A Student’s Guide to Navigating French Cuisine

Authored by:
CIEE Rennes

CIEE Rennes

When one thinks of France, one often thinks of food. Baguettes, crêpes, cheese, and croissants are some of the first to pop into my mind—all of which are relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. But what about those ambiguously fancy and expensive-sounding dishes like coq-au-vin, boeuf bourguignon, and confit de canard? Before coming to France, I wondered how often I would be enjoying all the delicacies that France offered.

As it turns out—quite often. One of the most incredible things about France is the low cost of food. For a mere euro (sometimes less!), I can purchase the most perfect bread you can imagine: the Tradition. Different from a regular baguette, the Traditional is arguably the better choice due a more “traditional” recipe that permits further air bubbles and a crunchier exterior.

However, it’s not just bread that’s cheap: pastries, sandwiches, and crêpes—things that I classify as “street food” since you can often buy them and eat them on the, well, street—are all relatively inexpensive for being of such incredible quality and taste.

As a student, my schedule (and budget) has not permitted me to indulge in one of those seven-course meals that lasts several hours and costs several euros. While there are many restaurants in Rennes that offer this (including a few with Michelin stars!), I usually choose to opt for other, equally yummy (but more affordable) options. I do plan to dip into my wallet and try it at least once before the end of the semester though, so I can have had the full French dining experience! So, for those worried about the expenses of eating abroad, I can confidently state that it is completely possible to eat well and enjoy French food, without needing to Venmo request your distant relatives to fund your food budget for abroad.

French food has also greatly impacted the way that I hang out with friends. Instead of microwaving popcorn and opening bags of sour patch watermelons and twizzlers, my friends and I will have spreads of cheese, bread, chocolate, and jams, which we (of course) also serve with wine. It is such fun to share in the experience of tasting different cheeses and wines in  the company of others who also enjoy it. Also, often when traveling and staying in AirBnb’s, we will all cook dinner together. Cooking with friends is a highly underrated activity— it’s fun, efficient, and super cost-effective! Not to mention that all the ingredients in France are amazing, so everything always tastes delicious. I love this activity so much that I plan to continue it in the U.S!

 

As the French would say, there are many ways to “profiter bien” from the delicious food they offer. Bonne chance à vous!

Eleanor Dalsass

Villanova University

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