French people make the country’s cuisine a culture. When cooking, people use the best and freshest ingredients they can afford. Traditionally, France has small refrigerators because people frequently shop at local markets.

When setting the table, it is done with loving care, even in modest homes and for simple meals. People put aside their phones during mealtime to truly enjoy the food and company. French people revere food and treat meals like a celebration of life.

Any food event usually starts with a shopping trip to the market. Many towns and cities have bi-weekly food markets. A good one has cheese vendors, butchers, produce farmers and assorted specialty merchants. Shoppers take their time and evaluate food quality. People commonly ask questions about the products before buying them.

It’s difficult to describe a traditional French meal because different regions have their own cuisines. Breakfast is the exception and usually consists of bread slathered with fruity jam. Croissants and yogurts are typical as well, and breakfast drinks include hot chocolate, coffee or orange juice. Weekends call for bakery breads with raisins or chocolate.

Lunch and Dinner
Lunches usually last around an hour and take place away from work. The majority of employees consider this meal an occasion to socialize with friends or peers. On weekends, lunches can turn into mini-dinners. The basic dinner structure in France consists of four courses: appetizer, main course, cheese and dessert. Sometimes salad comes before the cheese.

Many French dishes have humble origins and were based on local products. Despite the posh reputation, they were created by laborers and farmers. Normandy, Provence, Lyon, Brittany, Burgundy and Alsace all have unique cuisines.

Normandy and Provence
Since Normandy has dairy farms and apple orchards, you’ll find foods inspired by these products. Meals often feature Camembert cheese. The Provence uses a lot of olive oil because of its olive groves. It has lighter fare with a Mediterranean flair.

Lyon, Brittany, Burgundy and Alsace
Lyon’s cuisine features heavy dishes, thanks to an availability of pork, duck and chicken. This city is famous for artichoke hearts with goose liver and fish dumplings with lobster sauce. Brittany uses lots of shellfish and seafood. It is also known for galettes (savory crepes) and sweet crepes that often feature chocolate or salted caramel. Burgundy has its red wine beef stew, and Alsace’s cuisine has German influences.