If you are traveling to France, you may be wondering what do the French eat for breakfast? The answer is that there is no one single dish in French Breakfasts. Different parts of France have their own traditional breakfast foods, which is what makes it interesting.
However, there are some common French breakfast dishes and pastries that you can find throughout the country. From the flaky croissants to french breakfast puffs, we will take a look at some of the most popular breakfasts in France.
What Is A Typical breakfast in France?
If you are one of those who subscribe to breakfast being the most important meal of the day, you are in luck when in France!
French breakfasts are a delicious and hearty way to start your day of exploration, with plenty of mouthwatering selections on offer. While they might not particularly rival the high end dishes in French cuisine, they still offer a unique glimpse into the nation’s culinary tradition, particularly from the baking angle.
As you can imagine, the most common items come in the form of bread or pastries. From crusty baguettes and brioche to omelets and tartines, French breakfasts come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from both sweet and savory options.
Whether you are looking for a le petit déjeuner (little lunch) or a fulfilling meal, you can easily find the best bites, or even double down on some of them. We typically find ourselves packing extras at pastries shop, because there’s too many things that just looks too good.
Brioche is one of the most versatile options for a typical breakfast in France. It is a simple yet filling French breakfast food that is made from a dough of flour, yeast, eggs, and butter. The dough is then shaped into a loaf and baked until golden brown.
That said, Brioche is very popular for breakfast because you can easily customise it. You can have brioche as either sweet or savory options. Savory brioche can come with meats or vegetables, while sweet brioche can have jams, honey, or chocolate.
Simply perfect for those who want something delicious and satisfying for the first meal of the day.
Sweet French Breakfast Foods In France
Beignets are a French pastry that is made from a doughnut-like batter. The beignets are then deep-fried and covered in icing sugar, making them a favorite amongst French kids. It’s great for satisfying that sweet tooth.
Locals usually have them as a dessert or quick snack in France, but they can also be eaten for breakfast. You can easily find these at pastry shops all around the country, which makes them a rather convenient option any time.
Pain Perdu (French Toast)
One of the most popular French breakfasts is Pain Perdu. This is your French toast made with bread that is dipped in eggs and milk, then fried.
Pain Perdu actually translates to “lost bread” which refers to stale bread. Cooking it this way, you can salvage stale bread into a delicious dish. French toast goes well with butter, maple syrup or even fruits and honey.
A sweet and nice start to your day before getting out to explore the famous landmarks of France.
Tartine (Baguette with Butter and Jam)
Tartine is a French breakfast dish of la confiture (aka jam) and bread, typically a fresh slice of baguette.
A baguette is a French bread that is long and thin. The bread is toasted and then spread with jam or honey. It also taste superb with other toppings, such as Nutella, honey, or cheese. Tartine is a simple, but filling go-to breakfast in France.
A tempting and inviting piece of crusty, fresh croissant is undoubtedly a common choice for breakfast in France. They are a common offering in most, if not all, French bakeries.
Croissants are a crescent-shaped, French pastry that is made from laminated dough. The dough is layered with butter and then rolled out into a sheet. It is then cut into triangular shapes, rolled up into a crescent shape ad baked until golden brown. Croissants can come with jams or honey, and even chocolate fillings.
This delicious pastry is easily one of the many things that France is famous for.
Pain Au Chocolat
Pain Au Chocolat is a French breakfast pastry that is made from croissant dough that is filled with chocolate. The dough is rolled out into a sheet and then cut into rectangles. The rectangles are then folded and baked.
Some refer to Pain Au Chocolat as chocolate croissants; but you will also find certain places selling chocolate croissants in the signature crescent shape of croissants, albeit with chocolate fillings. Our recommendation (as gluttons)? Just try whatever you find! You can hardly go wrong with pastries in France. It’s just an excuse to get another dose of that flaky goodness.
Pain Au Chocolat certainly live up to their reputation in France.
Pain Aux Raisins
This delightful French pastry is another one to savor when it comes to your classic French breakfast. Look out for that leavened butter pastry, studded with plump, juicy raisins, and shaped into a beautiful spiral.
Some of consider this a variant of your famous croissant or pain au chocolat, since it has the same pleasing texture, but with a nice twist. It’s part of the whole “les viennoiseries” class of flaky baked goods.
Some versions even come with a tad of creamy custard filling, an unexpected but welcoming surprise. As with many other pastries, these are best when still warm from the oven. The buttery pastry just melts in your mouth, alongside a sweet burst of the raisins.
Pair this with a hot drink, like a steaming cup of strong French coffee for pure bliss on a nice Sunday morning. It’s a quintessential part of the French breakfast experience to try.
Chaussons Aux Pommes
Chaussons aux Pommes is a French breakfast dish consisting of puff pastry and apples. The name simply translates as “apple turnover”.
These delicate pastries filled with a heartwarming apple compote that is utterly irresistible. The apples are often stewed with a hint of vanilla or cinnamon sugar, creating a sweet and slightly spiced concoction. As you bite into the flaky, buttery crust, you’re greeted with the warm, comforting aroma of apples – it’s like a cozy hug on a chilly morning when enjoyed relatively fresh from the oven. Paired with a cup of coffee, it’s not hard to see why these are one of the most popular French breakfast options.
Chausson Aux Pommes brings a touch of sweetness to your traditional French breakfast menu. It’s one of those simple pleasures that really encapsulates the charm and elegance of French cuisine.
Crepes are a French breakfast food from buckwheat flour. These are thin, light, and quick to make.
The best part is that they can go with a variety of different ingredients. They are a super versatile base where you can express your creativity. Sugar, Nutella, or jam are some of the common fillings to put on a crepe. But you can always go crazy with other toppings like pastry cream, peanut butter or even brown sugar on a sweet crepe.
And of course, this means you can top it with savory ingredients as well such as ham, cheese and eggs. That is why you will find them in many french breakfast recipe books as well. It’s a great option for a nice morning meal that can cater to different tastes of the whole family.
French Breakfast Puff
A French breakfast puff is like a muffin and a popular option for breakfast in France. They are coated with sugar and cinnamon, making this one sinful French breakfast. However, if you are a fan of muffin and have a sweet tooth, this will be your jam.
If you like to maximize your time for sightseeing when traveling, make an instant coffee, grab a French Breakfast Puff and you have yourself a quick yet tasty breakfast as you set out on your exploration adventure.
Yogurt And Fruit
In contrast, many also French people start their day with a healthy breakfast of yogurt and fruit. Yogurt can be eaten plain or with various flavors of jam, honey, or syrup. French fruit salad typically includes grapes, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries.
Savory French Breakfast Foods In France
Most common breakfasts in France are sweet options. However, there are also savory French breakfast food options throughout the country.
French Radishes With Butter And Salt On Toast
One of these dishes is French breakfast radishes, served with butter and salt on toast. This might sound rather peculiar to some, but they are definitely worth the try.
French radishes are a type of radish originating from France. They are small and have a white flesh with a red skin; that distinctive appearance means you won’t miss them if you ever come across them. While French radishes are typically eaten raw, they can also be cooked.
French radishes with butter and salt on toast is a simple, but delicious French breakfast dish. The dish is made by toasting a fresh baguette or even a slice of bread and then spreading it with butter. The toast is then topped with French radishes and salt.
Croque Madame is a French breakfast dish that has the popular ham and cheese combination. The ham and cheese are sandwiched between two slices of bread and then grilled or toasted. The Croque Madame is usually served with a poached or fried egg on top.
While many consider it for breakfast, we find it good any time of day. There is no bad time for delicious food!
The Croque Madame is a variation of the Croque Monsieur.
READ NEXT: 21 Fun Facts About France and The French
Croque Monsieur is another French breakfast dish that is made with ham and cheese. The main difference is that the bread is dipped into a beaten egg mixture before being grilled. In some sense, this is like a french toast with ham and cheese.
Both french dishes come from Paris Ile-de-France. A sweet and nice start to your day before getting out to check out the famous landmarks in Paris.
This French classic is a breakfast dish that truly stands out; simple but oh so delightful. Essentially, it’s baked eggs, but in elevated to something special in true French style, it’s elevated to something special. Baked with a bit of cream and perhaps some ham or cheese, the eggs are served in individual ramekins or “cocottes” as the French call them.
While the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity, it is also versatilee. You can add herbs, truffles, mushrooms, whatever you like to make it more fancy.
But most importantly, at least for us, when you break into the egg with your spoon, the yolk spills out, rich and creamy, mingling with the other flavors in the dish. That’s how you know its a nicely done one. If you like that oozy yolk from half boiled eggs, you will love this dish.
Pair this with a piece of crusty baguette to mop up all that deliciousness, it’s a real hearty start to your day. Be sure to give it a try for a nice savory breakfast that makes the day just a little bit more special.
As you probably realised, eggs are a big part of French breakfasts. Similar to traditional English breakfast, omelettes are also common French breakfast staples. After all, you only need simple ingredients like eggs, milk, butter, and salt to make this nutritious and tasty dish.
There’s nothing super spectacular about omelettes in France in comparisons to those in other parts of the world. It’s not a specialty french food. That said, they are versatile and you can mix it with a variety of fillings, such as cheese, ham, vegetables, or herbs.
Quiche Lorraine is a French tart that is made with hearty ingredients such as eggs, cream, bacon, and even cheese. Some typical cheese options are Gruyere, Swiss or even white cheddar.
While Quiche Lorraine is not your most typical French breakfast fare, it can be a delightful way to start the day or for special occasions. The flaky pastry crust filled with the rich creamy custard is just a joy. But the real star here is the smoky bacon, adding a depth of flavor that contrasts beautifully with the mildness of the custard.
This is a dish that offers a symphony of flavors in every bite! You can enjoy it with a side salad for a refreshing touch to a satisfying, hearty breakfast.
Popular Drinks In French Breakfasts
Coffee And Tea
Of course, no French breakfast would be complete without a warm cup of coffee or tea. These can be served with milk and sugar on the side, although you will also be able to find your regular black coffee and tea. If you order coffee at a cafe in France, it will likely come with a small piece of cake or a pastry as well.
Coffee is a big part of French breakfast tradition. If you are particular about your coffee and milk combination, you want to find out the difference between café au lait and café crème. Can’t say we have worked it out either as it can get confusing, navigating the French coffee scene can feel like learning a whole new language,
It’s interesting to know if you ask for “un café au lait” in a Parisian café, you might get some odd looks. While it is well known and a popular breakfast drink, the term is more commonly used in a French home, rather than cafés. This is the typical coffee that locals enjoy in a large bowl at home.
Nevertheless, you will typically still find it on the menu in many of the tourist zones since they cater to the international crowd as well. We found café crème to be more typical when dining out.
French Hot Chocolate
If you are craving hot beverages but caffeine is not your thing, hot chocolate is a popular drink for breakfast in France. The hot chocolate is made with French chocolate, milk, and sugar. It is usually served with croissants or beignets.
French hot chocolate is a delicious companion as you sit on a roadside cafe and watch the streets of Paris get bustling with activities. It’s also our evening hot drink of choice during early spring as the nights can still be chilly.
A nice French morning is not complete without a refreshing glass of juice. Fruit juices, particularly orange and grapefruit juice, are rather common at the breakfast table. The French love their fresh-pressed juice – it’s really something special. Breakfast in France is all about simplicity and quality.
So, whether you’re enjoying a leisurely breakfast at a charming Parisian café or grabbing a quick ‘petit déjeuner’ at home, chances are, a glass of orange juice will be part of your morning routine. The sweet tanginess of the juice perfectly complements the buttery croissants and strong coffee, providing a well-rounded start to the day.
Enjoying Breakfast In France
These are just some of the most popular French breakfasts. As you can see, there is no one specific French breakfast dish. French people typically eat pastries, breads, eggs, and yogurt for breakfast. From croissants and pain au chocolat to omelets and crêpes, these breakfast foods will give you a boost of energy.