Snails In France—-The Ones You Eat

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There’s a decades old story about a snail and a car dealership.

A snail walks into a car dealership and asks the salesperson to paint a large “S” on the back of the car he’s going to buy.
The salesperson asks why.
The snail responds, “So when I drive down the street, people will say, ‘Hey, look at that S-car go!’”

So, on that note, I  thought I would share with you a few anecdotes about eating snails– edible snails (“escargots” in France)–in France so that you really know what you are eating  getting into.

Traditional Servings Of Snails or Escargots

Traditional escargot snails
Traditional escargot snails

Usually in France and most places in the world, when you order “escargots” you get 6 or 12 snails. They have actually been taken out of their shells, cleaned (thank goodness) and cooked with garlic butter. Parsely or thyme are added and the snails are sometimes put back into their shells.

Escargot snails with croutons
Escargots with croutons

If not, they are placed in ceramic dishes or on tin trays with indents for each snail. They are served with snail forks (to pry them out) and lots of bread to soak up the garlic butter. You can make it into a meal by ordering more than 6 or 12 (I have).

Alternative Presentations

Escargot snails served in Burgundy
Escargots served in Burgundy

One of my most memorable escargot appetizers was in Burgundy and they were served in a sauce in a ceramic dish. The dish was covered with a large topping of puff pastry. It was a very large appetizer and simply delicious.

There are other types of “escargot” that you might not be as familiar with: bulots and cargolades.


Snails bulots

In a previous post, “Definitely An Experience Eating These Foods” I wrote about my surprise with the bulots I had in Honfleur. I wanted escargots but the waitress recommended bulots and said they were snails, like escargots. I ordered them and was disappointment to discover not only were they NOT served in garlic butter, but they were big and chewy. They were also served with garlic mayonnaise. A much different experience than the traditional “escargots”.


Cargolade snails at Le Jardin in Collioure, France
Le Jardin Collioure France

When visiting Collioure recently our hotel recommended we go to one of the few restaurants open in early January, “Le Jardin de Collioure”. It had paella on its menu as well as something that was new to us: cargolades. 

Cargolade snails in Collioure
Cargolades in Collioure

Cargolades are a specialty of this southern area of France. Collioure is very close to the Spanish border and the dishes in the area are strongly influenced by the Catalan culture. Cargolades are escargots that are grilled in their shells on cast iron and when you order a dish, you get about 25 of them!

Once again, they were lacking the garlic butter but on the side was aioli. They were a different experience again. However I’ve decided (as you can tell from my disappointment in dishes lacking garlic butter) that I prefer the traditional escargot.

If you’re interested in trying more unusual foods in France, check out this post: Definitely An Experience Eating These French Foods.

Check out my growing list of unique experiences in France for more ideas: Top 100 Experiences

By the way, supposedly May 24th is “National Escargot Day”.

Will you be celebrating?

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  1. Great article.
    I applaud your curiosity to try all these different preparations.
    As I like to say, opinions are more interesting when you have actually tried it.

  2. Everything tastes better with garlic butter doesn’t it? I’ve eaten snails in Mexico and Spain ( in paella) but never in France. Next time!

  3. I was reluctant for years to try escargots. The idea of eating snails put me off. When I did try them, I discovered they were quite tasty, although I don’t think I am as big as fan as you are. I would try bulots and Cargolades, but not sure they’d be my first choice.

    1. I’ll be passing on the bulots and cargolades the next time I see them on a menu. Regular escargots for me!

  4. Can’t do it. Having lived in Seattle where snails and slugs are regulars in the gardens, I am unable to do it. No matter the presentation. But I do appreciate the wonders that chefs can create from those little critters. An interesting post though and the photos are gorgeous!

    1. Thanks. I just try not to think about what I’m eating. I think it’s the garlic and butter that’s most appealing anyways.

  5. Have to confess, Jan, snails by any name are just not my cup of tea! (especially when it comes to texture, I can be a real fussy food person – one of the reasons I would never make it on Amazing Race!) But for those that love these little critters, this is the post for you!

    1. I guess I thought most people liked escargots! Yes, one needs to ignore the texture (which really isn’t that bad) and just soak up the…..butter and garlic!

  6. I’m in agreement – the garlic-butter ones are my faves! You’ve made me hungry just reading about them…

  7. I now have a real interest in giving escargots another try. I must confess that I’ve only had them once — they were in garlic butter and I had a nice glass of wine to help get them down. Didn’t really enjoy the experience. But maybe I’m missing something, especially if I could have the escargots served in Burgundy — looks delicious.

    1. Yes, definitely with wine! I also think the sauce and puff pastry on the escargots in Burgundy made it more like a meal.

  8. I’ve tried the traditional way they are served and don’t care for them, but I’d certainly try the ones served in a sauce in a ceramic dish. Interesting!!

    1. I had had a dish like that in the past…just a little puff pastry on top. But never that big!

  9. I love escargot..or is it the garlic butter I love? Can’t wait to celebrate National Escargot Day (now that I know it exists); I’ll be in Paris that day! Happy travels on your upcoming trip.

  10. I have had them a few times and I thought… When in Rome! (or Paris) I love garlic and butter but would probably rather have it on bread. I just don’t think I was meant to eat snails. Loved your fun post!

  11. When in France …! It’s been years since I’ve tried escargot but I’ll make sure to put it on my “to do” list for when we visit France. One of my favorite things about travel is trying the different traditional and novelty dishes. And anything with garlic butter would get my vote for sure!

  12. Wow! I haven’t seen that many different presentations of snails before Jan! I guess I have a lot more tasting to do. Thanks for the info!

  13. I’ve tried to look everywhere in Toulouse and couldn’t find a restaurant that have escargot. T.T
    Do you have any recommendations?
    Thank you very much

    1. Unfortunately I don’t know of any. I asked one of my contacts who lives there and she couldn’t think of a place either. So sorry I couldn’t help you out.

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