Food & Drink

An introduction to Food and Drink


A holiday is not a holiday in France unless it means getting stuck into lots of fabulous food and drink, and in the south-west of France and along the French Atlantic coast  there’s plenty to enjoy. The region is famous for its superb wines, the strong but silky smooth spirit cognac and its array of seafood, but there are plenty more local specialities to enjoy. Discover the black chicken of Barbezieux, delicious goat’s cheeses and even cognac-imbibing snails!

Photo by nrenault / CC BY 2.0, image cropped

Important labels in the grocery stores:


AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) is awarded to high-quality products from a particular area in recognition that the area from which the product originates – its climate, geography, flora and fauna – gives it a distinctive taste. The making of AOC products must meet a certain criteria and it is illegal to sell products in an AOC zone if they do not comply with the criteria.


Label Rouge is used for animal products and shows that the animals have been reared according to good animal welfare and environmental practice.


Bio is the label for organic food.

Ordering meat in a restaurant


On the whole the French like their meat on the pink side so you need to bear this in mind when asked how you want your steak done.

Bleu: very rare as it will only have been cooked on a very hot grill for about one minute either side.

Saignant: this means ‘bloody’ so the meat is still quite rare.

A point: medium rare; it will still be quite pink and chewy but not bloody.

Bien cuit: the meat cooked until the juices on the surface are brown rather than pink. However the meat may still be pink in the middle so if you want it to be cooked all the way through you need to ask for it to be très bien cuit.


More about eating out in France here.