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How to Eat Like a Local in Paris

Are you ready to dive into the delicious world of Parisian cuisine? In this article, I’m going to uncover the secrets of how to eat like a local in Paris.

From charming bistros to bustling markets, Paris offers a culinary adventure like no other.

Get ready to find out how the locals go out to make you feel like a real Parisian. Let’s take a gastronomic journey through the streets of Paris together!

Related read: Food in Paris: A Culinary Centre in Europe

Here’s an overview:

Discover How to Eat Like a Local in Paris: A Guide

Spend your day eating like a local in Paris from breakfast to dinner. Here’s our guide on what to have for each meal for the full Parisian experience.

Related read: Paris for Beginners: Where and What to Eat, See or Do


Let’s start with breakfast. Honestly, I rarely eat it, preferring to begin my day with espresso only.

In fact, about 40% of us have been intermittent fasting for our entire lives; we just never named it that. That is the real reason why French women don’t get fat.

For those who do eat in the morning, there is the traditional croissant or pastry when out with friends or even on the way to work. Often at home, we will toast the leftover baguette from the night before OR run out and buy a fresh baguette. With some great butter, it is a wonderful way to begin the day.

Occasionally, fruit and yogurt will begin the day. There are no hard and fast rules, but eggs and bacon are not traditional.

However, if you come from a country with a breakfast tradition, never feel ashamed of eating a quiche from a local Artisan Boulangerie in the morning. Even if the French do not do this, they will not judge you.

Fresh espresso from the machine - a local's way to start the day in Paris
Fresh espresso from the machine.


Lunch is what you like, depending on your day. If I am with friends, we might choose a café.

Lunch is often a deal at a café. You can choose two courses for a fixed price. A starter and a main, or a main and a dessert if you prefer sweets.

Good cafés are everywhere, but if you want one that uses NO canned or frozen food, choose Fait Maison, which means it must legally be made in-house. There will be a sign or a plaque announcing this. You can also simply ask and point to an item, ‘fait maison?‘ and if you get an oui, you will know that the item you have chosen is made in-house.

When I am working, which is often I tend towards the wonderful Jambon Baguette, ham on bread with butter. This is a sandwich I was suspicious of when I first arrived in Paris as a young man. Ham in the US is not served with butter, but I soon fell in love with this wonderful combination and craved it. I think it is because the butter is SO GOOD!

Snacking is not so common, but good fruit is everywhere, and if you want to eat it directly from the shop, just ask the proprietor to ‘rincer mes fruits, s’il vous plaît?

If you are traveling with hungry kids, just pop into an Artisan Boulangerie; they will happily cut a quiche or pastry in half for the children.

Fresh Baguette in Paris
Fresh Baguette.


Dinner is where your French culinary dreams can come true.

Wine is necessary, and it is reasonably priced. Bistros and Cafés often have glasses from 4 to 6 euros, with restaurants charging slightly more. Even bottles are not unaffordable for friends to share.

I love wine bars. Sharing a bottle of wine with some charcuterie and cheese is a favorite casual evening activity for me. French cheese is so good, like French butter. Many wine shops have a basement or a back room that opens in the evening just for this purpose. They cannot cook but take great pleasure in having a cheese selection that will satisfy the most discerning diner.

On a cold rainy night in winter, when a more substantial meal is called for, I will often begin with a salad and then a cassoulet or beef bourguignon. These are my two favorite substantial meals, but choose what you like. French cuisine is vast and I like a salad to start, others prefer a salad after the main.

You can do what you like. The French are not silently judging you, unless you ask for ketchup, they are. Even with frites, ketchup is not common.

Fat is very satisfying. So it is tradition to have a little cheese after the meal, and then if you like a sweet.

If it is a party or holiday gathering, there is nothing wrong with ending the evening with a brandy.

French cheese with wine in France.
French cheese with wine in France.

There’s No rush, Take Your Time With Meals

The most important thing is to take your time, enjoy the meal, and enjoy your family and your friends. If you’re dining alone, book. Never rush. The table is yours for as long as you like.

Tipping in France

If you are in a tourist trap, they ask for a tip, but a small tip is common, from a few coins to a bill, if you are with friends and there for hours.

Above all, enjoy, that is why you are in Paris.

Eat Like a Local in Paris with a Chef

Who’s better to teach you how to eat like a local in Paris than a local chef? Join one of tours provided by The Chef Tours to dive into true Parisian food culture.

Each tour offers a unique way to explore Paris through its flavors, stories, and hidden gems, tailored by expert chefs who are passionate about sharing their love for the city’s culinary arts.

Chef PJ’s Montmartre Food Tour: Unveil the Soul of Paris

Experience authentic Montmartre with Chef PJ, a Parisian prodigy who brings the rich culture and hidden flavors of his hometown to life. This tour offers an intimate glimpse into the local culinary scene, led by a chef renowned for his deep roots and extensive experience in Paris’s vibrant district. Begin by sipping “café au lait” and savoring “out-of-the-oven Croissant” in a “Café” like a true Parisian.

Upon reaching Chef PJ’s restaurant, he will provide you with a homemade three-course meal, highlighted by perfectly chosen Rosé, White and Red French wines, followed by a discussion of the best pastries & chocolates in town, sipping a glass of “Pet-Nat.”

Participants can expect a personal journey through Montmartre’s lesser-known spots, tasting secret recipes and hearing captivating stories. Chef PJ’s previous high acclaim on other renowned food tours ensures a memorable and highly praised experience.

  • Price: €129.00 each
    Starts at 11:00 at Blanche Subway Station.
    Duration: 5 hours.
    Live Guide: English.
    Unfit for vegans.

Book this tour directly with the operator

How to eat like a local in Paris with Chef PJ
How to eat like a local in Paris with Chef PJ

Chef PJ’s Picnic: A Montmartre Picnic Adventure

Transform a simple meal into an extraordinary feast with Chef PJ’s Montmartre Picnic Tour. This adventure starts with a funicular ride up the hill, followed by a tour led by Chef PJ’s family that delves into the history and soul of Montmartre.

The picnic features a hand-curated gourmet spread of local specialties, including pastries, quiches, and wines, enjoyed in the scenic setting of Chef PJ’s restaurant with panoramic views. This tour is an ideal choice for those seeking a blend of culinary delight and cultural exploration, away from the usual tourist experiences.

Book this tour directly with the operator!

Chef PJ’s exclusive Montmartre Picnic Tour
Chef PJ’s exclusive Montmartre Picnic Tour

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