meat-in-sauceTakeout isn’t a thing in France, at least not in the New York-millions-of-menus-under-the-door sense.

Aside from pizza and Chinese food, and of course McDonald’s, restaurants don’t usually do dishes à emporter–to take away.

The French have their own forms of takeout. You just have to know where to look.

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Above and below, some of the goodies at Pettenuzzo, a boucherie at 30 rue Barbès in the Bastide of Carcassonne. There’s aways a line, which usually is a good sign! Front row: taboulé, salad of pork hocks, potato gratin, hachis parmentier de canard, which is ground meat (duck here, usually hamburger, like a sloppy joe) with mashed potatoes on top and melted cheese.
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Front row, from left: pork blanquette (cooked in a white sauce), tongue in sauce, rabbit in mustard, veal sauté, beef cheeks.
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If the other options are too exotic, how about some ham-filled crêpes?

This can be especially useful if you’re renting an apartment for your vacation and you have a kitchen at your disposal. After all, it can get to be a bit much–for the budget and the waistline–to eat all one’s meals in restaurants. Not to mention that doggy bags aren’t done in France. You can’t just eat half and take the rest home for the next day.

The top place for takeout is la boucherie, or the butcher. France still has lots of small butcher shops, which often have homemade dishes on offer as well as raw meat. I counted 24 mom-and-pop boucheries in the yellow pages for Carcassonne. And if the butcher has volaille–poultry–there’s a good chance they also sell roasted chickens.

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Left, scallops in cream; middle, zucchini gratin; right, tartiflette–a kind of French cheesy potatoes, with onions and bacon included (as if cheesy potatoes couldn’t get any better!).
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Marinade of shrimp and scallops…
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Sausages, pâtés and cassoulets ready to reheat. The two photos above, this one and the one below are from Les Mexicots, 27 rue du Dr. Albert Tomey, in the Bastide of Carcassonne–next to les Halles–which specializes in poultry but also has, well, everything.

Similarly, un traiteur, or caterer, might have dishes to go, though some only do banquets. You’ll immediately see by looking in the window whether takeout is a possibility.

The supermarket usually has a wide selection of prepared dishes as well as salads. Not a salad bar kind of salads–no lettuce is involved–but grated carrots with a white vinaigrette, grated celery root, taboulé, etc. In fact, I’ve never seen a deli-style salad bar in France, though maybe they exist in bigger cities.

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A line for homemade couscous at the Carcassonne market. The veggies are below, left, and the semoule, right.

The outdoor markets have stands, more akin to food trucks without the truck, selling prepared dishes from couscous to paella to Chinese dishes to traditional French specialities like cassoulet and aligot–yet another form of cheesy potatoes. There are trucks whose sides open up to show rows of rotisserie chickens, with the grease dripping onto a bed of potatoes at the bottom. Good enough to make you cry!

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Paella is almost gone. He starts making it early in the morning right there at the market.
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Also from M. Paella: calamaris Catalan style, chicken in wine, and a stew of bull meat (also cooked in wine).

Food trucks make the rounds, especially of villages and roundabouts, selling pizzas, quiches, crêpes, and sometimes other things. One that used to come to our village had specialties of Sète, a town on the coast.

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At les Halles: an onion tart, cheese soufflées, carrot balls and roast chicken….below, two kinds of salad of “muzzle”–pork snout.
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More at les Halles: beef tongue.

You can get a jar of homemade cassoulet from a market vendor or, at the butcher or the indoor market, called les Halles, a bowl of homemade cassoulet big enough for three or four people, ready to pop into the oven.

 

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Ris de veau, or sweetbreads, in a sauce of morel mushrooms. The Carnivore’s favorite food is ris de veau, though in a white sauce. Almost gone, only two lumps left….

The day I decided to shoot at les Halles, I arrived late–around 11:30–and many of the offerings were nearly sold out. Proof they were good!

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “French Takeout

  1. Oh my I am so hungry now, I love all the takeaway/ready to eat food at the markets and supermarkets and they ar so handy on a busy day to just warm up on your return home, by the way our local restaurants now do doggy bags, it is getting mor popular here in France now, lovely post TOF X

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  2. Doggy bags must be provided if the customer asks — that’s the law now. It’s part of the new anti-food wastage laws.

    The thing about French takeaway is that if you live in the provinces you have to know you want takeaway in the morning, because in the villages shops aren’t always open in the afternoon or evening, or have a limited supply (as you discovered) and sell out quick. The only exception to that here is the Saturday night pizza van, and with them you have to order in the early evening and wait a couple of hours before going along to pick it up.

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  3. I’m probably going to be unpopular for saying this but I was just in the States for my daughter’s Thanksgiving wedding and I think the French could learn a lot about beautiful “emporter” food. I saw things in Boston that the French only dream of. Before people jump all over me, I’ve lived in France Profonde for 5 years and was in Ireland for 11 years before that. Americans in cities have learned a lot about ethnic cuisines and the stuff I saw in my native Boston and surrounds was astounding. We have a hard time finding delicious take-out (or in my British husband’s vernacular, “take away”) here though we are near to towns and a city. So we cook at home every night. An unintended benefit! Lovely post, thank you.

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    1. I agree that there is a TERRIBLE dearth of Mexican food, at least in Carcassonne. They really don’t do ethnic beyond pizza, paella and the occasional Chinese takeout. But that was the point of the post–to show vacationers where to find something that’s in between cooking from scratch and going to a resto. If you have a kitchen where you’re staying, there are (French) options for heating up prepared, homemade dishes.

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  4. I’m sorry. It looks like I was criticizing your post. I think your post was on point, and I would suggest visitors do the same. For me, it’s not just Mexican (a favorite) or any other sort of ethnic food. It’s the lack of gorgeous freshness that I consistently see when I visit the States, but rarely find here, unless the food is homemade. I don’t have the slightest desire to return to the US, but I miss the choices there, in spite of recognizing how the French get it right so often, too. Maybe on my limited budget I shouldn’t comment, as it’s expensive to get the best here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry! We’re budget conscious too. But it might be an urban/rural thing–there aren’t many prepared fresh healthy options in small cities and towns, but I bet you can find them in Paris. On the other hand, when I go to the U.S., I don’t see a lot of fresh, healthy options either. Maybe cut-up fruit, etc. but it’s so overpriced. Where I live in France, people would laugh at you for paying extra for fruit that’s already cut up. I guess people aren’t so starved for time.

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