French cuisine dates back centuries, all the way to Roman times. Because of its location, surrounded by neighboring countries that also had formidable cooking prowess – Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland – France was influenced to develop a national cuisine that is the envy of the entire world.

Haute cuisine as we know it today would not be possible without French chefs that paved the way for gourmet restaurants and similar high-class dining establishments. If you are on a visit to France, try out these traditional dishes. Trust us, you won’t be sorry you did so.

 

  1. Soupe à l’oignon (Onion Soup)

The origin of this soup dish can be traced back to when ancient Romans held France (or Gaul, as it was known back then) as part of their Empire. Like the name implies, it is made from onions – by caramelizing them in a slow cooking process. At the end of which, croutons with melted cheese are placed on the very top. Brandy, sherry, or other sweet liquors are often added to the mix as well.

 

  1. Coq au vin

This now iconic French dish was popularized worldwide by American TV chef Julia Child, who often cooked it as one of her signature dishes. Even though the name means “rooster in vine”, regular chicken is often used instead. The bird is braised with vine (traditionally a red Burgundy, but other vines, such as Riesling or Champagne, are also regularly used), mushrooms, bacon, onions, and garlic.

 

  1. Chocolate soufflé

Soufflé is derived from the French verb to “blow out something”, and its origins can be traced to the early 18th century. It is a light, egg-based dish that can be made with sweet or savory ingredients, but the dessert variation is undoubtedly the most well-known. It is a common dessert delicacy worldwide, and it is easy to see why – the crust is crisp and inviting, while the creamy chocolate filling underneath is sublime.

 

  1. Ratatouille

No, we don’t mean Pixar’s Academy-winning cartoon, but rather the dish by which it got its pun-based name. It is made from stewed vegetables: tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, and other ones, with added spices such as thyme, marjoram, and basil. The vegetables are usually first cooked in a pan, and then sorted into layers and baked in an oven.

 

  1. Confit de canard

Canard is French for duck, although this dish can be substituted with goose or pork. Considered one of the fanciest of traditional French dishes, it is prepared in a special way – a centuries-old slow-cooking process (confit) in which the meat is marinated in a combination of garlic, salt, and thyme for 36 hours, and then slowly cooked at low temperatures. It is traditionally served with a side order of roasted potatoes.