What do people eat in France? When do people eat? France is famed as a world leader when it comes to fine eating – dining is an integral part of French culture and tradition. French gastronomy is a social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups. On special events, the French meet and have good food and wines, enabling to strengthen social ties. To make your moving experience more pleasant, find out about eating out and food shopping in France.
For more information on the French gastronomic meals, visit the Unesco website.
University restaurants, commonly called “Restos U” or “RU”, offer balanced and nutritious meals at lower prices (€3,25). These restaurants and cafeterias are open to students from Monday to Friday afternoon, and some are open in the evening. Check out the opening hours here.
Find the nearest CROUS restaurant and cafeteria in Paris here.
Find the nearest CROUS restaurant and cafeteria in the Yvelines and Essonnes departments here.
The French eat generally three times a day: breakfast in the morning, lunch between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., and dinner between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Lunch and dinner are proper meals. Outside these set meals, you can have a snack in most restaurants and brasseries. “Service continu” indicates that the restaurant has a continuous all-day service for lunch and dinner.
Most bars and cafés are open between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., some stay open until 2 a.m. if they have been granted a permission.
If you want to eat out, you will find a whole range of restaurants serving high quality cuisine, and cafés, sandwich bars, fast food restaurants, brasseries, etc.
Prices range from around €4 for a sandwich to around €20 for a full meal. In gourmet restaurants, menus can be more expensive.
Many Parisian restaurants provide opportunities to discover and experience diverse culinary cuisine, which is a combination of cultures from around the world.
There are many specialised websites that allow you to search a restaurant, and some of them enable you to book a table online and benefit from a reduction occasionally: LaFourchette, Guide Michelin, Gault&Millau, Tripadvisor, etc.
Most stores are continuously open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. However, some smaller shops might be closed at lunchtime between 12 p.m. and 14 p.m. or all day Monday. Most shops tend to be closed on public holidays and Sundays. Grocery stores’ opening hours may differ in different neighbourhoods, but they are open every day (except Sundays) until 8 p.m., 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. You can find their opening hours on the internet by typing the name of the store, its address and “horaires”.
During sales period and in December, before the holidays, stores may open on Sundays. Big department stores (grand magasins), such as Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché, are open every Sunday. During the remainder of the year, take a stroll through the Marais or along the Champs-Elysées, where shops are open 365 days a year, sometimes even until midnight. More and more shops are opening on Sunday and public holidays in other districts too, typically between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Please note that many smaller shops close for their annual holidays from mid-July to end-August.
Many outdoor markets take place every week generally from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. selling fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, etc.
Search for the different markets by visiting Paris City Hall website.
Outdoor markets take place in different communes at least once a week.
Food shopping glossary
Boucherie: Butcher shop. A shop in which meat and poultry are sold.
Boulangerie: Bakery. A shop that produces and sells bread, cookies, cakes, pastries and pies.
Boutique: A small shop that focuses on selling a particular product range and associated items, such as ready-to-wear, wine, haberdashery, etc.
Charcuterie: A shop that focuses on selling prepared meat products primarily from pork, such as bacon, ham, sausages and terrines.
Epicerie: A corner grocery store that sells staple food and other basic products such as toothpaste and toilet paper at a higher price level. They are usually open longer hours, on Sundays and public holidays.
Fromagerie: A shop that produces and sells different types of cheese.
Grande distribution: Supermarket (supermarché) and hypermarket (hypermarché) industry. These shops sell food and non-food items. Their products are generally cheaper from the products sold by independent businesses. The shops vary in size:
- Supérette: A small store in the city in which basic products are sold,
- Les grandes et moyennes surfaces: Large and medium-sized shops, commonly known as hypermarkets (hypermarché) and supermarkets (supermarché). Hypermarkets are usually located outside of towns and cities and are bigger, whereas it’s more common to find supermarkets in the city that are smaller than hypermarkets but bigger than a supérette. These shops offer a wide variety of food and items of common and daily use, such as household products, cosmetic products, toiletries, light bulbs, electric battery, etc. These shops often have specialised shelf space reserved for meat, cheese, fish, charcuterie and bakery products.
For example, the main hypermarkets in France are E. Leclerc, Auchan, Cora, Géant Casino, etc. The main supermarkets in France are Carrefour, Franprix, Monoprix, Leader Price, etc.
Poissonnerie: Fish store. A shop where raw fish and seafood are sold.