5 Traditional Foods Real French People Cook At Home

This is an excellent guest post from my friend Annie Andre who lives in France with her family.  She coaches people how to move abroad on a budget, and today she wrote a post about 5 delicious traditional foods that real french people cook at home. So, enjoy!

Say the word French food and and what do you think of? Fancy gourmet meals with heavy cream and butter sauces? A big plate of snails and frog legs?

These are the stereotypical meals popularized by the movies and by eager tourists who dine at French restaurants around the world. What you don’t see in the movies or can never know by visiting a French restaurant is what real French people cook at home for their families.


What does the Typical French Person Eat at Home?

What exactly does the typical French person cook at home? The answer to this question is “it depends” because just like there are different regional foods from your country, there are also many different regional foods eaten throughout France.

For instance, dishes that originate from the north typically have heavier sauces with cream, butter and roux while in the south where it is warmer, there is a lot of fresh produce and seafood’s.

5 Traditional French Foods you will Love to Cook at Home

I asked a bunch of my friends here in France what they cooked for their families at home.

Then, I took their answers and whittled it down to the top five dishes which I thought would have a wider appeal to the non-French palette.

In other words, I excluded things like boudin (blood sausage), escargot (snails), soubresade, cows tongue and other things that many non French folks might be scared to try.

What I ended up with are five family friendly meals eaten throughout ALL of France that I thought would also appeal to non-French folks.

I hope you enjoy them as much my family does.

1- Boeuf Bourguignon


Want to impress your friends and make your family happy?

Make them Beef Bourguignon, a very rich and oh so traditional French beef stew which get’s its name from it’s birth place in the Bourgogne region (Burgundy region in English).

This iconic beef stew is enjoyed by French people throughout all of France but it wasn’t always this way.

This dish used to be strictly a dish made by peasants for their families. Peasants tenderized tough pieces of meat by first braising cubed beef and then slow cooking the meat in red wine (usually burgundy wine) and a beef broth seasoned with garlic and various herbs for a minimum of 12 hours in a stone pot. Then towards the end they added , onions, mushrooms and carrots.

These days the recipe has evolved and it no longer needs to be cooked for 12 hours but one thing hasn’t changed. Red wine is still used to tenderize braised pieces of beef and it’s still slow cooked for several hours. The result is a rich stew with tender pieces of meat that will make you think you died and went to heaven.

This is not only a great dish to cook for your family on a cold night but also for diner guests. Serve with egg noodles or baguettes, a nice tossed salad and some red wine and your guests will think you are a cooking god or goddess.

2 Tartiflette


Imagine, sliced potatoes, onions, bacon, crème fraîche and cheese all mixed together in a casserole and baked in the oven until the cheese is melted to perfection. This is the basis for tartiflette.

Unlike Beef Bourguignon, tartiflette is not an ancient dish concocted by peasants centuries ago. Tartiflette is a relatively new dish created in the 1980’s to boost the sales of Reblochon cheese, a creamy aged cheese from the Savoy area in the Rhône-Alpes Region.

Tartiflette quickly became popular among skiers and today you can find tartiflette everywhere from Paris to the French Riviera. Where we live in the south, there are even tartiflette pizzas which are out of this world.

If you are a vegetarian, just omit the lardon (bacon) and if you can’t find certain ingredients like Reblechon cheese, just substitute with another creamy cheese like brie, camembert or even cheddar cheese. Just don’t use mozzarella because it’s too chewy and stringy. Crème fraîche is another thing which you may not be able to find so substitute with sour cream or heavy cream.

Serve with a nice salad and you have an entire meal everyone in the family will love.

4- Blanquette de veau – Veal Stew


Blanquette de veau is another very traditional French dish but this one was created for the Rich bourgeoisie.

These days everyone eats this iconic dish and you will find it in all the French cookbooks, on all the French cooking sites and in many classic French restaurants.

What differentiates this dish with other French stews is the meat is not braised but rather poached and the sauce is white, hence the name Blanquette.

The white sauce is thickened with a mixture of cream and egg yolks. Mushrooms and carrots are the most common ingredients added to this stew and it is usually served with white rice not potatoes.

Cook this meal and you will be transported back to the times of the rich French bourgeoisie.

5-Ratatouille: Vegetable Ragout


For you vegetable lovers out there, you can’t go wrong with ratatouille, a very traditional French Provençal dish dating back to the 18th century from Nice in the south of France.

ratatouille-food-movieThis dish was popularized in the U.S. and throughout the world through the Disney animation hit in 2007 called Ratatouille about a small rat who loves to cook and ultimately creates the best tasting ratatouille.

Ratatouille gets it’s name from the verb “touiller”, which means to toss or mix together and that’s just what this dish is. It’s a ragout or stew of mixed vegetables: tomatoes, eggplants, onions, zucchini, garlic, bell peppers and various herbs. Much of the flavour is in the tomato’s.

The abundance of summer ingredients and the endless number of ways it can be served and cooked is probably one of the reasons why this dish is so popular in France.

You can serve it as a side dish, as a main dish, hot, cold, with pasta, with rice, with bread, in an omlette and even as filling for crepes.

It’s often made in bigger batches to ensure there are leftovers because it tastes even better the next day after all the herbs and ingredients have had a chance to meld together. .

Do a quick search online and you will find a gazillion recipes out there all using different cooking methods. Some say to chop the vegetable while others say to slice and layer the vegetables. Some say to fry this dish first while other say to bake it straight away.

I prefer frying first and the baking this hearty vegetable ragout slowly and I only use the freshest produce I can find.

3- Moules et Frites: Mussels and Chips (Fries)


For all you shell fish lovers, there is nothing better than cooking up a big steaming pot of mussels smothered in garlic and white wine sauce served with a heaping side of home fries to dunk in the sauce. MMMMMMMM.

Thought to have originated in Brussels (north of France), this dish has infiltrated every nook and cranny of France. No matter where you go, you can find moules et frites in upscale restaurants, downscale restaurants, it’s even served at the schools my children attend including my daughters preschool.

Moules et frites is the second most favourite dish in all of France. Second only to ‘magret de canard’ or ‘duck breast’ according to a survey conducted by TNS Sofres, (Société française d’enquêtes par sondages) the number one French marketing and opinion survey institute in France.

Because of it’s popularity throughout France, there are many recipes and sauces that this dish can be cooked in. I have seen over 100 different so far and I am sure there are more. Here is just a sample of the different types you can get.

  • Garlic and cream
  • Moule frite au roquefort
  • Moule frite au Chorizo
  • My husband Blake loves moules et frites with pesto sauce,

But the most famous recipe is without a doubt the Moules marinières which is mussels in white wine, garlic, shallots and parsley.

This is an extremely easy and inexpensive dishes you can make in no time. It literally takes minutes to cook the mussels. Serve with your favourite wine or cold beer to truly experience this dish as many French people like to eat it.


These five dishes are only just a handful of the dishes that French people eat at home. I hope you’ll explore more French home cooking because it’s so much more than what has been popularized in the movies.

What’s your favourite French Food?

39 thoughts on “5 Traditional Foods Real French People Cook At Home”

  1. Hi Annie and Sylviane, you really know how to make someone hungry here. I have heard of these except for Tartiflette which sounds yummmmmmy. And I love mussels.

    I only started eating them recently because I always had a mental idea that they were slimy but one day I tried them and now I’m addicted. I especially like them in paella (we eat a lot of Latin food) but I
    ll take them any way I get them! I can’t believe they serve them in preschool! I think of what they serve in schools here and it barely qualifies as food – chicken nuggets, frozen pizza – if you’re lucky maybe they throw some gross canned string beans on the plate. I know Sylviane is not a fan of processed food and neither am I.

    That’s why I love coming here to see all this good stuff! Someone needs to send me a recipe for those garlic mussels!

    1. Hi Carol,

      I’m glad you came from under your desk on this Friday morning attracted by the smell of food and this wonderful post by Annie.

      Gosh I love mussles since I was a kid. If you want I can write a post about my garlic-mussels recipe. As a matter of fact, thanks for the idea.

      I also make tartiflette, also called “grating aux pommes de terre”. Another recipe coming up!

      I’m glad you enjoyed this food, and thanks for coming 🙂
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    2. I had not heard of tartiflette either until a few years ago when I saw it on a menu in Paris. Then when we moved here to the south of France we saw it everywhere. It is truly a great winter dish.and I know what you mean about the school menus. My boys had a rotating menu of burgers, burritos and tacos when they went to school in California.
      I hate processed food too.
      Annie André invites you to read..Top 10 Clichés And Stereotypes About The French: True Or False?My Profile

  2. Hello Annie and Sylviane

    I have to say…Sylviane I love this site. There is so much to learn about another culture.
    Annie, I love your post and five groups of food that are common in France. I am amazed that the school system serve such nutrientious food.
    If I ever visit France I would love to visit the Southern part because you shared that produce and seafood is their speciality.
    Caroly Lynn alluded to mussels in a dish called paella. That’s how I ate the first time, but Mmm. I love them as well.
    Sylviane, please write another post with the recipes that we can try out.
    Thank you Annie, I will visit your site and of course Sylviane

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    1. Hello Gladys,
      I am so happy that you discovered some everyday French foods that regular French people eat.
      Food for me is a big part of the culture and you can learn just as much about another country through it’s food as you can from visiting museums.

      You should know that these are on the, how shall I say… l “fancier” side. am also compiling a post about some of the things that my French friends eat that you might find disgusting… I have a dark side to me too. 🙂
      Annie André invites you to read..Top 10 Clichés And Stereotypes About The French: True Or False?My Profile

    2. Hi Galdys,

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this blog. Of all my blogs, I have this love attachment to this one.

      I will certainly write more French recipes over time as this is a big part of this blog. I do not cook anything with red meat much anymore, but I do make tartiflette and even though it’s called “grating de pommes de terre” in my region, and I also have a garlic sauce mussel recipe.

      Thanks for coming here, Gladys.

  3. Well hey there Annie! I came over here and the first thing I thought, is that Catherine? Sure enough I saw this was your guest post.

    So I read through these and the only one that stands out for me is Tartiflette. Oh girl, that sounds yummy. I’m not a big stew person although I’ll eat it. It’s definitely not my preference but some of these photos they look just yummy.

    I’ve never had mussels but I do love snails so I’m not about to say ewwww.. That’s something I’ll have to give a try some day. What do they taste like by the way? If they taste like oysters then forget it.

    Great to see you Annie and I enjoyed learning about this. Sylviane made a good choice here with you.

    You ladies have a great weekend.

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    1. Hey Adrienne,

      Yep, this is Catherine, indeed! So cute with her mussels and fries 🙂 isn’t she?

      I know how to make tartiflette, in the Lyon region as I was saying above it’s called grating de pommes de terre. I will post that recipe in an upcoming post.

      Wow, you’ve never had mussels, Adrienne? I know America is not big on mussels, though.

      I love mussels, and no it has nothing to do with oysters. I do not like oysters at all. It’s hard to tell you what taste it has since it depends on how it’s prepared. But I can tell you that it’s darn good.

      I will post my favorite mussels’ recipe here soon and you could try it and see. I can’t assure you that you will like it, but I pretty sure you will.

  4. How wonderful to live in France. I think the South coast for me.
    Maybe near the Spanish border – Lourdes or Biarritz.

    Love mussels and fries. Both very hands on and great for kids.
    Oh and with cheese or chorizo. My mother is watering at the prospect 😉

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I’m glad you enjoyed coming to this blog. Hope you’ll come again soon.

      Mussels are so good and cheese? Oh boy, can’t leave without it!

  5. Hi Annie, and welcome to Sylviane’s blog – sure nice to see you here 🙂

    Wow! You really had out mouth watering! 🙂

    Though our culture’s are different and so is our way of cooking, but when I make continental dishes or try out new recipes – I’m surely going to try a few of these – the vegetarian ones as we are total veg.

    I’ve tried baked dishes quite similar to Tartiflette, and they turn out pretty yum! I think trying out Ratatouille would be fun – as it’s all vegetarian and something different too. We also make the stew dish, but a little differently – more with a white sauce base, without the egg, and kids just love it – it’s one dish where no matter what types of vegetables you put – you know they would have it all. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a lovely weekend both of you 🙂
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    1. Hi Harleena,

      Aha, surprise, Annie was over my way today 🙂

      I’m like you Harleena, even though I used to eat red meat in the past I am now staying away from it.

      I do make ratatouille and tartiflette, tough, and will post my own recipes with those soon.

      Thank you for coming here 🙂

    2. Harleena,
      I admire you for being a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian or rather pescatarian for nearly three years when I lived in Japan but soon turned back to meat when I return to western civilization. I have been researching more French vegetarian foods and I will tell you that the French really love their meats but vegetarian food is slowly catching on and becoming more main stream. Here is a site that I often use http://cuisine.journaldesfemmes.com/recette-vegetarien It has some good ones..
      Annie André invites you to read..Top 10 Clichés And Stereotypes About The French: True Or False?My Profile

  6. Wait a minute Adrienne, did you say that you love snails? As in you have eaten them already or you just love them in general?
    I find that the snails taste like the sauce they are cooked in. Garlic, butter parsley is my favorite. I have never eaten them without a heavy sauce. the texture is not gooey like oysters at all and is kind of firm but not chewy… My father used to make them a lot but snails when he could get his hands on some..
    Annie André invites you to read..Top 10 Clichés And Stereotypes About The French: True Or False?My Profile

  7. Hi Sylviane,
    And great to see you here Annie! I’m salivating. Although most foods I cannot eat, I thought I have mastered 5-Ratatouille: Vegetable Ragout – I see it in a different way now. I used a vegan recipe, but this one is so much better.

    Thank you gals! I’m reading this late night and now I’m going for a late night snack!
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    1. Wow, Donna!

      According to the time recording here you were on this blog at the wee hours of the morning 🙂

      I’m like you Donna, I do not eat red meat anymore, and I love ratatouille. I usually make it in the summer with fresh tomatoes, zucchinis, and onions that I buy at the farmers market. It’s simply delicious. With it I usually eat either rice or home fries as my mother used to do.

  8. Very fascinating. Although as Indians, we are not able to eat certain things such as beef so beef dishes will be out of the question. But other things that you have mentioned are fine. In fact, I would love to try the tartiflette as it looks quite nice to me.
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  9. Seems like delicious cuisine. Hope non-vegetarians would love to have it if they once they read this article and enjoy wonderful pics here. 🙂 🙂

  10. Hi Annie and Sylviane

    We eat a reasonable amount of French food in Australia and I am not sure why as there is not too many French people here. We have lots of Italians and Greeks but somehow we have French restaurants. Also as Sylviane knows I had a French boyfriend many years ago.

    I love Boeuf Bourguignon and cook it at least once every winter and have for the last 30 years. I also cook -Ratatouille very frequently. Being Australian we eat a lot of seafood and mussels quite often, I have never tried them French style and that sounds very interesting.

    I am like Adrienne and love escargot too with the garlic butter. Wow though I would not have picked Adrienne as a snail girl. I think mussels are more like oysters what you ladies think?

    Great post Annie.

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    1. Adrienne Through me for a loop by eating snails too.

      I wonder why there are so many French restaurants in Australia considering there are not many French people. Maybe it is just a trend that took off?

      Boeuf Bourguignon is definitely a great dish to cook. I don’t normally like stews but make exception to French stews because most are slow cooked. Plus they are super easy one pot dishes perfect for busy mom’s and families.
      Annie André invites you to read..Discover What People Eat Around The World In One Week?: Photos Will Shock YouMy Profile

  11. Sylviane and Annie,

    It’s post made me hungry just reading it.

    I love trying food from other countries and may just have to try these sometime soon. Tey all sound so good.

    Thanks for the great insight into the French life through their food.

    Dee Ann
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  13. I actually eat this type of Ratatouille every time I go to my friend’s house. He’s from France and he said this is his best dish… ever! Thanks for mentioning it in your list. Too many folks know only about french fries and think that’s everything there is to know about French cuisine. And that’s so sad…
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  14. Hope I can taste all of this 5 Traditional Foods Real French People Cook At Home.. As I travel to France Im looking forward to it.

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