Has living in France changed the way we eat?

I recently read an article that said people’s eating habits change in subtle ways when they move to France. It’s not surprising given France is the home of fine dining and wining.

So just how much have our eating and drinking habits changed?

1. Drinking tea without milk

We’ve done this for years, well before making the move. Plus, we’re not and never have been traditional tea drinkers. We love the finer blends of green and black teas, and always without milk.

2. Spicy food is hard to come by

This was the subject of yesterday’s post. There are many foody benefits when you move to France but one of the things you’ll find yourself waving goodbye to is spicy food. While it’s easy to get a curry on the other side of the Channel, in France you’re better off cooking your own.

3. Eating offal 

I confess before I had to give up eating meat, I loved a spot of offal: sweetbreads, veal kidneys, veal liver, foie gras. My beloved, not so much, but he’d been scarred for life by his mother’s kidney concoction – don’t ask. However, even I would’ve passed on the local delicacy of pieds paquets (stewed sheep’s feet and tripe stewed), and don’t get me started on andouillette, surely well beyond the pale.

4. Going out is about eating out

In the UK, a (proper) night out rarely includes eating a meal, unlike in France. This is my kind of country, I don’t go out to drink, I go out to eat.

5. No more snacking

The French don’t snack, there’s no eating between meals. A habit we’ve embraced with some fervour. We eat only at meals times or at the specified snack time of “gôuter” or, of course, “apéro”.

6. Swapping pints for demis, or even less

My beloved now only ever orders a small beer (approx. 1/3 pint). You’ll know you’ve become native in France when you don’t feel embarrassed ordering a small beer, and probably just the one.

7. Wine only with food 

Gone are the days of ordering a bottle of Chardonnay and three glasses on a Friday night out (see 4. above). Wine and dine rhyme and it’s no coincidence. In France wine is to accompany food (unless it’s rosé and it’s summer). If you want to get sozzled  – I don’t – there are plenty of other choices.

And that goes hand-in-hand with my next point………

8. No more binge drinking

Despite moving to the land of the apéro and endless varieties of wine, it’s time to put your binge drinking behind you and learn to drink in a more civilized manner. A bottle of wine easily serves four people in France. We’ve drunk less (and better) since making the move.

9. Get your cheese fix BEFORE dessert

In France there’s a world of delicious cheese right on your doorstep. And now you’re allowed to eat it with every meal…….as long as it comes before dessert. Sadly, I’m no longer allowed dairy, but i can still savour the aroma!

10. Eating a proper lunch

Even though the heyday of the two hour sit down lunch might be (mostly) a thing of the past in France, it’s still common for work contracts to include a rule that prohibits dining at one’s desk. French workers also get restaurant vouchers to encourage them to eat in the nearest brasserie. We’ve embraced this habit with gusto.

11. Swapping your weekend fry-up for viennoiserie

We’ve swapped our Saturday morning bacon sarnie for a pain au chocolat, croissant or pain au raisin. Though, as a special treat, I do sometimes cook my beloved a full English.

12. Eating crepes all year round

In the UK, crepes (or pancakes) are usually reserved for Shrove Tuesday but in France, praise be, you can eat them all year round, and we do. Crepes Grand Marnier, anyone?

13. Enjoying a baguette with dinner (but no butter allowed!)

The importance of the role of the baguette in French food can’t really be underestimated. We now buy fresh bread daily, sometimes twice a day. Once for breakfast, once for dinner. If my beloved does the bread shopping, he nearly always bites the end off before he gets it home.

Just remember the following, butter only goes on a baguette at breakfast NEVER at lunch or dinnertime.

14. Espresso after dinner 

While you might previously have avoided a coffee after dinner, thinking it would ruin a good night’s sleep, it won’t be long before you’re ordering an espresso after every meal. Neither lunch nor dinner just won’t feel the same without that little shot of caffeine.

15. No more filling your glass of wine to the top 

While it might not seem like such a bad thing to slurp from a glass of wine that’s full to the brim at home, in France it’s a big no no. So take your time, there’s plenty to go around. Remember, a bottle of wine is easily enough for four people here.

16. You’ll discover fruit and vegetables

Once you see what’s on offer at French markets, or even les primeurs (fruit and veg stores), you’ll suddenly take pleasure in sticking to the “five-a-day” rule. In France apples taste like apples and melons like melons. And you’ll have to get used to what’s in season too. I’ve always eaten plenty of fruit and veg so nothing’s really changed other than what I eat is more local, seasonal, and organic.

17. Quality over quantity

This pretty much applies to everything. The French would much rather have a small portion of something fabulous, than a large portion of mediocre. And, you know what, they’re so right and you’ll soon get used to eating less but better.

18. You’ll eat more shellfish

We had never eaten oysters before moving to France but we reasoned 60 million French people couldn’t be wrong, and we were right! We now regularly eat oysters and mussels and all manner of things that live in shells.

19. You’ll eat a lot of pizza

You might expect this to happen if you’d moved to Italy, but in fact the French are one of the world’s biggest scoffers of pizza. To put it into numbers the French ate a stomach-churning 819 million pizzas in 2015. We’ll no doubt be contributing to that record being broken in 2020.

115 Comments on “Has living in France changed the way we eat?

  1. I went to France on an exchange visit in 1976 (Evreux in Normandy) and at evening meal I was alarmed when our host Charles took the unfinished wine away after the first course and put it in the cupboard. I understood when he selected a second half drunk bottle for main course, shared it and put it away and finally produced a third wine to drink with the sweet.

    You didn’t mention McDonalds. Don’t the French like McDonalds?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post! It fascinates me how different cultures live. My husband and I always talk how nice it would be to live in different places for 3 months at a time to experience what you are! I bet there isn’t the high obesity rate there like in the USA. I had to tell my husband all about your post thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When in France I give up “my regular breakfast” for viennoiserie. I’m normally a tea drinker but it’s hard to find good tea in most places so I switch to coffee and have cafe americain avec un pain du chocolate et jus d’orange.

    For lunch I’d get one of the marvelous baguette sandwiches. They almost always had butter on them instead of mayo or other spread. So delicious! One sandwich would be two meals for me.

    I’m so ready to come to visit! Hopefully, 2021 is the year we can get back to traveling and living normally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If you’re a tea drinker then you generally won’t enjoy tea in Continental Europe. You do get butter on some lunchtime baguettes, but not all. I hope we can all travel next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually ate andouillette once in Lyon, where it was on the menu as a regional specialty (for Easter Sunday, no less). It tasted somewhat bland and chalky, but not bad.
    Those restaurant vouchers do contribute to social cohesion, since colleagues from work tend to go out together for lunch at the nearest brasserie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sign me up for the pizza! No butter on bread, though? Only for breakfast?! Gotta have the butter and garlic to go with spaghetti!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can totally relate. Moving to the south of Italy 🇮🇹 has also changed my eating habits for the better. I’m glad you are enjoying life in France 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well you know to me it was easy as already pretty much on a French diet even living outside as married to a native. So coming to France was easy , foods galore!! and sweets, and drinks just got me a bottle of cider from a local farm in my town lovely!!! Salut

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Most, except for the spiciness which I know you miss, sound like good changes. Why go out if there’s not food involved! 😉 The Spanish are also good about pairing drinks wit food, with tapas. Nice tradition.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. We lived on Jersey for a while and occasionally at the weekends we popped over to France for lunch with friends from Jersey who had a boat. I remember my first time, lunch lasted all afternoon, no one rushed, it was just so leisurely. It was there I learned to love cheese. More’s the pity!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think I want to go to France, just so I can have good wine with every meal, but I need milk in my tea please! Nice post, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh my, that sounds like whether to be happy picking up some real good food habits or be sad about few habits not available, especially the tea. I just can’t imagine my life without a cup of milked tea, anytime of the day.
    Lovely post

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Interesting post! I’ve been to France many times but don’t really have a sense of their day to day eating habits. I’m surprised about the spicy food and the pizza! Italy is similar in some ways, espresso after dinner, proper lunches, fresh ingredients- but definitely not small portions! And of course there’s a lot of pizza and pasta.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. i’m so happy to see this post. France has been one destination on my mind and I enjoyed this all the more. I’m so glad for your support and encouragement too and thank you and bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Apart from milk in tea I would get on very well in France I think. My idea of a night out IS a meal, with friends or before the theatre. Your mention of bread makes me laugh because we have friends living in France , who before Covid used to pop back at least twice a year and stock up at Tesco with loads of white sliced loaves ( yuk ) and Fray Bentos pies! .

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great list, and a few we Americans cans start to apply to our daily lives. I also love this line “I don’t go out to drink, I go out to eat.” that is so true for me as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Pingback: Bloggers I follow: Has living in France changed the way we eat? – View from the Back • COFFEE WITH THE CAT LADY

  17. I admit to being underwhelmed by the restaurant fare when I visited Paris several years ago. I’m used to strong dark coffee (never milk) and mildly-spicy foods; threrefore, the French coffee was too weak and my host’s recommendation of chicken curry was so bland that even I found it… décevant? (My French is minimal, which is why I enjoyed finding Spanish-speaking clerks and waitstaff!) But the house wines were wonderful, the lunches were unrushed, and one night’s traditional beef dish (the name of which I cannot remember) was so delicious that I wished I could find its equivalent on this side of the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • A lot of places in Paris cater for tourists bland food and poor coffee but I’ve found it best to do my research beforehand and, so far, touch wood, I’ve yet to be disappointed. However, I have had really poor meals in France generally when I’m on my bike.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Hi, Sheree! I missed this one the first time around. It was great fun to read and salivate over!

    Thank you for your visit today (12/19) and all the likes. Does that mean you’re now getting notices of my posts? Regrettably, I’m not getting yours.

    So frustrating! But good to keep in touch. Hope holiday cheer is in your home!

    I send mine to you and your beloved!


    Liked by 1 person

    • No, still not getting them! Hoping that my blog housekeeping will result in everyone’s notices returning. 🤞


  19. 5. No more snacking

    The French don’t snack, there’s no eating between meals. A habit we’ve embraced with some fervour. We eat only at meals times or at the specified snack time of “gôuter” or, of course, “apéro”.

    What do you do if you get hungry between meals?

    Liked by 1 person

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