Summer Salads in Paris

Salads have come a long ways in Paris. Not so many years ago, you could walk into a restaurant, order ‘just a salad’ and the waiter would give you a look of contempt. Maybe we can thank the leafy diets of top models, but for whatever the reason, it’s easy to find plenty of full-meal salads on Paris’s restaurant menus these days. The salads have gotten bigger – and in some cases can be equal-to or even more caloric than the ‘plat du jour’ or the daily special. Plan on spending between 13 to 15 Euros for a dinner salad.

Where to find salads

Most brasseries, cafes, pizza restaurants and tea salons (salons du the) serve salads. On occasion, you’ll find a tea salon/ ‘saladerie’. Formal restaurants may be less likely to serve a salad as a main plate – however even Le Grand Vefour – a Michelin star restaurant has its lobster and truffle salad (but you’ll undoubtedly want to go on to the main course after this delcious starter). The one place where you may have trouble finding a salad is in a wine bar. Traditionally, wine and salad are never served together because of the vinaigrette dressing which would clash with the taste of wine.

Here are just a few of the types of salads you may encounter on a French menu:

Salade Parisienne
A salad parisienne might resemble a ‘chef’s salad’ in the US with copious amounts of deli ham, chicken, some hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, and sometimes potatoes. This is NOT a diet salad.

Salade Perigourdine
The Perigord region is famous for its duck and goose liver pate, but also just about any part of duck will do for a salade perigourdine. Duck giblets (or gesiers) are piled on top of a bed of lettuce. This salad may include walnuts which are also abondant in the Perigord region.

Salade du Chevre
Goat cheese is baked in the oven and presented on little toasts over a bed of lettuce. This little circles of goat cheese are also called ‘crottins’ (not to be confused with ‘crottes’ which are little turds, FYI).


Salade Nicoise
Normally a nicoise salad will include canned tuna fish. The traditional salade nicoise will also have artichokes, pepers, and maybe anchovies instead of tuna (but tuna is more common in most brasseries).

Salade Auvergnate
Like the Perigord region, the Auvergne prides itself on hearty cuisine and likewise its salads will satisfy a big appetite. You can expect to find roasted potatoes plus either sausage or bacon bits and nuts with a helping of mountain cheese thrown in for good measure. Definitely low cal.

Salade Californienne
You might find this hard to believe but a California salade in France will automatically include corn and chicken breast. (I’d love to know who was responsible for introducing this ‘californian salade into mainstream French cookery). A few kidney beans may be thrown in for good measure – which may cause the salad to migrate from being called Calfornienne to Salade Mexicaine. In any case, don’t expect to find artichokes or any product that actually grows in California.

Salade Mesclun
No, this isn’t a mescaline salad. Mesclun are a variety of greens which look really nice on the plate (like dandelion leaves) which tend to be slightly more bitter than regular lettuce. Salade mesclun is normally offered as a first course starter (really nice with pears and a sprinkling of Roquefort cheese, for exmple).

Caesar Salade
For any of you who may remember what a real Caesar salad is, you’re chances of finding a Caesar salade are about as good as bumping into George Clooney at the Nespresso store on the Champs Elysees. Rarely will you find romaine lettuce in France and even more rarely will you find any resemblance of an anchovy.

About the salad photos
Top salad photo is a caloric powerhouse of panfried potatoes, duck liver ‘foie gras’, and strips of cured meat. Somewhere underneath all that meat is lettuce. I found this ‘stick to your ribs’ salad in the vicinity of the Three Ducks Hostel in a typical brasserie/cafe.

The second salad is the sort your likely to find in your typical pizza/pasta parlor. This one was served to us at the Pasta Break at 51 Rue de Montparnasse.

The third seafood salad with orzo is not your typical Parisian salad. In fact, we found this one in Caen, not Paris. You’d think at first glance it’s a Californian salad, right? Sorry, not in France. Citrus salads do not get big play here in most brasseries.

If you have a favorite French salad to add to this list, don’t hesitate to send me a line. If your comment doesn’t make it through the spam filter, just e-mail me directlyl, and I’ll post your recommendations.

>> More on what to eat

2 thoughts on “Summer Salads in Paris

  • Cristina

    Salade Nicoise is the only one that I cook on my own b/c it’s the healthiest of the options. I love salads!:)

  • Nicolas

    Dear Chris,

    I enjoy your blog very much, and I find you’re doing a terrific job at it.
    I admire your dedication to be able to post almost everyday.
    As a Frenchman who lived 6 years in the US, I’m always interested by cross-cultural views.

    Since I’m blocked by the spam filter, here are some remarks re. the salads post.

    Crottin derives from the same root as crotte (i.e. “crottin de cheval”). French doesn’t shy from such scatologic associations, as you can also find “crottes en chocolat”.

    Salade niçoise : its main feature are the anchovies – tuna is but a subsitution, and most of the rest are “crudités” (tomatoes, raw peppers and onions, cucumber, boiled egg) and black (niçoise) olives.

    Salade californienne : anything that has corn in it (but nothing to do with chicken). Corn traditionnaly was only for cattle ; there is still no corn production in France for human consumption, it’s all import.

    Salade verte – it may be useful for American readers to know that a simple green salad (lettuce – including romaine, very common in France, even in restaurants – dressed in a vinegar sauce) is a common part of a French meal. Served after the main dish, sometimes with the cheeses, it is part of daily meals. It doesn’t make it as often to restaurants, unless you go for a large meal with 4 o 5 courses. It can often be now (as customary in the US) served unnanouced as a side dish with steak frites or else.
    I’m sure this is all very familiar to you, but not to your readers.

    Some restaurants still have a “buffet de hors d’oeuvres”, though it’s getting rare, especially in Paris (too much hassle, not so profitable, hygienic concerns…). Quite different from the American salad bars, since it includes more than raw produce, i.e. prepared salads, charcuterie, all kinds of condiments (gerkhins, capers, onions, various mustards and dressings…)

    Salade Paysanne : lettuce, “jambon de pays”, sliced boiled potatotes + any hearty ingredients (French beans, onions…)

    Salade de betteraves : beets, sometimes with wallnuts, sometimes a few leaves of lettuce (a tough kind such as frisée or rouge, etc.)

    Salade de riz : a classic of potluck dinners – soemtimes found in restaurants. Rice, tomatoes, canned tuna, raw bell peppers, onions, etc.

    Also of interest ? salade d’endives…

    Well, I understand the art is to fit in a few words the most useful info in an attractive way, which you do really well…

    Bonne continuation et meilleurs voeux à vous !


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