


bacon, cream
Suzanna Gibbs

The French love their sweets, whether it's a sweet crêpe, featured above, or a box of macarons from their local pâtisserie. A pâtisserie is a shop where French pastries and cakes are sold. 

cake, tea, macaron
Suzanna Gibbs

Featured above is a box of macarons from my favorite pâtisserie, Ladurée. Macarons are like small cookies with cream inside and can be various types of flavors from rose flavored, to coffee flavored, to raspberry flavored. 

As you can see, eating like the French is worth every bite. Personally when I travel to France, I'm always most excited about the cuisine. Once I return home, I miss the endless breads and cheeses more than anything. Then, I begin counting my days until I return and can once again truly eat like the French.