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Breakfasting in Paris

The French word for breakfast is petit déjeuner, which translates literally into little lunch. While a lot of Parisians eat breakfast at home, you will see many stopping for a quick breakfast at one of the thousands of cafés in the city. Most Paris tours do include a breakfast at your hotel, but you may decide one morning to have breakfast with the locals in a neighborhood café. Doing so will provide you with a great opportunity for an early morning walk and some people watching.

a breakfast of Croissant & Cappuccino at a sidewalk restaurant in France

The traditional Parisian breakfast is a very simple affair and you will typically be served:
– Tartine – fresh bread served with butter and jam. The bread will have been baked fresh at the bakery that morning.
– Croissant –you will see Parisians eating these plain, sometimes dipping them into their hot chocolate or coffee. Did you know that while croissants are now regarded as quintessentially French, the invention of the croissant is actually credited to the Viennese?
– Coffee – some Parisians take their coffee black and short (espresso) at any time of the day, but many and perhaps you, may prefer café au lait or café crème (coffee with milk) at breakfast time.
– Hot Chocolate – or Chocolat chaud is enjoyed by both children and adults at breakfast time.
You can decide to have your breakfast propping up the bar in the cafe listening to the local gossip with the café owner or have it outside on the terrace and watch the world go by. As with most café dining, standing at the bar while you have your breakfast is likely to be cheaper than eating outside or sitting at a table in the café itself.
Visitors who would prefer a larger breakfast to start the day are also provided for by cafés, particularly in tourist areas. You may see an “English” breakfast advertised on blackboards outside cafés. An English breakfast will typically include eggs and perhaps ham, along with the standard bread or croissant and often a glass of orange juice and yoghurt as well.
Another option for breakfast is to pop into a bakery or patisserie. Many bakeries have small tables inside or outside. A lot of bakeries now make take-away coffee so you could take your breakfast to a park or eat on your Paris tour bus. For your coffee to go just ask for “un café à emporter s’il vous plaît ”.
At the bakery you may see a variety of pastries such as pain au chocolat, a croissant type pastry with chocolate in the middle or pain aux raisins a glazed pastry spiral dotted with raisins. A particularly Parisian pastry that is a particularly special treat for breakfast is an almond croissant, which is a regular croissant filled with almond paste and topped with almond slivers. You may also see brioche which is a sweet (but not as sweet as pastry) bread.
If you do decide to have breakfast at your Paris tour hotel, you will probably find a breakfast more like what you are accustomed to at home with a variety of cereals available and perhaps a cooked buffet option. There will still be the pastries and bread mentioned above, so wherever you decide to have breakfast you will not miss out on eating some of the same foods that a Parisian would for breakfast.

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Categories: Articles, Europe, Paris

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