Any trip to France must be centered around meals. These are not rushed, fast-food experiences; they are time to sit and relax with friends and loved-ones, talking as much as eating. And there are many things that you should try when you are here that you won't find readily in other places.
For hors d'oeuvres, you must try pissaladiere, made of onion, sauted until falling apart, and olive and anchovies on a pizza-like crust.
Snacks: Socca is the ubiquitous Nicois snack: a chick-pea flour and olive oil paste and baked to a cake-like consistency and eaten quickly. Not my favorite thing, but you should try it.
For entrees (first courses that often are enough for a full lunch), try the Salade Nicoise, lettuce topped with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and canned tuna. Other ingredients may be added (perhaps green beans?), but these are the basics.
Another entree that is a favorite of David's is Soupe de Poisson: a clear reddish-brown fish broth, served with a side plate of croutons, garlic (to rub on the croutons), shredded cheese, and rouille, sort of a mayonnaise-y sauce made with saffron and peppers. You top the garlic-rubbed croutons with the sauce and sprinkle with the cheese; then lay the crouton in the soup to soften up and enjoy.
Pizzas are really great, with very thin, crisp crust. You'll find all sorts of ingredients - cured ham, artichokes, and often a soft-boiled egg on top. Delicious.
For a main plate, the souris d'agneau is wonderful: lamb shanks cooked slowly until the meat is falling off the bones. Duck (canard)in any form is wonderful. Steaks (faux filet), on the other hand, an American may find to be a bit chewy. The pastas are great and often homemade; don't forget how close we are to Italy! Pizzas, too, are delicious with a very thin skin and a choice of many toppings.
Desserts are wonderful, as expected. At most restaurants you will find mousse au chocolate, tarte tatin (apple tart), ile flottant (floating island, meringue on vanilla sauce), moelleux chocolate or fondant chocolate (flourless chocolate cake that's melty inside - my favorite). Better restaurants will have fancier things, often using figs or lavendar or other less well-known (to Americans) ingredients.
Especially around Christmas time but available year-round are macarons. These sandwich-like cookies have nothing to do with the coconut macaroons available in the US. These are delicately colored (rose, coffee, vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, orange, etc) top and bottom layers of meringue stuffed with cream flavored in accordance with the color. Yum! (The raspberry are the best; no, the pistachio; no, the coffee; no......)
Foie gras: I don't eat liver and don't usually like liver pate. Foie gras is completely different. It's rich and sweet and decadent. Order an entree to share if you are hesitant about it. It should be accompanied by a sweet wine, ideally a sauterne. A real treat.