A Typical French Breakfast – Pastries, Bread and Coffee

A typical French breakfast

A typical French breakfast.

If you are planning to go to Paris you are going to want to know what a typical French breakfast is. The city is famous for its pastries, bread, and amazing coffee. So taking your time to have breakfast in Paris is definitely something that should be a  must-do on your “to-do” list while in the city or France in general.

To be honest most Parisians don’t have a big breakfast. Usually, it’s a quick coffee and a croissant at home or on the way to work. (Although brunching is trendy now and you can find great spots to brunch on the weekend.)  But taking into account the volume of patisseries overflowing with the most delicious croissants, you are very likely to end your stay in France with a serious addiction to this simple and typical French breakfast.

The traditional spot for breakfast in Paris is a sidewalk café or neighborhood bar. Very few bakeries serve coffee, but you are starting to see them more and more. “American-style” coffee shops are popping up everywhere and you can get a pastry and coffee in the same place.Some bakeries do have a few small tables and serve coffee and for sure the cost of your breakfast will be lower than in a café.  Other days you may want to have breakfast in your hotel room or rented apartment. You just have to buy the croissants in a bakery and make your own coffee (or get one to go at spots that allow that). Whatever you choose, there is no better way to start your day!

Whatever you choose, there is no better way to start your day!

Croissant

A typical French breakfast-croissants

With all the great things available in the bakery it may be difficult to decide what you want, so a great way to start your French adventure is a typical croissant. You can never go wrong with a croissant. French croissant have the perfect balance of sweetness and puffiness, crispiness, and softness. It will melt in your mouth making you want another one as soon as you finish the first one. For the perfect croissant be sure to get the croissant au beurre (a croissant made with butter). Delicious!

But French bakeries have so many pastries to choose from, you can pick out a new treat every day. While each patisserie will have their own variations and unique creations, there is definitely a standard array of flaky, buttery treats you are sure to find at most bakeries around France. Besides the traditional croissant, other breakfast options you are likely to find are:

Pain au chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au chocolate, a croissant filled with chocolate! Tasty and delicious traditional French breakfast pastry.

A pain au chocolat is a croissant-type puff pastry containing a thick stripe of chocolate. Being one of French’s favorites, pain au chocolat is best when served hot with the chocolate melting into the pastry. I’m sure you are imagining it melting in your mouth right now…

Pain aux raisins

A-typical-french-breakfast-Pain-aux-raisins

Golden pain aux raisins.

This is a variant on the croissant or pain au chocolat, made with a leavened butter pastry shaped as a spiral and with some raisins and a crème pâtissière filling. On top, it has a thin layer of sugar or icing sugar.

Chausson aux Pommes

 

A-typical-french-breakfast-chausson-aux-pommes

Apple of my eye, a chausson aux pommes.

One of my favorites, this is another classic of French breakfast and it can be found at almost any bakery in France. It is made with a puff pastry crust much like a croissant and a filling akin to applesauce. They are best when served warm and there is just something so delicious about them that it makes them an all-time favorite treat.

Tarte

A Typical French Breakfast Tarte

Apricot Tarte. Photo credit: Larry.

Tartes are usually made with a thin, flat layer of puff pastry and topped with fruit. You will sometimes see a layer of custard in between the pastry and the fruit, but French tartes are always open-faced. You will find tartes of all sizes and fillings but it’s always better if you go for one that uses in-season fruit.

If all these delicious pastries are too sweet for you, another idea would be to grab a baguette, or a puffy brioche, and add some butter and jam on it. This is a great alternative to expensive hotel breakfasts and something you can find in bars and cafes. Typically it is served with fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee or tea. Definitely another great option.

How about you? Have you tried any of these beauties? What is your favorite French breakfast?

You may also enjoy the following posts:

How to order coffee in Paris

Sex and The City Paris

The Best Romantic Strolls in Paris

Bread Baking Class at La Cuisine Paris

Five Fantastic Fall Foods to Eat in Paris

You can also find great new breakfast spots in my friend Lindsey Tramuta’s book, The New Paris.

And if you are heading to Paris anytime soon, consider purchasing a Paris Pass before you go, it will save you money on many Paris attractions, leaving you more money for French pastries!

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Typical French Breakfast Pastries

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About Andi Fisher

I'm a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I'm a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.

Comments

  1. I’m an escargot or chaussons aux pommes girl 🙂

    • @lindsey, me too, but an escargot it is well done, otherwise I also like the chaussons with cherries!

  2. Pain au chocolate is the way to go!
    In fact, I’d eat one of those right now! 😛

  3. When I was in Paris with my brother years ago, we’d have a breakfast of coffee, croissant, jam and baguette at our little hotel, before venturing out and about. We’d get only two blocks before we’d spy a patisserie and had to have yet another pastry even if we ate breakfast not 15 minutes ago. Hey, when in France…..right? LOL

    • @Carolyn, right! That is why I gained weight when I first moved there. I had to realize that I was going to be living there for a while so I better slow down!

  4. I am typically not a breakfast person, but I would make an exception for that tarte!

  5. I know I’m very lucky to live in the land of the buttery croissant, but sometimes, I’d really love to be able to have bacon and eggs for breakfast! 🙂

  6. When I think of breakfasts, I tend to think more of the 1/2 baguette tartine even more than the croissant! (Not that I can eat any of it *sob)

  7. nathania h says:

    I wish we had freshly baked goodies like that around here, I think I may have to make a visit to Paris one day! Always dreamed of it!

  8. You have made me so hungry. And you’ve inspired me to make Chocolate Croissants. Do you bake? I love James Peterson’s Croissant recipe. Actually why bother to bake when you can get the real thing fresh.
    Is Tarte a breakfast thing?! I never knew that. It always seemed like dessert to me.

    • @Nicole, I don’t bake, but I loved to learn how. I want to learn how to bake breads – like baguettes – but I think it would be really dangerous! There are some breakfast tarts, they are less sweet than dessert ones.

  9. Arinna Black says:

    You had me at chocolate for breakfast (and it doesn’t hurt that these pastries are all beautiful, too, either).

  10. Ok, that makes sense about the tarts.
    I love to bake, all the time. My dad is a baker and I worked there for a long time. He’s Dutch though not French so the bread styles are a little different. My baguettes aren’t very authentic.

    • @Nicole, it is a special skill, you are lucky to have it! My hubby is an awesome cook, but can’t bake. I guess that is also why they hire pastry chefs in restaurants, it is specialized!

  11. Hi,
    good article.
    However, we say “Pain au chocolat” and not “pain au chocolate”.

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Alex, merci for the correction, I had it spelled write in the copy, but not the subtitle, thanks for spotting that!

  12. This looks so good. I wish I didn’t have Celiac Disease. Articles like this make me miss this stuff. It was a very well done article. Thank you for sharing.

    • @Jim, that is definitely tough. I will say on a positive note, there are more and more gluten-free options in Paris and lots of restaurants that cater to a GF diet these days.

  13. Yummy! I love everything you have! Especially the croissants!

  14. Well this looks so delish esp because I have not eaten for the day!

  15. Ahhh! That is the best looking breakfast ever! I could definitely stand a breakfast like this every day.

  16. I love trying different things for breakfast. This looks amazing!

  17. My love of the croissant is unstoppable! I ADORE them! It would be a dream to have one in France!! This all looks exactly like the type of breakfast I love.

  18. my teen guide says:

    What a healthy breakfast! It is so yummy and delicious. I love breakfast!

  19. Okay well this was just cruel. I don’t have a major sweet tooth but looooooove me some pain au chocolat. (And I’ve never even had a *really* good one — just crappy ones from local coffee shops and the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s.) Now I’m salivating. I’m supposed to settle for a bagel with my coffee this morning?!

    • @Katie, when I first moved to France, I gained 15 pounds in the first 6 months – I was eating two pastries every morning on the way to work, plus the cafeteria had a 10 ham and cheese croissant break every day and I would eat that as well.

  20. Jennifer G says:

    This looks so good! I am a huge pastry fan so this is right up my alley. Perfect for breakfast. I could really use some now actually.

  21. My lord, these looks so tempting. I would love a breakfast like that! Our breakfast is so different than this, it would be nice to have these for a change.

  22. Oh my gosh, those pastries look divine. They’re my favorite choice for breakfast. I’ll have to have a French breakfast tomorrow.

  23. There are so many tasty choices and options. I think that I gained 5 pounds just look at the treats. 🙂

    I would be in so much trouble if I went to France. It would be nice to have some healthier options.

  24. All of those look delicious! A friend of mine went to France and she said she wanted to just hoard all the food and bring it back lol

  25. Christina Sparks says:

    These look good.

  26. Omg I’d eat breakfast every day id it was like this

  27. Judy Thomas says:

    It sounds so delicious!

  28. This is SO clever! Cotton candy is my girls’ favorite treat of all time, I definitely need to try these pastries!

  29. Those croissants look sooo buttery and delicious! This is a place I would totally visit.

  30. Kimberly Flickinger says:

    I have never been to France; however, I love this idea, love your pictures!

  31. This looks so delicious I’d love to eat this every day

  32. Bread and coffee – what could be better?! I’ve croissants but I imagine they’re so much better in France. I would love to do a different treat each day.

  33. Yum! All of these look great. Where do you like to get pastries from in Paris?

  34. I can only do Croissant and Tarte. The chocolate stuff is not for me as I don’t like chocolate. Looks yummy and making me hungry.

  35. Calvin F. says:

    The french sure know how to live 😛

  36. Linda Manns Linneman says:

    This food looks so good. Great with a good cup of coffee. I would love to visit Paris and sit at one of these cafe’s. It would be awesome. Thank you so much for sharing

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