France has always been known for their prestigious gastronomy. From their famous cheeses to their expertly-curated wine, it’s a country that boasts of great cuisine. However, while many tourists are quick to grab a cheese board, not many are willing to try the other, less popular dishes of the country like Couilles de Mouton, known in English as, sheep testicles. Yes, you read that right.
The one thing you can’t say about the French is that they waste any parts of the animals they eat. They practically have a dish for each and every part of the cow. For many people though, the idea of eating the brain of a cow isn’t at all at the top of their list when coming to France. For many foreigners, some of the meals can seem a bit intimidating but if you want an authentic gastronomical experience of France then its best to try some of the country’s least popular dishes to foreigners! And if you’re interested to find out about more restaurants in Paris, make sure to download our Paris Free Travel Guides.
Lets start off with a traditional French sausage! The Andouillette is a type of sausage that is made with pork and veal intestines. Originally from the Eastern city of Troyes, the dish is often seasoned with peppers and onions however, a variety of other seasonings can be added to it. It is typically served with some type of potato dish like a potato puree or fries. It has a very pungent smell, some even describing it as a urine type of smell. However, most people do end up enjoying the taste once they push past the stench.
You can find it in Paris at: L’Aller Retour
Address: 5 rue Charles Francois Dupuis, 75003, Paris
Times: Monday – Friday: 12 PM – 2.30PM & 7.30PM – 10.30PM. Weekends: 7.30 PM to 11PM
Metros: Republique (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11) and Temple (Line 3)
Ris de Veau
The direct translation for Ris de Veau is sweetbread. Despite this name, the dish is not sweet nor does it contain bread rather it is the thymus and/or pancreas of a calf. It can also be lamb, however it supposedly tastes better with calf. It is usually sliced into small cutlets and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Most popularly, it is served with a glazed sauce but it is also popularly served fried. Ris de veau is a delicacy in France and does go down better when paired with some potatoes and vegetables!
If you would like to try the ris de veau in Paris try: Le Grand Temps
Address: 19 bis Rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009 Paris
Times: Monday- Friday: 12PM – 2PM & 7PM – 10.30PM. Saturday: 7PM – 10.30 PM Sunday: Closed
Metros: Pigalle (Line 2 and 12)
Have you really been to France if you haven’t had snails? This French delicacy is still a bit taboo for some foreigners; however it is still popular in French cuisine. The French cook and eat these edible land snails mostly with garlic and parsley butter. It has a very slimy and chewy texture but is still very easy to eat. Snails are also low in fat and a great source of protein and water! They can be found in most French restaurants around the country.
You can find it in Paris at: Escargot Montorgueil
Address: 38 rue Montorgueil, 75001
Times: Mon – Sun: 12PM – 11PM
Metro: Etienne Marcelle (Line 4)
Cuisses de grenouille (Frog Legs)
Frog legs are also a well known and yet fear inducing French dish. Just as the name suggest these are literally legs of frogs that are typically cooked with butter, garlic and parsley. Despite people saying this about most exotic meat, frog legs actually do taste like chicken, however, a much thinner type of chicken. They are often deemed as undesirable as many people confuse frogs with toads, which carry large amount of bacteria. Frogs legs in France though are safe to eat!
Try it in Paris at: Roger La Grenouille
Address: 28 rue des Grands Augustins, 75006
Times: Tuesday – Saturday: 12PM to 2PM & 7PM to 11PM. Monday: 7PM to 11PM. Sunday: Closed.
Nearest Metros: Odeon
France has always been known for their variety of cheeses! Various cheeses in the country have very different aging processes and this cheese has a very extreme one. Roquefort is a blue moldy cheese that is made with sheep’s milk and is ripened in limestone caves in the South of France, specifically near Toulouse. It has a very strong and complex flavor due to this combination of factors and it even looks similar to the limestone caves its made in! If you can stand the pungent smell and its moldy appearance, you might actually enjoy it with a glass of red wine. A fair warning though, the smell of blue cheese does linger in your breath for a while…
Try it in Paris at: Parole de Fromagers
Address: 41 Rue du Faubourg, 75010
Times: Monday 4PM – 8:30PM. Tues- Sat: 10 AM – 1 PM. Sunday: Closed.
Metro: Republique (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11) and Goncourt (Line 11)
Another cheese on the list is the cancoillotte! Unlike the Roquefort, this is a very runny cheese that is made of melted metton cheese with added water, milk and butter. It has an acidic taste and is similar in its texture and use as butter. It is often eaten with a baguette or poured over potatoes and vegetables.
If you want to try it you can get it almost all groceries in France, use our guide to French Supermarkets if you need more information!
Our third cheese on the list has perhaps the strangest aging process known to man. A specialty of the island of Corsica, this is a cheese made with sheep’s milk that contains live insect larva. Larva eggs are inserted into the middle of the cheese where they eventually hatch. After hatching they live in the cheese and their excretions help break down the cheeses’ fats and proteins. In the end it creates a soft and creamy texture!
If you want to use your adventurous side it’s definitely worth a try and you can even see the larva when cutting the cheese! As this is a specialty of Corscia it is only available on the island!
Couilles de Mouton
This is another interesting meat dish of the French, this time using the testicles of sheep. It is originally from the region of Périgord which is the same region that created the well known and loved foie gras! The testicles are typically cut into small circles and cooked with parsley and lemon, some people even add some crème fraiche as well!
While it may be a bit hard to find in some part of France it is best to have it in the region of Périgord!
Tête de Veau
As we previously mentioned, the French seem to not want to waste any part of the animal and this is yet another example of that. Tête de Veau is just as the name suggest the head, including the brain of a calf. It can be eaten with the bone of the calf’s head or without. The dish can be cooked in a variety of ways, however it is often served with some type of sauce on the side. It can also be served as both a hot meal or cold!
Try it in Paris at: La Ravigot
Address: 41 Rue de Montreuil, 75011
Times: Tues – Sat: 12PM – 2.30PM & 7 PM – 10.30PM. Sunday & Monday: Closed
Metro: Reuilly-Diderot (Line 1 and 8), Rue des Boulets (Line 9)