Embrace the Flavors of French Snacking
When exploring the rich culinary heritage of France, one cannot overlook the delightful realm of snacks in France. From the bustling streets of Paris to the serene countryside, French snacking is not just a quick bite; it’s an experience woven into the fabric of French culture. Le goûter, the traditional afternoon snack time, is cherished by both French kids and French adults alike. Join me on a tasty journey through the 27 best snack foods to relish during an afternoon in France.
1. Pommes Frites (French Fries) :
Although the origins of this savory snack are up for debate, (apparently it’s a little rivalry between France and Belgium) these golden brown, potato delights are a worldwide favorite. Savor the crispy goodness and pair them with traditional French condiments for an authentic taste. Then riddle me this, which do you prefer? The American potato chip, or this classic French snack?
2. Olive Oil and Black Olives:
While some would say (though I disagree) that these are not a snack on their own, olives as natural ingredients are central to many French snacks. Savor the salty taste of one of the many types of olives that grow in France, and drizzle olive oil over your baguette slice for a splendid flavor that will have you shouting “très bonne!”
3. Pain au Raisins:
Indulge in the buttery goodness of these crisp puff pastries made with raisins, and vanilla and often dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Found in French bakeries, their airy layers are a testament to traditional methods that require lots of dedicated time and care. Pain aux raisins area great choice for a quick snack.
4. Chaussons aux Pommes:
These airy puff pastries made with wheat flour are very similar to the familiar apple turnover! They encapsulate the essence of “crisp”, with their flaky puff pastry shell filled with luscious apple filling. Are you drooling yet? They’re a must-try for anyone exploring the wonders of French cuisine.
Also known as French Cheese Puffs (although I don’t know how much the French people appreciate that junk food comparison) Gougères are a savory baked good made from choux dough. Their airy texture and rich, cheesy flavor from the grated cheese in the dough, (most commonly Gruyère, or Comté) are exquisite and make them the perfect side dish to most any meal.
6. Foie Gras:
One of the more luxurious French hors d’oeuvres, Foie Gras is made from the liver of fattened geese or ducks. It’s a staple of French culinary culture and a very well known delicacy. Foie gras pairs quite nicely with the classic baguette, brioche bread, or canape crackers.
7. Pain au Chocolat:
One of the popular choices for breakfast or an afternoon snack, these beautiful croissants filled with rich chocolate are a true joy for anyone with a sweet tooth. Be sure to pick one up at the closest bakery or pastry shop! For those of you who have seen “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” you may be familiar with the leading man, Tom Blyth, who has an ongoing Instagram series called the “Croissanicles” in which he tries and rates Pain au Chocolat in a very serious, not at all silly way. (I’m joking, it is, of course, very silly and fun.)
8. Palets de Dames:
Palets de dames are a French iced cookie. Somewhat comparable to the New York black and white cookie (which by the way, has a super fascinating history that I’ve definitely never done a Wikipedia deep dive on. That’s a ridiculous notion, who would ever think of doing that *sweats in nervous panic*) they’re texture is not quite cookie-like, but also not quite cake-like. What they indisputably are: delicious! Sometimes palets de dames will be sandwiched together with fruit preserves but that’s not a requirement for the treat.
Socca is a scrumptious street food originating from Southern France, boasting a crispy exterior and a soft, savory inside. Made from chickpea flour, olive oil, and seasoned generously with herbs and sea salt, this delicacy offers a unique taste experience. With its golden-brown, crunchy texture and rich, nutty flavor, Socca embodies the essence of French culinary simplicity. (And it’s likely to be gluten-free! Hooray!)
10. Sable Cookies:
The French butter cookie, (‘sablés’ being the French term), is a delicious treat crafted with the finest quality butter. These delicate cookies offer a melt-in-your-mouth experience, characterized by their rich, buttery flavor and delicate, crumbly texture. This is one of the most popular French snacks that will make you start questioning why you don’t have more pastry chefs for friends.
If ever you’ve been to a donut shop in North America, you’re probably familiar with chocolate eclairs. Shockingly, the choux pastry was not invented in the United States but rather in France! (Just teasing!) This dessert comprises a hollow, oblong-shaped choux pastry dough shell, and a rich, creamy filling (custard, or crème pâtissière). Finally, a glossy coating of chocolate ganache or icing is spread atop the éclair, adding a sweet finish to this very elegant treat.
12. Chocolat Chaud
I need you to listen very closely when I say, French hot chocolate will LITERALLY change your life. It’s more than just good food. It’s exquisite. French hot chocolate, or “chocolat chaud,” is luxuriously thick and rich in consistency. This is achieved by using high-quality dark chocolate and whole milk. Often served in smaller portions due to its indulgent nature, this French beverage is a decadent. I can still remember when I tried it for the first time at “Laduree Paris Champs Elysees” and it literally got thicker as it cooled. That’s how rich it is.
13. Pork Sausage:
Pork sausages, known as ‘saucisses,’ are meticulously crafted using premium cuts of pork blended with a distinctive medley of aromatic herbs and spices. These sausages boast a rich, savory flavor profile, often accentuated by hints of garlic, thyme, and other regional seasonings. Whether grilled, pan-fried, or added to stews and casseroles, these succulent sausages are best sellers for a reason.
14. Mushroom Vol-au-Vent:
These little pastries filled with creamy mushroom goodness are perfect for an afternoon treat or as part of a larger hors d’oeuvres spread. They offer a delightful harmony of earthy flavors and buttery textures, and if you haven’t had them yet, you have my full permission to be unreasonably excited to in the future.
15. Bread & Butter
It may sound simple, but the French are masters at culinary simplicity. Bread and butter has never tasted better. Find one of the nearest French supermarkets or grocery store (Intermarche’s are the best!) grab a baguette, some butter, maybe a spoon (seriously the butter is that good!) and bonne appetit!
French macarons are exquisite confections known for their delicate meringue shells that encase some type of filling, whether that be fruit preserves (like bonne maman jam) or French buttercream. With a crisp yet melt-in-your-mouth texture, these colorful almond-based treats come in a variety of flavors, from classic pistachio and raspberry to innovative options like lavender or salted caramel. And the best part? They’re gluten-free by nature because they’re made with almond flour! These cookies are rightfully a famous and popular snack, I do declare I shall never stop singing their praises!
When I daydreamed of trips to Paris as a little girl, crepe shops were always an integral part of the fantasy. Typically it was a crepe stand in the park, by the Eiffel Tower, run by a cheery little man with a mustache. Now while that particular facet of my daydreams never came to pass, I certainly dined on my fair share of the thin little pancake treats, both sweet and savory. Some would say its not a French snack food, its a main course, but time of day, rain or shine, crepes are always worthy of taste bud attention. 10 out of 10 would recommend.
18. Crème Brûlée
You’ve probably know of the classic crème brûlée. Characterized by its smooth and creamy custard base, made with a blend of rich cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. The distinguishing feature of this indulgent treat is its crisp caramelized sugar crust, achieved by carefully torching the sugar on top to create a thin, crunchy layer that contrasts with the velvety custard beneath.
Tapenade is a French classic! It’s a flavorful condiment originating from Provence, renowned for its bold and savory profile. Crafted from a blend of black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and olive oil, tapenades are versatile savory spreads that add a bursts of Mediterranean flavors to various dishes. With its briny undertones and aromatic herbs, this traditional French accompaniment is ideal for elevating appetizers, sandwiches, or as a zesty dip, providing a delicious taste of the sun-soaked cuisine of the South of France.
Pissaladière is a savory French dish originating from the region of Nice, featuring a thin, flatbread-like, crust topped with a flavorful combination of caramelized onions, black olives, and anchovies. The base, akin to a pizza dough, provides the perfect canvas for the sweet, tender onions, which are slowly cooked until golden brown to enhance their natural sweetness. The addition of briny black olives and umami-rich anchovies creates a harmonious blend of flavors, making Pissaladière a distinctive and delicious representation of Provençal cuisine.
Mousse is a dessert known for its velvety texture and airy consistency. Created by folding whipped cream or egg whites into a base of melted chocolate, fresh fruit puree, or other flavorings (please try strawberry mousse), this decadent treat achieves a lightness that melts in the mouth. Whether infused with the intense bitterness of dark chocolate or the delicate sweetness of lemon juice and lemon zest, French mousse exemplifies the art of dessert-making, delivering an indulgent experience that satisfies.
Panisses are far less commonly known about then perhaps the crepe or macaron, but don’t let that trick you into thinking these savory treats, originating from the South of France, aren’t widely beloved! A popular street food, They look similar to a French fry but they’re made from chickpea flour (another win for gluten-free babes). They’re known for their crispy, fried exterior and tender, slightly-custard-like center. You’re likely to find them seasoned with herbs, spices and the salty air of the seashore. I think few things sound nicer than a hearty serving of panisses to-go, and a walk down the Mediterranean beach, how about you?
Quiches are savory pies characterized by their buttery pastry crusts filled with velvety egg custard and an array of ingredients, from classic combinations like ham and cheese to spinach and goat chèvre. Quiche is commonly eaten at breakfast time and is one of my absolute favorites!
This one is another classic, madeleines are small, shell-shaped cakes that boast a light and spongy texture, often flavored by vanilla or lemon zest. These delicious treats are baked to perfection, having both a golden-brown exterior and a moist, delicate crumb within. With their famous seashell shape and timeless appeal, madeleines are a quintessential French pastry, perfect for pairing with a cup of tea or Chocolat Chaud for a delightful moment of indulgence. (Isn’t this picture from Country Living with the bow so cute? For more adorable ribbon & bow content check out my ribbons & bows post)
Fougasse is a type of bread commonly shaped like a leaf (how cute is that!?). Hailing from Provence, it’s known for its rustic appearance and versatile flavor options. Characterized by its unique patterned slashes, Fougasse can be adorned with ingredients like olives, herbs, or cheese, infusing each bite with Mediterranean goodness. Whether enjoyed as a standalone snack or alongside traditional dishes, this artisanal bread offers a delightful combination of crispy crust and soft, airy interior. I’ve been dying to attempt making fougasse on my own!
Palmiers, also known as elephant ears or prussiens, are puff pastry cookies crafted with layers of butter and sugar, creating a caramelized and crispy treat. The cookies get their palm leaf shape from the way the pastry is folded and baked. They’re wonderfully flaky, sweet, and perfect for an mid-morning snack, and afternoon snack, and any-other-time-you-can-think-of snack.
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a reference to our favorite Disney rat, Remy! Ratatouille is a flavorful and aromatic vegetable stew, featuring a medley of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, typically thinly sliced and delicately seasoned with herbs like parsley, thyme and rosemary. (It’s like a full on Simon & Garfunkel moment.) You’ll definitely want to make occasion to try this one!
Before you go
Before you leave, I had to share this little croissant doodle I drew, because look at him! What a cutie LOL!
In The End
Snacking in France is not merely about filling the gap between meals; it’s a celebration of flavors, textures, and a rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re munching on savory traditional French snacks or indulging in sweet pastries, French snack foods offer a delightful journey for your taste buds. So, immerse yourself in the local cuisine and say “bon appétit” to an array of delicious eats waiting to be savored.