Almost all the famous French dishes are regional specialities based on the resources of the region (game, fish etc.) and the vegetables and herbs which are found or grown there. Some of these specialities have become popular throughout France, such as Coq au Vin and Foie Gras, while others are mainly enjoyed in the regions in which they originated.
Although regional specialities are offered throughout France, the quality of ingredients and preparation is often superior in their region of origin. Each region furthermore often has its own general style of cooking and choice of ingredients. For example, in Provence the food typically features olive oil, herbs and tomatoes.
There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to brasseries or bistros that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities. Unfortunately some restaurants, especially in touristy areas, can be quite disappointing serving very ordinary food at high prices. Finding the right restaurant can therefore be very important; ask around and try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal.
Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants most of which are very good and serve the specialities of the region. Outside of tourist areas it can be a challenge to find a restaurant that has open on Sunday and sometimes even on Saturday, also in a reasonable number of restaurants in these areas a booking is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity.
Not all restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, nor are they open all year round. It is therefore advisable to check carefully the opening hours and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept guests until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and guests are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in larger cities.
Breakfast (le petit déjeuner) is often a quick, small meal consisting of slices of french bread with jelly and/or a croissant along with coffee or tea. Lunch (le déjeuner) was once a two hour mid-day meal, but today the trend is toward a one hour lunch break. Sunday lunches are often longer and are taken with the family. Dinner (le dîner) has in many places become the main meal of the day. It often consists of three courses, sometimes more. The first course is the hors d'oeuvre or entrée, the second and main course is plat principal, and the third course is a cheese course or desert, sometimes both. The meal is usually accompanied by bread, wine and mineral water. Coffee is always served as a final step (though it may be followed by liquors). A request for coffee during the meal will, like in most other European countries, be considered strange.