Ah, France. Perhaps you have been many times and can simply deep dive into warm memories of that incredible meal, getting happily lost in a big city or making the wrong turn down a dirt path in the countryside. Or maybe that dreamy trip to France is still a dream.
Either way, it’s time you take matters into your own hands. In times like these there is only one thing to do: bring France to you.
The good news is you don’t have to try very hard to do just that. All it takes is some supplies, a little imagination, and a pinch of fairy dust. We’re here today to guide you on a journey to the land of flakey pastries and incredible wine.
Pack your bags, because tomorrow morning you are waking up in France!
1. A classic French morning
Imagine climbing out of bed. There is a chill in the air so you reach for your robe or something soft and comfy to throw on. Breathe deep and imagine smelling the scent of bread baking from the nearby boulangerie. Eyes still half shut, slide your feet into the house slippers (pantoufles) waiting at the edge of the bed.
Open the blinds, then off to the kitchen you go. It’s breakfast time!
Photo by @memuary
Petit dejeuner - Breakfast
The French refer to breakfast as “little lunch.” It is the lightest and quickest meal of the day. Très désolée, but you won’t find runny eggs, pancakes or hashbrowns at most French tables. No shock here, but bread is the pillar of french gastronomy so of course a classic french breakfast will revolve around it. Breakfast in France is typically a bowl sized coffee for easy dunking and something crusty as a vehicle for slathering a sweet spread of jam.
French breakfast formula:
- Fruit Juice: typically orange or grapefruit
- Hot tea or coffee with cream
- Cracker, biscuit, pain grillé or baguette + spread: jam, honey, or nutella (submerging in said coffee or tea encouraged)
- Occasionally, a yogurt parfait with cereal & fresh fruit
- If pastries are involved they should be fresh from the bakery and warm to the touch. Croissant or pain chocolat anyone!?
Buying fresh bread is pretty essential to daily life in France. Here, your local or neighborhood bakery is the best place to fulfill your bready dreams. So make sure to stock up for a blissful morning of carb loading. Especially considering the circumstances, if you don’t have fresh baguette or pastries, heat them up in the oven and sprinkle some of that fairy dust ;-)
2. A restful afternoon
Dejeuner - Lunch
Right around noon, most businesses shut down for a two hour break. Put down that garden hose or close your laptop. It is time for you to join all of France in this great afternoon pause -- time to eat well and finish it off with a quick nap.
The French believe that it is important to take this time to enjoy one of life’s pleasures; eating well and drinking better. Lunch is the most substantial meal of the day and yes, wine is involved. Time to set the table and begin to prepare your three course meal!
French lunch formula:
Oh, yes. Pour yourself a glass of wine. We recommend Champagne, of course!
A basket of fresh bread and unsalted butter
Start of first with an entrée of a light crisp salad with herbs and a simple dijon vinaigrette, a bowl of soup, or a slice of paté.
Le plat principal, the main course, is typically something like baked fish or roasted chicken with pommes d'affinois & green beans.
Dessert is typically stinky cheese and fruit. Yes please!
Once you are sufficiently stuffed, unbutton your pants, sit back and finish your glass of wine while you chat with family and friends. Still no rush to get back to work. Now you can be excused. There will always be time for work after a quick cat nap.
3. Sliding into Dinner
Your work day is over so leave everything behind. Try not to take anything home with you mentally or physically. We promise it will be there tomorrow.
For children, after school, they do typically have a small snack or goûter. You however, I hope you’ve eaten well for lunch because dinner is not until 7:30 or 8pm. The point of a heavy lunch is not to snack and wait for dinner, the second most important meal of the day.
French dinner formula:
Usually the meal begins with something light like crudité or radishes and butter.
But-of-course, the basket of fresh bread and unsalted butter makes an appearance again.
The wine flows like water.
Just as lunch, a nice salad with a light dressing is always enjoyed separately and before the main event which can be anything from crêpes or an omelette, to a duck cassoulet.
Post dinner is time for the following: charcuterie, cheese, or something sweet to finish, typically something simple like a square of dark chocolate, a modest scoop of ice cream and a cookie, or fromage blanc with sugar or jam.
The culture of food and drink and sharing meals together in France is about camaraderie. Champagne too, of course, has this power of bringing people together. So, let it do what it was born to do and pour yourself another glass and ask your partner what their favorite part of the day was.
Notice how transporting yourself to France involves food and drink, taking your time and connecting with others? There’s a reason for that! The French are all about living your best life, but of course in moderation. It is uncommon to find the French walking while snacking or rushing through their day. Most folks always have a bottle of wine or a tin of cookies just in case someone drops by.
Connect with friends and family. Eat well and thoughtfully. Sit down around a table and enjoy meals together as much as you can. Make every day an active day and find any excuse to go for a walk. Pay attention to what is around you and be open to experience the rhythms and riches of ‘la vie quotidienne.’
Voilà, you can bring France to you. You might not even need that fairy dust after all.