Last summer I studied abroad in Tours, France, and it was hands-down one of the best experiences of my life. I traveled all over France from Paris to Lyon to Marseilles, and I learned more about French culture than I ever could in a classroom. It's no surprise that I'm feeling nostalgic for French cuisine—the country is known for having some of the best food in the world, after all. What makes French food so good is that they not only cook with fresh ingredients and little to no preservatives, but they also use a lot of rich cream and butter (especially in the addictive sauces found in almost all their dishes).

If you're itching to expand your knowledge of this cuisine, here are the 50 best French foods in alphabetical order. It was hard to narrow the list down to just 50 since all of the food that I ate in France was delicious. If your favorite didn't make the list, désolé

1. Baguette

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You can't go to France without eating a classic French baguette. French bread is hands down the best bread in the world, because there are no preservatives or additives in it like store-bought bread has in the US. 

French baguettes aren't meant to have a long shelf life; they're meant to be eaten right away. There's even a French Bread Law that outlaws preservatives, outlines the standards that makes a baguette, and says that baguettes must be baked fresh at the boulangeries (bakeries). French baguettes have a fresh-out-of-the-oven smell, a crisp, crunchy outside, and a soft, light inside. 

2. Beignet

Beignets are typically thought of as a classic New Orleans food, which they are, but these fruit or creme-filled fried pastries originated in France. French settlers brought beignets with them when they immigrated to Acadia in Canada in the 17th century, and later brought them to Louisiana when they were forced to move. Beignets are just as delicious in France as they are in New Orleans.

3. Blanquette de Veau

Blanquette de veau is one of my favorite French dishes. Blanquette just refers to a stew with a creamy white sauce, so in blanquette de veau veal is used, but other types of meat like fish, lamb, or chicken could be used to make a similar white stew. The sauce is made out of crème fraîche, flour, butter, lemon juice, and egg yolks, and this stew is often served with a side of white rice. 

3. Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a rich beef stew made with red (Burgundy) wine, garlic, onions, carrots, and potatoes. It was born in the Burgundy or Bourgogne region, which is just southeast of Paris. In Burgundy, beef from Charolais cows are used for their distinct taste and tender meat. This stew is famous throughout the world, and even Julia Child has a take on this recipe in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking

4. Bouillabaisse

Bouillabasse is a classic Provençal seafood stew with fragrant flavoring often consisting of saffron, fennel seeds, and pastis. This stew may contain different types of fish, especially scorpion fish (rascasse), along with potatoes and onions, and sometimes it has clams, crab, or lobster. The name comes from the cooking method; the stew is brought to a boil (bouiller) and then the heat is quickly lowered (baisser). 

5. Brioche

Fun fact: Marie Antoinette actually said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" or "Let them eat brioche," not "cake." Although brioche is a type of flaky French bread made with a lot of butter and eggs, it's often thought as a type of cake because of its consistency and its many different varieties. It can be sweet like cake with fruit or chocolate inside, or it can be savory with vegetables or meat.

6. Cannelé

Cannelés are a small French pastry from the region of Bordeaux. I think they kind of taste like toasted marshmallows, but way better with a crunchy outside and a soft, sweet, vanilla-rum inside.

You may know Bordeaux for their famous wines, and the origin of the cannelé may stem from their wine industry. They used to use egg whites to filter wine, and the surplus egg yolks were made into these small cakes. Others say that cannelés come from the residents of Bordeaux who lived near the Garonne River and collected spilled flour from loading areas to make this pastry for poor children

7. Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a type of French casserole from the southwestern French region of Languedoc that started out as a peasant dish made out of beans and meats. There is a highly contentious debate between three towns—Toulouse, Castelnaudary, and Carcassonne—on who actually makes the one true cassoulet. There's even a brotherhood called the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet that defends the quality of cassoulet in Castelnaudary by conducting surprise taste tests. 

8. Champagne

Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne. By law, real champagne can only be made in Champagne, a northeast region of France. Some of the grapes used to produce champagne in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, and some of the most famous champagne brands are Dom Pérignon, Krug, and Bollinger, 

9. Charcuterie

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Charcuterie is cooked and cured meats usually served cold. You probably know charcuterie from the stereotypical image of a fancy dinner party serving a fancy cheese and meat board. Charcuterie includes meats like pâtés, saucisson (salami), and rillettes, which I will discuss later in this article.

Types of charcuterie are made all over the world, but what makes French charcuterie so delicious and unique is the care that French chefs put into the product and the variety of charcuterie found in each region of France.

10. Chausson aux Pommes

Chausson aux pommes are the better French version of an apple turnover. Supposedly chaussons aux pommes were born during the 1630 epidemic in Saint-Calais, a town southwest of Paris. The lady of Saint-Calais gave flour and apples to the poor, and they made chaussons aux pommes. Now, every year in Saint-Calais they celebrate this event with the Fête du Chausson aux Pommes, a weekend festival at the beginning of September with a parade, crafts, food, and more. The city center is made into a medieval village, so this is a need-to-go event.  

11. Chouquette

Chouquettes are one of my favorite French pastries because they're bite-sized, sweet puffs of magic. They're very simple pastries made out of choux, a dough that many French pastries are made out of, and covered in lumps of pearl sugar.

12. Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is yet another French stew, and it's my Nana's favorite. Coq au vin ("rooster in wine") consists of chicken slowly braised in wine to make a delicious sauce with mushrooms, garlic, and onions. It's similar to boeuf bourguignon except it's made with chicken. 

13. Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is basically just custard with burnt sugar on top, but it's so good. It consists of only a few ingredients: vanilla, egg yolks, sugar, and cream, but the technique can be tricky to get down. Historians don't actually know if France is the birthplace of this dessert because England and Spain also claim to have created it, but France is probably the most famous. 

14. Crêpe

If I could, I would have crêpes for breakfast every day. Crêpes can be sweet with fillings like Nutella and fruits, or savory with fillings like cheese and spinach. The most famous crepe (and my favorite type) is the Crêpe Suzette, which is a sweet crepe with a buttery, orange-flavored sauce. France even has a day basically dedicated to crêpes: February 2nd is La Chandeleur, a religious holiday where French people eat a lot of crêpes. 

15. Croissant

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The croissant is yet another classic French pastry. This buttery and flaky bread is perfect for any time of day, whether you're eating breakfast or just having a snack. 

16. Croque Monsieur

Croque monsieur is literally translated to something along the lines of "crunchy mister." This sandwich is the better version of a grilled cheese. It's basically a crispy ham and cheese sandwich often topped with béchamel sauce, a delicious sauce that I'll talk about later in this article. When it's topped with a poached or fried egg, this sandwich is called a croque madame because the egg looks like a hat. 

17. Éclair

Éclairs are finger-sized, glazed pastries made with choux pastry and filled with cream. They're like fancy cream puffs. The sky is the limit with éclair flavors. They can be sweet with cream fillings like chocolate, tangy lemon, and salted caramel. They can even be savory with fillings like foie gras, chorizo sausage, and smoked salmon. 

18. Escargot

I know what you're thinking: "Maya, this is gross and so stereotypical. Step up your game." Well, I just want to let you know that people have been eating snails for a long time, and they're delicious. In France, escargot is a delicacy and is often cooked with garlic and butter in the shell. They kind of taste and feel like clams or oysters if that's up your alley. 

19. Flan

When I went to France for the first time many moons ago, my friend Camille made sure that I had a slice of flan parisien before my trip was up. It's basically a sweet custard pie. Flan is an old dessert, and it exists in many different countries. 

20. Fromage

Before I went to France the first time,  I hated cheese unless it was on a deep-dish pizza or in a deep fried mozzarella stick. Now, I love all French cheese, even blue or goat cheese from time to time. My favorite cheeses are soft cheeses like Camembert or Saint-Nectaire, but sometimes I'm feeling a hard cheese like Comté.

21. Galette Complète

A galette describes any type of flat and round cakes like tarts or crêpes. A galette complète is a savory version of a crepe made out of a buckwheat flour base with ham, cheese, and egg inside, along with other ingredients like spinach, mushrooms, or onions. They are easy to make and very filling. 

22. Gratin Dauphinois

A gratin is any dish made in a shallow pan with cheese or breadcrumbs on top. Gratin dauphinois is the French version of creamy scalloped potatoes. This dish comes from the south-east Dauphiné region in the French Alps, and it's a rich dish great for cold months. 

23. Gougère 

You might think gougères look remarkably similar to chouquettes, and you're right. They're both small, round, made out of choux pastry, and taste amazing, but gougères are savory and made with cheese. They're crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and can be stuffed with mushrooms or other fillings.

24. Ile Flottante

If you're hosting a fancy dinner party and want to wow your guests, serve this light and tasty dessert. Ile flottante translates to "floating island," and it's easy to see why. This sweet consists of an "island" of meringue floating in a sea of custard. It is often topped off with a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of almonds. 

25. Jambon-Beurre

This is exactly what it sounds like: a ham and butter sandwich. I'm aware that on paper jambon-beurre sounds kind of weird and way too simple to actually be good, but somehow ham, butter, and sometimes a little bit of French cheese on a fresh baguette is exactly what the doctor ordered. According to Vice, as of 2014 French people were buying 1.28 billion jambon-beurre sandwiches every year

26. Madeleine

Madeleines are small shell-shaped tea cakes. They have a similar texture to sponge cake and a classic buttery flavor, but they can also be made in several other flavors like blueberry or raspberry and dipped in chocolate or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Madeleines originated in Lorraine from a maid named Madeleine Paulmier. She worked for the Duke of Lorraine in the 18th century, and made this cookie, which was a family recipe, for Louis XV when he visited Lorraine. 

27. Macaron

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Macarons are one of the most famous French desserts, and they're one of the latest trends to sweep the US. They come in all different crazy flavors from lavender coconut to mango white chocolate. Be aware that there is a difference between macarons and macaroons. Macarons are the fancy, colorful meringue cookies, while macaroons are the small, round coconut cookies. 

28. Magret de canard

Magret de canard is cooked duck breast. However, these ducks are not the same as the ones in the US. Usually, US duck breasts come from White Pekin ducks, while in France magret de canard comes from Moulard ducks, which have a richer (and better) taste. 

29. Mille Feuille

Mille feuille is pronounced "meel-foy" and translates to "one thousand leaves," which you can see in the many layers of flaky puff pastry and cream filling. This dessert is somehow light, but rich and delicious at the same time. They're usually sweet, with the classic flavor being vanilla, but they can also come in fruity and chocolate flavors and even savory flavors. 

30. Moules Frites

If you're on the coast of France and you're not ordering seafood, you're doing it wrong. Moules frites is my go-to dish if I'm ordering seafood, and even though it's supposedly a Belgian dish, France makes it just as well. You could just order moules (mussels) by themselves, but I'm addicted to frites (fries), and I think they add something special to the dish.

31. Omelette

Most people have had an omelette since it's a pretty common breakfast food. But have you had an omelette in France, its birthplace? The classic French omelette is smooth, simple, and plain with only a few seasonings. The most famous French legend about omelettes is that Napoleon and his army were traveling in the south of France and stopped near the town of Bessieres. Napoleon ate an omelette, and it was so good that Napoleon ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs to make a giant omelette for his army the next day. 

32. Pain au Chocolat

True story: I ate at least one pain au chocolat for breakfast every single day when I was studying abroad in France. They are by far my favorite French pastry because they're like next-level croissants but still simple and relatively cheap. You may hear some people from the southwest of France call pain au chocolat "chocolatine," but according to my French teacher (who's not from the southwest), that's just wrong. 

33. Palmier

Palmiers are crispy, flaky, heart-shaped cookies that have a buttery taste and a sugary crunch. They're great with tea or coffee. It's called a palmier because it supposedly looks like a palm leaf. Some people also call these cookies "elephant ears."

34. Pissaladiére

Pissaladière is a type of Provençal pizza with onions, black Niçoise olives, and anchovies. The word pissaladière comes from the word pissala, which is the fermented anchovy sauce on the pizza, and pissala comes from the Provençal dialect word in Nice pèi salat, which means salted fish. This pizza is definitely an acquired taste, especially for those who don't like olives or anchovies. 

35. Pot au Feu

Pot au feu is a simple stew that began as a peasant dish consisting of boiled meat, usually beef, and vegetables like carrots, turnips, and onions. Even though pot au feu is pretty simple, it takes quite a few hours to cook, since the meat needs to be cooked slow on low heat; so if you're making this, start early. 

36. Quiche

Quiche is a savory pie with a custard filling that sometimes has cheese, vegetables, and meat added to it. The classic French quiche is Quiche Lorraine, which contains bacon, eggs,  and cream. Even though this is a classic French dish, Quiche Lorraine actually came from Germany in a kingdom called Lothringen, which the French later named Lorraine. 

37. Raclette

Raclette is the name of the cheese, the dish involving the melted cheese, and the grill used to melt the cheese. It's technically Swiss, but people across France enjoy this dish. Raclette cheese is cut and heated over a fire or a raclette grill, and the melted cheese is scraped onto plates and served with veggies like broccoli and potatoes and also cured meats. Raclette was one of my favorite meals that I ate with my host mom because nothing really beats eating warm, gooey cheese. 

38. Ratatouille

In the amazing film Ratatouille, Remy the rat makes ratatouille, which melts the heart of Anton Ego, a cold restaurant critic, who then writes a positive review about the restaurant. That alone should make you want to try ratatouille. This vegetable stew comes from Nice and usually consists of eggplant, onions, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, so you can get all your veggies in one sitting. 

39. Rillettes

Rillettes are kind of like pâté but are slightly different. They are usually made out of pork chopped into small bits and slow-cooked in fat, but they can also be made out of duck, rabbit, and other meats. I know that I already put charcuterie on this list, but rillettes has a place near and dear to my heart because my study abroad was in Tours, and rillettes is a traditional Touraine dish. Also, rillettes is so good; put this spread on a slice of baguette with a few cornichons on the side and you're set for life. 

40. Salade Niçoise

I had to put at least one salad on this list, because health. Also as far as salads go, this one's pretty good, and I don't even like salads. The salade niçoise comes from Nice on the southeast coast of France, so it's very colorful and of course has to include fish. This salad consists of tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, onions, black olives, and tuna or anchovies, along with a few other veggies depending on what restaurant you're going to. 

41. Sauce Béchamel

If you eat anywhere in France, you'll probably taste sauce béchamel in at least one dish because the French love their sauces, and this sauce is one of the most useful and famous. Sauce béchamel is a smooth, white sauce made out of milk that can also serve as the base for other sauces. You can find this sauce in lasagnas, soufflés, and potato dishes. 

42. Sauce Algerienne

Before I went to France, I had never heard of this orange sauce, but it was offered in almost every restaurant (especially fast food places), and it's a hit with study abroad students. "Algerian sauce" is a delicious, slightly spicy mayo alternative to ketchup and is perfect for dipping French fries.

43. Soufflé

Soufflé is French for "to blow," and are mostly made out of beaten eggs, giving it the airiness it's known for. This dessert can be difficult to make because it can collapse if not made properly. Soufflés can be sweet with flavors like chocolate or lemon, or savory with flavors like cheese or mushroom.

44. Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l'oignon (French onion soup) is the stereotypical soup when people think of French soups. It's made out of caramelized sliced onions and often topped with cheese and croutons. French onion soup is quite simple to make.

45. Steak Tartare

At first glance, steak tartare looks gross, and at the second glance, it still looks gross, but you should give this dish a chance. If you eat sushi, you might as well try steak tartare, since sushi is raw too. Steak tartare is raw beef with a raw egg on top, and it tastes pretty similar to a cooked beef patty but not as strong. 

46. Tapenade

Tapenade is another dish from Provence. It's an olive-based spread that tastes great on a baguette slice, as a veggie dip, or even as stuffing for a chicken. The word tapenade comes from the Provençal word tapenos, which means capers, since tapenade usually also contains capers. 

47. Tarte

I'm aware that "tarte" is a very general term when it comes to French cuisine, but that's because there are so many delicious types that I couldn't just pick one. Probably the most famous French tart is Tarte Tatin, which is actually more of an upside-down cake made out of apples, caramel, and a flaky crust. My personal favorite is the tarte aux fraises, pictured above, because I love the fresh strawberries and the cream they're nestled on is amazing. Whatever French tart you eat, you really can't go wrong. 

48. Tartine

In French, tartiner means "to spread," but tartines have evolved to include much more than just spreadable ingredients. A tartine is an open-faced sandwich with basically any ingredients from cheese to veggies to meat. Tartine can be eaten for breakfast with butter and jam or it can be eaten for a fancy dinner with smoked salmon and foie gras. 

49. Tomate Farcie

I had tomate farcie the first time I came to France when my friend Camille's mom made it for us along with courgette farcie, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Tomate farcie is kind of like stuffed peppers, but way better. It's made with tomatoes, while courgette farcie is made with zucchinis.

For tomate farcie, the tomatoes are hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, breadcrumbs, onion, and herbs. Then the tomatoes are baked in the oven with their caps back on. The result is the juiciest, best seasoned seasoned dish that's ever graced your presence. 

50. Wine

This list is obviously not complete without French wine, as France is one of the largest wine producers in the world. Millions of tourists flock to France just for their wines and vineyards. The French themselves drink about 60 liters of wine per person each year, aka way more than any other country in the world. Whether you love a red wine (vin rouge), a rosé, or a white wine (vin blanc), France has you covered. 

It isn't any wonder that I gained 10 pounds in my two months of studying abroad in France. French food is absolutely irresistible, and you have to try at least half of these dishes at some point in your life.