Frantic Fred's Travel Tips: France

by Miles O'Neal, Jetlag, Ltd.


Returning home will be boring - when you order food here, you will know what you are getting! If you are not the adventurous type, and you aren't sure, ask! Otherwise you may get some truly nasty surprises.

The food in Paris is generally more expensive than what you are used to. It is probably also better than what you are used to, barring good home-cooking. Restaurants seem to all post their menus outside, so you have some idea what you are getting into before you enter.

Paris has restaurants everywhere. There is probably one in the Arc D'Triomphe; I never went up the elevator, so I can't be sure. (Some restaurant bathrooms have restaurants, which in terms have bathrooms, and if you aren't careful, you'll go deeper and deeper and never get out!) Try the Champs D'Elysees for a wide assortment of types of food. Try to find the Lescure restaurant (near the Concord and Palais-Royal Metro stations, around the corner from the US embassy - be very polite to the French cop there with the assault rifle). Avoid McDonalds and Burger King. If you must have a fast food fix, try a Quick. They are a French (or perhaps Belgian, I've been told both) chain, and have excellent food. The french fries, naturally, will be good no matter where you order them in France.

Where's the (cooked) beef?

The Parisiennes have a hatred of cooked beef. To them, well done is roughly equivalent to the US concept of medium rare. If you try hard, you may get them to burn it to a crisp, but that seems to be the only alternative. Either enjoy it red, prepare for charcoal, or order something else.


They also like their eggs, and not for breakfast. Many dishes will come ``with egg'' (``avec ouef'') on top by default. If you don't want the egg, order ``pas ouef'' (``feed the stupid egg to a dog!'') When I got tired, I started ordering everything ``pas ouef'', just to be safe, which earned me some laughter (and the odd strange look) when something wouldn't have come with an egg. This worked fine until I got so tired I confused ``avec'' with ``pas''. Of course, this occured at the one restaurant that wouldn't have put an egg on my burger! Many pizzas even include an egg by default.

Veggie delight

Having by now realized how different the French palette is from the ISO USA palette, you will not be surprised that their preferences for vegetables (``legumes'') differs as well. For instance, artichokes are extremely common - even on pizzas. They also do something wonderful with beets (which I generally loathe at home).


``Eau'' (``water'') is almost always mineral water. If you don't want it carbonated (often the default), order it "pas gas" ("no bubbles", not "pass gas"). Only the Italians drink more wine with their meals than the French. The IBM cafeteria even serves wine (and beer). Coca-Cola is the same thing you love or loathe here, except that the European truth-in-advertising laws seem to work better than ours - the can will say "soda of vegetable extract" (which gave me visions of artichokes and beets). It's nearly always Classic Coke, but occasionally only New (Deproved) Coke will be available.

The French know how to make coffee. It's strong, and it's good. For instance, the coffee in the machines at IBM in the Tour Descartes (La Defense, Paris) is better than the coffee in most restaurants in the USA. Expect to get a smaller serving, but there will be plenty of caffeine.

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Last Update: 01 Oct 2002
All text copyright 1992-1995,2002 by Miles O'Neal, <>, Austin, TX. All rights reserved. Free electronic redistribution of this article is allowed only in its entirety; all other uses require the author's permission.
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