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Posted on Wednesday 08 August 2012 in France
While many Aussies may already consider French cuisine to be the best in the world, they may not know just how diverse the country's food scene truly is. Terms like "bar," "bistro," "patisserie" and "cafe" may sound similar, but each of these styles of eateries are starkly different, providing varying types of food for every mealtime.
Whether enjoying Paris holidays or hitting the road for a holiday out in the French countryside, travellers can knock off their culinary to-do list by experiencing each of these types of eateries:
Breakfast begins as soon as the air fills with the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked baguettes and croissants, perhaps only topped by the smell of espresso at an authentic French cafe. Although travellers won't find large menus at these small shops, they can certainly expect to enjoy a delicious breakfast of flakey meat-filled croissants or a croque madame, which is a toasted cheese sandwich with a fried egg. McDonald's has nothing on these incredible handheld breakfasts.
Aussies who have never had a crepe are in for a real treat when they take flights to Paris. A step up from French cafes, creperies offer a little more sustenance with their meals, stuffing thin, pancake-like wraps with sweet and savoury ingredients like fresh fruits, creme fraiche or vegetables and cheese. Diners should be sure to watch the crepe makers in action - the thin wooden tool they use to evenly spread the batter over a hotplate looks more like a paintbrush than a spatula, and their hands' graceful motions liken the crepe makers to a Michelangelo, creating culinary masterpieces one after the other.
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Teatime is never more glamourous than in France, where tearooms attract the savviest and most sophisticated clientele. Similar to a cafe, these eateries provide little more than petit fours and bite-sized pastries like cakes, quiches and miniature pies. Although they boast a casual atmosphere, diners tend to dress as though they're going to a fancy dinner - a typical practice of most French locals who take care of their appearance.
Aussies can bring a newspaper or book and spend a few hours sipping tea from pots, which servers will graciously fill with a fresh batch of hot water. Of course, one of the best activities to do while in Paris or any charming French town is to people watch.
Meals aren't typically limited to three per day in France, and brasseries make no exception. Often serving lunch and dinner, these eateries usually open in the morning and shift their menus throughout the day to reflect food availability and personal requests from patrons. Sitting outside is a must, and most chairs will face toward the street, providing Aussies with ample opportunities to gaze at passersby. Literally translated to "brewery" from French, brasseries begin serving wine early in the day and typically do not close their doors until the late evening.
Not surprisingly, the word restaurant actually comes from the French word "restauration," which means "restoration." Coined in the mid-18th century by a soup vendor, the term refers to restoring empty stomachs with food. It's no wonder that French restaurants are some of the most revered in the world, and foodies will feel right at home in just about any eatery in this truly restorative country. The best way to eat at an authentic French restaurant is to order multiple courses - otherwise known as a menu a prix fixe - and sit back while the chefs and servers handle this culinary adventure.
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