The French Expression of the Week
"Having Head-Melon" means being pretentious


The gastronomic meal of the French

Inscribed on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010, the gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice for celebrating important moments in the lives of individuals and groups, such as births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, achievements and reunions. It is a festive meal bringing people together for that special occasion, to enjoy the art of “good eating” and “good drinking”. The gastronomic meal emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the harmony between human beings and the products of nature.

Important elements of the meal include the purchase of good products whose flavors go well together, the pairing of food with wine and the setting of a beautiful table.


The diversity of France’s terroirs, shaped by centuries-old traditions, has led to unique eating habits. Over the years, the country’s diverse soils and weather conditions have enabled it to develop an extraordinary variety of products. The best-known example is of course cheese: France has a vast array of different kinds. In fact, there are more than a thousand French cheeses, 54 of them with protected geographical status.

The same diversity can also be found in the wine, meat, sea food and fruit and vegetable sectors, not to mention processed products, with nearly 3,000 new products coming to market every year.


Thanks to stringent farming standards and a cutting-edge agri-food industry, the quality and safety of French agri-food products are recognized all over the world. France has married its strong tradition with a capacity to innovate, to offer consumers products with exceptional taste and nutritional properties. In 1870, the French government also launched the Concours Général Agricole (CGA), a competition designed to reward the country's best agricultural and processed agri-food products.

With traceability becoming ever more advanced, France’s agricultural and agri-food industries are also constantly responding to society’s expectations, including on environmental and social issues.

­Product Seasonality

The availability of French products is governed by the seasons, and they are all the more flavorsome for having benefited from the temperatures and rainfall they need to thrive. The immense variety of French produce means that every season brings tasty products and the fact that they are in season also makes them better for the environment and the climate. Winter vegetables like cabbages and carrots, spring cheeses like Brie de Meaux and Crottin de Chavignol, made with milk from cattle that have grazed on floral pastures, the lamb and beef served at Easter and sun-ripened summer fruits are just a few examples of the many products enjoyed in season.

­Terroirs and Authenticity

The diversity of France's terroirs, shaped by centuries-old traditions, has led to unique eating habits. The Geographical Indication (GI) schemes (Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)) were created to protect this exception: they recognize the close link between the product, the terroir and human know-how. These quality labels guarantee that the product’s origin gives it specific qualities and helps prevent imitations and consumer fraud. Other quality schemes, like the organic farming label, guarantee good production practices.

Training and Know-how

With an agricultural heritage that stretches back a thousand years, France’s culture and image have been defined by traditions and know-how covering every aspect of food from production to cookery. In order to perpetuate this knowledge and preserve the agricultural and agri-food production at the heart of its society, France has established an excellent agricultural training system from secondary education through to higher education.

More than 200,000 students and apprentices are trained every year, with courses from secondary level to the advanced agricultural technician certificate. There are 17,000 students in higher agricultural training in 18 public and private institutions, training as engineers, veterinarians, landscapers, researchers and teachers.

Food safety

The food safety system in France and Europe is one of the most rigorous in the world. Production, processing, storage, transport, distribution, importation, exportation… “From field to fork”, everyone is accountable for the safety of the products they use and put on the market. More than 4,500 agents from public departments inspect not only farms, abattoirs and the agri-food businesses but also supermarkets, restaurants and artisans.

Inspections of plant products monitor crop health and use of crop protection products and ensure adherence to European and national regulations.

Inspections of livestock farms monitor the identification of the animals, their feed, the use of veterinary drugs, animal welfare and disease prevention. To ensure the traceability of meat, every animal is given a unique number, an identification tag in each ear and a secure passport.

Responsible Agriculture and Livestock Farming

French agriculture is committed to the transition to agroecology. Agroecology is an integrated approach to agriculture based on biological interactions, the use of ecosystemic services and the closing of biogeochemical cycles. It aims to reconcile the economic, environmental, health and social performance of farms. It is practiced by farmers who develop methods that are respectful of natural resources and who establish new systems and technological itineraries, building their autonomy and resilience in the process. It is a movement supported by the French and European governments, who are encouraging collective approaches in particular and are drawing on primary research, applied research, technical advice and strong agricultural education. The technique of Integrated Biological Protection, which uses insects to combat pests, and the “HEV – High Environmental Value” certification scheme for wine are specific examples.

Sustainable food and gastronomy

Food sustainability is a global collective challenge and the French agri-food industries are investing in ways to tackle it, for example environmentally friendly practices and the fight against food waste from the production stage onwards.

The food policy set out by the French government is especially aimed at promoting production methods and food choices that are healthy and environmentally sound and at the same time, reducing inequalities in access to high quality, sustainable food.


Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup
PGI Burgundy mustard
PGI Burgundy mustard
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