Sick of American sodas? Try stepping across the pond to a new continent of flavor.
While Americans might think they have a monopoly on delicious sodas, the truth is that there are countless carbonated beverages throughout the world, many of them from the lovely land known as France.
I was curious to explore the world of French soda, so I conducted rigorous taste tests and archival research to learn about the best French sodas. The following comprise my results.
The beverage’s distinctive taste comes from its blend of carbonated water with natural orange juice, pulp, and lemon juice. These ingredients provide a delectably tangy and slightly sweet flavor.
The drink comes in an iconic bulb-shaped bottle, which adds to its distinctive and fun personality. I enjoy Orangina because it is neither overly sweet nor weak.
I find it tastes best when chilled, perhaps accompanying an everyday snack.
Well, hold your horses. I’ve been to the promised land, and I can tell you that Coke tastes much better there.
French Coca-Cola, like its famous Mexican counterpart, tastes different (and better) than American Coca-Cola, largely because it uses sucralose instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Now, considering that Mexican Coke is available in many supermarkets in the United States, I wouldn’t say that it’s worthwhile to import it, as you might do with Orangina.
However, if you are in the land of liberty, equality, and fraternity, be sure to take a sip of their rendition of the immortal beverage.
The next soda on our list doesn’t require us to dive any further than the nearest bodega.
Although Perrier has achieved worldwide success – especially in luxury grocery stores in the U.S. – this carbonated water soda has been a hit since its emergence in 1863.
Perrier occupies a somewhat unique position because its carbonation is semi-natural. Its constituent water comes from a wellspring in Vergèze, France, which is naturally carbonated.
That said, the carbon dioxide degrades during the production process, so Perrier adds additional carbon dioxide to imitate the taste of the spring water.
Perrier is a strong choice for those who prefer a healthier option than sugary soft drinks but still want to enjoy the punchy effervescence of carbonated drinks.
I recommend using it as a mixer for cocktails, and, if needed, drawing on the company’s lime, grapefruit, and lemon flavors.
For those looking for a truly premium beverage, Alain-Milliat is one of the best French sodas out there.
The company, which was founded in 1997, produces high-quality fruit juices and nectars using traditional techniques and natural ingredients that attempt to bring out the unique flavors of each fruit.
I love that no matter the fruit flavor, each soda is crafted to strike a delicate balance between sweetness and acidity, resulting in a pure and intense taste.
Appropriately, Alain-Milliat offers a wide range of flavors, including strawberry, raspberry, peach, and passionfruit. They are the perfect way to quench your thirst on a hot day.
Our next French soda is Diabolo, a carbonated lemonade that is beloved by Francophiles the world over.
Technically, Diabolo is more French-adapted than French–a classic French Diabolo is a mixed drink made from lemonade and flavored syrups, like mint or strawberry.
The carbonated soda was adapted from this original innovation.
The result is a light and fizzy drink that is perfect for quenching thirst on a hot summer day.
The next entry on our list is Badoit, a French sparkling mineral water that, like Perrier, has an extremely storied history, having been founded in 1836.
Badoit’s water comes from Saint-Galmier, in the Loire region of France; in the town’s well, water passes through layers of granite, which gives it a clean and slightly delicate taste.
In my experience you can taste the difference between this water and artificial water: the drink’s fine, delicate bubbles enhance the flavor and provide a blast of refreshment with each sip.
While Badoit is a perfect addition to drinks like whiskey soda or other cocktails, it is also delicious on its own.
I recommend sipping on it as you stamp down a fine Parisian avenue (or imagine yourself doing so).
Move over, Orange Crush. In France, the king among orange soda (indeed, the favorite soda of kings and popes alike) is Fanta.
Notably, Fanta is not a French product, despite its popularity in the Atlantic nation. The popular drink was created in Germany in 1941, and came about as, believe it or not, a substitute for Coke.
During this period, World War II blockades made it impossible to import Coca-Cola’s signature flavor into Nazi-led Germany.
The head of Coca-Cola’s German division devised a soda using the few ingredients on hand, including apple pomace, whey, and sugar beets.
Since the war, Fanta has traded up for classier ingredients. To this day, the soda still sports a bold, fruity taste. It comes in varieties like orange, strawberry, and grape.
Sirop à l’eau
The final item on our list is unique in that it isn’t necessarily a soda.
Sirop à l’eau is something like Kool-Aid or MIO crossed with old-fashioned fountain soda: to make it, you combine flavored syrup with water.
If you combine carbonated water with these syrups, then, well, you have an ad hoc soda!
Sirop à l’eau can come in many flavors from different companies.
Some of my favorite flavors are lemon, raspberry, grenadine, and mint–which can theoretically be combined to make compound flavors.
For even more creativity, I suggest adding carbonated sirop à l’eau to a cocktail, or using the beverage to make a slushy.
What’s Your Drink of Choice?
If you’re visiting France or just exploring French cuisine, try these French sodas!