Seafood is a significant part of the cuisine in France and is widely consumed by the French people. The country has a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, which provides a rich source of seafood for the local population. The southern French Côte d’Azur region brings out some of the best Mediterranean dishes from France. The country really has it all when it comes to diverse seafoods!
The coastal regions of Brittany and Normandy are particularly known for their seafood, as is the southwestern Basque Country region. Fishmongers in these regions export their seafood across France. The Boulogne-sur-Mer fish market is one of the largest fishing ports in Europe.
Seafood consumption in France reflects the country’s appreciation for fresh, high-quality ingredients and its coastal culinary traditions. Whether enjoyed in a restaurant or in the comfort of one’s own home, seafood is an important part of the French diet and culture.
Over 80% of French households purchase seafood each year in some form whether fresh, chilled from a delicatessen, canned, or frozen, according to FranceAgriMer. The report also reveals that Salmon was the most popular fish purchased by French households, with over 50% of fish consumers purchasing the seafood in 2021.
Seafood items in France are sometimes consumed raw or cooked in the many traditional seafood dishes. It’s common to enjoy a glass of white wine with seafood dishes in France. So what are the most popular seafoods in France? Let’s dive in!
The French seafood consumed the most include:
Fish is regularly eaten in France. Fish is a staple ingredient in French cuisine, especially in coastal regions where seafood is abundant. Fish is often served grilled, baked, or pan-fried, and is often paired with fresh vegetables, herbs, and sauces. The French also enjoy raw fish, such as salmon in an appetizer called “tartare.”
Here are the most popular French fish eaten in France.
Cod, or cabillaud, is a popular fish in France consumed in a variety of ways. Dos de Cabillaud is the French name for cod filet, which you’ll often see on the menu if you go to Paris.
One of the most traditional and classic French dishes that feature cod is Brandade de Morue, a creamy purée of salt cod, olive oil, and milk or cream. This dish is typically served as a spread or dip, to be enjoyed with bread.
Another popular dish that features cod is Morue à la Grenobloise, which is a pan-fried cod filet served with a sauce made of butter, capers, and lemon juice.
Cod can also be enjoyed in a Bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew that originates from the coastal town of Marseille. In this dish, cod is cooked with a variety of other seafood and fish, as well as vegetables and herbs, to create a hearty and flavorful stew.
Sole is a popular and highly prized flatfish in France. The most classic and traditional French dish that features sole is Sole Meunière, which is a pan-fried sole filet served with a simple sauce made of butter, lemon juice, and parsley.
In this famous “miller’s wife” sole dish, the sole filets are seasoned, dredged in flour, and pan-fried in melted butter until they are golden brown. The sauce is then made by adding lemon juice and parsley to the pan and spooning it over the cooked fish. This dish is typically served with steamed potatoes and a green vegetable, such as green beans or asparagus.
Another popular dish that features sole is Sole Normande, the Normandy style of cooking sole fish. In this recipe, a baked sole filet is topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, butter, and herbs, and then baked until the topping is golden brown and crispy.
Trout is a popular freshwater fish in France, well-known as the main ingredient in the famous Truite aux Amandes dish, where a pan-fried trout filet is coated in slivered almonds and served with a simple lemon-parsley sauce. The coating of almonds adds a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the dish.
The French love their salmon. A simple way to enjoy salmon the French way is to make the classic Baked Salmon with Creme Fraiche recipe.
Saumon en Papillote is a classic French salmon dish baked in a paper parcel. In this dish, the salmon is seasoned and placed on a bed of vegetables, such as leeks or fennel, wrapped in parchment paper, and baked in the oven, steaming the salmon while infusing it with the flavors of the vegetables.
Salmon is also commonly served in tartare, and the famous Salmon Tartar is a popular lunchtime recipe or appetizer in French cuisine. The salmon is chopped into small pieces and served raw with light seasonings such as lemon juice and herbs, accompanied with sliced avocado.
Halibut is a type of fish that is enjoyed in France, although it is not as commonly consumed as some other types of seafood. Halibut Meunière is a dish that features halibut filets that are pan-fried in butter and served with a basic sauce made of lemon and parsley. The repeating term Meunière refers to the cooking method.
Halibut Brochettes Provençale is a dish that features cubes of halibut that are skewered and grilled or broiled with a mixture of charred vegetables and seasonings. The dish comes from the Provence region of France and features produce from the area including bell peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and southern French herbs such as basil, thyme, and rosemary.
Bass is enjoyed often around the French Mediterranean region. A key recipe is Bar en Croûte de Sel, which calls for a fresh sea bass cooked with a thick layer of salt around it to trap the steam and keep the bass meat nice and juicy. The crust is removed before serving.
Shellfish are a staple of the seafood diet in France and are widely consumed and enjoyed throughout the country. Here are the most popular French shellfish eaten in France.
Shrimp, or crevettes in French, is a popular and versatile seafood item in French cuisine. Gambas flambées is a dish eaten often in southern France that features large prawns or shrimp that are quickly sautéed and then flambéed with brandy or cognac. The dish is typically made in a hot pan and served sizzling, with the flame still burning.
Oysters are also a popular shellfish in France, and they are often served raw on the half-shell with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of shallot vinaigrette. They are commonly consumed as a starter or a light snack and are especially popular during the holiday season.
Mussels are an all-time French seafood favorite.
Moules Marinières is a classic dish made from mussels cooked in a white wine sauce. The dish is typically served with a side of French fries and baguette slices, and it is known for its mouth-watering and flavorful broth.
Scallops have a peculiar name in French, Coquilles Saint-Jacques. French scallops are prepared in a few different ways.
Scallops Gratinées involves baking scallops in a white wine and cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. Scallops Sautées calls for quickly sautéed scallops with garlic, lemon, and white wine, and served with a butter sauce. Scallops en Brochette is a recipe that serves skewered and grilled scallops on a stick, often with vegetables and herbs.
French lobsters are mostly consumed in fine dining settings in France. They are sometimes prepared as Homard à l’Américaine, lobster that is sautéed with a mixture of herbs, garlic, and tomatoes.
Lobster Bisque is a popular creamy soup made from the meat and shells of lobster, simmered with vegetables, herbs, and spices, and then strained and finished with a velvety smooth cream base.
Thermidor is a classic French dish that features a whole lobster that has been shelled and then baked with a creamy sauce made from Dijon mustard, egg yolks, and Gruyère cheese.
Breton Blue lobsters are a variety of lobster found in the waters off the coast of Brittany, in northwestern France. These lobsters are known for their distinctive blue color, the result of a genetic mutation that caused excessive production of pigment. Breton Blue lobsters are considered a delicacy in France and are highly prized for their unique appearance and flavor.
They are considered luxury seafood due to their scarcity. In terms of taste, Breton Blue lobsters are similar to other types of lobsters and have a sweet and succulent flavor that is revered by seafood lovers.
Langoustines are a luxury French seafood that you’ll see on a menu occasionally in Paris and often in the upscale coastal cities of France. Langoustines are a type of shellfish that is similar in appearance and taste to lobster. They are also known as Dublin Bay prawns, scampi, or Norwegian lobster. Langoustines are smaller than lobster, with a sweeter, more delicate flavor and a firmer texture.
French style langoustines are typically boiled or steamed, and then served either as a whole or shelled. They can be served with a variety of sauces, such as garlic butter or aioli, or as part of a larger seafood platter.
Snails are the key ingredient in the famous Escargot dish, known around the world. Snails are a French delicacy that is internationally renowned, and the dish has become somewhat of a national emblem in France.
This small seafood is typically prepared as Escargots à la Bourguignonne, where wild snails are cooked in a butter, garlic, and parsley sauce and served in their shells. A few slices of baguette bread come in handy to soak up the sauce. This is one of the best French seafood you must try if you have the chance!
Snails can also be prepared as Escargot Gratiné, where they are baked with a mixture of butter, breadcrumbs, and cheese.
Squid, or calamars in French, is a seafood item served similar to how we eat them in the states. You can find Fried Squid Rings on a number of different menus in France. Squid rings are often battered and deep-fried to create a crispy exterior and tender interior.
Squid is sometimes grilled over an open flame and served with a light sauce, such as olive oil and lemon, or with a vinaigrette. Lastly, a Squid Salad can be prepared in the Mediterranean style with olives and capers.
Octopus, called poulpe, is a less popular seafood item in southern Mediterranean France consumed in a variety of coastal dishes. Its firm, chewy texture isn’t for everyone, but some French seem to love it. Octopus can be grilled, served in a salad, or fried to perfection.
Crab is consumed both cooked and processed. You can buy French Crab Rillettes which is a delicious spread of crab meat, shallots, butter, and cream.
The edible brown crab Crabe Tourteau, or Cancer Pagurus, is most often consumed, followed by the Crabe Araignée, or Spider Crab. These crabs are found in the French Atlantic Ocean.
Crab croquettes make a fabulous French appetizer to start your seafood meal. Gratin de Crabe is a delicious French crab recipe featuring fresh crab meat baked with a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, and cream to create a rich and indulgent gratin dish.
Crabe Farci à la Bretonne is a traditional crab dish from the Brittany region of France that features stuffed crab. To prepare the dish, the meat from a cooked crab is removed from its shell and combined with a stuffing mixture made from breadcrumbs, herbs, shallots, and butter. The stuffed crab is then returned to its shell and baked in the oven.
In France, caviar is typically enjoyed as a luxury food.
The French love to eat caviar spooned onto small pieces of toast or crackers, creating a simple appetizer. Caviar is also used as a topping for small, bite-sized canapés, such as crostini, for a delicious starter. Lastly, caviar is sometimes used as a delicate garnish for other dishes, such as omelets, blinis, and soup for the finishing touch.
Caviar is most often served with a small dollop of crème fraîche on top. This helps to balance the intense flavor of the caviar and provides a creamy contrast to the brininess of the caviar.
Caviar is a prized delicacy in France and is often enjoyed during special occasions and celebrations. It is usually served chilled and is accompanied by Champagne, vodka, or other spirits to help bring out its rich and intense flavor. Whether enjoyed on its own or as a garnish, caviar is a beloved and sophisticated food item in French cuisine.
The French are known for their passion for seafood and their dedication to using only the freshest, highest-quality catches. The variety of seafood available in France makes it a great choice for any meal, from a casual dinner to a luxurious feast. Whether served as a starter, main course, or side dish, French-cooked seafood is sure to be enjoyed by all!