French Food Terms You Must Know

france french food terms

If you’re interested in French cuisine but your French is limited to oui and bonjour, you’ll want to get to know some common French food terms. Prior to diving into that, let’s cover some basics about France.

France is a European country located north of Spain and south of Germany. It is geographically the largest country in the EU and is the 3rd largest country in Europe behind Ukraine and Russia (on the European side).

Due to its size and geographic diversity, France is divided into several culinary regions: Champagne/Alsace (northeast), Normandy and Brittany (northwest), Burgundy (central-east), Lyon/Auvergne-Rhne-Alpes (central-east), Provence (south), Toulouse and Midi-Pyrnese (south-central) and Bordeaux (southwestern). The focus of French cuisine heavily depends on the region, with coastal regions specializing in seafood, central regions geared towards meats and the northern and central regions focused on cheese. Additionally, wines made in France are characterized by and named after their respective regions.

French cuisine

French cuisine has evolved over the centuries. It has been influenced by neighboring countries including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and, especially, Spain and Italy.

It is characterized by its use of fresh, quality ingredients and high attention to detail, not just in the food itself, but the presentation as well. As such, French cuisine is commonly regarded as one of the most sophisticated cuisines in the world…and why many French restaurants throughout the world tend to be more expensive than restaurants of other cuisines.

In terms of ingredients, the French turn to regional natural resources which are also dependent on the season like truffles, wild game and shellfish.

French food terms

Expand your international dining vocabulary with these basic food-related words translated from English to French.

meat – viande

  • pork – porc
  • beef – boeuf

poultry – volaille

  • turkey – dinde
  • duck – canard
  • chicken – poulet

seafood – fruit de mer

  • fish – poisson
  • shrimp – crevette
  • oyster – huître
  • shellfish – fruits de mer

meatless/no meat – pas de viande

  • vegetables – légumes
  • fruits – fruits
  • eggs – œufs
  • tofu – tofu
  • nuts – noix
  • bread – pain
  • butter – beurre
  • vegetarian – végétarien
  • vegan – vegan

drinks – boissons

  • water – l’eau
  • alcohol – l’alcool
  • beer – bière
  • wine – vin

other eating/dining-related terms

  • yes – oui
  • no – non
  • good – bien
  • yummy – délicieux
  • eat – manger
  • cook – cuisinier
  • I’m hungry – j’ai faim
  • I’m full – j’ai trop mangé
  • more – plus
  • less – moins
  • only – seulement
  • please – s’il vous plaît
  • thank you –  je vous remercie
  • baked – cuit
  • fried – frit
  • grilled – grillé
  • roasted – rôti
  • steamed –  à la vapeur
  • hot – chaude
  • warm – chaude
  • cold – froide
  • bitter – amer
  • salty – salé
  • spicy – épicé
  • sweet –  sucré
  • allergic – allergique
  • bathroom – salle de bains

French food to try

  • beignets – French doughnuts
  • croque-monsieur – grilled ham and gruyere sandwich
  • croque-madame – grilled ham and gruyere sandwich with and egg
  • French onion soup – melted cheese on an onion-infused meat broth
  • raclette – melted cheese scraped onto bread, vegetables or meat
  • wines & cheeses – Taste as many as you can!

Interested in learning about other cuisines around the world? Discover food terms from other countries here.

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.